Archive of the MixSounds Category
Ron Levy, pianist with the Palisades Virtuosi and a long time friend, e-mailed me over the weekend saying that Bennett Studios shut down operations abruptly earlier this month. What a drag for artists like Ron, who has called the studio home for years (for me, too, since Ron and Richard Hobson, a baritone at the Metropolitan Opera were getting ready to track “Dispatch From The Killing Floor,” my settings of four poems from Walt Whitman’s “Leaves Of Grass” at Bennett Studios).
How have we gotten to this point? Have convolution reverbs, multi velocity level sampled pianos, and cheap microphones from Asia really turned wonderful acoustic environments like Dae Bennett’s place into anachronisms that serve no vital function in today’s world?
Progress, I guess.
I’ve been a big fan of Tonehammer for some time. The company’s founders, Mike Peaslee and Troels Folmann recently parted ways. Two new sample library companies, 8dio (www.8dio.com), and SOUNDIRON (www.soundiron.com) have come out of this seperation. I spoke to Mike Peaslee the other day about his new venture, SOUNDIRON.
Gary Eskow: “Why the split with Troels at this time?”
Mike Peaslee: “We just had different creative ideas, different areas that we want to pursue. The split was perfectly amicable.”
GE: “What is the philosophical underpinning of SOUNDIRON?”
MP: “It’s really important to me that we have a community connected direction. We’re going to balance affordability and accessibility with innovative content, even within the realm of the more mainstream instruments we cover like choirs. We respond to users and interact with them directly. For example, we like for users to submit demos, and we ask other users to comment on them.
“We might release a product like our new Russian male choir, MARS, thinking that it will apply to the film scoring community most directly. But users might incorporate MARS into a rock or techno track, and put an entirely different spin on it. We also have gone as far as creating individual presets for users who have requested them.”
GE: “Can you give me an example of how you’ve adapted a piece of software based on user input?”
MP: “Sure. We just released an update to Requiem Light, one of our choirs. Some users had told us that they wished the marcato samples could be looped- they wanted to be able to weave those articulations into sustains. We dug into those sample and used the best of our tricks to to what had been a one shot thing into an infinitely sustaining set of seamless loops.
“SOUNDIRON is three people: Greg Stephens, Christopher Marshall, and me. If a customer sends an e-mail to the company they’ll be hearing from one of us. Whether they’re an institution, a professional, or a beginner, it’s important that they feel attached to the instruments. We need to let people know what inspired them, how they were created, and the best possible way to use our products.
GE: “What will SOUNDIRON be focusing on in the near future?”
MP: “We’re going to be releasing one or two products a month. There will be a lot of tuned percussion, and textures and ambiences. One of our long term goals is to get into the area of traditional classical orchestral instruments, but we’ll sample these instruments in a way that is unique. If we can’t deliver on something that’s powerfully compelling and well done, we put that project on the slow track.”
Computers keep getting faster and hard drives cost next to nothing. Sample developers glom onto these advances and pour out gargantuan libraries. Memory management- the ability to select only the articulations needed for a specific project- is often the sad sister in the equation. Over the years the Vienna Symphonic Library has modified its user interface in an effort to make it easier for the user to cull from the many articulations that each instrument ships with and conserve RAM. Vienna Instruments PRO nails it.
Check out the video on the company’s site (http://www.vsl.co) if you want to learn the specifics of this interface. I’m here to report on one aspect only- the ease with which the user can build presets.
Mea culpa, mea culpa- in the past I simply loaded up VSL presets. I did take advantage of the dump memory function that forces the interface to get rid of all unused articulations, but I knew that I wasn’t plumbing the depths of the library. Many samples aren’t loaded into these presets, and I simply ignored them- I bet a lot of you have, as well.
Over a six-month period I wrote an orchestral piece, “4,3,2,1.” I slaved over every note and articulation prior to firing up my computer to perform the score into my DAW. VSL instruments form the core of this piece. I began performing parts from the bottom (double bass) up, and developed a work method that I used consistently throughout the process.
