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Lee D

Cakewalk - Heavy VST Instrument / MIDI users?

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I know a lot of people use Cakewalk for heavy audio work.  

I wanted to get a pulse of how many people are using Cakewalk nowadays as their main DAW for Heavy VST instrument / MIDI use?

What type of music are you doing in it?  How has your experience been since Sonar X series?

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X series? Hopefully nobody sufferes that anymore, most buggy versions ever. 

I think the majority of Cakewalkers use a mix of both audio and midi.  I make backing tracks for live performances and record original songs so I need the midi to make a foundation. I'm mostly traditional rock/ country band instrumentations but I do like to sneak in a big fat Poly synth from time to time. VST's allow one to experiment with sounds you cannot afford to purchase as real instruments. 

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Up until about three years ago, all my music was done using hardware MIDI modules (lots of them!) and audio was limited to guitars & vocals.

Nowadays, all my hardware has been replaced by VST's (I even sampled all my favourite sounds from my old synths). I still use audio for guitars, vocals and occasionally bass.

Type of music ranges from pop/rock, progressive rock & a bit of jazz fusion.

I found X1 a bit of a learning curve as I was so used to 8.5, and I also felt it was a bit buggy. I upgraded to X2 so close to when X3 came out, it hardly got a look in.

I really liked X3 though, but Sonar Platinum has been excellent. To me, Cakewalk is just a more stable version of Sonar Platinum, and the new enhancements have been welcome.

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About 95% MIDI / VST.  Synthpop and post-punk mostly.  It has worked well for me since the first version called "Sonar."  I have a ProTools license but don't even have it installed currently and have never finished a project in it.

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2 minutes ago, smoddelm said:

About 95% MIDI / VST.  Synthpop and post-punk mostly.  It has worked well for me since the first version called "Sonar."  I have a ProTools license but don't even have it installed currently and have never finished a project in it.

How are you handling drums?  I have always kind of hated the Drum Maps. Do you use them?

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I do heavy MIDI sequencing daily. Although I have a lot of external MIDI hardware (synth, keyboards and modules), I use various VSTi most of the time since I jump into Win 7 - Sonar 8.5, to replace soundfonts & Gigasampler back then. These days, I still use external MIDI keyboards & modules with CbB, mix with ~5-8 VSTi in each project. I work mostly rock, pop, and country with a bit of orchestration here and there. All is well as expected.  I found nothing beats CbB when working with MIDI & VSTi, even on decade old PC I have (Core2Quad + 8GB RAM).

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Cakewalk started as a midi sequencer.  It's strength is it's ability to do midi.  I've tried other DAWs and will take CbB over any.

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15 hours ago, Lee D said:

How are you handling drums?  I have always kind of hated the Drum Maps. Do you use them?

Drum maps aren't really necessary, but I do use them.  There are drum maps already created for many drum VSTs - Addictive Drums, for one - so you don't necessarily need to do any work other than searching online and following the instructions to get them into Cakewalk.

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All in-the-box these days. I transformed from outboard gear, to modules, to all in-the-box over the years. I've had no issues with Cakewalk (Sonar), but I have had to improve my PC specs--especially with my samples. I remember buying NI's Abby Road Modern Drummer and I just didn't have the RAM to handle it. Talk about ruining the creative juices. Now, with the current rig I have, I can really push things and I don't have issues.

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55 minutes ago, smoddelm said:

Drum maps aren't really necessary

If other drum synth makers would follow Fxpansion (BFD2 and 3) and Cakewalk (Session Drummer2 and 3) implementing the appropriate VST2 opcode, the kit pieces would show up in the notes pane without any action on the users part.

That said, I have no problem using drum maps. There were a few essential bug fixes made post-X3. Creating new maps is still a typing exercise. There is a tool to convert .ins formatted text files to basic  drum maps which speeds things up a bit.

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Here, drums, keys, backup ohhs and ahhs, banjo, strings and anything else I can't just mic up and play are all midi.

Only the guitar, bass and vox are "analog"

CbB just keeps on truckin. 😎

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Posted (edited)

All midi except for vocals and guitars. Mostly good Old Rock, R&B, Blues and originals. Been doing this forever. CWbyBL is perfect for this. I have no issues and I do use tons of VSTS...

