The newest version of Cakewalk’s Windows-based DAW, Sonar X3, does away with the Essential moniker for its lowest-priced product and endows its most affordable Sonar release to date ($99) with the same tools and track counts as its larger siblings. The versions, Sonar X3, X3 Studio and X3 Producer all feature the same 64-bit audio engine, support for VST3 plug-ins and multi-touch input, along with an unlimited number of audio tracks, MIDI tracks, busses and sends. In order to improve project management, tracks and buses can now be coloured for quick visual reference.
Comping has been streamlined in Sonar X3, and allows mouse-free auditioning and promoting of takes to speed up the production process. Sharing to YouTube, Soundcloud, Facebook and Twitter is also built right into the interface, as is integration with Gobbler, the cloud-based project backup and collaboration service.
The basic version of the software comes with 12 virtual instruments including Cakewalk’s Session Drummer 3. Where Cakewalk have differentiated their X3 products are in the number of instruments and effects offered. X3 Studio ($199) adds built-in Melodyne Essential monophonic pitch correction, time stretching and audio-to-MIDI conversion, all without having to wait for data to transfer into the editor. In total, X3 Studio offers 51 effects including linear phase mastering plug-ins and Nomad Factory’s Blue Tubes FX. There are also 19 virtual instruments with LE versions of Cakewalk’s Rapture 1.2.2 and Dimension Pro 1.5 synths among them.
At the top of the range is X3 Producer ($499) which adds several virtual instruments such as the “superbly thought-out and very playable” Addictive Drums by XLN Audio (http://sosm.ag/jul07-addictive), AAS Lounge Lizard modeled electric piano and Strum Acoustic Session.
Additional effects exclusive to X3 Producer include Tone2 BiFilter2 which provides 47 filter types, Console Emulator and the brand new Tape Emulator module the latter two of which both use Sonar’s proprietary Pro Channel plug-in format.
Sonar X3 is compatible with Windows 7 and 8, and existing users will receive discounts when upgrading.