Cakewalk Sonar 5 Producer Edition review

£280
Price when reviewed

Due to its time-based processing, V-Vocal is accessible by right-clicking audio clips rather than from the plug-ins menu. Sonar creates a copy of the audio and hides the original as a muted clip behind it, which feels a little clumsy, but more annoying is that processed clips can’t be split or crossfaded. A Bounce to Clip(s) option gets around this, but deletes the process history.

Cakewalk Sonar 5 Producer Edition review

Elsewhere, there are some worthwhile and attractive cosmetic tweaks to the interface, as well as some deeper level changes. There’s also a new internal 64-bit mix architecture, a much-needed overhaul to the MIDI effects library, plus the ability to monitor video via FireWire when composing to picture. There’s also explicit support for Windows x64 Edition, which Cakewalk claims will increase performance by 30 per cent – if you can find X64 drivers for your sound card.

The new features in Sonar 5 highlight that this is a tremendously good-value package. Pentagon I, Perfect Space and V-Vocal could justify £330 as standalone products, so it’s as if you’re getting a top-class music-production program for free. The one area where Sonar falls down slightly is on ease of use. Most mixing and editing tools are precise and quick to use, but certain features such as the channel EQ can be fiddly, and we don’t like the way that deleting a software instrument leaves debris in the mixer.

The interface also looks a little overstuffed, making it bewildering for new users, although having so many controls within easy reach quickly becomes a benefit. For sheer accessibility, Ableton Live is a tempting alternative, with its supremely quick interface, wonderfully inventive sound design tools and aptitude for live performance. However, for those who don’t want to choose between acoustic recording, synthesis and sample manipulation, Sonar is the perfect all-rounder.

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