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In-depth Feature:  Cakewalk SONAR 2.0
Rob G writes: .

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Soft Synth support in Sonar has been enhanced in several ways with this release – firstly, a Synth Rack provides a convenient way of managing the synthesisers in your setup. Sonar supports both DXi and ReWire synths. Multi-port DXi are now supported, overcoming the stereo limit inherent in earlier versions. DXi can also be inserted as an effect as in previous versions - but this approach limits the synth to stereo output.

Multiple instances of each DXi can be incorporated into the rack, but only one instance of a ReWire synth. When adding a synth to the rack, a MIDI control track is created, along with audio tracks for each synth output. Tracks can be mixed and bounced down to audio. Both types of soft synth can be automated within Sonar and third-party VST-to-DXi wrappers can be used to integrate VST instruments into the system.

Two major new DXi soft synths are provided with the package. Cyclone is a loop-player that uses ACIDized RIFF files or WAV files that work as pads in a sequence, time-stretched to match the tempo of the Sonar project. Each pad can be assigned a key group and each Cyclone instance supports 16 pads.

Things get really interesting with RIFF files, for these Cyclone displays the individual slices for the file, and these can be rearranged in a pad editor below the pads. Each slice can have pitch, gain and pan assigned. Cyclone is simple to use, but this belies a powerful tool squarely aimed at groove production. Naturally, Sonar itself has had support for RIFF files integrated enabling creation and use of loops out-of-the-box.

The second soft synth is a limited version of FXpansion's DR-008 - available only with Sonar 2.0 XL. This version comes with eight pre-defined drum kits, but does not allow adding user samples. The program allows playing back samples or synthesised sounds from analogue modelling. As well as pad-like usage, the program also sports a pattern-based sequencer. Overall very easy to use, but the limitation to existing drum kits seems a shame.

Also provided are the Dreamstation DXi 3 oscillator analogue-style soft synth and the Edirol VSC1 Virtual Sound Canvas module.

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