This month more about 64-bit computing and details of a Mackie control-surface update for Sonar users — and we offer handy tips on taming mute tools and MIDI notes.
If you haven't seen the Experience Music Project (EMP) in Seattle, USA, it's basically an homage to music from Microsoft's Paul Allen — as well as being the most amazing musical museum I've ever had the pleasure of visiting. So it was a natural venue for a recent Sonar X64 jam session, hosted by the 2005 WinHEC (Windows Hardware Engineering Conference). Along with Intel employees and other conference attendees, jazz organist Tony Monaco used the just-released Project 5 as his host, relying primarily on the Dimension sampler for grand piano, clavinet, rhodes, organ and analogue lead patches. What's more, the jam session was recorded live using the Sonar x64 Technology Preview on a 955X Express chipset-based PC with 8GB of RAM, running a Pentium Processor Extreme Edition (a dual-core processor with 3.2GHz core speed in each core, supporting Hyperthreading, for four threads in total). Looks like all this stuff really does work!
And while we're talking 64-bit, Cakewalk have added lots of 64-bit computer-related information to the Cakewalk DAW Labs PC Resource Guide at www.cakewalk.com/PCResource/default.asp. The info is helpful if you're considering buying or building a computer for audio, but almost essential if you're entering the brave new world of cutting-edge 64-bit computing.
Topics covered on the site include 64-bit operating systems in general, recommendations on compatible workstations, suitable audio/MIDI interfaces and drivers, and an FAQ that answers fundamental questions. And don't forget that you can download the Sonar X64 Technology Preview for free at www.cakewalk.com/x64.
You drag a group of MIDI notes, and are baffled when you see them erase existing notes in the area to which you're dragging. Or you drag a bunch of notes and they push existing notes out of the way. What's going on?
No prizes for answering 'annoying software bug'. The correct answer is 'Drag and Drop Options' (these affect audio and MIDI clips as well as MIDI data in the piano roll view). To call them up, right-click in the Clips pane and select 'Drag and Drop Options'. The section called 'What to do with existing material' has three options: Blend Old and New, Replace Old with New, and Slide over Old to Make Room. In most cases you'll want to select Blend Old and New, so that nothing that already exists is moved or erased. If you select Replace Old with New, anything 'underneath' the clip will be removed; if Delete Whole Measures is ticked and a moved clip covers only a few beats of a measure, any other data in that same measure will be deleted as well. If you slide one clip over another and Slide Over Old to Make Room is ticked, the new clip will split the existing data at the insertion point, and existing data to the right of the split will be moved further right to make room.
- Mackie Control: If you're using Mackie's Control Universal (MCU) control surface, here's some good news: An updated control surface plug-in for Sonar now accommodates the optional XT and C4 controllers, as well as the main MCU. For more information, visit www.cakewalk.com/Support/kb/ kb2005263.asp .
- MP3 Encoding: The MP3 encoder in Sonar 4 is a trial version, which means that it works for a while then plays hard to get. You can purchase a Cakewalk MP3 activator for unlimited use, but what if you've already bought it for a different Cakewalk product? The good news is that you don't have to buy it again. Just go to www.cakewalk.com/owners/mp3, where you'll find a link to MP3Upgrader04.exe. This small (193K) application will work to unlock the Kinetic, Project 5 V2 or Sonar 4 MP3 encoder.
I've never experienced any problems with the Mute tool, but some people do complain about "unpredictable" behaviour. I think the secret to ensuring that the Mute tool does what you want it to is probably the knowledge that where you drag within a clip — above or below the zero-crossing line — determines what happens. Dragging in the lower part of the Clip causes a mute, while dragging in the upper part unmutes. Of course, when a track is set to its minimum height it can be difficult to see exactly where in the track you're dragging. Just look at the cursor: if it has transformed itself into the international 'no' sign, you're in the mute (lower) part of the clip. If the cursor has a square shape, you're in the unmute (upper) part of the clip.
Note that Cakewalk does allow your aim to be a bit sloppy: once you click in the clip's upper or lower half, you've 'set' the cursor for as long as the mouse button is down. You can now drag anywhere on the clip and the cursor's role won't change.
There's one other Mute-tool subtlety. If you choose Mute Entire Clips from the Mute tool drop-down menu, you can simply click on a clip to mute it and click again to unmute (you don't have to drag through the clip). This is confirmed by a small 'no' symbol in the clip's upper-left corner.