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Chris X

As a "sometimes" SONAR user, my main HANGUP is... (VSTi issue)

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I have had Cakewalk licenses since PA6.  I migrated to Samplitude for a decade, came back for X3, and now am using CbB, and I am faced with the same issue I always have with SONAR.  I am 95% an audio user and haven't done any heavy midi with Sonar,  just used it for audio editing, time/pitch stretching, melodyne.

This is probably an education issue, but I suspect new users to Cakewalk coming from other platforms will find this as janky as I do.  And this is probably the reason I will yet again drop SONAR and move to Cubase or Studio One.

Handling and assignment of VSTis!!!   

I just want to:

A) Create a midi track (easy)

B) Assign a VSTi to that midi track (unintuitive)

C) Launch the VSTi view by clicking somewhere on the track (wtf?)

This should be as easy as 1) New midi track 2) Click on the midi out or FX rack to insert a VSTi and 3) Click on the text for the VSTi to open its interface.

In sonar it seems there are two common sense options to accomplish this, (the way you would do it in every other daw) but neither of them work properly in SONAR.

1) If you create an instrument track by either clicking the VSTi in the right pane and selecting "create simple instrument track" or DnD the instrument into the track pane, it will create an instrument track that is routed to the VSTi.. BUT, there is no way to launch the VSTi interface by clicking anywhere on the track.  Neither does there appear to be a way to launch the interface by clicking on the right pane VST rack (maybe its hidden in there??)

2) If you create a midi track and assign its output to the VSTi, you can launch the VSTi interface by clicking on the text for the output.  Great.  But the problem now is that the midi routing does not work, there is no sound out of the VSTi.  Meaning probably have to look somewhere in the routing/console to figure this out, but it should be dead simple and operate the way every other DAW does.

Maybe this is obfuscated behind some "clever" way to achieve what I want, but it is so fundamentally different from every other DAW that I consider it a design error/bug.  Certainly long term users have been conditioned to take the right steps, but fumbling with this for the past 20 minutes, it still doesnt do what I want, and the documentation is spotty and not provided the answers.

While this may seem like a crybaby rant, its a plea to fix this, and is probably the #1 reason people are turned off from using the software.  Sometimes people who have been working with something so long get disconnected from what the primary convention for doing work is in the rest of DAWs and don't see the issue.  Meaning, if everyone else in the industry does it a certain way, and you do it differently, it will trip up every new user to the platform.

 

Good luck.

 

Edited by Chris X

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42 minutes ago, Chris X said:

BUT, there is no way to launch the VSTi interface by clicking anywhere on the track.  Neither does there appear to be a way to launch the interface by clicking on the right pane VST rack (maybe its hidden in there??)

To open the plug-in UI click on the small icon between the track number and track label in the track header.

Also there is an option on the Insert Soft Synth Options Dialog to display the "Synth Properties Page" (aka the plug-in UI). This will open the plug-in UI when it is added to a project.

If the Insert Soft Synth Options Dialog does not appear, it is because "Ask This Every Time" at the bottom of the dialog was unchecked at some time. This dialog may be opened using the Synth Rack View  ("E" in the image below) and the option reset.

SoftSynths.02.1.png

Plug-in UIs may be opened using the menu "D" in the image above too.

42 minutes ago, Chris X said:

2) If you create a midi track and assign its output to the VSTi, you can launch the VSTi interface by clicking on the text for the output.  Great.  But the problem now is that the midi routing does not work, there is no sound out of the VSTi.  Meaning probably have to look somewhere in the routing/console to figure this out, but it should be dead simple and operate the way every other DAW does.

A soft synth requires at least one instrument track or an audio+MIDI track pair for a complete routing.

Simply pointing a MIDI track to a soft synth is not enough. There must be an audio track to capture the audio from the plug-in.

An instrument track is nothing more than a presentation layer above an audio+MIDI track pair.

