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Patrick Derbidge

Your Favorite Cakewalk features???

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I am enrolled in a class at my University called Alternative DAW's, which basically means alternative to Pro Tools ūüôā My final assignment that just got sprung on me was to write a a paper on an Alternative DAW of my choice.¬† Besides explaining some of how it works I wanted to get your feedback on your favorite features of Cakewalk. Perhaps give me a couple of your favorite features and a couple of weaknesses to balance the paper out. I am mostly a Reaper user so I'm not as versed in Cakewalk as I'd like to be and Reaper was already taken by another student so this was my next choice. Thanks for your help in advance.

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In the Tutorials section have a look at especially Creative Sauce and Xel Ohh videos. They are both very good at saying what is great about Cakewalk.

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Posted (edited)
8 hours ago, Patrick Derbidge said:

Besides explaining some of how it works I wanted to get your feedback on your favorite features of Cakewalk. Perhaps give me a couple of your favorite features and a couple of weaknesses to balance the paper out.

IMO, favorite features / benefits of using Cakewalk (or anything for that matter) vary from user to user and in no way can used to assess its usefulness to other users. That being said, for me, they are:

(1) Cakewalk's  flexibility / ability to be customized based on user preferences.

(2) The ability to work with a wide range of external gear and virtual gear, including the automatic migration of many plug-ins (instruments and FX) owned/licensed by users of SONAR. 

(3) The developers' interest in and helpfulness in working to help debug and if possible solve individual issues even when the issues are the result of user lack of knowledge, user error, etc. or the result of things Cakewalk has no control over (e.g., third-party plug-ins).

(4) The ability to work with a wide range of audio and midi interfaces / devices. 

(5) The developers' interest in user experience and dedication to continually implementing changes/ improvements and fixes.

(6) A forum for staff and knowledgeable power users to help users.

For me the top weaknesses are:

(1) Some default color choices that cannot yet be customized (e.g., dark grey text on a light b ackground).

(2)  Lack of built-in polyphonic audio-to-midi conversion (without having to pay big bucks for third-party products).

(3) Non-resizable track control images ("widgets").

(4) A staff view that has not been updated nearly as much as other features (including the lack of rhythmic triplet-like structures beyond 3, e.g. 5 or 7).

(5) Lack of small scale and large scale compositional midi data generation (21st century equivalent of musical "figures" like mordents,  turns, etc.).

Again, what I like about Cakewalk and what I find needs improvement should not be used to assess Cakewalk.  

Thank you for asking. I hope this helps.

PS: Will you be making the paper available to us to read?

Edited by User 905133
to add a PS
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On 4/21/2021 at 8:03 AM, User 905133 said:

IMO, favorite features / benefits of using Cakewalk (or anything for that matter) vary from user to user and in no way can used to assess its usefulness to other users. That being said, for me, they are:

(1) Cakewalk's  flexibility / ability to be customized based on user preferences.

(2) The ability to work with a wide range of external gear and virtual gear, including the automatic migration of many plug-ins (instruments and FX) owned/licensed by users of SONAR. 

(3) The developers' interest in and helpfulness in working to help debug and if possible solve individual issues even when the issues are the result of user lack of knowledge, user error, etc. or the result of things Cakewalk has no control over (e.g., third-party plug-ins).

(4) The ability to work with a wide range of audio and midi interfaces / devices. 

(5) The developers' interest in user experience and dedication to continually implementing changes/ improvements and fixes.

(6) A forum for staff and knowledgeable power users to help users.

For me the top weaknesses are:

(1) Some default color choices that cannot yet be customized (e.g., dark grey text on a light b ackground).

(2)  Lack of built-in polyphonic audio-to-midi conversion (without having to pay big bucks for third-party products).

(3) Non-resizable track control images ("widgets").

(4) A staff view that has not been updated nearly as much as other features (including the lack of rhythmic triplet-like structures beyond 3, e.g. 5 or 7).

(5) Lack of small scale and large scale compositional midi data generation (21st century equivalent of musical "figures" like mordents,  turns, etc.).

Again, what I like about Cakewalk and what I find needs improvement should not be used to assess Cakewalk.  

Thank you for asking. I hope this helps.

PS: Will you be making the paper available to us to read?

Thank you so much. I suppose I could make it available but we'll see how it turns out. I'm not sure my writing skills are anything to "write" home about, LOL. (sorry, Dad joke)

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The fact CbB it still loads and runs CAL scripts and Studioware panels.  I would be lost without these.

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The biggest feature of Cakewalk vs. ProTools is that it is free. As a MIDI sequencer Cakewalk, aka SONAR, has been on the market and in continuous development longer than any other similar product. Even the digital audio capabilities have been part of the product for over twenty years. I'm sure I've spent more than $2,000 over the last thirty years that I have been using the product on initial purchase and upgrades. I actually purchased SONAR Platinum Lifetime (hah!) before it was sold to Bandlab and made freely available. The downside to the current product is that there is no factory technical support. I actually looked into purchasing Cubase for that reason. After researching online, particularly about support, it found that there were large numbers of posts about the tardy and poor quality of Cubase support. So, no cigar.

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Probably too late to make it into the paper, but:

My number one favorite feature of Cakewalk is Set Measure/Beat At Now, which allows me to freely record MIDI without a click, and with as much rubato as I want, and then tell Cakewalk precisely where the bars and beats fall after the fact. This is useful for:

- Eliminating the tendency to perform poorly and make un-natural tempo corrections when trying to follow a click.

- 'Rescuing' an improvised performance that has great overall feel with a few glitches, hesitations, restarts, etc. 

- Tightening the timing of a piece that has a rubato intro/outro with a steady tempo in the middle.

- Quantizing within measures to get a tight rhythm while still allowing different sections to have different or gradually changing tempos.

- Syncing overdubbed parts to a freely played performance.

- Selectively softening/flattening the tempo variation in a rubato performance after the fact.

-  Converting a freely played performance to notation.

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