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Dave G

Confused about the Synth Rack and proper synth management

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Posted (edited)

As I still struggle to continue to learn the Cakewalk interface, I feel confused about the Synth Rack and synth management. Basically, I'm seeking clarity on the purpose of the Synth Rack and how to properly manage/organize my variety of synths being used.

For each Track I add/remove, the Synth Rack updates accordingly by adding/removing the corresponding synths. However, in a recent review of my many projects in progress, in some cases the synths listed in the Rack don't match the number of Tracks present.

What I'd like to do is establish the habit of properly managing my synths and make sure every instance is accounted for (and properly deleted when not needed). But this isn't always happening. I feel like the Synth Rack is making things more complicated, or I'm overthinking. Furthermore, it pains me that I have a hard time explaining my dilemma when there are so many variables...

So these are my questions:

1) What is the purpose and benefit of the Synth Rack? Can I continue to add/remove Tracks and ignore Synth Rack usage entirely?

2) I fail to understand why the Synth Rack works (or doesn't) the way it does. What would cause it to not correspond to my number of Tracks synths present?

In regards to replacing the synth in a Track:

3) Somewhat related: How do I convert a MIDI track to a Simple Instrument track?

4) I'm unclear on how to properly replace a synth in a Track. When I drag a synth from the Browser, it goes into the Track's FX Bin. Why would it do this and what purpose does that serve?

Any clarity and guidance are appreciated. Thanks! :)

Edited by Dave G

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I would really like an answer from some of the more knowledgeable people here to explain this to me and further educate, if possible.

Perhaps this post should be moved to the Q&A? Please advise.

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Posted (edited)

Have you read the section on the Synth Rack in the Reference Manual? PP 587.

I don't use the synth rack much but seems like the Reference Manual is pretty thorough.

Edited by reginaldStjohn

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The most simple answer is flexibility.

1. Yes you can ignore the synth rack altogether.

For a long time the only way to insert an instrument into a project was to put it in the FX rack of an audio track. Some people still prefer to do it that way. However the Synth Rack allows you to insert an instrument with multiple input (midi) tracks and/or multiple output (audio) tracks. If you wish to do so you can insert an instrument without creating any tracks at all. 

Once an instrument is loaded into the rack the output of any midi track can be routed to it and the input of any audio track can be routed to it. So...

2. Theoretically an instrument can have any number of tracks associated with it.  Typically you will want an audio track for each output and a midi track for each voice you want to control. Tracks may contain data you would not want to delete when deleting a synth.

3. An instrument track can be created by selecting a single midi track and the single audio track whose input is routed to the desired instrument. Right click one of the two tracks. "Make Instrument Track" is one of the options.

4. There is a drop down arrow to the right of the Synth Rack label. The replace synth option is in that drop down.

This is just scratching the surface of a very deep subject.

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To elaborate on a couple of these

2. There is one entry for every plug-in instance in the project that can receive MIDI data. This includes all synths and effects that have "Enable MIDI Input" turned on. This option is in the VST2/3 drop down in the standard header above every plug-in UI.

3. A synth requires at least one MIDI track and one audio track. An instrument track is a simplified presentation a synth's MIDI track input and audio track output. If a synth has just a MIDI track output pointed to it, the synth needs an audio track added to the project with the track input set to the synth. "Make Instrument Track" is an option in the track header context menu. There are several hot spots in the track header for opening this menu including the small track icon to the left of the track name in the track view.

4. The original way in SONAR to add synths to projects was using an audio FX rack. This feature is still supported but is intended for synths that operate on audio data such as vocoders. Synths without audio inputs should not be added to FX racks. "Replace Synth" is a couple of choices down from "Make Instrument Track" on the track header context menu."

 

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24 minutes ago, reginaldStjohn said:

Have you read the section on the Synth Rack in the Reference Manual? PP 587.

I don't use the synth rack much but seems like the Reference Manual is pretty thorough.

The info is also available at http://www.cakewalk.com/Documentation?product=Cakewalk&language=3&help=Browser.11.html

The website is updated more frequently than the Reference Manual pdf.

