Tech+Music (issue 2017.06)

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Issue 2017.06

HIGHLIGHTS Our 30th Anniversary Celebration Continues with 30 Free Modulation Presets SONAR’s 2017.06 Updates A|A|S Modeling Collection Review Interview: Act of Defiance guitarist Chris Broderick A Baker’s Dozen of Mix Recall Tips …and more! A Cakewalk Publication



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04 Overview: SONAR Update 2017.06 All the news on SONAR’s latest and greatest enhancements

05 Comping with Melodyne and Other Region FX Clips Comp easily with clips containing Region FX like Melodyne

06 More Precise Touch Zooming and Scrolling SONAR adds improved touch detection for more natural touch control

07 Improved Project Handling Less effort, more speed when handling new projects

07 Velocity Change Audition in the Piano Roll View Controller Pane Velocity change auditions are now possible in the PRV’s Controller Pane


08 Virtual Controller / Keyboard Access Now you can access the virtual controllers individually, and save them with projects

09 Fixes and Improvements The quest for unparalleled stability continues

11 Review of the Month: AAS Plug-Ins We look at the full versions of plug-ins included with SONAR—and more

23 Interview: Chris Broderick (Act of Defiance, Ex-Megadeth) The former Megadeth guitarist talks about his upcoming album

27 How to Adjust Studio Monitor Rear Panel Controls Find out the best way to match your monitor speakers to your room

32 A Baker’s Dozen of Mix Recall Tips SONAR’s Mix Recall can do more than just recall mixes

36 You Mix, We Master Every month, we master a reader-submitted piece of music in SONAR

41 30 Sonitus Modulator FX Chains Cakewalk’s 30th Anniversary continues with more freebies!


SONAR Update 2017.06 The following highlights apply to the Artist, Professional, and Platinum versions. For more information on these features, see the related pages. 

Comping with Melodyne and Other Region FX Clips - Creating the perfect take just got better, because you can now comp with clips that use Melodyne, Drum Replacer, VocalSync, or any other type of Region FX. Simply comp as you normally would by swiping sections. More Precise Touch Zooming and Scrolling - Improved detection of touch points makes zooming in to a particular point using SONAR’s touch capabilities smoother, more natural, and more accurate. These enhancements are available in both the Track View and Piano Roll View. Improved Project Handling - When creating a new project using the Start Screen “Create Project” or Ctrl + N, SONAR will now create a folder when you save, and better manage the associated audio files. Virtual Controller / Keyboard Access - The Virtual Controller has now been separated into two view menu items, accessible directly or via keyboard shortcuts: Computer Keyboard (Alt+0) and Piano Keyboard (Alt+Shift+0 ). Opening one of these and saving will now also save the keyboard status with the project. Velocity Change Audition in the Piano Roll View Controller Pane – Previously, auditioning changes in MIDI Note velocity as they were being made was available only in the Piano Roll view Note pane. It’s now also available in the Controller pane. Improvements and Bug Fixes – and of course, SONAR just keeps getting better.

INSTALLING THE 2017.06 UPDATE Open the Cakewalk Command Center. If you are prompted to download a newer version, please follow the on-screen instructions to download it. To download the SONAR 2017.06 core update, download from the core SONAR Artist, Professional, or Platinum category. Platinum owners who did not update the Boutique FX Suite last month should do so to update TH3.


Comping with Melodyne and Other Region FX Clips Platinum, Professional, and Artist Creating the perfect take just got better in SONAR—because now it’s possible to comp with clips that incorporate Region FX such as Melodyne, Drum Replacer, VocalSync, and VocALign. To use a Region FX, you have two options:  

Select a clip and then select the desired effect from the Track View’s Region FX menu Right-click on the clip to choose the desired Region FX from the context menu

When comping with Melodyne, you would typically call up the Region FX for a complete clip prior to splitting it into sections with the Comping tool. Melodyne’s user interface will continue to show the original clip so you can edit the smaller sections in context with the overall clip. However if you want the split sections of a Take Lane to show up by themselves in the Melodyne user interface, then you would first split the clip into various sections and next, call up the Region FX for each section. (Note that if there are multiple clips on the same Track or Take Lane, you can select multiple clips and when you select a Region FX, the clips will be joined and include the Region FX). Now you can go about comping as you normally would by swiping sections, and using the comping tools to implement split, moving splits, heal, and other comping functions.


More Precise Touch Zooming and Scrolling Platinum, Professional, and Artist With touch control for Windows computers becoming more common, SONAR is keeping up with these developments by adding enhancements for touch control precision. Prior to the 2017.06 update, zooming with Touch could cause tracks and clips to feel like they were moving away or scrolling unexpectedly. Now SONAR incorporates improved touch point detection, which makes the process of zooming into a particular point using touch smoother, more accurate, more fluid, and adds a very natural feel.

Touch Zooming now incorporates improved touch position anchoring, so making a desired track larger or zooming into a specific drum hit is reliable, intuitive, and feels very precise. Note that these enhancements are available in both the Track View and Piano Roll View.


Improved Project Handling Platinum, Professional, and Artist When creating a new project using the Start Screen “Create Project” or Ctrl + N, it used to be necessary to create a folder prior to saving if you wanted to organize audio, MixScenes, and the project file itself into a common folder location. Starting with the 2017.06 update, SONAR will now create a folder when you save, providing that “Copy All Audio with Project” is selected in the Save dialog box. The new method of project handling also improves the behavior of the “Save As” and “Save As Copy” options. When using the same location as the current project to save a revision, SONAR knows this is the original location, and will save the revision without creating an additional folder. However, if you choose a new location for the project (i.e., create a new folder to hold the project, or navigate to an existing folder), SONAR will place the project and its associated audio files into that folder when the “Copy All Audio with Project” option is checked. Note that the improved project handling is designed to affect only project files. The behavior for template files, bundle files, and MIDI files remains unchanged.

Velocity Change Audition in the Piano Roll View Controller Pane Platinum, Professional, and Artist You can choose to audition changes in MIDI Note velocity as you make them. This has previously been available only in the Piano Roll view Note pane, but is now also available in the Controller pane. To enable Velocity Audition, go to Edit > Preferences > Customization – Editing, and then select Velocity Audition. You can also choose whether or not Velocity Audition is polyphonic.


Virtual Controller / Keyboard Access Platinum, Professional, and Artist The Virtual Controller has now been separated into two view menu items, accessible directly or via keyboard shortcuts: Computer Keyboard (Alt+0) or Piano Keyboard (Alt+Shift+0). Note that you cannot have both open at the same time. Opening one of these and saving will now also save the keyboard status with the project.

In addition, when the Virtual Controller Computer Keyboard is open, it no longer blocks R (Record), Delete, or shortcuts that use a modifier. This allows you to open views, access menus, and use any multi-key shortcut (such as Ctrl+S for Save, Ctrl+Z for Undo, Ctrl+Shift+Z for Redo, and the like).


