Archive for the ‘Sonar’ Category

Review: PreSonus Faderport with Sonar PE

Sunday, November 8th, 2009
The Faderport by Presonus

The Faderport by Presonus

This week I purchased the Presonus Faderport for use with my DAW, Sonar Producer Edition 8.31.  I have been finding that I really like the immediate control and hand/ear coordination that a real fader provides because I have been working a lot on the API Vision at U. Mass Lowell.  I read a zillion comparisons between the Faderport and Frontier Design’s Alphatrack, a similar single fader automation encoding device. Here’s a very interesting video that compared the speed of the faders on both units.

As you can see from the video, the Faderport’s reaction time is significantly faster than the Alphatrack.  It should be noted that fades as fast as the ones in the video are pretty rare.  For something this fast, most of us would do a mute automation and not a super fast fader move.  The fader on the Faderport is very nice feeling.  It’s quite smooth and although it is a little noisy, it is clearly the highlight of the unit.

The pan knob frankly sucks.  It is a detented pot, so it clicks as you turn it.  There is no specific center detent and in Sonar after you move the pan control the closest you can get to center is +/- 1%.  You also need to rotate the knob completely several times before you get a hard pan left or right.  The pan control is actually more cumbersome than doing fade automation with a mouse.

The instructions for install are really poor.  For individual DAWs you can’t use the included CD-ROM for the installation.  Rather you need to go to the PreSonus website and download a specific driver/plugin for your DAW, but they don’t tell you this in the instructions.  The Sonar driver doesn’t include the feature of being able to program the single user-assigned button with a task and the PROJ button (which is supposed to open the track/edit view in Sonar) doesn’t work at all.  You can open the Mix window and the Transport control, but not the Edit window which is the most commonly used window in Sonar.

It also isn’t clear if you can assign the fader or the pan control to anything other than volume or pan, so you are REALLY limited as to what you can control and automate from the device.  All in all I found the Faderport pretty disappointing and I plan on returning it and getting an Alphatrack.

Here’s the video overview of the PreSonus:

Before You Come to the Studio to Record an Album…

Sunday, August 2nd, 2009

Many potential clients ask me the same questions before they come into the studio to work on their albums or EPs:

What should I do to prepare myself to make a great recording?

Should I record a demo myself first?

I almost always answer the questions with more questions:

1.  Why do you want to make a recording?

Is it to get gigs?  Sell at gigs?  Try to get licensing for TV or movies? Is it to finally hear the music the way that you hear it in your head? Is it to document your songs accurately to the way you play them or is it to fully realize the full arrangements with drum, bass, strings, urdu?

2.  Who is the audience of the recording?

Record label executives  or your friends and fans?  Are you the audience for your own music or are you trying to sell this stuff?  Are you planning on giving it away as a promotional tool to help build your following?

3.  Are you ready to record in a studio now or do you want to demo the songs to figure out how they should be arranged and performed?

Usually demoing the songs yourself will help you figure out what you haven’t practiced enough, and force you to think about the dynamics and the tempos and the form in a way that you haven’t already.  I always want artists to know the tempos of the songs before they come to the studio.  If they can bring lyric sheet with chord changes that also really helpful as well.

If you have a way to record yourself, I would always do at least some recording yourself to help you figure out what you are trying to do.  The recording equipment can be very simple, like GarageBand, a 4-Track or 8-Track cassette or digital recorder, or something a little more sophisticated like a full-blown DAW like Sonar, Logic,  Cubase or ProTools.

After you have had a chance to record simple versions of the tunes with piano or guitar and voice, then you can think about adding other instruments in a much more concrete way.  Some music might start with a drum pattern or loop and build from there.

After you you have done all this pre-production, it will be time to start talking to a good producer or engineer to help really get the recording process planned and started.  As a engineer, it’s much easier for me to do my job when the music is more fully formed before I start my work.  As a producer, I like to be involved in the music process as early as possible so I can help to shape the form, dynamics and feel of the song while the song writing is in process.

A Clean Install of Cakewalk’s Sonar

Wednesday, June 25th, 2008

As many of you already know, I am a Cakewalk Sonar user and I am proud of it. I think that Sonar is the most advanced and feature-rich DAW out there. Like all things software, every once-in-a-while you might need to do a full re-install of software. If you only use the uninstaller through Windows, there is some residue that is left behind, like settings and some path information that can cause problems later.

Here is the support email that I received from a very helpful tech with complete instructions of how to do the uninstall clean and then a full-reinstall:

As for a clean installation of SONAR 7, please try the following:

1) Completely un-install SONAR from your computer. This is normally done from Start | Programs | Cakewalk. This will not remove any of your project files or audio data.

2) Next you will want to open the Run Command

a) In Windows XP this can be done by going to Start | Run

b) In Windows Vista this can be done by holding down the ‘windows’ key and pressing ‘r’

3) At the prompt type regedit and click OK.

***Backup your Registry before making edits – you do this by clicking the File menu, Export Registry File.

4) Now delete the following Registry keys:

HKEY_CURRENT_USERSoftwareCakewalk Music SoftwareSONAR Producer7.0 HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINESoftwareCakewalk Music SoftwareSONAR Producer7.0

*Please note that this will remove any effects presets and key bindings you may have made in Cakewalk. You can back these up separately if you like, using Options|Key Bindings, Tools|SONAR Plug-in Manager, and Options|Colors. Hit F1 in these views for detailed instructions on how to do this.

5) Open the ‘Run’ command again.

6) Copy and paste the following into the prompt:


7) This will open your Cakewalk Application Data folder, right-click on the SONAR folder and choose rename.

8) Rename this folder SONAR 7 Backup.

9) Open the ‘Run’ command again and type msconfig Click OK and then click on the Startup tab at the upper right of the window that opens.

10) Uncheck all items listed, click OK, then restart your computer. You can always recheck those items again at a later time.

11) Then reinstall SONAR and the patches from:

I hope that these instructions help someone out there!