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John Bowles

Audacity features that Cakewalk is missing.

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Hi,

After using Audacity to mix recordings for my Jazz Jams Club for maybe 2 or so years now and all of a sudden wanting to be able to quantize I went searching for programs that could do this and discovered Cakewalk. I got all excited about learning it. So I just spent a whole week almost 14/7 learning the basics and testing on Win 7. Its features I tested all seem to work. Great. Its extensive features are amazing. Great. 

However I have decided to mostly use Audacity and use the Cakewalk Audio Snap with a slight possibility I might do the final mix in Cakewalk or at least try it because its Automation is better than Audacity. So why am I not going all in? Here are the reasons.

  1. Audacity labels are far better. I attached a picture of the setup I like to use with the section label track then the chords label track then the click track. The new track recordings I am doing are at the bottom (shift+R automatically creates a new track to record on). I create the labels for my club members when I prepare the backing tracks I send them so they can create their part (a covid safe activity).  So the ability to export and import standard label format is critical.  Cakewalk not having this is a killer for me. It should be noted that Band In A Box which I use for live jams and for creating backing tracks can create a label track of chords now. It creates it the standard way that is standard for DAWs. I need to upgrade BIAB for this and it is something I really should do like now. In the mean time I cut and paste to speed the process up.
  2. When I fix a recording error or add a count in at the start of a track to export to members,I press shift+R and record then set levels then highlight the tracks to mix and hit a few clicks and it is done. Cakewalk is too slow and complex for me.
  3. A big one is when compressing not being able to see the actual adjustments in the big volume spikes flattened in the track wave. The visual gives me a greater warm and fuzz feeling I guess :-) Maybe I don't trust my ear :-)
  4. In Audacity there is an Amplify effect. I highlight the note and apply the effect with a percentage and I see the note that is too quiet have its wave increase in size to match the other notes. I know it is the same volume just by looking at it. I play it and it gets confirmed. Fast, easy. 
  5. Creating a click track in Audacity is far simpler.  Audacity is free. I recommend getting it and seeing for yourself.  Creating a click track in Cakewalk is slower than creating it in Audacity and importing it into Cakewalk.
  6. Cakewalk could use a button to maximize the track window to full screen size (toggle it in and out). I like seeing the larger size. 
  7. Audacity has a feature where I can highlight a section of a track and when I resize the density of the view (zoom in and zoom out) that highlighted section is forced to center always and is kept there. This is great. I play it and it stops at the end. This is great. It is great for recording. I was doing a manual quantize. It was great for that. Cakewalk keeps running the section I am working with off the screen which is annoying and the screen real-estate is very limited in Cakewalk (no full screen view as mentioned above).  So maybe your loop button needs to be an option group (loop, stop, off). My use would be stop.
  8. Audacity having the volume on the track itself on the left is nice. Cakewalk has room. I can compare volumes at a glance in Audacity, In Cakewalk I have to expose more console and loose track window real-estate. Cakewalk needs a toggle in and out for the console and remember its last setting.

Put these features in Cakewalk and I will stop using Audacity. For now as stated above I will use Cakewalk for these items at the very end (Audio Snap, maybe Automation and maybe Chorus as well and maybe reverb (Audacity reverb is limited but pretty good).

By the way, I use Audio Snap by setting threshold to 100% so it places zero vertical lines then I place them all myself. I find that much faster. It does a poor job of finding the start of the notes I find. But is is for sure at least twice as fast as trying to quantize in Audacity and better too. So it is Cakewalk's star feature in my mind.

Thanks,

John

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Image_Of_Audacity.png

Edited by John Bowles

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Yes it does take more than a week. It’s taken me 20 years 😬

I don’t have time to do a point by point for your list of things you think Cakewalk doesn’t do but it actually does if you know how.

I think the only item on your list is the chords or whatever your using. Sounds like an interesting feature. 