Fixes and Improvements Platinum, Professional, and Artist General  Resolved an issue with excluded plug-ins appearing in plug-in list  Assigning a MIDI Remote Control will now save with project  Using Remote Control to activate a send would appear activated but not function  Virtual Controller display mode button could overlap octave display on some systems  Virtual Controller no longer blocks shortcuts for Record / Delete / Views  Transparency for the Control Bar Now Slider displays properly when creating a custom theme  Removed the Read Me file from the installer and README.RTF from Help Menu. Similar topics will now be shared in the Knowledge Base going forward: Stability  SONAR could crash using the RealTek ASIO HD as the Playback Timing Master  Step sequencer “New Value Type” parameter selection could cause SONAR to appear hung Track View  Resolved a situation where Take Lanes could become uneditable or corrupted  Splitting clips on Take Lanes could fail under certain conditions  Track with automation could become deselected automatically after Ripple Editing a selection  Unfreezing a track after Ripple Editing could remove data on the track  Ripple Edit Selection could cause unexpected cropping on MIDI tracks  Resolved an issue when Ripple Pasting with a single track could paste to the wrong track  Dragging and dropping a clip to an empty Take Lane could drop the clip in the wrong Take Lane  Undo properly restores Markers after using Process > Slide  Muted Region FX clips now display like other muted clips  Folder preview highlighting no longer behaves unexpectedly after performing a Select All (Ctrl+A) Piano Roll View  Resolved an issue where adjusting Velocity could cause stuck notes  Smart Swipe and control scrolling in the Piano Roll view has been improved  Improved redrawing of Controller Pane velocity with Pen  Using Pen to adjust velocity no longer causes notes to move unexpectedly


Preferences  The “Share Devices with other programs” option has been renamed to better convey what this setting does, and is now called “Suspend Audio Engine when SONAR is not in Focus”  Russian version: Preferences > Project > MIDI > Frame Rate drop-down item had offset and overlapping text 3rd Party  VST2 and VST3 plug-ins that use sample position to playback data now stay in sync better with SONAR  Using Melodyne in the FX Rack will now recognize loop points in SONAR and stay in sync  Using Melodyne VST2 or VST3 in the FX Rack previously didn’t receive the correct sample position, which could cause SONAR not to stay in sync when adjusting the Now Time’s timeline position


Review of the Month: A|A|S Virtual Instruments By Craig Anderton I’ve always liked A|A|S instruments (starting with their Tassman modular synthesizer back in 2000), because they’ve gone down the modeling road instead of the sampling one. This isn’t necessarily a better/worse situation, but modeling provides a lot of latitude in terms of editing, and is kind of like the audio equivalent of CGI in that it can produce “idealized” as well as realistic sounds. Modeling synths use algorithms to create sounds on-the-fly. As a result, sample-related limitations like velocity/sample splits don’t exist, and sounds can have substantial editing options—just change aspects of the algorithm. Also because no samples load into memory, presets open almost instantly; although more voices require more CPU power, with A|A|S’s instruments CPU drain is very reasonable. As a side note, current A|A|S programs are strong on “MIDI Learn” for those who like real-time control. Traditionally, A|A|S has been well-represented in SONAR—with “light” versions of Strum, Lounge Lizard, and Ultra Analog that aren’t really all that light. So, I was curious if the updates were that different, and I figured you might be curious too. Also note that all three upgrades, as well as Chromaphone 2, Tassman 4 modular synth, and String Studio VS-2, are included in the Modeling Collection that forms the basis of this review. Demo versions for all products are available, so you can check these out for yourself; furthermore, the A|A|S web site is particularly helpful due to in-depth descriptions and multiple audio examples.

STRUM GS-2 Admission: I hadn’t really played much with the Strum Session instrument bundled with SONAR; after all, I play guitar, and thought Strum Session was mostly about generating riffs (although I have used it to detect MIDI Chords—a very useful, and probably under-appreciated, talent). So the first time I really put it through its paces was to check out the difference between the Session and full versions. Oooops. What took me so long? After all, for some songs I like to sample my guitar and play it from keyboards, and the modeling-based approach is refreshing compared to sample-based guitar. Strum Session isn’t just about creating riffs; it’s a solid virtual guitar instrument that reminds me of the late, great Creamware Six-String. However, the GS-2 version can take Strum Session into “sound design-land” and more. The main “Play” window is pretty much the same for both, but there are several significant differences compared to Strum Session.  

Six guitar types instead of two Over 200 presets compared to 24 11

An Edit page. This is where the sound design aspect really shines—change pickup types for electrics, body type of acoustics, string and pick parameters, etc. For example, I wanted to use one of the nylon string guitar sounds, but the pick attack was too prominent for my taste. It was a simple matter to dial it back for a gentler attack. Although the Edit page is pretty deep for non-tweakers, there are enough presets that you may not feel the need to venture into deep editing.

An Effects page. Given SONAR’s inclusion of Overloud’s TH3 and the Sonitus effects, additional effects may not seem as relevant for SONAR. However having effects within the plug-in itself is convenient, the MIDI Learn options are welcome, and the effects are excellent anyway. Note that each of two effects “slots” offer one of 12 effects (Delay, Distortion, Phaser, Vintage Chorus, Chorus, Flanger, Tremolo, Auto Wah, Wah Wah, Notch, Equalizer, or Compressor) from their drop-down menus.


Additional MIDI loops. Strum Session comes with a lot of loops, but Strum GS-2 bundles some more.

The bottom line is if you’re not interested in Strum Session, you might want to pass on Strum GS-2 because it doesn’t do anything radically different. However if you like Strum Session, you’ll love Strum GS-2 because it gives you a lot more of what you like, and the Editing options are super-cool—you can even alter characteristics of each virtual string, copy to other individual strings or all strings, and interpolate characteristics among strings. Although the sound isn’t quite as authentic as samples, you also don’t get the disadvantages of samples. Like the other programs covered here, a demo version is available so you can try before you buy. I now plan on incorporating Strum GS-2 much more into my music; just don’t make the same mistake I did and ignore what the Strum family can do—if you haven’t checked out Strum Session, spend some time with it. Regardless of its many other attributes, Strum Session is a fine guitar-oriented virtual instrument, and Strum GS-2 is an outstanding one.

LOUNGE LIZARD EP-4 Cosmetically, the differences are similar to Strum—Lounge Lizard EP-4 has the same basic Play page, but adds Edit and Effects pages. The Effects page is almost identical to the Strum GS-2 effects, but the drop-down menu doesn’t include the Vintage Chorus, Tremolo, Equalizer, or Compressor effects. However, there are two major differences; let’s start with the Edit page. 13

This page allows for sounds beyond the usual Rhodes and Wurlitzer electric pianos, because it exposes parameters that let you warp sounds into something completely different from the traditional (some might say “overused”) electric piano sounds. Because of this level of versatility, instead of Session’s single, Rhodes-like piano model, EP-4 offers seven models, each of which has 11 to 15 presets. They’re extremely realistic. The Pianorgan presets are probably my favorite preset collection, because they combine the attack of a piano with the sustain and processing of organs. But some of the more “out there” sounds are great, like those that sound almost like a piano/kalimba or piano/vibes morph. I do think some presets go overboard on the effects, but no problem—just click the “on” buttons for any unwanted effects to “off.” Even if you’re not into electric pianos, Lounge Lizard EP-4 is sufficiently flexible to provide sounds that go beyond the stereotyped into truly innovative areas. And if you’re a fan of Lounge Lizard Session, you’ll want to check out the full version. I much prefer Lounge Lizard to sampled electric pianos; EP-4 not only nails the electric piano sound, but expands on it.


