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In-depth Feature:  Cakewalk Sonar 3
While retaining familiarity for existing users, some powerful new features have been added
Rob G writes: .

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Sonar, Cakewalks contender in the audio and MIDI sequencer stakes, has offered great value since its first release. A solid MIDI implementation and audio support were bolstered by excellent support for loop-based music production - including ACID-style support for time-stretching and pitch-shifting.

Version 2.0 improved the user-interface, added some missing features such as drum map and control surface support, and introduced some excellent tools - such as envelopes directly in the track view to show automated mix parameters. Support for ReWire and Open Plug-in Technology also helped work with a wide range of third-party software outside the DirectX realm for the first time.

Time, however, has not stood still and has seen major releases from Sonar's competitors - with version 3.0 it is evident that Cakewalk have not been resting on their laurels.

The first noticeable improvement is the new user-interface. Just about every element of the user-interface has been updated - gone are the flat-look, fixed colour, sterile environment of version 2.0, in comes the sculpted, professional and customisable environment of version 3.0.

But the changes are more than just skin-deep. Audio support has improved considerably - with support for a wider range of sample rates and depths. The bus architecture has totally changed - introducing a powerful system capable of creating extremely flexible routings.

Add to that a wider range of DirectX effects and instruments, together with some truly excellent third-party bundles, and Sonar 2.0 once again looks like a worthy competitor in the battle for the music desktop.

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