Automating Effects and DXis in SONAR

Last updated on 3/31/2016

By Scott Garrigus

Muska & Lipman publish SONAR Power! written by Scott Garrigus. This book is the highly anticipated follow-up to Cakewalk Power! This tip is drawn from this book and covers automating effects and DXi synths.

One of the most powerful mixing and editing functionalities in SONAR is the ability to automate the individual parameters of DirectX 8 audio effects and DXi soft synths.

Automating Audio Effects Parameters

Patch the effect you wish to automate and arm the individual parameter you want to automate.

  1. Right-click in the FX field of the audio track to which you want to apply the real-time effect and choose Audio Effects | Cakewalk | (the name of the effect you want to use). SONAR comes with five automatable DirectX 8 effects: FXChorus, FxDelay, FxEq, FxFlange, and FXReverb.
     
  2. After the window for the effect appears, right-click on the name of the effect in the FX field and choose Arm Parameter.
     
  3. In the dialog box that appears, put a check mark next to each of the parameters in the Param Armed list that you would like to automate.
     
  4. Click OK

Now that your parameters are armed, you have two choices for how you would like to create automation data. You can record automation data in real time by changing parameters on the effect interface while the track plays back or you can create envelopes.

To Create Automation in Realtime as the Audio Plays Back

  1. Set the Automation recording mode. Choose Transport | Automation Record Options to open the Automation Record Options dialog box.
     
  2. Select the mode you would like to use:
  • Use Touch mode to record data only when you are manipulating a control or parameter with your mouse.
  • Use Overwrite mode to record data over any pre-existing automation data.
  • Use Auto Punch mode to have SONAR automatically punch in and punch out to record data  during a specific range of time

You are now ready to record automation data.

  1. Choose Transport | Record Automation to start the project playing and to start recording automation data.
     
  2. Move the parameters on the effect that you have armed for recording.
     
  3. Hit stop when you have finished.

You will now see your effect automation displayed as envelopes on your track. You can further modify this automation by editing points on the envelope.

Note: you can also use snapshots to create automation changes at specific points in your track.

To Create Automation Using  Envelopes

  1. Right-click in the Clips pane of the track which has the effect and choose Envelopes | Create | (the name of the effect to be automated)
     
  2. In the dialog box that appears, put a check mark next to each of the parameters in the Envelope Exists list that you would like to automate.
     
  3. Click OK

Envelopes for the parameters that you have selected will now appear on your Audio track. You can edit these envelopes to your liking by pointing and double clicking with your mouse to drop nodes, then pointing and clicking to drag the nodes to the times and values you want. Don't forget that you can change curve types by right clicking on your envelopes in between points.

Automating DXi Parameters

Unlike effect parameters, DXi parameters can be automated only by using envelopes (this has changed in SONAR 2.0, learn about DXi enhancements in SONAR 2.0). Here's how:

  1. Set up a DXi in the Track view of your project. See Using DXi Synths for more information on how to do this.
     
  2. In the MIDI track that drives the DXi, right click in the Clips pane and choose Envelopes | Create | MIDI to open the MIDI Envelope dialog box.
     
  3. In the Type drop-down list, choose the Control, RPN, or NRPN options.
     
  4. The Value drop-down list will show all of the parameters that the DXi offers for automation. Choose a parameter from the list.
     
  5. In the Channel drop-down list, choose the MIDI channel of the current patch (program) being used in the DXi.
     
  6. Click OK.

Envelopes for the parameters you have selected to automate will now appear on your MIDI track. You can change these envelopes as described above at the end of the audio effect portion of this tip.

Scott R. Garrigus is the author of the Cakewalk Power!, Sound Forge Power!, and SONAR Power! books, and Publisher of the DigiFreq music technology newsletter.

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