ULTRA ANALOG VA-2 Ultra Analog Session was an appreciated addition to SONAR—although based on forum chatter, some people didn’t even try it out because “I already have virtual analog synths.” Well, okay…but UAS is fast and fun, and features a built-in arpeggiator. With a solid selection of presets and very “analog” sound, it lets you dial in sounds fast. Although VA-2 retains the same ease of use, it’s quite different from the Session version. For starters, the Play page is very different from Session, with more “front panel” control over more parameters, including effects.

However as with other A|A|S synths, it’s the Edit page that provides the most fertile ground for experimentation. It reveals a two-voice architecture, with the kind of controls you’d expect to see from the analog synths of yesteryear. The graphical user interface layout is also quite interesting, because it’s optimized for quick tweaking and MIDI Learn for controllers. The main section shows a voice’s modules, but is restricted to the most crucial controls (i.e., what you’d typically use for real-time control). A “sidebar” panel to the right supplements this because it lets you choose any module in either voice, and offers both the parameters in the main section as well as some additional parameters (related principally to modulation).


The Effects page is similar to the Effects pages for other A|A|S synths; for this one, the two effects “slots” have drop-down menus that offer nine different effects (Delay, Distortion, Phaser, Vintage Chorus, Chorus, Flanger, Auto Wah, Wah Wah, and Notch filter). Overall, this is a synth for people who listen with their ears instead of their eyes. Although it may look functionally similar to other virtual analog synths, I really like the sound quality—no aliasing, very clean, and sweet filtering—as well as the ease of editing.

CHROMAPHONE 2 This has no “lite” version included in SONAR, but it is part of the A|A|S Modeling Collection. Although Chromaphone 2 is primarily about plucked and struck resonators (my favorite program banks are mallets, percussions, drum kits, chimes/bells, and plucked strings), the software is sufficiently flexible to create basses, keys, strings and pads, synths, and organs/pipes. Note that these aren’t like conventional sampled sounds; the keys are mostly electric piano/clav-type sounds, the strings and pads are impressionistic, and the basses tend toward a warm, almost acoustic vibe. The synths, organs, and pipes provide alternatives to conventional sampled versions rather than providing “more of the same.”


Chromaphone 2 addresses a couple technical limitations of the earlier version. The UI is also cleaner, using the same three-page approach as Strum GS-2 and Lounge Lizard EP-4. The Effects page is basically the same as Strum, but the two drop-down menus don’t include EQ and Compression. The Play page consolidates all the most-used parameters into a…well, compact and playable environment.

The architecture is unlike conventional synthesizers—for example, combining a mallet and noise source creates a signal that excites dual resonators (each chosen from nine types). These can either run in parallel, or in a Coupled mode that places the resonators in series but with bidirectional interaction (e.g., similar to how a piano string interacts with a sounding board, but the sounding board also influences the string). You can alter the coupling balance. There are familiar parameters like envelopes, LFO, and arpeggiator, but you’ll also find other parameters that are rarely a part of the synthesis lexicon—material, tone, density, stiffness, partial, noise, and color. The results are not necessarily intuitive, although the more you play with Chromaphone 2, the more you’ll be able to predict the results—sort of like FM synthesis. So if you come up with something you like but aren’t sure how you got there, save your preset. Otherwise you might not be able to return to it easily, and besides, you can always reverseengineer it at your leisure.


Like the other instruments, Edit is the most interesting of the three screens and it varies from model to model. Here’s one for a Plucked Strings preset.

The inclusion of drum kits (“Chromakits”) and individual drum sounds might seem curious— aren’t there enough drum sounds in the world?—but again, Chromaphone 2 has a somewhat different take. You can stretch sounds so low they give a satisfying “kick,” while higher sounds are more like percussion. The Soundscapes and Effects models also highlight Chromaphone 2’s unique talents—some resemble sampled sounds, but you can push them easily into far more unusual territories. Finally, I was very pleased to see that Chromaphone 2 overcomes a major limitation of the original by including lots of MIDI Learn options for real-time control. Granted, Chromaphone 2 isn’t your standard synthesizer—but it can provide novel tones, textures, and sonic tapestries you won’t find with any other instrument. If you’re addicted to synthesis, you’ll find a great playground for creativity.

STRING STUDIO VS-2 This is another instrument in the Modeling Collection, and it’s quite versatile. Although you might see “string” and think Elka or Solina string synthesizer, that’s not at all what it’s about. 18

Instead, it seems more like a “greatest hits” of A|A|S synths that borrows from Strum’s audio engine. There are quite a few conventional sounds (like cello, guitars, acoustic bass, electric bass, etc.), however there are also sounds that have little to do with strings, and twists like “guitar” sounds that seem more like a synth wanting to sound like a guitar. Note that these aren’t samples so like other A|A|S instruments, they often have a more “impressionistic” vibe rather than a real-world one. Again, though, this is the appeal of modeling—a useful variation on “freeze-dried” samples. Again reprising other A|A|S synths, the Play page brings the most common controls up front but it also incorporates an arpeggiator like the one in Ultra Analog VA-2.

The Effects page has the same roster of effects as Strum, but without Tremolo, EQ, and Compression. And of course, the Edit page is where the action is if you want to tweak the sounds into something completely different. Note the buttons under each panel where you can change the panel’s functionality.


If you could have only one A|A|S instruments, assuming you didn’t want to “go for the gusto” and choose the Tassman synth (up next), this might be the most logical choice. Although it doesn’t explore the depths of all its options as much as the other instruments, it strikes me as a “best of” version of A|A|S’s modeling synths.

TASSMAN 4 At first glance, this is the kind of virtual instrument that could make your head explode. While it’s sophisticated and deep (think Reaktor’s grandfather), you can figure it out…really. And when you do, you’ll have a physical modeling laboratory (not a virtual analog modular synth, although it can do those kinds of sounds) with pretty mind-boggling flexibility. And if you can’t figure it out, Tassman ships with a collection of 50 synthesizers and 1,000 presets—you needn’t design your own sounds if you have other things you’d rather do. Also note that Tassman, being modeling-based, has the attributes of nearly instant preset loading and no sample velocity or split points. Unlike conventional analog modules, Tassman combines three types of synthesis (subtractive, additive, and FM) along with interchangeable acoustic “objects.” Furthermore, you can use Tassman 4 as an effects processor, not just for generating sound; in this case, its ability to work standalone is particularly relevant. Tassman has three main modules—Browser, Builder, and Player. The Builder is where you create the block diagram for your synthesizer by dragging modules in from the Browser, and wiring up the virtual patch cords.


Then, you convert this into a Player when you want to play some sounds.

As a Player, the connections are hidden and you have a neat, tidy setup. However if you want to make changes, it’s back to the Builder. In that respect, it’s different from a modular synthesizer where all the patch cords that create routings among modules are visible. The Builder can become a little confusing when you have a ton of connections; however, clicking on a “wire” turns it red, so you can follow its path. For making connections, you route outputs to inputs.


The best way to understand what Tassman can do is to listen to some audio examples and peruse the manual, both of which are available online. This is an extremely powerful synthesizer and effects processor…if you like synth programming and creating new sounds, it’s easy to get sucked into Tassman’s world.