Should add that I had no issues with any version of Sonar and CW and I have owned them all.

Edited by Pathfinder

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Been all in the box since X1...

95% midi/VSTis.

I even mix without bouncing tracks down (forced myself to learn to work with the VST's audio track first). 

if I want to do something creative with the track I may record a part of it as needed (hence the 95%)..

 

write mostly smooth jazz and similar type stuff.

 

 

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I'm entirely midi/vsti.  I arrange mostly for myself to accompany my church organ selections and my own singing.  I am deeply into easy listening with classical roots.  I also do a lot of transcriptions of classical selections

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Posted (edited)
On 4/3/2019 at 2:30 AM, Lee D said:

I know a lot of people use Cakewalk for heavy audio work.  

I wanted to get a pulse of how many people are using Cakewalk nowadays as their main DAW for Heavy VST instrument / MIDI use?

What type of music are you doing in it?  How has your experience been since Sonar X series?

I am on VST/MIDI 95%, currently doing orchestral music with the exception of some recorded vocals and occasional guitars. I have found Cakewalk to be and exceptional MIDI sequencer. It is very intuitive and I really like the PRV setup for multi-track editing, the floating toolbar on mouse cursor, the groove quantize templates, the synth rack and the in-built midi track controls and MIDI plugins. The ProChannel and the Skylight interface also help me to be more productive while composing because the first give you a set of standard mixing tools right at your fingertips (maybe it is all that an average composer would ever need) and the second offers and excellent work-space set-up for staying organised on large projects (MIDI or audio).

On the other hand, there are things that I do not like so much: the score editor is a joke, you can't see note-names on MIDI notes either you can't choose not to audition notes on note insert. CAL is also an outdated and unpredictable way of doing some basic edits like make some notes to be "Legato".

In summary, Cakewalk is still a strong contender on MIDI sequencing and editing but it needs some improvements, specially on the long in the tooth score editor. A proper staff editor and decent video support are basic tools for many MIDI composers and maybe that is the reason most of them still rely on tools such as Cubase, Logic Pro or Digital Performer. These days, even REAPER has more useful and updated tools for that. 

Edit: I forgot to mention the Overlound Breverb 2 plugin, maybe one of the best stock reverb plugins of all DAW and another essential tool for MIDI composers. QuadCurve EQ is also excellent.

Edited by Feral State Sound

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I do about 20% midi / 80% Audio.

I prefer not to do all my work in the box as many of my outboard gear has special output transformers, variable impendence, and Class A tube Mic pre amps. No matter what you do, you'll never get a PC to sound authentic enough to replicate that. That being said, There's a lot of great plug ins that do an amazing job.

I've always seen Cakewalk as a Midi friendly DAW.

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Cakewalk is one of a few DAWs around today that evolved from MIDI sequencers. That strong MIDI support is still built-in. :D

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I've been using Cakewalk/Sonar from version 3, 4, and then went to 8.5.  I got into Sonar Platinum and stayed there until Bandlab's free offer.  This is running exceptionally well... not crashes to speak of.  It's also nice that I'm so used to the UI that I'm getting a lot done in a short amount of time.

I was doing 95% MIDI with external modules.  Unfortunately after 20 or 25 years it became time to retire the old gear and  get into more modern technology.  I'm now using 100% VSTs and plugins .

This is all suiting me well for doing old or "classic " country and rock and roll.

/OM

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When I moved a few years ago I decided to leave my MIDI gear packed up, and downsized the home studio from a spare bedroom, into a corner space in another room.

I am enjoying the relative ease of working with virtual instruments "in the box", and being able to back up the current state of my entire MIDI studio by simply clicking the "save" button on my current project. Big time saver. Plus now I have thousands of presets that I can pull up and tweak, and easily create multi layers with various instruments. The virtual synth rack is legit! Open any saved project, and I instantly have a "snapshot" of the virtual studio used in that session.

No more MIDI sysex backups, and no more tangle of MIDI/audio cables, and no more external mixer.  xD

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