Using the Roland Studio Pack
With SONAR 2.0
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As you read this review, keep in mind that I write these reviews, in part, while I'm WORKING with the product. When I run into a problem, I will usually jot down the offending feature and the step that I used to workaround the problem. Because I write down more bugs and problems this way, my review will be more critical than some others ,but remember that overall I like working with Sonar 2.0. There is always room for improvement.
This article is not meant to be an exhaustive review of Sonar 2.0 but rather my experience using Sonar 2.0 with the Roland Studio Pack. However, you may find some interesting tips and workarounds here. For other reviews and tips, click on the links below.
AUDIOMIDI REVIEW OF SONAR XL
TIPS FOR A SMOOTH RUNNING PENTIUM WINDOWS RECORDING STUDIO
SORRY APPLE USERS...SONAR WON'T WORK ON YOUR APPLE
Setting Up Track I/O under Sonar 2.0
The picture to the left side shows basic I/O routing under Sonar 2.0. Using the Roland Studio Pack as the audio I/O source, you can see from the drawing that Sonar 2.0 treats the Roland Studio Pack as 4 separate STEREO SOUNDCARDS. To record audio to a Sonar track, you designate the INput as "Stereo PCM In RolandRPC 1/2", "3/4", "5/6" or "7/8". Similarily, to play audio out of the Roland Studio Pack you would set up the OUTput to "WavOut 1/2 RolandRPC", "3/4", "5/6", "7/8" Also I found, with my setup, that "Always Use MME Interface" MUST be selected, or Sonar 2 won't even see the RSP.Go to Audio Options/Advanced "Always Use MME Interface, Even when WDM Drivers Are Available" and CHECK IT.
Unlike Logic-RPC, with Sonar 2.0, YOU WILL BE ALLOWED MANY I/O SOURCES. In my case, I could use my SBLIVE card for channels 9/10 or SoftSynths such as the *DXI synths or **Unity-DS1 for output. I still haven't explored ROUTING EFFECTS, but it looks like it will be easier with Sonar than Logic-RPC.
If your sound from VM-3100 PRO CRACKLES, while running Sonar 2.0 , you can usually fix the problem by hitting "SHIFT" "F2" AND THEN "YES" on the VM3100 PRO, rather than hitting "SHIFT" "F1" as with Logic-RPC.
A PROBLEM I HAD AND HOW I FIXED IT
I use Sonar 2.0 to record and playback audio. For some reason it became very QUIET after I reset my VM-3100. Now there wasn't a problem when I used Logic-RPC to play music or COOL 2000 to hear waves through one of the 4 RPC devices. It was only Sonar that CHOKED THE SOUND by more than 30 or 40 db. If I turned the volume up on TRIM and Volume for ALL OF THE TRACKS too high, I only got more distortion than volume. THE BITRATES WERE MATCHED at 44.1 24 bit. Now this became REAL SERIOUS because I was using Cool Edit to work on the waveforms. It can be DEAFENING if I forgot to turn down the SLIDERS ON THE VM-3100 and I tore the headphones off of my head more than once because of this.
The Fix and deep technical ramblings
I went to Options/Audio/General and set Playback Timing Master and Record Timing Master to "1/2 Roland RPC". Audio Driver Bit Depth was set to(24)
Buffers in Playback Queue set to(4)
THE REAL CAUSE OF THE PROBLEM however, was wrong the type of bit pattern for the STREAM. Any selection of RIGHT JUSTIFY BIT PATTERNS will make the waves very QUIET because , as near as I can figure, RIGHT JUSTIFY will move the bits into the LEAST SIGNIFIGANT far right. To put it in simpler terms, imagine the number 100. If you keep moving the "1" over to the right it will become 10 and then only 1. If this is a volume level it will get much quieter because 1 is much smaller than 100.
Both Cool Edit and Sonar can work with 32 bit numbers, BUT the Roland Studio Pack can play in 24 bit mode. So Sonar and Cool Edit must pad the bit pattern with 8 ZEROS. By default it seems that Cool Edit will play 32 bit PCM LEFT JUSTIFIED which would make its values 256 X greater than Sonar in Right Justify mode. If you want Sonars bit pattern to be compatible with Cool Edit, it should also be Left Justified, otherwise expect it to be VERY QUITE.
There can be an advantage to Right Justify though. In theory, you could add 256 tracks without distortion. If that is what you really want , single tracks can still be heard with good headphones and the volume turned way up. BUT BE WARNED! This is how I worked for a few weeks, in fact and that's why I nearly blew my eardrums out every time I switched to Cool Edit.