AND FINALLY… The full versions of String Studio VS-2, Chromaphone 2, Strum GS-2, Virtual Analog VA-2, and Lounge Lizard EP-4 are compatible with Windows/Mac OS 32-/64-bit operating systems, as well as VST2, AU, RTAS, AAX Native, NKS, and standalone formats. Except for NKS, Tassman also supports the same formats. Optional-at-extra-cost preset banks are available for String Studio VS-2, Chromaphone 2, and Virtual Analog VA-2. A|A|S has blazed their own path by concentrating on modeling. While some people think modeling doesn’t give as “realistic” a sound, there’s more to the story. Granted, a sample by itself will sound very realistic; but once you start doing multisamples and velocity splits, the realism degrades considerably. Also, samples are relatively static with respect to modifying their sonic characteristics. Modeling gets around all these issues, and in some respects, delivers more of an “idealized” sound. You’ve had a taste of some of these in SONAR, but you can dive deeper with the demos of the full versions, and find out for yourself what A|A|S| brings to the party. For me, that’s a welcome and considerable contribution.

SPECIAL PRICE FROM THE CAKEWALK STORE—JULY+AUGUST ONLY! Normal retail prices are $199 for each instrument, except for Tassman ($349). The Modeling Collection includes all of these instruments and sells for $499. Upgrades from the Session versions of instruments bundled with SONAR are usually $99. But during July and August, all of these prices are up to 50% off in the Cakewalk store—yes, you can get the complete Modeling Collection for $299, or upgrade your Session versions for $49…but only during July and August.


Interview: Chris Broderick (Act of Defiance, Ex-Megadeth) By Jimmy Landry

In the not-toodistant past, guitarist Chris Broderick made the heartfelt decision to leave the band Megadeth and start his own project. Without wasting any time or creative energy, Chris started the band Act of Defiance with members Shawn Drover (ex-Megadeth), Henry Derek (ex-Scar the Martyr), and Matt Bachand (ex-Shadows Fall). Metal Blade Records signed the band shortly thereafter, which initiated the recording/promoting cycle on their first record “Birth and the Burial.” The record was immediately praised as an intuitive mix of different styles of metal, and brought instant attention to the new group. Now firmly established and on the forefront of a new release in September, Chris tells us that the band has pretty much kept the formula intact from the first record.

REWIND TO THE BEGINNING… Starting from the early age of 11, Chris started on a journey that eventually brought him to every corner of our world. Little did he know at that time he would achieve the kind of career that remains a dream for most musicians. He earned his multi-genre / multi-instrumentalist / vocalist chops like many others—long hours and hard work. As a teenager, you could find him practicing guitar, piano, and violin for upwards of 14 hours a day. This eventually led him into an extraordinary path of education at the University 23

of Denver’s Lamont School of Music, where he was well known in the Denver music scene for playing in local, yet highly regarded, bands. As time, fate, and his career moved forward, Chris eventually moved into a higher level of guitar playing by taking over for Joey Tafolla in the critically acclaimed band Jag Panzer. Besides his professionalism, Chris landed this job partly because he was the only one who could handle the duties laid out by Tafolla. For nearly a decade of performing and touring on four records, Chris enjoyed playing with Jag Panzer while also taking part in live performances by the band Nevermore. In late 2007, Chis got a call from Shawn Drover, Megadeth’s drummer, who had put forth his name as a suggested replacement for Glen Drover (who had recently left the band). After Dave Mustaine saw a video of Chris playing guitar, on February 4th 2008 Chris made his debut appearance as the new guitarist for Megadeth. Dave Mustaine had commented that he thought Chris was the greatest guitarist Megadeth had ever seen, and that his collaboration with Chris reminded him of when Ozzy met Randy.

FAST FORWARD TO THE PRESENT… Act of Defiance, left to right: Henry Derek Bonner (vocals), Chris Broderick (guitar), Matt Bachand (bass), Shawn Drover (drums) Chris’s chops have only improved over the years, and with a new album imminent, we had a chance to sit down and find out his plans, his latest musical directions, and what he uses when it’s time to record. CW: What have been some of your most memorable highlights in the last few years with Act of Defiance since leaving Megadeth? It's always been about the fans and the interaction I had with them, on and off the stage. In my mind, they can make or break the show as much as the band can—and it is so awesome when the crowd is just going nuts! Definitely a highlight would be the Big 4 shows with Metallica, Slayer, and Anthrax. They were more about community in thrash metal music then the idea of just another band billing to sell tickets. My most memorable moment of the Big 4 shows was


when Kirk Hammett had me play the solo with him to Am I Evil (by Diamond Head) that we jammed at during the end of the show. CW: What will be the differences in direction with your upcoming record? The premise for this CD remains the same as the last Act of Defiance CD—that we all can write anything we want, as long as it fits well into the metal genre. But although the premise is the same, the outcome is very different in that we have all contributed to this CD; for the last one, Shawn and I wrote the music. Unlike the last CD, which was a little more Thrash focused, this has allowed us to go in different directions. I went in a more progressive route, Shawn stayed the truest to our metal roots, Matt brought the east coast vibe to our songs, and Henry added a somewhat Scandinavian metal sound to this one. CW: We know you left Megadeth on mutual good terms. Can you speak a bit on the catalyst that made you leave the band? I felt the time was right to leave, because Dave was starting to work on the next CD. My heart wasn’t in it because I needed to have my own creative voice, both musically and in the band’s creative direction. CW: What would be the #1 most memorable stage moment while playing in Megadeth? There is no one moment. That’s the cool thing, I’ve traveled the world and met so many gracious fans and been a part of some really spectacular shows. One funny but cool moment I remember was when we were recording the DVD for the Big 4 shows. It was in the middle of the song Hangar 18 and it was raining—I was right up front getting ready to do my next solo when a huge torrent of water just poured over me while I was playing (laughs). The water came from the buildup of the rain water on the canopy overhead…it was a shock, but funny at the same time. CW: How are you using SONAR with the new record? In every way possible (laughs). When starting the demo process, I use Toontrack EZ Drummer 2 as a VST for my demo drums. My Fractal Axe FX II goes from the SPDIF out into my Lynx Hilo for all the guitars and bass that I record; for the vocals, acoustics, classical and string instruments, I use either my Neumann or SE Gemini V into a 1073 clone, which then feeds the Lynx Hilo. For the final takes, the process is largely the same except that my drummer and bass player will supply their finals, instead of using VSTs and my own bass lines. There are a lot of reasons I use SONAR Platinum, but the main standouts for me come down to the insanely easy workflow because SONAR is so configurable, the EQ—which is one of the most musical EQs I have, and I also love the fact that SONAR comes with some great VSTs and synths. To name a few, some of my essentials are Addictive Drums, Breverb which is awesome, Channel Tools because I can record a stereo track with D.I. and guitar tone and have the D.I. muted, and of course the CA2A—one of the best models of the LA-2A I’ve ever heard.