I have Audacity, I’ve had it since early days. It great software but very basic in features compared to Cakewalk. I consider it more of a wave editor than a DAW. I also have  Wave Lab which is not free and it’s not really any better than Audacity. 
 But as with any software you developed a workflow and it is hard to change. 
And in the history of all software there’s never the perfect one. Cakewalk does 97.3 % of what all the others do. And each does it differently which is why everyone will choose the software that seems to fit to their workflow best.  
You should probably stay with Audacity and just live without the missing feature if they don’t hold you down. 

Edited by John Vere
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Thanks guys. 

I am 67. I might be dead in 20 years...lol. Oh I forgot. I plan on living to 150. I am already forgetting my old jokes :-) I usually add in that I will go on tour as the only 150 year old who can chug a beer in 1 minute and I will be so famous for this amazing accomplishment I will get rich (as if I would be able to use all that money at age 150).  Actually I need to change that joke now as I don't drink at all now in the hopes I reach maybe 100 :-) https://www.livingto100.com/ predicts I will reach 92. I have work to do or I ain't going to make it :-) I do this for fun guys :-)

So yeah. Your comments are helpful for sure. Maybe the Cakewalk manual is better than most. My experience is I can find stuff I need much faster by doing google and You-tube string searches. That can be tricky early on since you need to know enough to create good key words. So I will do an experiment today which will be to create a string search for each of the features I listed and I will then dump my string search into (Google then YouTube then Cakewalk-help). The string search will start with cakewalk and it will exclude any mention of Audacity.  I will post back the results as to which I find the most helpful for finding these features. The developers might find the results interesting.  If I find how cakewalk can do these features I will investigate farther and do an amount of time it takes test. The developers will likely also find that interesting.

By the way, I was a guitar instructor then a computer programmer then I added market trading to my mix. I still do a lot of all of these. I do a lot of programming to help me with these activities. Just can't sit still :-) I am more likely to reach 150 it I keep busy, eat well and exercise well :-) I recently programmed some stuff to help with making sure I do some exercises every 30 minutes as I sit a lot and my feet have swollen up. The new exercise bike routine caused one foot's swelling to go down completely and also the left arm pains to stop completely. The doctor and I are still working on the left foot swelling. The car can go farther if you take care of it properly :-)

John

 

 

 

Edited by John Bowles
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Regarding my experiment my first string search is "Cakewalk compressing showing in the wave form". 

My first try was google and it seems the answer is probably in the first hit at the very top which shows immediately below. I have read a bit and it sure seems like the answer is here. I will see if I can get that to work. 

 

My second try was Youtube. I found some maybe videos. Video titles sometimes hint as a possible place to find the answer but you have to watch them to know.

My Third try is the Cakewalk manual. No search box. 

My Third try is the  Cakewalk Forum.  In this case I removed the keyword "Cakewalk". No luck at all.

So it appears the winner is Google. This result matches my teaching myself web programming after about 27 years of programming in other languages. Most of the learning came from Google as their search algorithms are amazing. Next was YouTube but often google was used to come up with a good YouTube search string. Last was forums at 1% usage only if I got really stuck. I prefer not to ask unless I am really stuck.

 

 

 

 

Edited by John Bowles
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14 hours ago, John Bowles said:

3. A big one is when compressing not being able to see the actual adjustments in the big volume spikes flattened in the track wave. The visual gives me a greater warm and fuzz feeling I guess 🙂 Maybe I don't trust my ear  🙂

If you want to see compression adjustments, then you use the plugin in "Process > Apply Effect", instead of using it in the FX section of the track. The difference is that like this you cannot change the compression behavior afterwards (except with undo and then redoing it). In some cases I also use this to see the changes visually.

15 hours ago, John Bowles said:

4. In Audacity there is an Amplify effect. I highlight the note and apply the effect with a percentage and I see the note that is too quiet have its wave increase in size to match the other notes. I know it is the same volume just by looking at it. I play it and it gets confirmed. Fast, easy. 

In Cakewalk there are several ways to do this: One is to use "Process > Gain ...". This makes the change permanent.