“4” is just shy of four minutes in length. To create presets I loaded up two articulations only, a staccato patch and a legato patch. These patches allowed me to perform phrases with the proper timing and feel. On play back I expanded the grid that comprises each preset, adding other patches as necessary. This method let me explore the library in detail- auditioning both a 2 second and 5 crescendo, for example, to determine which was perfect for a given moment in the score.
This process allows me to create patches that contain all the articulations I need without burdening my computer with unnecessary data. As a result, I’m able to load six VSL instruments, a Kontakt 4 rack, and place an Altiverb reverb across the main output buss of my mixer without using more than 50% of the 8 gigs of memory I have or more than 50% of my CPU cycles.
$250.00, LASS full product owners (limited time offer)
download only through audiobro.com
In 2009 was begat the sample library company Audiobro (www.audiobro.com), the child of LA composer Andrew Keresctes. Its fledgling release, LASS (LA scoring strings) quickly gained high praise for its warmth, clever integration of portamento, and the concept of recording three distinct groupings of each ensemble. This last feature- along with the first chair only recordings that are another essential component- lets the user blend grouping together in subtle ways. In short, LASS, which uses the free version of the Native Instruments Kontakt 4 player as its front end, sounds great and has some interesting aspects. There’s more to the feature set, but we’re not reviewing the original product here.
Some sordino (muted) presets were offered in the original library, but LASS Legato Strings provides the user with sordino groupings for all ensembles. Understand that this library is exactly what it says it is: a collection of legato samples with mutes on. You won’t find any tremelo patches, or pizzicato here, just the fundamental sordino patches that you’re most likely to call on in your writing.
As expected, these samples sound gorgeous; warm, expressive and extremely playable. A new interface is provided (the original library is about to get a massive facelift and I expect it will include some of the features LASS LS sports) and the intention of the developers seems clear: to take some of the power that the original library offered and make it easier to access. For example, blue buttons appear next to any feature that is midi-automatable. Velocity determines whether legato, portamento, or glissando samples are activated, and the MIDI ranges are listed on the interface, making it easy to adjust them to suit your playing style.
Another important advancement is the feature that lets the user dump any samples that aren’t needed. Most memory intensive libraries (LASS LS weighs in at just under 6 gigs) offer this feature. You can also select from three sample access modes (Direct From Disk, Speed Lite, and Speed), depending on the amount of memory your computer has available for LASS LS at any given moment.
A few minor irritants: the upper octave on all of the patches are colored yellow, and I assumed they were key switches, so I spent some time hunting around trying to figure out their purpose. Turns out, well, they have no function. I ran into a phasing problem when I tried to combine a viola section from the original library with a sordino patch from the new one. Sebastian Katz, a company flack (just kidding, Sebastian!) pointed out that all of the sections were recorded with the same players sitting in identical positions, so phasing can occur on occasion. The solution is simple: delay one or the other by a 10 milliseconds or so, or simply combine two different sections; A players unmuted, B or C players con sordino, for example. And I did notice a clunky sound on the B above middle C in the Violin B Leg LPG patch.
These slight problems aside, LASS LS sounds great. If you own the original library you’ll most certainly want to check out the demos that are on the audiobro site.
Eric Persing’s contributions to the universe of sampled sounds and the technology that girds it is well known. From the early days at Roland, where he helped the company give birth to the legendary D50 sample playback device that was a staple in every keyboard player’s arsenal, to the groundbreaking “Distorted Reality” libraries that helped define sound design in the 1990’s, to the software that his company Spectrasonics (www.spectrasonics.net) creates, Persing’s aural acuity is sharp, definite, and married to a profound understanding of the need to balance complex design and ease of use. He’s always been a future oriented guy, so I began our interview by asking him to gaze down the road a bit.
Gary Eskow: How much more powerful will personal computers be five years from now, and do you future plan for the time when musicians will have faster streaming and much larger drives available to them?
Eric Persing: “Sure. Since it takes a lot of time to create the kinds of instruments we make we’re always designing the next generation of instruments for what technology will be available in the future. As they say, never bet against bandwidth!”
GE: Is there a gap between the power of the software that musicians can purchase and the teaching tools — such as video tutorials — that might help them maximize their potential?
