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Noel Borthwick

DAWbench podcast - Cakewalk DAW evolution, past, present, future

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I recently participated in a fun discussion with Principal PM @Pete Brown from Microsoft and Vin Curigliano of AAVIM Technology, who has been doing DAW benchmarking for a long time. We talked about a bunch of stuff,  including the history of Cakewalk from the early years to now,  our intersections with Microsoft’s technology over the last 30 years and lots of technical details about DAW development.

You can listen to the podcast here.  If you are a DAW geek and get through listening to all two hours of it, you win a prize. We’ll give you Cakewalk. Oh wait... 😂

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Posted (edited)

Was just going to say a version of Cakewalk...  lol.
I listened all the way to the end...  and came to the conclusion I have been with Cakewalk longer than you!!!!
Also used Coreldraw in those early days too.

Was good to put a voice to a face.

I was using a ZX81 with a 16mb ram pack... then moved upto an Acorn Electron with tape.
Used to spend hours programming in stuff!!
Then over to an Atari ST.

Edited by garybrun
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Listened to the whole 2+ hours too.  Made me wonder what would of happened to Cakewalk/Sonar if Bandlab didn't buy the assets with you taking a position at Bandlab before Meng brought the company.  So glad it all worked out and you finally have the time and resources to make CbB the best it can be!

As Kermit the Frog would say  --  Yay!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  

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3 hours ago, garybrun said:

Also used Coreldraw in those early days too.

...

I was using a ZX81 with a 16mb ram pack... then moved upto an Acorn Electron with tape.
Used to spend hours programming in stuff!!
Then over to an Atari ST.

I count myself as a 22-year Cakewalk user now, even though there was a 20-year gap in the middle of that period. Years ago Chip Grayson of Micrografx gave me a copy of Designer, which eventually became part of the Corel portfolio, so I ended up using CorelDraw for years too. I also had a ZX81 with a Memotech RAM extension. Did you really have 16Mb? I think  my Memotech pack was 64 Kb.

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Took me all day, but I finally finished the entire 2 hours. Great stuff, even some new (to me) information. "Wasabi" :D

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1 minute ago, bitflipper said:

Wasabi

Not much how about you ;)

Yes there was quite a lot of geeky talk in that podcast :D

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I have to say, as a longtime Cakewalk user (since 1986) I have noticed the return to the philosophy of Cakewalk's earlier days.

Companies that are under pressure to release a new paid version every 9-12 months tend to throw in a lot of half-baked fluff just so Marketing can add to its features matrix and thus justify charging for the same product over and over. Noel and company, thanks to Meng's patronage, are now free to concentrate on just making the product better. Hats off to Meng, and happy to hear Noel giving the guy the credit he deserves.

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8 hours ago, MarkP said:

Did you really have 16Mb? I think  my Memotech pack was 64 Kb.

I think it was 16kb 🙂

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12 hours ago, MarkP said:

I count myself as a 22-year Cakewalk user now, even though there was a 20-year gap in the middle of that period. Years ago Chip Grayson of Micrografx gave me a copy of Designer, which eventually became part of the Corel portfolio, so I ended up using CorelDraw for years too. I also had a ZX81 with a Memotech RAM extension. Did you really have 16Mb? I think  my Memotech pack was 64 Kb.

Designer was after my time there. I left in 97 to start working with Cakewalk on Pro audio 7.
Corel had some interesting if schizophrenic products. I peripherally worked on a product called The Art of Playboy, that was a multimedia CD-ROM (remember those?) showcasing art and illustration from the Playboy catalog. I helped the project lead to build a simple playlist engine to trigger the background music to the slides and my wife and I composed and sequenced the music in CWPA 3. That was a fun little side project. Wav file playback was still not an option in those days due to storage limits and spotty spotty support on off the shelf PC’s.

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13 hours ago, bitflipper said:

Took me all day, but I finally finished the entire 2 hours. Great stuff, even some new (to me) information. "Wasabi" :D

Yeah WASABI was an open low latency spec for writing drivers for Windows to get around the latency problem with MME (caused by Windows KMixer latency). Martin Puryear from Microsoft was involved in that project and it ended up being replaced by the WDM kernel streaming API (KS) which was released publicly.
Another very cool open source project that never took off was a plugin specification called GMPI (Generalized Music Plugin Interface). There was a discussion group with many leading plugin and DAW developers participating and it went pretty far with the specification. I still have the posts from that mailing list archived. Its a shame that it didn’t take off since it was ahead of its time and more sophisticated than VST - besides being vetted by industry pros. Both those projects were led by Ron Kuper who pioneered the first Pro Audio version of Cakewalk.