CW: Old or new—simple or complex—what are a few of the features that have influenced you to keep using SONAR? I’ve recorded on Pro Tools and have never been a fan. Watching great producers dig though menus and submenus just to pull up an audio clip and audition it to see if it’s the one they want seemed convoluted to me; the way SONAR does Take Lanes is much more efficient. Also, the MIDI capabilities are nowhere near SONAR’s, at least when I last saw PT 10. I also like how SONAR handles bouncing and exports. But there were also advantages in going from SONAR 8.5 to SONAR Platinum, like the all the added features and improved workflow. For example, the Browser window makes it easy to organize your VSTs, synths, sample libraries, and FX chains. From there you can just dragand-drop whatever you need into the track, and you’re ready to go. The expanded routing capabilities including busing and sends routing are very robust—in seconds I can go from tracking something, to sending it to re-amp or configuring another send for headphone monitoring. I also remember when I first started using SONAR there wasn’t a metronome bus, which made it far less configurable than it is now. Finally, there’s the Multidock window with its tabs—just hit “D,” and you have your dock window. Mine is usually on the console view and opens on a second screen, with tabs for the piano roll and whatever other views I may need for the project. CW: What’s the timeline looking like for the new record? Act of Defiance has just turned in all the finals to our mixing and mastering engineer Dave Otero of Flat Line Audio. The release date is September 29th, and we plan to start touring on the new material right when it comes out. CW: I definitely want to hear the follow-up, and good luck with the tour. Thanks! I’m really looking forward to playing the new material to our fans—both old and new. 26

How to Adjust Studio Monitor Rear Panel Controls by Craig Anderton

Studio monitors have changed a lot in the past few decades, and with some models, the oncesimple rear-panel complement of jacks and (possibly) a few controls has expanded into a plethora of controls, jacks, and switches. Yet few companies explain exactly how you should use all these controls to your advantage—so that’s what we’ll cover.

BUT FIRST... Before you consider adjusting rear panel controls to compensate for acoustic problems, it's important to optimize your setup’s acoustics. Just as noise reduction is most effective with audio that doesn't have too much noise, rear panel adjustment controls are at their best when they don't have to be adjusted too much. Because overall system setup is crucial to avoid unnecessary room acoustic interaction, and a room’s natural acoustics may alter the sound level at various frequencies due to abnormal dampening or reflections, follow the checklist below to help create the right acoustic environment. Photo courtesy Primacoustic (

Set up the system (studio monitors and worktable) within the front third of the room. Doing so will reduce reflection buildup of peak frequencies.

Center the left and right sides of the system setup an equal distance from the left and right walls. This will produce even mid- and low-frequency response, and preserve stereo imaging.

Avoid a listening position (your ears) closer than 3 feet (1 meter) from any wall. Also avoid large objects (such as lamps or decorations) near the studio monitor and listening position.

Diffusers and absorption material in the corners and back of a room will help remove room interaction by preventing reflections. 27

Carpeting will help prevent reflections from hard floor surfaces.

Studio monitor isolators (foam or rubber pads) will help remove low vibration-inducing frequency coupling between the stands and console or work surface.

A low noise floor (no outside interference from refrigerators or fans) is important to prevent the masking of low frequency detail. Also remove rattles due to studio monitor playback.

Within the system setup, the studio monitors and listening placement should be positioned in a near-field configuration so that the left and right studio monitors are approximately 3 to 5 feet (1 to 1.5 meters) apart, and directed at a 60 degree angle toward the listening location. Measure the distance between the left and right studio monitors to make sure the listening position is equidistant from both sides; this will form an equilateral triangle. Most two-way studio monitors incorporate a tweeter (producing high frequencies) and a woofer (producing mid and low frequencies) in one enclosure. In between the tweeter and woofer is the acoustic axis point where the full frequency range comes together. The ideal location for the acoustic axis point is located at ear level in the listening position. It’s acceptable to angle the studio monitors so the acoustic axis points in the correct direction. Note that it’s also important to level-match both left and right studio monitors.

EQUALIZATION OPTIONS Room acoustics can be the biggest issue in today’s studios because many are in revamped houses or garages that were never designed with acoustic purity in mind. Most manufacturers recognize that their speakers may not live in perfect acoustical environments, and offer equalization options to compensate for acoustics issues. Often these EQs are simple, like high or low frequency boost or cut. Others are more sophisticated. We’ll describe KRK’s V-Series options because to determine what would be the most useful EQ settings, KRK’s designers modeled and analyzed hundreds of monitor placement and room acoustic situations. If your speaker doesn’t have the same kind of flexibility, you can always try to translate the following settings to an EQ inserted in your DAW’s master bus. Just remember to bypass it when doing a final bounce to stereo.


Low Shelf Cut controls compensate for wall coupling. When a speaker is close to a wall, sound emanating from the speaker’s rear bounces off the wall, and reinforces the sound emanating from the speaker’s front. Because low frequency waveforms are more likely to reinforce, the shelf for the V-Series 4 (4” model) starts at about 75 Hz (the 6” and 8” models start at about 60 Hz), with options to cut by -3 dB or -1.5 dB. Low Shelf Boost is more about adjusting to taste and having more “thump.” Most studios will have sufficient bass with a flat setting. However, the boost is useful when artists want to hear more bass than would be desirable for a mix or master. A low frequency boost lets you mix with the correct amount of bass while giving artists what they want to hear. The V-Series boost complements the cut: +1.5 or +3 dB at around 75 Hz for the 4” model, and 60 Hz for the 6” and 8” models. Low Mid Parametric compensates for the lower midrange buildup that can occur if speakers are directing their sound over a large console or other surface. This can produce a somewhat “muddy” sound. The V-Series parametric dips -2 dB at 200 Hz, but another switch position dips -2 dB at 200 Hz and adds a low shelf of -2 dB at 75 Hz for the 4” model, and 60 Hz for the 6” and 8” models, in case the speaker rear is also close to the wall.


High frequency controls are about correcting issues too (some mixing environments are “brighter” or “deader” than others), but can also be about adjusting to taste, or compensating for hearing issues. High Shelf is pretty standard, and if a speaker has only one high frequency control, it will have a similar response—you can boost or cut 2 dB at 10 kHz. High Mid Parametric Boost is +1 dB at 3.5 kHz. The ear is most sensitive in the 3 to 4 kHz range, and sadly, engineers who’ve mixed a lot at loud volumes often suffer hearing loss in that range. Boosting somewhat will cause engineers to mix these frequencies properly rather than boosting them too much to compensate for the deficiencies in their hearing, which could lead to a harsh overall sound. High Mid Parametric Cut is -1 dB at 3.5 kHz. This is useful for a “Jedi mind trick” with artists who aren’t confident about their voices. Reducing the perceived level at 3.5 kHz will make a voice sound less prominent in the mix, but the actual mix will have the voice at the right level. As with the Low Frequency controls, there are two options that combine parametric and shelving: -1 dB at 10 kHz and -1 dB at 3.5 kHz for rooms that have excessively bright acoustics, as well as +1 dB at 10 kHz and +1 dB at 3.5 kHz for rooms with excessively dull acoustics.

OTHER REAR PANEL GOODIES There's more to life than equalization, so here's the scoop on the rest of the rear panel. Inputs. The typical input options are some combination of XLR, 1/4” TRS (tip-ring-sleeve), and RCA phono jacks. XLR and TRS connectors are balanced (and sometimes combined into a single “combi” jack), while RCA phono connectors are unbalanced. Balanced connections are preferable, because they provide more level and lower noise. TRS connectors are balanced if you use a stereo cable (not because they’re stereo per se, but because a balanced line needs three conductors) and unbalanced if you use a standard mono cable. It’s definitely worth using a stereo cable with TRS connectors, or an XLR cable. Input Sensitivity. The usual choices are -10 dB (for consumer and prosumer gear) and +4 dB (for pro-level, and often high-end, gear). For example, KRK ships its speakers with a default setting of -10 dB, but note that input sensitivity is not volume. The amplifiers run at full gain, and then you adjust how “hard” you hit it with the input sensitivity control. As a result, you will get better results (more headroom, less noise) when running a system at +4 dB, assuming the device feeding the speaker can generate enough level. Ground Lift. Because monitor speakers have amplifiers and connect to systems, ground loops that result in hum and noise are possible. In ancient times, people cut the ground pin off of 3conductor AC cables, which was neither safe nor recommended. Enabling the speaker’s ground lift switch has the same effect without compromising safety.