If you only want to increase the gain for visability, then it's easier to do it with mouse up in this area (sorry, but the mouse cursor is not exactly like this, but similar):

inc-vol.png.1b1c400c51ddff5006bbb5d4c4b3c29a.png

 

By the way: I don't think the Cakewalk online documentation is very good, but there is also a "Reference Guide" pdf with all the details !

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Audio clip images are decimated wave files. Up until 2020.05, they were rendered when the audio was created or destructively changed.

Dynamic waveform scaling when changing clip automation was added in 2020.05

17 hours ago, John Bowles said:

Cakewalk could use a button to maximize the track window to full screen size (toggle it in and out). I like seeing the larger size.

Sounds like Full Screen Mode

17 hours ago, John Bowles said:

Audacity having the volume on the track itself on the left is nice. Cakewalk has room. I can compare volumes at a glance in Audacity, In Cakewalk I have to expose more console and loose track window real-estate. Cakewalk needs a toggle in and out for the console and remember its last setting.

I am guessing this is the volume control. To see all the controls in the Track header, set Workspaces to None. CbB comes with several predefined workspaces, the default workspace was set after install during the "Getting Started" process.

 

I like to search the CbB documentation index

Old forum posts and google results may lead to out-of-date answers. The software is regularly updated.

For keyword searches, some use the Reference Guide PDF. It is a snapshot of the CbB documentation in pdf format. 

Unlike the web-based documentation, the pdf is not updated after every release. 

Current release notes are at the bottom of the current release announcement in this part of the forum

Prior release notes are here.

 

There is nothing wrong with using multiple DAWs. One cannot expect to become proficient with any DAW after a day or so regardless of how much experience they have with other products. 

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4 minutes ago, marled said:

If you only want to increase the gain for visability, then it's easier to do it with mouse up in this area (sorry, but the mouse cursor is not exactly like this, but similar):

AKA audio scaling.

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67 years old, master whiz self-taught computer programmer and all that and you don't know how to use a table of contents or index?

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Thanks Guys. Some of your comments I have to get back to. I have not been able to find the process button to find Process > Gain ....

So what I did do was read that web page I found. Did a YouTube search and watched a basic video on Aux tracks and Buses. I created an Aux track and set it to record an audio track.  So I pocked around and found ProChannel on the console, found the Compressor there and did the same thing with that compressor and it worked. I had trouble getting this to work on the Sonitus compressor at first but later found a video on it and got it to work as well. I also found the ? button to the Sonitus compressor help. So now the loudest wave form was compressed down to the smallest wave form and the smallest wave form did not shrink at all. This is what I am use to seeing in Audacity.  When I listen I can clearly hear that the sudden excessively loud parts are much quieter.  I almost always use this for drums and for my guitar playing as well.

I have to be a bit careful here. I tend to get right into new stuff (carried a way is what I am saying). Now that I have found the wonderful Cakewalk Audio Snap feature I really should get back to finishing my guitar part on a song we are working on. "Sister Sadie".  I don't want the bass player and drummer to get too impatient :-)

 

Edited by John Bowles

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1 hour ago, bdickens said:

67 years old, master whiz self-taught computer programmer and all that and you don't know how to use a table of contents or index?

Its all about speed (fast versus slow). Not that I have anything against TOC and indexes. I use them at times. Everyone gets use to learning a certain way.  I can guarantee you, I found what I wanted to find a lot faster using that Google search. If you use that method a lot you catch on to the fact that it can work really well if you design your key word search strings properly. Takes practice.

Edited by John Bowles

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Problem I have with internet searches is no matter how well crafted your search is that it is all too easy to turn up results that are outdated or from people who don't know what they are talking about.

Seriously, you will be much better off starting here:

https://youtube.com/playlist?list=PL4ylp_4AhfKtyYYRWyp9B4v2CLm32__9P

And here:

 

https://youtube.com/playlist?list=PL7YqVth30eGsdimFV6w1niyBN07M2uhRj

 

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Thanks bdickens. I checked out those video links. They look really good. 