EP: “Yes, but I think the larger problem is that musicians have so many distractions now that even when those resources are available, most people rarely take full advantage of them.”
GE: What other companies, or products, do you admire?
EP: “Genelec, Moog Music and Access immediately come to mind as smaller companies that make great quality, highly original products. I’m a big believer in the idea that smaller companies are the ones that produce the really special and long lasting stuff. We’ve had offers to be bought out numerous times by large companies and have always declined. There aren’t many examples of this working well for the small company and plenty of examples where it’s failed badly.”
GE: With regard to huge sampled sounds, what’s the biggest cliche people fall into when using them, and what should they do to avoid the obvious?
EP: “We don’t really specialize in large sounds, although we certainly have created a few! I think we’re better known for creating original and unique sounds. For example, very little of our work is used to “temp” a production, our sounds and grooves nearly always make it through to the final product. Hopefully, that means we are doing good work!”
Back up. Wait, that’s not a command, I’m simply referring to the least enjoyable aspect of production work. Hard to believe that a couple of decades ago a cassette or 1/4” safety served as the sole protection against a fire taking down the studio you labored so hard in to create your masterpiece.
Mozy, Carbonite, Aadrive; today there are multiple web services that help you achieve a measure of peace, secure in the knowledge that files residing on your hard drive also live up in the heavens somewhere. But as helpful as they can be, if you’ve used any of these products you know that to date no practical back up procedures have been developed that can satisfy the requirements of the working musician or studio owner. Gobbler (www.gobbler.com), the brain child of CEO Chris Kantrowitz and Mike Gitig aims to scratch that need.
Still in beta and not yet available for Windows machines, Gobbler is an application designed to work with all of the major digital audio workstations. Your sessions and files can be backed up, preserved, and shared with other users quickly- and speed is key if you’re a professional musician or studio owner.
Gobbler is not a thin client. The term refers to programs like Facebook that don’t require you to download an application’s software to your computer in order to access it. Engineers are currently working to implement this feature.
Currently, Gobbler has some very interesting elements. It takes a look at your hard drives, makes incremental back ups on a schedule you set, and uploads only the audio that has been created since your last back up. Gobbler can also make copies of your projects and all associated audio within a network. Tell it to create a local back up by taking a session from your root drive and copying it to another drive; that’s simple.
I’ve never had any problems with audio that’s been degraded by traveling down the yousendit.com pipeline, but Mike Gitig says that the .flac algorithm they use is extremely fast and lossless- I’ll report back to you when I’m able to demo the product on my Win 7 machine.
If Gobbler catches on I expect the product will integrate video and photo capability. But don’t get greedy- I know you’d like back up your Word docs and Quicken accounts, but the company says that Gobbler is and will remain a tool for musicians to put to work only in the creation of their art.
They may not command the media coverage that benefits Beyonce, or rack up the royalties that help justify Justin Timberlake’s concert fees, but the world of “serious” music is peopled with performers of color and character, and composers who supply them with scores. Case in point: Eric Nathan.
“Walls Of Light,” a chamber piece Eric wrote several years ago, just won the League Of Composers award. It’s an interesting piece, which you can listen to on his website (www.ericnathanmusic.com). Currently living in Ithaca, NY, where he’s pursuing a doctorate degree in composition at Cornell University, the 27 year old Nathan spoke with me about his art, his use of technology, and his early background.
“I grew up in Larchmont, NY. My earliest musical memories are watching the Wynton Marsalis and the Empire Brass Quintet episodes on the ‘Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood’ program. When I was three years old, I told my parents I wanted to hear the Empire Brass and they took me to Tanglewood to hear the quintet play. While in high school I attended Juilliard’s Pre-College Division for two years as a trumpet student and also studied composition there. My first piece was for trumpet and piano which I wrote to perform myself. I soon realized that I could write music all day. I went to Yale, majored in music, studied composition there, then went to Indiana University for a masters in composition, and am now working on a DMA at Cornell.
“I really didn’t listen to pop music as a kid- I leaned towards Copland, Mahler and Bernstein on the classical side, and anything else that featured the trumpet. I have always had an ear for jazz, and even though I don’t write jazz pieces, the jazz sensibility has definitely found its way into my work.”