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I understand the issue you're talking about.  - but really it is just a function of the way you expect it to work coming from Samplitude. I can't for the life of me figure out a smooth functioning workflow trying to utilize VSTi in Samplitude. CbB has come further towards your workflow by integrating the simple instrument track, but I think that approach is particularly confusing. The way I look at it is that the Instrument - the Midi track - and the instruments output(s) ( audio track ) are completely separate items and devices that are not intrinsically tied together until you patch them purposefully. So- the old school CbB way 1.)  Create an Instrument VSTi via the synth rack. This will automatically create the associated audio tracks designated by the VSTi. Select the output of the midi track and assign it the the VSTi. All done. -If it's a multy timbral VSTi then set the appropriate channel from the midi track. Now it's really really all done. Everything is re-assignable from whatever midi track to whatever VSTi. If you wish to assign the midi track to new different VSTI then use the Replace Synth dialogue in the synth rack. If you want to just re-assign the midi track to a different already instantiated VSTi. just change the midi tracks output. Things remain open ended and easy to keep track of. IMO

Edited by RBH
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20 minutes ago, Kurre said:

To get sound from a softsynth driven by midinotes you have to set "Input Echo" On.

Nope. You have to have the MIDI track pointed to a VSTi and the output of the VSTi pointed to an audio track.

Sounds complicated but the way RBH described it this is quite transparent to the user.

"Input echo" is so you can monitor your playing in real time.

Edited by bdickens

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8 minutes ago, bdickens said:

"Input echo" is so you can monitor your playing in real time.

 

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Dragging whatever VST you want from the Browser to the track view *or Adding from Synth Rack brings) up the dialogue window and once you've selected the options you want it's all done for you. The synth UI opens whenever you want it by clicking on the relevant track symbol (little midi symbol or keyboard symbol if using instrument track). Not sure how it could be much easier TBH.

 

 

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On 11/13/2021 at 11:25 AM, paulo said:

Dragging whatever VST you want from the Browser to the track view *or Adding from Synth Rack brings) up the dialogue window and once you've selected the options you want it's all done for you. The synth UI opens whenever you want it by clicking on the relevant track symbol (little midi symbol or keyboard symbol if using instrument track). Not sure how it could be much easier TBH.

 

 

Yes this is the key issue, But  there was just a post similar to this one and they didn't get the old dialogue box because at some point had inadvertently unchecked "ask Every Time"  and were complaining there was no options anymore when inserting a synth.

The new dialogue is, to me,  a better interface but for some weird reason the developers kept the old one which still loads when you use the synth rack, drag and drop and a few other common methods of inserting instruments. This is a major design flaw to me. It just creates more complications to an already complicated DAW. How many Programs do you use that have 10 way to do the same thing?  Yes there are 10 and probably more ways to insert Soft Synths in Cakewalk as well as 2 almost identical dialogues to use. 

 Is it the developers don't want long time users complaining that they like the old one better?? 

 Everything in the OP's list is simply not taking the time to learn the software. But because of it's complications that's not going to be easy. 

Edited by John Vere
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The old stuff has options the new stuff don't. When they fix the new stuff then they can retire the old stuff. Until then... Don't Mess With The Old Stuff!!! 😠 :D

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I think some users that call CW unintuitive are showing instead a lack of knowledge of a complex tool as CW. A friend compared it to entering the cockpit of an airplane for the first time and saying that the controls are unintuitive. jeje

I get that with basic software you expect to learn on the fly as you use it, but that's not the case with complex software, as CW, or Photoshop, or InDesign, etc.

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Funny how people say that some software is "unintuitive" implying that there is something wrong with it, and not considering that maybe what is not too sharp might be their own "intuition". 🙄

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Simplest way:

From the Browser (over at the right edge of the main UI) with the list of VSTi plug-ins,

  • Double-click on the instrument you want to use.
  • A dialog will come up, make sure that "MIDI Source" (this creates the MIDI track) and "First Synth Audio Output" are checked. Also check Open These Windows/Synth Property Page if you want to see the synth UI right away. (the next time you open this dialog, your choices will be checked)
  • Click OK

That's it. When you want to open the synth's UI, click on either the synth track's or the MIDI track's icon.

As John mentions, there are at least 8 other ways to accomplish this, and no, I don't think that's a good thing. Some of those methods are needlessly complicated/clumsy, and it's possible to learn one of those first and keep doing it that way when simpler ones are available.

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Like the OP I personally found Sonar a little confusing at first and some things were "unintuitive" for the beginner. But unlike the OP I have never found any other DAW to be as straight forward as this one.

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