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17 hours ago, garybrun said:

Was just going to say a version of Cakewalk...  lol.
I listened all the way to the end...  and came to the conclusion I have been with Cakewalk longer than you!!!!
Also used Coreldraw in those early days too.

Was good to put a voice to a face.

I was using a ZX81 with a 16mb ram pack... then moved upto an Acorn Electron with tape.
Used to spend hours programming in stuff!!
Then over to an Atari ST.

I couldn’t afford to get my own PC until 92 so by the time I started using DAW’s it was already at Cakewalk V1 for Windows. I only used hardware synths prior to that, or 4 track tape lol.

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36 minutes ago, Noel Borthwick said:

 Its a shame that it didn’t take off since it was ahead of its time and more sophisticated than VST - besides being vetted by industry pros. Both those projects were led by Ron Kuper who pioneered the first Pro Audio version of Cakewalk.

Tell me if I'm wrong, but I have a memory of Ron really pushing against VST (or was it ASIO?) for CWPA back in the day, in favour of more open standards, but it became too much of an omission not to add it after a while.

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Indeed we were in favor of open standards rather than being tethered by any particular vendors direction that's why we went with WDM KS at the time. 

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21 hours ago, garybrun said:

I was using a ZX81 with a 16mb ram pack... then moved upto an Acorn Electron with tape.
Used to spend hours programming in stuff!!
Then over to an Atari ST.

I started out on a ZX81, but never got past the standard 1K... I then moved to the ZX Spectrum which gave me my first taste of MIDI sequencing with the Cheetah MIDI interface & software.  It only did 8 tracks, but that was amazing at the time.
 

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Posted (edited)
16 minutes ago, msmcleod said:

I started out on a ZX81, but never got past the standard 1K... I then moved to the ZX Spectrum which gave me my first taste of MIDI sequencing with the Cheetah MIDI interface & software.  It only did 8 tracks, but that was amazing at the time.
 

The ZX Spectrum for me was used to play games...  think it was a text based adventure game...  like the hobbit... cant remember.

Then the famous Commodore 64!!   wow that was a huge upgrade!  Graphics and it could talk!!  🙂

Edited by garybrun

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17 hours ago, MarkP said:

I count myself as a 22-year Cakewalk user now, even though there was a 20-year gap in the middle of that period. Years ago Chip Grayson of Micrografx gave me a copy of Designer, which eventually became part of the Corel portfolio, so I ended up using CorelDraw for years too. I also had a ZX81 with a Memotech RAM extension. Did you really have 16Mb? I think  my Memotech pack was 64 Kb.

I was a CorelDraw beta tester for many versions before Adobe sucked me into their crack-like orbit. And now I can’t get out.

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, garybrun said:

Then the famous Commodore 64!!   wow that was a huge upgrade!  Graphics and it could talk!!  🙂

Not only that, but the C-64 had optional assembler software that could be used to write MIDI stuff (e.g., real time I/O code, on-the-fly data processing, MIDI file manipulation, etc.).  It even had vector tables to tap into OS routines. For example, by re-routing the easy to use 60-times-per-second interrupt  vector, incoming MIDI data could be very efficiently obtained, stored in a 256 byte circular buffer using zero-page write/read pointers,  processed using arrays of pointers to various stages of the data processing routines, and then sent  out.

Predating Roli and MPE, the C-64 could channelize incoming single-channel midi data and process it, and send it out as repurposed multi-channel data.  Not bad considering this was the mid-to-late 1980s using a 64kb computer with a 1 MHz (+/-) processor!!

 

Edited by User 905133
to remove an errant comma
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7 hours ago, Noel Borthwick said:

Another very cool open source project that never took off was a plugin specification called GMPI (Generalized Music Plugin Interface). There was a discussion group with many leading plugin and DAW developers participating and it went pretty far with the specification. I still have the posts from that mailing list archived. Its a shame that it didn’t take off since it was ahead of its time and more sophisticated than VST - besides being vetted by industry pros. Both those projects were led by Ron Kuper who pioneered the first Pro Audio version of Cakewalk.

GMPI (Generalized Music Plugin Interface) ,  say what ?

Were you holding out on us, LOL  ?

Very interesting Noel, and much in the same vein as the ASIO v WASABI v WASAPI v WaveRT discussion , or we could even throw in BETA v VHS, but thats a whole other rabbit hole  :)
 

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@TAFKAT   Wow it takes a Podcast with Noel for you to join our lovely forum ;)

Hope you stop by regularly and not just on gearslutz :D

I have been enjoying your podcast. Keep up the good work.

 

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