Standby or "Sleep" Switch. Speakers with a standby option engaged will go into a low-power mode after a certain amount of time. Receiving audio turns it back on again. However, if you mix or master at low levels, the speakers may cut out at inappropriate times, or there may not be enough level to “wake” them up again. If this happens consistently, turn off standby mode.

CAUTION! It takes a while for the ear to acclimate to changes in EQ and levels. It’s always best to start off with flat settings and get to know your speakers and your room. Listen to music with which you are familiar, and preferably, have heard over quality monitors in a studio with good acoustics so you have a frame of reference. Try different positions in your room and placement before making EQ adjustments and after finding the optimum position, then adjust the EQ to give you your best listening and monitoring experience.


A Baker’s Dozen of Mix Recall Tips By Craig Anderton

The idea of recalling a mix came into being with analog consoles, but it was ugly: either you took photos of the knob positions, or wrote them down on paper. Eventually high-end digital consoles hit the world, automation became part of the deal, and it was possible to store those automation moves on—gasp!—floppy disks. Although DAWs have always been able to “save as” if you wanted to preserve a mix, that’s not as convenient as storing mix data within a project. However when Cakewalk added Mix Recall to SONAR, the concept was taken further than simply storing automation moves. If you haven’t yet discovered what Mix Recall brings to the party, here are 13 tantalizing tips to get you inspired to try out this extremely helpful and innovative feature.

1. OLD SCHOOL COOL: THE MIX AS PERFORMANCE Some of the great mixes were the result of several hands on the console, with all of them working the faders like a performance. Mix Recall makes it easy to treat a mix as a performance, not a tedious exercise in creating automation nodes with a mouse, or doing a “set and forget” with faders like you’d do with a reference mix. You can hook up a controller, throw caution to the winds, and let the spirit move you as you change levels. Being able to just scrap a mix that doesn’t work and do another performance often beats editing automation to get where you need to go.

2. MIX AND MATCH Arguably Mix Scenes’ most powerful feature is that you can combine mix elements from different Scenes. For example, if one mix had the perfect balance of bass and drums, but a newer mix got everything else right, simply bring the mix data relating to bass and drums into the newer mix. You do this by selecting only the tracks whose pan, level, automation, etc. data you want to recall, choosing Apply to Track/bus selection in 32

the Settings menu, closing the Settings window, then choosing the Mix Scene with the desired attributes.

3. SAVE FIRST Upon opening a project, save a Mix Scene. Mix Recall can’t go backward in time and remember that great mix you didn’t save as a scene. Mix Scenes live in your project folder, and don’t require much memory. Save scenes early, and save often.

4. KNOW WHAT’S BEING RECALLED Mix Recall is not “edit recall” or “arrangement recall,” and does not affect anything clip-related (including clip gain and pan automation). If you save a Mix Recall “scene” and then move a clip, the clip where stay where you left it as you call up different scenes (although it will be subject to whatever automation info was in the scene). Mix Recall assumes that you’re done with the editing, so you’re dealing with levels, panning, effects settings, and the like.

5. DOCUMENTING MIX SCENES A scene name’s text field can hold 128 characters; any more than that, and you won’t be able to save the scene. The text field isn’t long enough to show these all characters at once, but you can use the left/right arrows to scroll, as well as click in the field, Select All, copy, and paste the text into Sonar’s Project Info window or a text document. Conversely, you can write the description in a text file (no line returns, though) and paste it into the name field.

6. MORE IS NOT ALWAYS MERRIER You can open the settings dialog box with a right-click on the “Previous Scene” button in the Mix Recall toolbar module, and choose Advanced or Basic settings. Basic remembers control settings, automation, and effects settings. Advanced gives many more options, like remembering which effects are included in a mix. The reason for being selective in what you choose is that the more Sonar has to recall, the longer it can take. This is particularly true with virtual instruments, where you may have changed patches between mixes and the instrument has to re-load multiple samples to re-create the mix.

7. DRUM FUN Mix Recall is great for trying out different drum kits with a drum module. Save a Mix Scene with one drum kit, change drum kits, then save as another Mix Scene. Do this for several kits, then choose among them to determine which kit you like best.


8. A-B COMPARISONS When you choose to “recall last Scene,” Mix Recall doesn’t drill back through the stack of scenes, but toggles between Scenes. For example, suppose you save Mix Scene 23, then create Mix Scene 24. When you choose the last scene, Sonar will load scene 23. If you choose last scene again, Sonar will load Mix Scene 24 because it was the scene loaded prior to Scene 23. If the difference between A-B comparisons are relatively minor, Sonar can toggle relatively rapidly between those Scenes. The drop-down menu in the Control Bar’s Mix Scenes module lets you choose particular Mix Scenes, as well as manage them (rename, delete, etc.).

9. TOTAL RECALL? NOT ALWAYS While most instruments recall exactly what you saved, some don’t recall everything. For example, if you save a Mix Recall scene using a Rapture Pro preset, then change presets and save another Mix Scene, when you alternate between the scenes the parameter values will change (as will the sound), which is what you want…but the preset name won’t update. Verify how your instruments respond with Mix Recall so you know what to expect.

10. ZERO THE BOARD To remove all traces of automation—for example you’ve started a project in the “shell” of a different project, but want to start fresh with automation— select all the tracks and choose “Reset Mix” from the drop-down menu. However, save the project before you reset, as the reset operation is not undoable and you may end up deleting effects if you forgot you added them later on in the process. The reset deletes automation, zeroes the faders, and removes any mix offsets.


11. TEMPLATES, TOO! To save a Mix Recall template, create a project with the desired Mix Scenes, then save the project as a template file (i.e., a file with a .cwt suffix, saved to the Project Templates folder). When you save, all the referenced Mix Scenes will be saved with the template. Creating a project from a template with saved Mix Scene templates automatically links all Mix Scene files referenced by the template to the new project file, and copies them to the project.

12. MULTIPLE EXPORTS This could also be called the “make clients happy” function. It’s often necessary to create multiple versions of a song; for example when mastering I often ask for additional versions with the lead vocal up 1 dB and another with it down 1 dB. With audio for video projects, you may want to save a version with the music bed by itself, with narration, with the narration “ducked,” another in mono, and so on. Each one of these can be a Mix Scene, so it’s convenient to have them available for recall within the project. Best of all, SONAR’s Export function lets you export all of them simultaneously, with your choice of file formats (e.g. WAV, 24-bit, 16-bit, FLAC, etc.), using the usual File > Export Audio dialog. For the Source category, select Mix Recall and you’ll see a listing of available Mix Scenes. Choose the ones you want to export, then click on Export. The Mix Scene name is appended to the project name, just before the file format.

13. INSTANT RECALL COMPARISONS The speed with which you can change from one Mix Scene to another depends on how much you’re trying to recall (as determined by the Settings menu). If you’re recalling a lot, that can take time. If you want to do instant comparisons, call up a Mix Scene and bounce the tracks to create a premix. Then call up additional Mix Scenes as needed, and create additional premixes. Now enable Exclusive Solo, and you can compare the premixes instantly without having to call up the actual Mix Scenes themselves.


