Sound Quality of Sonar X1

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cclarry
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Re:Sound Quality of Sonar X1 2012/03/06 10:02:29 (permalink)
Something that I have noticed can "color" the sound is the choice of ASIO drivers....I know that when I monitor through my POD HD500 the sound quality is no where near as a good as when I monitor through my Quad-Capture...because of A) electronics of the components involved and B) the ASIO driver utilized....

CHAOS theory must ensue....the more "variables" involved the more "color"....

The audio engine of each DAW is also going to contribute to the factors...and the "COLOR"

As I said previously, Pro Tools is extremely transparent, but I can tell it's very DIGITAL sounding...which some may consider "transparency" and, as my preference, I don't want that sound....I can "hear" it in songs on the radio....as well as how "squashed" they are...

So, if I am correct, when you use the Focusrite interface you are going to see a "change" in the sound...in each DAW...because the ASIO drivers will again be different, as well as the electronics used to get it there...

But, that's just me speculating...


#91
John T
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Re:Sound Quality of Sonar X1 2012/03/06 10:02:44 (permalink)
Good call. I'm also eager to listen to some god awful, muddy, one-note-bass mixes while reading convoluted blame-in-on-the-tools arguments too.

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brozobob
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Re:Sound Quality of Sonar X1 2012/03/06 10:05:20 (permalink)
Folks, I'm not here to justify my observations. 
Perhaps others, who might have the time, would like to try doing what I have done, and let me know if they are getting the same results.
 
So, if you have an E-MU interface, and Sonar X1, and Amplitube, and you have a free copy of Ableton Live, or the FREE demo version of REAPER, give it a shot.  Load Amplitube into these programs and tell me, with your ears, if you hear a difference.   I'm not asking for a debate on whether or not Sonar "sounds good".  I'm wanting to find out if others are hearing the same thing I am, in a realtime test.
 
When I have the time, I will try to post a few examples of what's going on.
 
Even if you don't have an E-MU interface, give it a shot and see if you are getting mixed results? 
 

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#93
John T
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Re:Sound Quality of Sonar X1 2012/03/06 10:05:26 (permalink)
cclarry is much more on the money here, though I'm doubtful that the driver element is significant. The actual hardware though, is absolutely significant. Indeed, the A-D and D-A converters of your interface are orders of magnitude more important than anything going on in your computer. A lot of this conversation reminds me of guitar players who obsess over wood but have crappy pickups. Just completely looking in exactly the wrong place.

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John T
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Re:Sound Quality of Sonar X1 2012/03/06 10:06:37 (permalink)
I also think brozobob's original point is fair enough. For all I know, there is a problem with how Amplitube works in Sonar.

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#95
qlne
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Re:Sound Quality of Sonar X1 2012/03/06 10:09:06 (permalink)
Screw it. I'm going back to 16 track tape.
post edited by qlne - 2012/03/06 11:00:37
#96
cclarry
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Re:Sound Quality of Sonar X1 2012/03/06 10:09:24 (permalink)
I agree with John T on both points...


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bobguitkillerleft
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Re:Sound Quality of Sonar X1 2012/03/06 10:10:17 (permalink)
I have to admit,the other night I imported the Led Zep song "All Of My Love"[In Through The Out Door]into its own project[just for ex.] and I was startled at how much it was muffled [all at unity]compared to playing the track in Media Player,admitedly this was on my Dell XPS laptop[with the JBL Maxx Audio Laptop Speakers]

All Media Player/Windows Audio enhancement bollocks, all off,however Sonar is using ASIO4all, and I have no idea what M.Player uses,so I put the difference down to that.

Im not sure I want to post a copywritten tune[even when I learn how....Such Embarrassment]

I realise this is a possibly appalling example. but it was most apparent.



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Sylvan
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Re:Sound Quality of Sonar X1 2012/03/06 10:28:29 (permalink)
Seth Perlstein [Cakewalk
]

To actually compare audio engines you need to use exactly the same source audio, plugins, settings, etc. in all DAWs tested, otherwise the findings are mere opinion.

If you're doing this and attempting to null said audio then you;d have a reasonable, scientific test. If you're basing it off of 'opinion' or, 'experience', then there are many other factors involved such as audio interfaces, DAW-specific plugins, settings, etc.

SP

Seth, I totaly agree. I guess everyone skipped over my earler post on this thread on the first page. I in fact did a test between SONAR and Reaper. I used 3 different scenarios and each time without fail, the two mixes nulled completely.
 
I flipped phase on the different test tracks within SONAR and Reaper both, so it's almost like 6 tests really. I even used fader changes and an EQ cut. Complete nulls in both DAWS. The enginer were identicle.
 
There is absolutely NOTHING wrong with SONAR's audio engine, just placebo.

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Re:Sound Quality of Sonar X1 2012/03/06 10:32:01 (permalink)
qlne


Screw it. I'm going back to 16 track tape.

