SONAR 2015 Foxboro Update Notes

Last updated on 3/18/2016

This article was adapted from the SONAR Foxboro Update PDF.

The SONAR Foxboro update includes the following:

  1. Plug-In Upsampling
  2. A|A|S Strum Session 2 SONAR Edition
  3. Drum Replacer Enhancements
  4. EDM Percussion Loop Library
  5. Deflate Gate FX Chain
  6. Fixes and Workflow Enhancements

 

How to Download Foxboro

Open the Cakewalk Command Center, then download the following items:

  • Strum Session 2 (Platinum only): Platinum Instrument Collection category
  • EDM Percussion Loop Library and Deflate Gate: Anderton Collection. EDM Percussion Loop Library will be in the Audio Library section of SONAR's Media Browser under Loops. Deflate Gate will be installed in the Anderton Collection Drums folder.
  • Everything else: The core SONAR Artist, Professional, or Platinum category

 

 

Plug-In Upsampling

Artist, Professional, Platinum

Some plug-ins, both processors and virtual instruments, can produce unwanted artifacts when running at lower sample rates (e.g., 44.1 and 48 kHz) if they don’t oversample internally and lots of high frequencies are present. Most modern plug-ins give the option to oversample at the expense of drawing more CPU power, but many older ones still in common use do not. Amp sims and synths are affected the most, but so are dynamics processors and some reverbs. The artifacts result from “foldover distortion,” which produces a sort of “wooly” noise when higher frequencies from the digital signal processing "fold back" to create noise in the audio range.

The typical workaround is running projects at higher sample rates, such as 88.2 or 96 kHz. However this uses more CPU power, which can limit the number of tracks and plug-ins you can run in real time.

Upsampling on Freeze/Bounce/Export

Upsample On Render

This breakthrough feature provides the benefits of processing or generating audio at a higher sample rate in projects using lower sample rates (e.g., 44.1 or 48 kHz). When selected, SONAR begins the bounce process by upsampling the incoming audio to the specified higher sample rate, processes the plug-in at the new rate, then downsamples the resulting output to the current project sample rate. This process happens automatically, behind the scenes; it works with VST, DX and/or virtual instruments.

Limitations of Upsampling

Please note that only some plug-ins, generally older ones, benefit from upsampling and only if significant high frequencies are present. If no harmonics exist that reach into the range of the clock, there will be no foldover distortion, hence no need for upsampling.

There can be a significant improvement in sound quality with some plug-ins, no improvement with others, and a few may actually sound worse. So, upsampling is enabled on a per-plug-in basis—in other words, enabling upsampling for one plug-in enables it for all instances of that one plug-in, in any project. Because this rendering process is CPU-intensive, do not enable upsampling for a particular plug-in unless you can hear an actual difference.

Note that SONAR’s high-end sample rate conversion requires considerable CPU power, so this process is available only when doing a fast (non-real-time) bounce. Also, the maximum upsample rate is 384 kHz, so upsampling is not available for projects that run above 192 kHz; and at present upsampling cannot be applied to plug-ins in surround buses, or to bit-bridged plug-ins or region effects. Finally, note that some plug-ins may not support operating at a higher sample rate. In this case, SONAR displays an error message toast notification, and performs the plug-in bounce at the original project sample rate.

It’s also important to remember that the sound designer probably built a sound based on what was heard. If you now process at high sample rates, the sound may be brighter because the high frequencies are no longer being folded back, and there could be less perceived low end because the foldover distortion is no longer there. Whether that sounds “better” or not is subjective.

Why Upsampling Can Improve Audio Quality

It may seem counter-intuitive that after upsampling to a higher sample rate and rendering, returning to a lower sample rate preserves the benefits of working at the higher sample rate. However, these benefits occur in the audio range, and as low a sample rate as 44.1 kHz has no problem reproducing sound in the audio range. Because upsampling processes at higher frequencies, when sample rate-converted back to a lower sample rate, the frequencies that could cause foldover distortion are no longer present.

How to Enable Upsampling

A new option in the plug-in window’s System Menu (click on the button in the plug-in window’s upper left) specifies whether a plug-in should be upsampled to a higher sample rate when bouncing, rendering, freezing, exporting, etc. This option persists globally for all instances of the plug-in in all projects, so it needs to be set only once per plug-in. It can also be disabled at any time.

 

 

Applied Acoustics Strum Session 2 SONAR Edition

Platinum

A|A|S Strum Session 2 SONAR Edition

This update to Strum Acoustic Session has major, important improvements that increase this plug-in’s versatility while offering a better solution than ever for adding convincing, stylish MIDI-based guitar parts. With a collection of both acoustic and electric guitar sounds, automatic chord recognition, sophisticated chord voicing, integrated strumming and picking action, MIDI riff library, amp emulation, and effects, playing guitar on a keyboard has never been so easy. Compared to Strum Acoustic Session, Strum Session 2 offers the following additions and improvements:

  • New electric guitar engine
  • Amplifier with spring reverb
  • A completely revised string module, finer pick/finger interaction, integrated coupling at the bridge, and precise acoustic guitar body response
  • Revised strumming engine for expressive and natural strumming
  • Re-designed, streamlined interface
  • New bank and program manager
  • New Loop mode with a MIDI riff library comprising 518 loops arranged in 74 packs for acoustic and electric guitar
  • New Keyboard mode
  • New preset library with 12 acoustic guitars (nylon and steel-string) and 12 electric guitars
  • New Compressor and EQ modules
  • Aftertouch Threshold in MIDI panel
  • Parameter value entry via computer keyboard

 

 

Drum Replacer Enhancements

Platinum

The Cakewalk Drum Replacer has already proven its worth, and these enhancements make it even more flexible.