You Mix, We Master By Craig Anderton Sometimes you don’t want a full-blown mastering job, but just a better-sounding mix. From time to time, we take a reader-submitted song and describe how to master it using SONAR’s available tools. This issue’s project is “Defying Gravity,” an original song by Lynn Wilson.

ANALYSIS Like last month, the track itself is “mastering-friendly”— plenty of headroom, with no processing added to the master bus. The song is relatively long (over 4 minutes) and goes through various twists and turns, so my first inclination was to identify the various sections, and give each one more of its own feel while maintaining the overall “vibe.” The intro lasts about 35 seconds, which is long by contemporary standards. It’s kind of dreamy, then goes into the verse, which has an attention-getting vocal shift. (This shift is a nice trick I’ll probably steal—I mean, be inspired by—at some point.) Then it goes into the chorus, which is the heart of the song, followed by another verse and chorus. I wanted the first chorus a little bigger than the verse, and the second chorus a little bigger than the first chorus, while making the verses more intimate. I added a split and a marker to each section because I thought they would benefit from per-clip processing rather than have effects on the entire track. The overall on the EQ mix was quite good—it wasn’t going to need much work at all. The bass seemed to have a bit of resonance that needed taming, and I also wanted to hear a more intelligibility in the midrange, but those were minor issues. First, it was time for a fix.

THE VERSE “GUITAR PROBLEM,” AND ITS UNORTHODOX SOLUTION The verses have a cool-sounding guitar part (muted guitar samples? real guitar? I don’t know), panned quite a bit to the left. However its level distracts from the voice. If I had access to the mix I would have lowered it, but needed to figure out something else. I thought mid/side processing with the LP EQ might do the job, but EQ affected too many frequencies. The perfect solution was using the Nomad Blue Tubes Stereo Imager as clip FX in the two verses, but not to widen them—to narrow them and make them more mono. 36

This has three major benefits:   

The center-channel build-up accents the voice more. The same center-channel buildup de-emphasizes the extreme left and right, which brings the guitar figure down a bit in the mix for just the right balance. When the “more mono” verse transitions into the full stereo chorus, it provides a contrast that makes the song more dramatic. This was a “lucky accident” element of lowering the guitar in the verses.

While we’re at it, here’s a Clip FX tip. I wanted to use the same Stereo Imager in both verse clips. If you open the FX Rack in the clip, you can Ctrl+Click on the effect and drag it to any other clip where you want it. SONAR will automatically insert a clip FX Rack, and insert the effect with the same preset.

THE INTRO I felt the intro could be cut in half, but this kind of decision would need to be made with the artist because clearly, the intro was intended to set a mood. Instead, I tried to think of a way to emphasize the mood. Time to get experimental, and I felt preverb might do the trick. So I copied the intro, dragged it to another track, reversed it, added reverb as a Clip FX, rendered, and reversed again.

Next was lining this up with the original track so the reverb “crested” into the original note’s attack. To increase the element of suspense, I added a slow fade-in so that there was no preverb at the beginning, but as the intro continued, it became more “gauzy” and diffused. Then when it went it into the verse, the transition was quite dramatic.


EQ FIXES The bass resonance was easy to tame with a slight, broad dip around 85 Hz. Meanwhile, usually I feel voices need more intelligibility in the 3-4 kHz range, but in this case, it seemed like a bit more “meat” was in order. This explains the reason for the 1.8 dB boost at around 1.3 kHz. I felt the track could still use a bit more definition and “air,” so I added Gloss, which I rarely do. Next, it was time for one of my favorite “secret weapons”—the A-Type Console Emulator.

CONSOLE EMULATOR Most of the time the Console Emulator provides a subtle effect that’s cumulative over many channels, but to my ears, jacking up the Drive for the A-Type Console Emulator with just a little bit of extra trim adds an edge you can’t get in any other way. Overall, I felt that in conjunction with Gloss, this helped to add some excitement to an otherwise relatively conservative mix.

DYNAMICS It was very convenient that Cakewalk decided to release the Adaptive Limiter last month, because this provided a chance to give it a spin in a real-world context. At this point I don’t have a huge amount of experience with it, but it’s not really that hard to figure out. I used the K-14 metering system, and watched the dB reduction meter. Typically, although the LUFS and K metering is helpful, with a lot of pop mixes I’ve found that aiming for a peak gain reduction of around-6 to -7 dB makes for a loudness level that’s “competitive” with other songs placed in a playlist. The waveform display is great, because it allows seeing where, and by how much, peaks are being reduced. The Histogram provides useful information on the average signal levels, and the “Match Input Loudness” button provides a reality check. 38

I set the Release to Auto, and decoupled the channels somewhat by reducing the Link amount. I don’t have a concrete reason for doing this; it just sounded better.

FINAL TOUCHES To make the final chorus a bit “bigger,” I used Process > Apply Effect > Gain and added 1 dB. I wasn’t concerned about overloading anything, because I knew this would just push the limiter a little harder and give a bit more “force” to the final chorus. As with other “You Mix, We Master” projects I allocate an afternoon to the mastering. However there wasn’t much more I would have done to this with unlimited time, or if the mix came from a paying client. Although the song didn’t really need much, you’ll definitely here a difference when you check out the before and after video.

BEFORE AND AFTER Go to Cakewalk’s YouTube channel to see a video that compares the original and mastered versions. To make for a fair comparison, I’ve matched the peak levels of the “before” and


“after” sections, but not the sections that show what adding or subtracting individual effects can do. Here are the timings. 00:10 00:32 00:36 00:40 00:56 01:12 01:26 01:42 02:10 02:30 03:00 03:12 03:30

– – – – – – – – – – –

00:32 00:36 00:40 00:56 01:12 01:26 01:42 02:10 02:30 03:00 03:12 03:30 04:30

Mastered mix Preverb intro only No Preverb intro Mastered mix Original Mix Mastered mix With full ProChannel Console Emulator only Original mix Mastered mix Original mix Full ProChannel Mastered mix


Cakewalk 30th Anniversary Celebration:

30 Sonitus Modulator FX Chains By Craig Anderton

The Sonitus effects have a long history, starting in 1998 when the company Ultrafunk released

the Sonitus plug-ins. In 2003 the company disbanded, and Cakewalk purchased the Sonitus line in 2004. (Ultrafunk re-grouped in 2011, and has announced they’ll be launching various projects under a new name.) Since then, the effects have been updated for 64-bit operation, and are included in all versions of SONAR. Despite their age, if these effects had never been invented and introduced today, they would still be hailed for their innovation, CPU-friendly operation, and functionality. For many SONARians, the Sonitus effects remain their go-to processors for delay, compression, chorus, gating, and more. These 30 FX Chains are based around the Sonitus Modulator, which does flanging, chorusing, tremolo, and—as you’ll find out by checking out these presets—a lot more, including lo-fi, vintage amp vibrato, analog tape wow and flutter emulation, imaging, resonance effects, and…well, load ’em into a project, and listen to what happens. All FX Chains are unlocked, so feel free to open up the effects, change parameters, and reverse-engineer what’s happening. Have fun!

Listen to a 3-minute audio/video demo of 19 2017.06 update FX chains to hear them in action!


1. Auto-Panner. With mono audio, this pans the audio from left to right. With stereo, it pans between the right and left channels.