“While it may be true that back in Mozart’s day there was a strong, clear link between popular and concert music- based largely on the dance forms that influenced both genres- I don’t think it’s accurate to say that the two worlds are divergent at this time. Look at what the now well established Bang On The Can festival in New York has done to bring together the classical, indie, and jazz worlds.
“Composers have always had a hard time. There are many roads… you can be a professional teacher, work for organizations, or follow the Charles Ives model and have another job and write music after hours. The important thing is to keep writing and sharing your music with others.”
“My teachers have been enormously influential. Claude Baker at Indiana University taught me how important it is to pay attention to details in marking up a score. In Beethoven and Mozart’s day composers were writing in a common style, so they didn’t need to add a dimuendo at the end of a phrase. These things were understood- it was in the performance practice at the time. Today, every composer is, in a sense, defining his or her own style, and as a result it’s critical that all of the details are clearly laid out for the player. Most performers don’t know what my style is, so I need to show it in the phrasing. Those markings are what make a piece come to life.”
“Technology definitely plays a role in my work. I wrote a piece while at Indiana University entitled ‘Cantus for Trumpet and Electronics,’ using Digital Performer as a sequencer. It was fascinating and liberating to experience the different way that time unfolds within the electronic medium. I work with Garage Band sometimes to test out ideas for my acoustic pieces. I also use my iPhone to record ideas I play on piano. I prepare my scores with Finale and use its play back feature while I’m composing. Listening to a score while I’m composing helps me test out the pacing and form of a piece.”
Eric Nathan… keep that name in mind, and do yourself a favor and visit his website when you have a few minutes.
When he’s not on the road serving as Musical Director and keyboardist for the Commodores you might find Thomas Dawson in Colorado Springs, where he holds the newly minted position of Entertainment Director at the Mining Exchange, a hotel that recently finished construction on a suite of recording and video studios. Close to his LA home, Dawson runs an after school music program for underprivileged kids in Long Beach. He also records and mixes film and record assignments out of the project studio he operates in his home.
Dawson was brought up in St. Francisville Lousiana, a small city about 25 miles north of Baton Rouge. He went to Southern University on a trumpet scholarship and was accepted into the school’s world famous marching band. “Dr. Isaac Greggs was the band director,” says Dawson, “and he was great- a Louis Armstrong clone!” Greggs had a wind sextet on the side that specialized in Dixieland material, and he asked Dawson to join the group. “What an experience. All of the other guys were band directors, great players, and Louisiana made us ambassadors for the state. They sent us around the world, and the experience really opened my eyes.”
In 1986 Dawson moved to LA. “I felt I’d done everything I could musically in Louisiana and was ready for a change. I had friends who were doing well there- one was in Marvin Gaye’s band, another was touring with Philip Bailey- and I thought I might be able to thrive in LA as well.”
Dawson auditioned for the keyboardist position in the Commodores in 1988 and has held that chair for over 20 years. “It was amazing. The Commodores were one of the first groups I saw live, and I imagined myself playing with them. Just a few years later and I’m in the band!” Two original members, drummer Walter Orange (who sang the lead vocal on “Brick House”) and William King, who plays trumpet and guitar and sings, remain with the group. “It’s a great gig,” says Dawson. “Everyone has families, so we don’t go on the road for more than two weeks at at time. Usually we fly out on a Friday, play a show on Saturday, and return home the next day.”
Dawson owned several studios in the 1990’s and had a bird’s eye view of the digital wave as it approached shore. “I sold my large frame consoles and tape machines as quickly as I could and moved into the digital world early on. I’m currently running ProTools 9 and Logic in tandem, with a Control 24 as my front end.”
Production clients include Beyonce and the Commodores, and most recently the film director David Venghaus, for whom he scored the feature “They Call Him Sasquatch.” Dawson says that the ability to wear multiple hats is key to being successful in the audio post world. “Producers almost expect you to be able to do it all- score the piece, record ADR, create sound effects, and execute the final mix. I’m comfortable wearing those hats.