Yes what you say is true.  And sometimes the video quality is not very good or they just don't explain things well or get side tracked easy, etc. I usually move on pretty quick if it seems like a bad video.

When reading help pages I like to use a text to speech reader at times especially if I am tired. I highlight a chunk of text and press control C and have it read to me. as I read it myself as well.  

 

 

 

Edited by John Bowles

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I forgot to mention that as a newcomer, you don't know what you don't know.

For example, nearly every single one of your laundry list of "missing features" in Cakewalk are indeed features that CW has had for years.

Also, until one develops some degree of familiarity, it can be difficult to sort out good information from bad. Primary sources are almost always reliable.

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8 hours ago, John Bowles said:

My experience is I can find stuff I need much faster by doing google and You-tube string searches.

If I need to find something about CbB I go straight to Google and usually find exactly what I was looking for. Often it points me directly to a threat on the forum that I was looking for (or one of the excellent video tutorials made by forum members). 
I never had problems being stuck with posts that are outdated. Its not hard to find recent relevant info through Google.

When trying to find the same threat I found with Google through the forum search function I often get tons of posts that I don't need and it can become like searching for a needle in a haystack.  It seems hard to beat Google's advanced search algorithms.

However, IMHO the forum search function could be improved...

4 hours ago, bdickens said:

67 years old, master whiz self-taught computer programmer and all that and you don't know how to use a table of contents or index?

I use the manual/reference guide regularly,  but  in my experience the forum posts and tutorial videos explain things I look for better. They provide more real user case information often together with additional information around the subject helping understand (the relations between) functions and workflow in a way that you'll never get from the manual.

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On 12/11/2021 at 12:57 AM, John Bowles said:
  1. Audacity labels are far better.

 

Cakewalk doesn't use labels, I've not seen them in other major DAWs I've used either ( not that I've looked  to be fair) . We have Markers ( keyboard shortcut M ) and you can also use Arranger sections ( Shortcut A ). There will be a dedicated chord track in a later release I believe so you'll have that too.

On 12/11/2021 at 12:57 AM, John Bowles said:

When I fix a recording error or add a count in at the start of a track to export to members,I press shift+R and record then set levels then highlight the tracks to mix and hit a few clicks and it is done. Cakewalk is too slow and complex for me.

 You are talking about 2 or 3 different things here

A- Fixing a recording error..by that I take it that you mean overdubbing a part. In CW we can do this in several ways , my method is to set up loop points and do multiple takes which go into the ' take lanes' and then I comp in the best one. It's highly efficient and flexible. It's not the only way though.

B - Adding a count in at the start of a track - If you need to make space just select all ( Cntrl A ) and drag everything to the right i.e. by a bar 

C - To set record levels you just press record butt on the selected track , choose you input from the input selector dropdown, then you should get some signal and can do a level test and adjust

image.png.8768e85a147694add6fd4df3302cd3e3.png

D - To export you just make a section - then file - export. There is a hugely comprehensive set of export options , but you can just use the export presets too.

It's not that Cakewalk is slow , it's that you are slow at using it because you are new. Yes it's a lot more complex thank Audacity because it does way more. A lot of folks here have been using it 20+ years and still discover things they didn't know.  You have to go through a learning curve.

On 12/11/2021 at 12:57 AM, John Bowles said:
  1. A big one is when compressing not being able to see the actual adjustments in the big volume spikes flattened in the track wave. The visual gives me a greater warm and fuzz feeling I guess 🙂 Maybe I don't trust my ear 🙂

Some compressors will show you this in the plugin itself but many don't . One wouldn't normally expect to see an altered waveform in a non-destructive editor..unless you comitted to it and used track freeze..then the waveform would change as it's been altered.

image.thumb.png.b19b02470f6f6040bfb845253aec4f41.png

image.png.cd8d99bcd317e468ba5447c8e61809e1.png

Just quickly on the other points...