2. Bathtub Reverb. This also does a reasonable spring reverb imitation. Mix sets the wet/dry mix, Delay is the reverb tail time, and Feedback increases the apparent delay length. EQ Mode can choose no EQ (full CCW), Low Cut (middle), or High Cut (full CW), with EQ Frequency choosing the cutoff frequency.

3. Broken Speaker Lo-Fi. You can actually use this for more than just hardcore techno. Turn up Breakage to lower the fidelity; enabling Timbre gives a bigger, but muddier, sound. The default Output opens to a rational level, but you can turn it way up to overload either this effect, or subsequent stages.


4. Center Channel Zap. Turn the Center Zap control clockwise to reduce the center channel level while maintaining the left and right side signals. Great for karaoke if you want to nuke vocals mixed to center, or for taming kick and snare with drum loops.

5. Cheap Hi-Fi. Nostalgic for the sound of transistor radios and bad earbuds? Foil SONAR’s high fidelity attitude with this FX Chain. The more you turn up the Cheapen and Mix controls, the cheaper the sound.

6. Complex Chorus. This uses the Sonitus Modulator’s Ensemble algorithm. The controls are what you’d expect from a standard chorus, with two exceptions: the Low Cut control tightens up the low end, while Widen increases the stereo image width.


7. Diffused Phaser. The controls are the same as the Complex Chorus, but the effect is

somewhat like a phaser that’s more ethereal and diffused than typical phaser signal processors.

8. Hollow Resonator. This is a phaser- instead of flanger-based resonator, which gives a

more hollow type of resonance sound. Image alters the mono and stereo balance.

9. Imaging Warp. This is for stereo audio only—it won’t do anything with mono signals, and settings are non-intuitive. With Warp 1 full CW, turning up Warp 2 reduces the center channel and brings the stereo more toward center; with Warp 1 full CCW, changing Warp 2 causes subtle shifts in the stereo imaging. It’s a weird effect, but automating the two controls can add animation.


10. Manual Flanging. Delay control sets the flanging frequency, and Feedback can make the

sound more “sharp.� Enable Timbre for positive flanging, disable for negative flanging.

11. Mono ADT. This provides a sort of automatic double-tracking effect for mono signals,

like guitar. At full CCW, Image maintains the mono image, but you can make it more stereo by turning Image clockwise. Delay is the initial amount of delay between the dry signal and the copy, while Mix changes their balance.

12. Mono Chorus. Most choruses have a stereo output, but this has a mono output to provide focused chorusing effects without a stereo spread. The controls are the standard chorus controls (e.g., the same complement as the Complex Chorus FX Chain).


13. Phase Delay Resonance. How about a cross between a phaser, flanger, and resonator?

To get a feel for what it does, first adjust the Phase control to hear its effect, then the Delay control and play some more with Phase…then move on to the other controls.

14. Resonator. Frequency sets the resonant frequency, while Feedback determines the

resonance. Feedback Phase changes the timbre. Try automating the Frequency with the random automation waveform…fun stuff!

15. Rotating Speaker. This isn’t perfect, but with organ sounds, this FX Chain can definitely

help listeners think they’re hearing rotating speaker effects. The Rate control covers the slow-to-fast range of classic rotating speakers.


16. Shimmer Chorus. The controls are standard chorusing controls, but this gives a very

sweet, shimmering sound. If you don’t like standard chorus sounds‌try this one. You may want to pull the feedback back from the default.

17. Slow Roll Phaser 12. This is a fairly standard phaser, except for the Waveform control.

To see the five different waveforms, open up the Sonitus Modulator while you vary Waveform. For less effect but a more full-range sound, disable the Timbre button.

18. Slow Roll Phaser 6. By using the 6-stage phaser algorithm instead of the 12-stage one,

this phaser is a gentler and more subtle version of the Slow Roll Phaser 12. Try it on program material as well as individual instruments.


19. Stereo ADT. Unlike the Mono ADT, although this FX Chain can also work with mono

signals, it generates a stereo image. The Delay control sets the time difference between the “double-tracked” signals.

20. Stereo Amp Vibrato. Remember those old guitar amps that had built-in vibrato instead

of tremolo? Here ya go, with nothing fancy—just Rate and Depth controls. Automate the Depth control for more expressiveness.

21. Stereo-to-Mono. Bring stereo signals more toward center with this FX Chain—the

“More Mono” control does exactly what you’d expect; as you turn it more clockwise, the left and right extremes move more toward the center.


22. Subtle Chorus. This is more about adding animation in a subtle way rather than being an

“in your face” chorus effect. The controls are the standard chorus parameters—Rate, Depth, and Feedback.

23. Subtle Phaser. And if you’re going to have a Subtle Chorus, you might as well have a

Subtle Phaser too. Like the Subtle Chorus, the controls are standard—Rate, Depth, and Feedback—and again, this FX Chain is more about animation.

24. Super Lo-Fi. If you want major league dirt, this is pretty dirty. The Nasty 1 and Nasty 2 controls are just plain nasty; EQ Mode can choose no EQ (full CCW), Low Cut (middle), or High Cut (full CW), with EQ Frequency choosing the cutoff frequency.


25. Sweet Stereo Chorus. I have a friend who really hates chorus units. He likes this one. If

you hate chorus effects, consider auditioning the Sweet Stereo Chorus.

26. Tremolo. Here’s your standard Tremolo with Rate and Depth controls. This FX Chain’s

“special sauce” is the LFO Waveform control that offers five different waveforms.

27. True Tape Flanging. This is about as close as you’re going to come with a simple plug-in, because it does through-zero flanging. With Pos/Neg in negative flanging mode, you’ll hear some degree of cancellation when the time difference between the dry and delayed signals is zero, and in positive flanging mode, the two signals will add. There are five LFO waveforms available, but the FX Chain’s default works well.


28. Two-Timer Tremolo. This includes two tremolo effects. The Rate control sets the master

Tremolo rate, and the Image control determines whether the effect is more like conventional tremolo or auto-panning. The unique “Double Time” control mixes in an additional, double-time tremolo that itself is “tremoloed” by the second tremolo.

29. Vocal Vibrato. This is similar to the Stereo Amp Vibrato, but is mono and has a

restricted vibrato rate range. If you want to add vibrato to a vocal, use this as a clip FX. Automate Depth for the most natural and controlled effect.

30. Wow & Flutter. Yes, Platinum has a ProChannel Tape Emulator. But this tape recorder must have been extremely well-maintained, because there’s no wow or flutter. Now you can use this FX Chain add wow and/or flutter for additional realism.


Finally, note that the Anderton Collection in the FX Chains folder has several Sonitus Modulator-based effects, including a warped record simulator (45 and 331/3 RPM) in the DJ folder, the Psychedelic Drums FX Chain in the Drums folder, and in the Processors folder you’ll find the Modern Vibrato, Rotation Vibe, and Ultra Phaser FX Chains.


TECH+MUSIC 2017.06

Publisher Alex Westner

Editorial/Design Director Craig Anderton

Contributors Keith Albright, Noel Borthwick, Christopher Brown, Bob Currie, Jon Downing, Bill Jackson, John Joseph, Mike Lally, Jimmy Landry, Jim Lima, Lance Riley, Morten Saether, Jon Sasor, Logan Thomas

Advisory Board The Cakewalk Community

Gibson Pro Audio General Manager Ingrid Calvo

Executive Director Henry Juszkiewicz