“As far as plug-ins go, the UAD stuff is at the top of the heap for me. I absolutely love the Neve ® Classic Console Plug-In Bundle. It reminds me so much of the Neve boards I used to work on. Melodyne has been a game changer- that guy should be curing cancer! He’s on another planet as far as technology goes. I was editing dialog on a film not long ago, and the narrator had done a good job. But I decided to experiment and use Melodyne to snap him to specific pitches. The difference was subtle but very effective- the dialog became much more interesting. I’m also a huge fan of the Sonnox Oxford plug-ins- the Inflator is great. Nectar, from iZotope, is another favorite of mine.”
Fable Sounds Broadway Big Band is one of my favorite sampled instrument collections, and Dawson is a devotee as well. “I saw a clip from a NAMM show they did a few years ago and couldn’t believe the quality of the sounds. It took me about three years to track down Yuval (Shrem, the developer), but I finally ran into him at last year’s NAMM. I hadn’t been able to find anyone who owned the product and wasn’t comfortable purchasing it without getting my hands on it first. When I played it last year I was floored.
“It’s one thing to play a sampled instrument in a booth, or even your own studio, but taking it onstage where it has to compete with live instruments is a completely different test. The first time I brought BBB into a rehearsal and played it through the monitors the product stopped the entire band in its tracks. No one could believe how well it cut through the other instruments. Its presence in that environment was amazing.”
The early Commodores tracks were cut with only a single trumpet and alto sax, so creating a multi that effectively recreates that sound does not require a lot of keyswitching. “The first trumpet is amazing. Playing this product got me to go back and listen to all of the classic soul and R+B horn sections from the 70’s and 80’s to study the articulations. BBB covers all of them.”
Records, film work, performing with an established super group- things have worked out pretty well in LA for Thomas Dawson. But he maintains connected with Louisiana as well. “I go back home a couple of times a year. My brother is campaigning for a position in the state government, so I’ll be heading back there to perform at events for him. I love California but Louisiana will always be a big part of who I am.”
I’ve known Greg Ondo for a number of years. Greg’s the Field Marketing Manager for Steinberg North America, and as a long time Cubase user I’ve peppered him with a fair number of relatively stupid questions, all of which he’s answered with great patience. The occasional sly half grin has penetrated through the telephone lines, however! Greg recently sat down with me to answer some questions as part of the series of talks I’m having with representatives of companies that manufacture the top digital audio workstations.
Gary Eskow: “What percentage of Steinberg users are professional musicians and what percentage are prosumers, or amateurs?”
Greg Ondo: “I think that we have a healthy balance between users just starting out and pros, all the way up to the most demanding studio and touring musicians. Many people just beginning start with a version of Cubase LE or AI bundled with various hardware devices and upgrade from there to gain access to our complete feature set. Interestingly enough, no one really calls up the company and tells us that they are an amateur!”
GE: “What distinguishes Cubase from its competitors?”
GO: “Steinberg’s long history of innovation is what distinguishes the company in my view. We were the first company to release products that let the user edit while music was playing. We integrated sequencing, audio and scoring, invented VST and made native based audio the standard. We have a lot of mature results-oriented technologies. We are also seeing groundbreaking integration of software and hardware with our parent company Yamaha that no one else is in a position to offer.”
GE: “What is the most overlooked feature in Cubase?”
GO: “It’s hard to say what the most overlooked feature is. It might be the Control Room, which replaces the control room section found in many large format consoles. It allows the user to create headphone mixes for individual musicians during the tracking process, perform talkback, handle speaker management (including surround support) and incorporate external sources such as an iPod or DVD player. I see a lot of people using consoles for these functions even though they’re now better handled at the software level.”
GE: “Please distinguish the current versions of Cubase and Nuendo.”
GO: “Cubase and Nuendo share many features and have a common look and feel. Nuendo offers significantly more features for post production users, including more extensive surround support, Euphonix System 5 control surfaces integration, advanced automation, ADR, and network collaboration. I often tell people if you want to write music for the film get Cubase, if you want to mix all of the audio including sound effects, foley, dialog and music for the film get Nuendo.”