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19 hours ago, scook said:

The info is also available at http://www.cakewalk.com/Documentation?product=Cakewalk&language=3&help=Browser.11.html

The website is updated more frequently than the Reference Manual pdf.

Problem is, you can't really search the website which for me is a real problem. I quite often, probably most of the time, don't know where to look but can come up with a keyword or two by trial and error. The pdf document is very easy to search.

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I usually use a web browser to search the index

The website search is a little more involved.

 

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One thing I noticed is that unless I remove a synth from the synth rack, it continues to load while the project is loading. It seems that you can delete the midi and instrument track but the synth will remain in the synth rack.

If you don't want a synth in your project any longer, if you remove it from the synth rack, you will be prompted if you want to also remove the associated tracks. That's how I remove them now so my projects load faster.

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47 minutes ago, scook said:

I usually use a web browser to search the index

Thanks. I didn't realize that the entire index is on a single page. I'll try that.

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Posted (edited)

Synth -Rack might also be a good and easy adress for "MIDI remote control" purposes. Just right-click and take a ride...

Synth-Rack.thumb.PNG.ad87fa92c303cae66cd77a5ef65f6146.PNG

What a pitty, limited to about 42 (visual) automation knobs for one specific softsynth...  (more assignments are possible, but about 42 knobs are being showed up in at most two rows)  Numberated knobs would be a good  feature!!

right now, Z3TA is on cha 5/16, Nexus on cha 4, Spire on cha 3, Kontakt on cha 6, Spark  on cha 10/11. For me this is the easiest way organize MIDi remote and control all my softsynths with only one MIDI hardware device. In this case "Arturia BeatstepPro" --> Control-Mode

Edited by Astra-Ios
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On 22 de junio de 2020 at 12:03 AM, Dave G said:

 

2) I fail to understand why the Synth Rack works (or doesn't) the way it does. What would cause it to not correspond to my number of Tracks synths present?

 

The synth rack works more or less how a rack of hardware synths would. Synths are not depending on tracks at all, same as you can have an available hardware synth and not have it connected to the mixer until you need it. I find it very flexible that I can record midi data in a track pointing to a hardware synth and then change the output to a software synth in the rack to try other sound,  edit  the patch, then add another synth to the rack to try with the same notes  while keeping the other synth with its edited sound, instead of using replace to completely discard the instrument and the edits. Besides, the Synth Rack is where the assignable controls are, like @Astra-Ios points out above.

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Posted (edited)

Left-doubleclick into softsynth icon and also in the spaces between the knobs will show up your synth (which isn't that easy to do in track pane --> workflow)

If you prefer multidock philosophy you can anker it in there... 

Edited by Astra-Ios

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Home Studio didn't have a synth rack and once you realized this fact you soon forgot about it.  

I like the visual feedback I get from the synth rack. At a glance I can see what I have available already loaded.

I might have synths in the rack I'm not using while experimenting with different sound possibilities. It's a little quicker sometimes when trying different instruments like say an electric pianos. You can tweek the sounds so each one is as close to what your after and then simply change the midi track output to try each in turn. 

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Dave G got a lot to chew on here. :)

On 6/23/2020 at 5:00 PM, razor7music said:

One thing I noticed is that unless I remove a synth from the synth rack, it continues to load while the project is loading. It seems that you can delete the midi and instrument track but the synth will remain in the synth rack.

If you don't want a synth in your project any longer, if you remove it from the synth rack, you will be prompted if you want to also remove the associated tracks. That's how I remove them now so my projects load faster.

I never have to delete my synths from the rack, Cakewalk actually deletes the synth for you when you delete the corresponding tracks.

For example: if your synth has 1 audio track and 1 midi track and you delete them both, Cakewalk automatically deletes the synth from the project (and the Synth Rack, obviously). I don't remember the exact behavior, like if you have to delete them at the same time... I can't find the correct place in the online manual.