If you select 3 byte bit patterns the volume will also be much louder, because there is no padding with zeros. This will also work well with Cool Edit.
GRIPE #1 ...FOLDER SETUPS
First off, there are 2 places under Options/Global to set up file paths (folder locations). I was only looking under the "Folders" tab , but there is also a "Audio Data" tab to set up your file paths. This is the first time that I have ever seen a computer program with 2 different places to set up 2 different sets of file paths. This is the type of thing that discourages experimenting before reading instructions because if your system is set up like mine, you will quickly find your system CHOKING FOR MEMORY after Sonar uses up all available disk space on drive C:\. Symptoms are serious after disk space is used up on drive C: . For one thing Sonar will crash. For another you will find that plugins and other goodies won't work. So remember to set your file paths at both Options/Global/Folders AND Options/Global/Audio Data
The other reason why Sonar may default back to C:\programfiles\cakewalk\wavedata is this. If your system is sluggish or giving error messages often, you may be tempted to RE-INSTALL Sonar 2.0. In my case, Sonar would re-install with my custom filepath settings under Options/Global/Folders but would DEFAULT back to C:\programfiles\cakewalk\wavedata under Options/Global/Audio Data ! I'm not sure if this is because I used "CakeWalk Pro Audio 8" 6 months ago (CakeWalk Pro Audio 8 is completely removed from my system now.) OR if this is just an oddity of Sonar 2.0 . I will let you know if this is a problem after I do a complete hard disk re-partitioning and formatting "CLEAN INSTALL" in the future. I may need to do this sooner than later, because Sonar 2.0 uses LOTS OF DISK SPACE and my puny 4 gig partition for C: is too small.
I miss the standard << REWIND FAST FORWARD >> buttons.
There are new ways to accomplish the same thing under Sonar, but I find myself moving the mouse more than I want to without << and >>. Move the CURSOR to the time you want OVER A BLANK TRACK and click. (Of course the section must be IN VIEW before you can place the cursor.) Maybe it's time to learn keyboard shortcuts?
#3 Direct Input Monitoring using the SBLIVE CARD
Up until using Sonar 2.0 , I would always record the ***SBLIVE card by using REAL PATCH CORDS from the audio output of the SBLIVE to one of the audio inputs of the Roland Studio Pack, but with Sonar 2.0 there is a better way! It is called Direct Input Monitoring
Setup is tricky. You need to set up the MIDI output channels AND the Audio Input channel as well. You must also make sure that the audio input channel is ARMED for recording, or you won't even hear a burp. I can't get SBLIVE EFFECTS to work with Direct Input Monitoring even though they work well with patch cords. Also with Direct Input monitoring there seems to be severe LATENCY (delay) problems with Soundblaster input being heard almost 1/2 second late. THIS MAY NOT BE A PROBLEM IF YOU USE ONLY A SINGLE AUDIO/MIDI DEVICE or , if you have no sound output device except the Roland Studio Pack. If you have more than a single audio/midi device you can work around this problem however. DXI synths and Unity DS-1 synths don't seem to have latency problems.
CLICK HERE FOR ELECTRONIC MUSICIAN TIPS ON LATENCY
How did I work around this?
I just slid the non-SBLIVE midi tracks over to compensate (made them play later). Then I recorded the SBLIVE sounds to the already ARMED audio track as soon as possible. Be aware that if you jam along while recording new tracks and listening to the SBLIVE sounds YOUR NEW TRACKS WILL ALSO BE LATER than other midi tracks playing outboard midi modules or low latency devices.
* Some great DXI synths are bundled with Sonar 2.0 and you can see from the illustration that I have already worked with DreamStation DXI.
** 2 year old Unity-DS1 is similar to a DXI synth ,but is designed by BITHEADZ. It is a VIRTUAL HIGH END SAMPLER. I plan on a review "Using Unity DS-1 with the Roland Studio Pack" for the future.
*** This is a consideration only if you have the Soundblaster Live card and consider it a quality sound device. I set up a few midi tracks using SBLIVE and they sounded very good, so at the time I was insistent on recording the SBLIVE sounds. The SBLIVE also has some cool effects which I used in one of the songs which we will be releasing soon.In the future I will be using only my outboard midi modules (which also may be considered obsolete by some) ,DXI synths and Unity-DS1 which has very low latency.
USING THE ROLAND STUDIO PACK WITH UNITY DS-1
ABANDONED PENTIUM LOGIC ORPHANS CLICK HERE FOR SPECIAL PRICE ON SONAR 2.0