GE: “How successful has Nuendo been in making inroads into the audio post community?”
GO: “Nuendo has made significant inroads into the post community. As budgets are shrinking for many projects, Nuendo allows for the same post production workflow at a more attractive price point. I have been to many post studios throughout the country who couldn’t survive without Nuendo.”
GE: “What’s new in WaveLab 7?”
GO: “WaveLab 7 was a complete rewrite of our award winning mastering solution. It is also now for the first time available for MacOS. The workflow has been streamlined with different preset configurations to help make getting to work easier and faster. WaveLab now supports VST 3, and it offers some great plug-ins for restoration including Sonnox DeBuzzer, DeClicker, and Denoiser as well as the Steinberg Post Filter. WaveLab, with its metering, analysis and burning is the best program to improve the final quality of audio at the most critical and overlooked production stage.”
GE: “Computer speed and RAM have come so far. What will they allow DAWs to do in the next five to ten years, and is Steinberg developing products that are future oriented?”
GO: “The advancement in computer technology has been great for Steinberg. When VST was developed 15 years ago the fastest processor available was an 80 Mhz PowerMac. It is now very easy for the entire production process to be handled on the latest generation processors from AMD and Intel. It’s interesting to watch film composers as they push the limits more than anyone else, incorporating large sample libraries, VSTi, numerous audio tracks and video. I’m not a software developer but I can envision even lower latency performance throughout the system in the most demanding user scenarios. I think that Steinberg will always be ready to embrace the cutting edge computer system performance of the future.
“We’ll continue to see more blockbuster features in future Steinberg products. Steinberg has always been an innovative company in many areas where companies have not pushed the boundaries. We continue to expand area such as VST Expression 2 for better MIDI and Vari Audio for vocal tuning. It may be easy to add new features, but if they impede the creative process they’re not really useful to the user. I think that workflow, using multiple features in a pragmatic manner will evolve to be an even more important feature in the future.”
GE: “Finally, what can you tell us about Greg Ondo, the man behind the legend?”
GO: “I’ve been working with Steinberg for over 19 years and it has been an incredible journey watching the company evolve to where it is today. I started off as a bassist playing in different bands and graduated from James Madison University with a degree in Music Industry. After college, I worked in a prominent studio in NY in the early ‘90’s and I remember thinking to myself that many users will be able to do this at home in the near future with the same results. The idea that the professional studio was the only place where quality work could be executed was feeling a bit anachronisitic to me, even at the time. Some people at the studio were surprised that I left to work for Steinberg. I loved the products then and the growth and depth of functionality we’ve achieved since that time is truly astonishing. I feel incredibly fortunate that Steinberg has great product planning and software developers, but most importantly, the company has never lost its vision. I can’t wait to see where Steinberg will be in 20 years. It will be exciting.”
Gary Eskow: “Cakewalk has been around for quite some time. Can you trace the history of the company for us?”
Robin Kelly: “Cakewalk was founded in 1987 by Greg Hendershott, who is still the CEO today. The first program released was Cakewalk for DOS. At that time Cakewalk was the name of the software and Twelve Tone Systems was the name of the company.
“In 1996 Cakewalk release Pro Audio 4, the first Windows DAW to record and play back audio and MIDI. Future versions of Pro Audio introduced a number of important features, including Direct X plug-in support, MIDI plug-ins, StudioWare, and an extremely stable audio engine. In 2001 SONAR 1 was released. It was the first DAW to support audio and MIDI loops and had some important new features, including plug-in delay compensation. Subsequent versions of SONAR added VST plug-in and synth support, ASIO, and 64-bit double precision audio engine.
“Cakewalk released SONAR X1 in 2010, featuring an updated interface and workflow called Skylight, the ProChannel, and REX64 support. Cakewalk is looking forward to celebrating its 25th anniversary in 2012.”
GE: “Can you tell us a bit about your own background and the experience of some of your colleagues at Cakewalk?”