I know this was added to Sonar/Cakewalk some years ago so that people would not end up with your scenario of "leftover" synths in the rack.

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5 hours ago, GreenLight said:

Dave G got a lot to chew on here. :)

I never have to delete my synths from the rack, Cakewalk actually deletes the synth for you when you delete the corresponding tracks.

For example: if your synth has 1 audio track and 1 midi track and you delete them both, Cakewalk automatically deletes the synth from the project (and the Synth Rack, obviously). I don't remember the exact behavior, like if you have to delete them at the same time... I can't find the correct place in the online manual.

I know this was added to Sonar/Cakewalk some years ago so that people would not end up with your scenario of "leftover" synths in the rack.

This is not my experience. I noticed that synths or AD Drums 2 specifically, were loading when my project loaded even after I deleted the only instrument and midi tracks associated with it.

When I went into synth rack, there it was.

It might be a different setting, but I'm certain of this behavior.

Would like to hear from someone else if they have this same behavior.

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Posted (edited)

 

34 minutes ago, razor7music said:

This is not my experience. I noticed that synths or AD Drums 2 specifically, were loading when my project loaded even after I deleted the only instrument and midi tracks associated with it.

When I went into synth rack, there it was.

If a drum map is still in place that outputs to the synth, it won't be deleted.

Edited by David Baay

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23 minutes ago, David Baay said:

 

If a drum map is still in place that outputs to the synth, it won't be deleted.

No drum map used.

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On 6/23/2020 at 3:03 PM, Astra-Ios said:

Synth -Rack might also be a good and easy adress for "MIDI remote control" purposes. Just right-click and take a ride...

Synth-Rack.thumb.PNG.ad87fa92c303cae66cd77a5ef65f6146.PNG

What a pitty, limited to about 42 (visual) automation knobs for one specific softsynth...  (more assignments are possible, but about 42 knobs are being showed up in at most two rows)  Numberated knobs would be a good  feature!!

right now, Z3TA is on cha 5/16, Nexus on cha 4, Spire on cha 3, Kontakt on cha 6, Spark  on cha 10/11. For me this is the easiest way organize MIDi remote and control all my softsynths with only one MIDI hardware device. In this case "Arturia BeatstepPro" --> Control-Mode

Question about the method you posted here.  How is it any different than doing standard MIDI-Learns inside a VST?   Is there any benefit in controlling parameters via the synth rack?

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Sorry, english language is not my passion... I'll try the best I can

I don't control my synths via Synthrack - I use it just as a protocolation  for my hardware remote control actions, that I cause with my MIDI controller... (Arturia Beatstep Pro) take a look at my profile    --> "about me"  😱 

 Hmm, "standard MIDI-Learns inside a VST"? - I've never really figured out something like a "standard" there. Most VST-Synths have their own idea/concept about hardware remote control implementation, and it's varying a lot. (this is mainly about softsynths, while most plug-ins can't be regulate in synthrack. Then ATC will do trick, which can be painful to handle)
Setting up synths in synthrack helps you beeing focused to assigned knobs, faders or buttons, and even lets you watch, while knobs moving simulatniously to the motion of your hardware device. (so eyerybody will know what is really happening)
Let's say, you have 16 hardwareknobs to control 4 different softsynths in a project. How do you remember what CC regulates what, without a notification on a piece of paper or something else? (and then get lost of the notice...? he he)
In this case every softsynth needs to receive MIDI-informations on their own MIDI channel, otherwise it ends up in a freaky show.
As you can see in the uploaded picture, to assign the wanted MIDI channnel and the desirerd MIDI CC is easy and uncomplicated to do and usually difficult to find in a "standard MIDI Learn" circumstance. Also, you'll have one "GUI" for all your softsynths working in the same routine --> workflow (might ease your mind)

All in all: (Synthrack-solution)
- shows how many CCs are already assigned to the synth
- shows which controls are choosen e.g. cutoff/res/rev
- shows which channel and which CC is beeing used for what
- same workflow for all synths

hope this answers your question a bit 🤠

Edited by Astra-Ios
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