Drum Replacer

User Markers

To add user markers (shown in yellow) to the performance, left-click in the row below the detected markers. While holding the left mouse button, the marker line appears so you can place the marker more precisely in relation to the audio. To remove a marker, right-click or right-click swipe.

Specify Velocity

To specify a velocity for the user marker, click an inserted user marker and drag up or down. The cursor will be replaced by a value shown next to the user marker, which will remain until releasing the mouse button.

Sample Playback Offset

The vertical line that appears over the loaded sample's graphical display can be moved horizontally to represent where the sample will play back in relation to the hit marker. Earlier positions result in later playback, whereas later positions result in earlier playback. The bottom of the line will display an offset value (in milliseconds) while the operation is in progress.

FLAC Support

Drum Replacer supports FLAC files directly, as well as via .sfz files that reference FLAC audio. This lets you use all the cool samples you’ve acquired over the years for Session Drummer.

Extended MIDI Notes

Drum Replacer now offers the following notes from the MIDI Note combo box:

  • 35: Kick 2
  • 36: Kick 1
  • 37: Side Stick
  • 38: Snare 1
  • 39: Clap
  • 40: Snare 2
  • 41: Low Tom 2
  • 42: Closed Hat
  • 43: Low Tom 1
  • 44: Pedal Hat
  • 45: Mid Tom 2
  • 46: Open Hat
  • 47: Mid Tom 1
  • 48: High Tom 2
  • 49: Crash 1
  • 50: High Tom 1
  • 51: Ride 1
  • 52: China
  • 53: Ride Bell

Filter Off Mode

Setting Drum Replacer's lowest filter value to “Off” applies no filter, so all frequencies are eligible for hit detection.

Persistence Data Caching

Unlike Everett, where opening Drum Replacer analyzes the audio data, persistence data is now being cached so that upon reopening a project, Drum Replacer foregoes the analysis and uses predetermined information. Re-analysis will also not be required for slip edits; slip-edited data will be darkened in the Drum Replacer waveform UI.

 

 

Deflate Gate FX Chain

Artist, Professional, Platinum

Deflate Gate FX Chain

It started as a joke...“Hey, it’s the Foxboro release, the Patriots play there…we need a Deflate Gate!” But then it turned into a challenge: What would be the sound of squeezing the air out of something? Regardless of whether Deflate Gate produces that sound or not, it can produce some interesting effects that are particularly useful when you want to “pump” sustained sounds in the context of EDM.

Note that although Deflate Gate is in the Drums folder of the Anderton Collection FX Chains, it is also excellent with sustained sounds like pads and power chords.

How the controls work is not intuitively obvious, so here’s how to make it do cool things. Deflate Gate is related somewhat to having a compressor smashed by a sidechain (in fact, sidechaining this effect can do provide some very interesting effects as well).

  1. Start with the Decay and Decay Hold controls up halfway.
  2. Adjust Threshold for reliable triggering. This will be between 10-25% or so with signals that are close to maximum level. Turn clockwise for softer signals. Note that the input signal has to go below the Threshold to “reset” the gate.
  3. Edit Decay as desired. Counterclockwise gives a more percussive effect; clockwise more like a compressor being squashed by a sidechain.
  4. Decay Hold sets how long the signal stays “deflated.”

Where to Find It

To insert the Deflate Gate FX Chain into a project, right-click on a bus or track FX Rack and select Insert FX Chain Preset… Go to C:\Cakewalk Content\SONAR <Artist/Professional/Platinum>\FX Chain Presets if it doesn’t open automatically. Open the Anderton Collection then the Drums folders. Finally open the Deflate Gate.fxc file.

 

 

EDM Percussion Loop Library

Artist, Professional, Platinum

EDM Percussion Loop Library

This unique percussion loop library features three folders:

  • Tambourine loops
  • Electronic-sounding percussion
  • Electro percussion loops

However, note that the Electro loops are good for a lot more styles of EDM than just electro— and we bet you haven’t heard these sounds before. Also, the tambourine samples work extremely well in pop and rock productions, as do the “electronic-sounding percussion” samples. Taken as a group, you can find suitable percussion accents for a wide variety of musical styles with loops that stretch well over a wide range of tempos.

Tempo Stretching

Each loop has a “native” tempo (see Specifications, below). Note that the REX and Groove Clip (WAV) formats have different strengths and limitations that apply to loops in general, not just this particular loop library.

  • REX files stretch well over a wide range of tempos. REX files stretch more elegantly to slower tempos than WAV files.
  • Groove Clip files stretch over a wide range, but sound better when sped up compared to being slowed down.
  • Because of the different stretching processes, the two types of loops will usually sound close to identical at their native tempos. However when stretched, they can sound somewhat different from each other—audition both, or layer to add variations.

Specifications

  • 66 unique loops in both REX (.rx2) and Groove Clip/Acidized WAV format (132 loops total)
  • 102 MB of loop content
  • 44.1kHz sample rate
  • 24-bit resolution
  • Stereo format
  • Native tempos: 90 BPM (Electro folder), 100 BPM (Tambourine and Percussion folders)

Where to Find It

To use the loops in this library, click the Media tab of SONAR's Browser (if you don't see the Browser, click the Views menu > Browser). In the drop-down menu at the top of the Browser, select Audio Library, then double-click Loops and then EDM Percussion Loops. Open any of the folders there and drag the audio loops into any audio track.

 

 

Fixes and Workflow Enhancements

Artist, Professional, Platinum

We’d like to take this opportunity to thank you again for your helpful comments and suggestions that have resulted in improvements in several categories. Find the Foxboro fixes and workflow enhancements in their own knowledge base article.

 

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