RK: “I came to Cakewalk from an audio post and video background. I started at Cakewalk in 1996 in tech support. Tech support might not be a glamorous job but it really is a great experience to speak directly to the customers and learn what is important to them. After my time in support I moved on to Product Management and was the Product Manager for Pro Audio 6,7, and 8 and Audio FX1. By 2000, I had also finished rotations in Quality Assurance (Pro Audio 9) and as a product specialist conducting public demonstrations across the US.
“Since 2000 I’ve moved up through the sales department, first in international sales and finally my current position as Vice President of Sales and Marketing. Having experience in all aspects of the company has really given me a huge well of experience to draw upon. Even after 15 years at Cakewalk I’m still amazed by the passion and drive the entire staff has to make the best possible products for our customers. The staff is the true driving force behind Cakewalk and its products. The majority of our staff uses our products outside their day jobs. Dan Kaplan, Graphic Designer, has his music featured in the upcoming season of “Deadliest Catch. “ Jimmy Landry, Artist Relations, has four songs featured in ESPN broadcasts, and there are many more examples!”
GE: “What is the most under utilized aspect of SONAR?”
RK: “That’s a tough one. If I had to pick one it would be the mix architecture feature. SONAR X1 has an incredibly flexible bussing and routing matrix, multiple gain stages, unlimited effects patching, and 64-bit Double Precision plug-ins and mix engine. Few folks actually leverage the power of the underlying engine. When we speak to our professional customers we are instantly reminded of how important this architecture and the resulting sound quality is to them.”
GE: “In your mind, what sets SONAR apart from Logic, Cubase, Digital Performer and other work stations?”
RK: “Sound quality would be a big one; we get feedback from customers all the time saying how amazed they are with SONAR’s dynamic range and fidelity. This is something our engineering team takes significant pride in. Our support for Intel processors is another one.Cakewalk and Intel have a very close and long term relationship which allows us to stay on the cutting edge of technology; each version of SONAR is enhanced for the current (and sometimes future) generation of Intel processors. This means faster than real-time renders, more effects, lower latency and an overall faster and more robust performance.
“SONAR is enhanced to use the 256 wide registers. That might sound a bit geeky, but in practical terms this means that importing audio data that has multiple bit rates will be much faster than with other DAWs. SONAR is Windows only. At first, this might seem like a bad thing as SONAR does not support the Mac. To be honest, we have no aversion to the Mac and many of our synths and effects are cross platform, but the simple fact is we grew out of DOS and then moved to Windows. This single OS focus has enabled SONAR to fully leverage the power of the platform without making compromises to ensure equal performance across multiple operating systems. To put it in simple terms, we know Windows and we know how to squeeze every last drop of performance out of it.”
GE: “Have digital audio workstations matured to the point where future releases will be less likely to offer radically new features?”
RK: “I firmly believe that the opposite is the case. The power of today’s processors is stunning compared to five years ago. If you extrapolate that out another five years using Moore’s law the potential of a future workstation is incredible. The real trick is taking that future power into account today and planning to have your software deliver both current and innovative features. We have an extremely talented Product Management and Development team and they work closely with Microsoft, Intel and other partners, so I can’t wait for what the future has in store for DAWs.”
GE: “Is Cakewalk planning products for computers faster than those available today?”
RK: “Absolutely. In software life cycles are pretty fast and you have to constantly plan for the future. The future plans could be in the form of a small update, a new version or even a completely different application. Any software company that rests on its laurels will fall behind the competition and eventually become irrelevant.”
GE: “Anything else you’d care to comment on?”
RK: “Well I was thrilled the Bruins won the Stanley Cup and I hope the Red Sox can have a great year too! Seriously, I think in many ways the music software business in going through a rebirth. It reminds me of the mid 90’s when there were many manufacturers with different and unique products; that competition was good for the customers even if it caused many engineers lots of sleepless nights. Today, the number of DAW companies on the market now is quite large, there are new platforms like Andriod and iPad, and the processors keep getting faster. The drives get bigger and RAM gets faster as well. It really is an exciting time to be part of the music software industry. Finally, the Cakewalk customers are absolutely fantastic. They exhibit a passion for our products that really helps drive us and shape future releases. The greatest reward is seeing a customer have success on a professional level and knowing that SONAR was part of it.”
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