"In Audacity there is an Amplify effect. I highlight the note and apply the effect with a percentage and I see the note that is too quiet have its wave increase in size to match the other notes. I know it is the same volume just by looking at it. I play it and it gets confirmed. Fast, easy. "

Again multiple ways to tackle this, you have a lot more options in CW.  Adding some gain is the obvious one. ( Process..Apply Effect ..Gain ) but a bit old fashioned. I use the clip gain feature ( Press Ctrl and left click near the top of the Waveform to drag the red clip gain bar )  and you will see / hear the selection change gain

image.png.c7dedee4573438120bf397e0b5aadfa4.png  

Or use volume or gain automation instead

image.png.784fa320851d2c941363e81aefc8e330.png

"Creating a click track in Audacity is far simpler.  Audacity is free. I recommend getting it and seeing for yourself.  Creating a click track in Cakewalk is slower than creating it in Audacity and importing it into Cakewalk."

CW has a decent built in metronome - no click track required..you can record the metronome if you like to have a wav of it. You can tell it play a midi instrument as the click if you prefer 

image.png.c4bac9362e09037adae2062bd5d03912.png

 

"Cakewalk could use a button to maximize the track window to full screen size (toggle it in and out). I like seeing the larger size. "

You can do this already

image.thumb.png.954e03429ce34c493a59280e4d527ae6.png

" maybe your loop button needs to be an option group (loop, stop, off). My use would be stop."

I don't think there is , you would just press stop ( spacebar ) .  A cool tip is that you can ply just a selected clip ( or clips ) by selecting and pressing shift+space...they will still loop though until stopped. Not sure if you can alter that default behaviour.

"Audacity having the volume on the track itself on the left is nice. Cakewalk has room. I can compare volumes at a glance in Audacity, In Cakewalk I have to expose more console and loose track window real-estate. Cakewalk needs a toggle in and out for the console and remember its last setting."

You can toggle the console with a keypress so it pops up at the bottom of the screen..I can't remember if I have changed my key binding but mine is one the D key.  I don't tend to need it though as I run 3 monitors and the console has it's own. But if you wre working on one screen that's probably the best way.

image.thumb.png.3760262c9d3ada2392d37bf5bdb4d9ae.png

In summary Cakewalk is very much more comprehesive and flexible DAW.  Audacity looks like Cakewalk did in the mid 90s but things have moved on.

It takes a lot longer to learn something as deep as Cakewalk, and that fact that it is free with no strings still amazes me. I use it daily in my TV work.

There is no way I could do what I needed with Audacity ( or any other free DAW )

 

Edited by Mark MoreThan-Shaw

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4 hours ago, bdickens said:

I forgot to mention that as a newcomer, you don't know what you don't know.

For example, nearly every single one of your laundry list of "missing features" in Cakewalk are indeed features that CW has had for years.

Also, until one develops some degree of familiarity, it can be difficult to sort out good information from bad. Primary sources are almost always reliable.

Regarding "I forgot to mention that as a newcomer, you don't know what you don't know." Yes. I agree. I say this often about a  lot of things.  It is something that applies to all humans in many areas.

Edited by John Bowles

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Thanks Mark Morgon-Shaw. I will read it closer now and see if I can try some stuff. I will scan this whole thread and start entries in my notes with markers that will help me find what I have not completed yet (maybe two pipe characters. Specially ||). 

I am currently preparing to write an MS-Access program to process the "Band In A Box" abc file export and convert it into a label file that Audacity can read in.  I was under the impression that Audacity uses the standard for label files for DAWs. Now I am not so sure? Anyway the club members I am working with mostly use Audacity and I think they are importing the Label files I give them into Audacity. The two latest files are attached. They are txt files and show the simple format.

 

 

Labels_Chords.txt Labels_Sections.txt

Edited by John Bowles

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1 hour ago, Mark MoreThan-Shaw said:

B - Adding a count in at the start of a track - If you need to make space just select all ( Cntrl A ) and drag everything to the right i.e. by a bar 

Or Project > Insert Time/Measures... which works with or without an active selection.

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