Cakewalk Sonar X2 Producer PORTABLE
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Cakewalk's last major upgrade of Sonar reinvented it as 'X1'. As Mark Wherry's April 2011 review of that release (/sos/apr11/articles/sonar-x1.htm) describes, the major innovation was a comprehensive redesign of the user interface. The revamped interface, termed Skylight by Cakewalk, was generally well received, and provided users with a much more flexible system for organising and accessing the program's extensive set of features. The new X2 update sees numerous tweaks to this interface, augmented by a healthy crop of new features. In the top-of-the-range Producer version, these include Overloud's TH2 guitar amp modelling plug-in and Breverb reverb, and the R-Mix Sonar plug-in.
My favorite improvement is how you work with clips in Track view. In X1, clip selections were done by clicking toward the top of the track. Now you have a clearly defined "handle" with the clip name along the top edge, making it easy as pie to work with clips. Also, instead of adding Layers while recording multiple takes or overdubbing, you now have Lanes. That might seem like a small matter, but there are now Lanes for automation too - each type having its own Lane. Simply expand the Lanes to see different takes or automation parameters, and edit away. This accordion-like feature works because of yet another new trick. In previous versions of SONAR, you had to manually adjust the height of each track while working. When overdubbing or mixing, you would typically scrunch down every track, one at a time, in order to fit as many as possible on your screen, then expand the one you wanted to work with. X2 has Auto Track Zoom wherein all tracks shrink or expand vertically at once. Cool. Then click on the track you want to work on, and make it as tall as needed; if it is highlighted, it expands without enlarging the rest of the tracks. When you click on the next track, it will automatically resize itself to your "working" height while the old one minimizes. This one feature is worth the upgrade price, IMHO. It feels natural and organic and is double-plus quick. X1 changed the way SONAR looked and worked, but some features felt half-baked. SONAR X2 is a much more finished product. (X2 Producer $499 street, $99 upgrade; www.cakewalk.com) 153554b96e