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Software Review: SONAR X1 Producer From Cakewalk

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SONAR X1 is the latest version of the Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) software from Cakewalk, Inc. It is a professional tool for authoring sound and music on personal computers. It is designed for musicians, composers, arrangers, audio and production engineers, multimedia and game developers, as well as recording engineers.

SONAR supports Wave, MP3, ACIDized waves, WMA, AIFF and other popular formats, providing all the tools you need to do professional-quality work rapidly and efficiently. Along with being an integrated MIDI and digital audio authoring software package, it is also an expandable platform that can become the central hub of your recording studio. Checkout the system requirements page to see what do you need to run SONAR X1.

SONAR X1

SONAR Producer is the flagship product of the Cakewalk line of integrated MIDI and digital audio sequencers for the Windows platform. It has a very complete feature set that allows you to compose and explore musical composition. You can edit music using musical notion and guitar tablature. You can graphically draw tempo and volume changes as well as add lyrics to display on screen or to include with printed scores.

So what is new with SONAR X1 Producer?

• Skylight is a next generation workspace and ushers in a new level of simplicity by providing an intelligent interface that moves beyond contemporary, single-window design and layout clutter. This new system gives you the ability to hide, dock, collapse or expand any of SONAR’s views instantly.

• Inspector allows you to see all vital track and clip information in one logical and quickly accessible location. It gives you easy access to relevant settings for the selected track(s) or clip(s). A full channel strip allows ergonomic Track view mixing and the Inspector is fully collapsible, expandable, dockable and floatable.

• Controller Bar that gives you access crucial functions quickly and clearly and the editing tools are now global and centralized in one location. The modular Control Bar contains the most important tools and other pieces of information you will need to record, edit and play back your project. Arrange the layout of modules to suit your needs.

• MultiDock that lets you doc and instantly access any number of SONAR’s views into one combined area. The MultiDock is an integral part of the Skylight interface that allows you to dock and easily access any of SONAR’s views all in one place. It lets you make the most of your workspace whether you’re using a single, high-resolution display or a multiple monitor setup.

SONAR X1

• Browser has been completely redesigned and gives you the ability to organize all content in one, easily managed place with full drag and drop functionality. It is fully resizable and collapsible and with user-definable preset locations, finding what you’re looking for has never been faster or easier.

• Screensets remember every window position, size, and state. You can access Screensets directly from the Control Bar or via your keyboard. SONAR comes with Screensets ready-to-go for just about any production scenario. Create your own Screensets for tracking, mixing, jamming, or experimenting. Recall everything – exactly the way you left it.

• Smart Tools have been built so that now most functions can now be done with a single tool that switches automatically based on context. This dramatically reduces the need for switching tools during the editing and mixing stages. Further reducing the need to manually switch tools, all of SONAR X1’s tools work across all for SONAR’s edit views. So whether you are working on arranging in the Track View or editing MIDI
data in the Piano Roll View, the same tool will work smoothly and consistently with no interruption to your creative flow.

• ProChannel is available exclusively in SONAR X1 Producer, the ProChannel expands SONAR’s already impressive console with big, pro-studio sound built right into every channel strip.

SONAR X1

• Effects Chains gives you the ability to save and load audio effect plug-in chain presets called FX Chains. An FX Chain can be nested within effects bins, renamed, moved between tracks, buses and clip effects bins or saved to disk as FX Chain presets.

• Other enhancements include improved performance through GPU acceleration, better data editing, options to consolidate project settings, improved shortcuts are now more convenient, more friendly Staff view editing, more convienent edit view menus, enhanced Quick Groups, and more.

Keep in mind that SONAR X1 is an incredibly complete and complex software package that is aimed at the professional and the sophisticated enthusiast who wants a product that is powerful, flexible, and very configurable. To do this product justice you will need to have the technical knowledge that goes in to mastering, mixing, looping, and sequencing audio to do this package justice.

The new features that I really like include the new, totally revamped Skylight User Interface. Everything is so much easier to get around in. It is much cleaner and a much needed improvement to the prior version. Much like the new name, this feels like a new product and it certainly sets a foundation for the future.
Add to that, I like the ProChannel, it works well and sounds great. The Media Browser again makes for a foundational improvement that can be built on in the future. The automation improvements are also excellent. This will help the workflow overall. The FX Chain is also a very needed improvement.

With SONAR 8.5, it was all about the goodies, with X1 it is all about listening to customers, looking at other products and rebuilding the foundation for future improvement. These will not only improve your production, but will get your creative juices going. If you truly want the ultimate in DAW software, then you need SONAR X1.

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About T. Michael Testi

Photographer, writer, software engineer, educator, and maker of fine images.
  • mary

    Downloading a trial version of this awesome sounding product now. I’m sick of buying vst plugins to no avail. I could have bought this product 3 or 4 times over with the amount of money I’ve spent on plugins within the past two years.

    I’ve got an easy to use DAW that I spent around $100 bucks for. It handles all vst and direct x plugins), but from my experience and hindsight that program would be best used for creating compilation cd’s or for trimming dead space at the end of a digital audio file before burning it to cd. So my advice to anyone who desires to produce commercial music is this: Get yourself a commercial DAW and save yourself hundreds of wasted dollars on plugins that won’t do much to improve the quality of your music if the Digital Audio Workstation is inadequate for professional music production.