Well,  some machines really muddy up the botton end while some had no bottom at all. Most studios simply chose the sound that worked for the music they recorded. Kinda still the same today with digital stuff too.
http://www.endino.com/graphs/
 


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RodC
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Re:Sound Quality of Sonar X1 2012/03/06 10:36:26 (permalink)
Sounds like he is hearing it during playback, a mixdown may not help us here, so how would he post it?  

We need a recording of the output during playback, not a mixdown.

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Re:Sound Quality of Sonar X1 2012/03/06 10:39:31 (permalink)
pianodano


qlne


Screw it. I'm going back to 16 track tape.

Well,  some machines really muddy up the botton end while some had no bottom at all. Most studios simply chose the sound that worked for the music they recorded. Kinda still the same today with digital stuff too.
http://www.endino.com/graphs/
 


Quite the point, Pianodano. Beauty is in the ears of the beholder. Thanks for the flashback ;-)
                
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Re:Sound Quality of Sonar X1 2012/03/06 10:40:46 (permalink)
John T


This topic has been done to death over the years, and was settled pretty conclusively nearly a decade ago, in the very thorough Awesome DAW-SUM tests and its on-going follow-ups. There is - in actual measurable fact - no difference between the sound of different DAWs. Most of them will null completely, in fact. There's no getting around this. Any differences you think you can hear are either imaginary or down to some other factor.

Thank you, you have spoken the truth. Whatever people think they are hearing is due to some other factor indeed. The actual DAW audio engines, rendering, etc are the same.
 
Get on with recoring misic and worry not. SONAR does not just hang with the big boys of DAWS, it is one of them.

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Re:Sound Quality of Sonar X1 2012/03/06 10:42:22 (permalink)
I can't wait for UAD to make a SONAR 4 sound plugin, as opposed to an X1 plug.

I don't have any doubt that stacking additional coding on top of an already existing sound engine could have side effects.  I don't have any knowledge of coding and wouldn't know any if it bit me on the ... backside.  But I suppose that could have an effect on the output.  I know it is just numbers, but that is what all the old analog guys dealt w/, tho in an electrical format.  I can see Mr. Neve rewinding a transformer and plugging it into his latest gear to see what effect that would have. 

So I have no doubt that Scott hears a difference and no reason to doubt his word.  But I also know that some slight difference can be placebo amplified.  Word of mouth, re-enforcement, etc.  Hence the nod and wink to UAD above.

But all that begs the question - if you are using SONAR as your only DAW (as opposed to one of several in a system) wouldn't you compensate for the alledged low end bump?  I could see it being a problem if you are bouncing a SONAR project into a different DAW, but not in the SONAR box.  Here at home I bounce (or mix down back into SONAR through external hardware) a file then master that in Sound Forge.  Surely any SONAR hump will get ground down there.  So if you are using only (or primarily) SONAR, that should be a non-factor.

As far as SOS or others doing a shoot-out, I see lots of problems.  Since if they find no difference in DAW sounds, those that believe there is will find flaws and faults w/ the methodology.  If they do find differences, the believers and coders (and their advertisers) will point faults/flaws.  In the end, it would solve nothing and tick off part of their audience.  Users will believe what they believe despite good arguements from the other side.  One side will insist they hear a difference, and the other will demand non nulling tests.  And in a few years (or less) the results will be null and void anyway as the code is changed.

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John T
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Re:Sound Quality of Sonar X1 2012/03/06 10:44:00 (permalink)
Indeed. I think it's a shame when people who are relatively new to DAW-based recording get sidetracked into this stuff by people who really ought to know better. This really is a solved problem in both senses; the technology provides superb audio quality, and we know this because it *has* been tested, to a stupendously rigorous degree. There is no greater waste of time in the whole thing than worrying about which DAW you use. If you can't get good mixes, this is not where your problem is.

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Re:Sound Quality of Sonar X1 2012/03/06 10:47:08 (permalink)
bobguitkillerleft


I have to admit,the other night I imported the Led Zep song "All Of My Love"[In Through The Out Door]into its own project[just for ex.] and I was startled at how much it was muffled [all at unity]compared to playing the track in Media Player,admitedly this was on my Dell XPS laptop[with the JBL Maxx Audio Laptop Speakers]

All Media Player/Windows Audio enhancement bollocks, all off,however Sonar is using ASIO4all, and I have no idea what M.Player uses,so I put the difference down to that.

Im not sure I want to post a copywritten tune[even when I learn how....Such Embarrassment]

I realise this is a possibly appalling example. but it was most apparent.

I just listened to the Orb's "Valley" from Orbus Terrarum, playing a FLAC in Media Monkey, and alternated with the WAV in Sonar... back to back, flipping back and forth. I don't hear any difference whatsoever... in volume, tone, dynamics, all sounds pretty much identical... through a quite good monitoring system.
 
I think it's possible some of this is down to not knowing the signal flow and gain staging through Sonar and through to the specific DA converters being used, and the method of volume control to the monitoring system.
 
You might wanna turn your EQ off in Media Player... and have it output to the same converters you use for monitoring... so you don't get used to that inaccurate sound and try to mix through Sonar to match it. Something's obviously wrong if they sound that much different.

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Re:Sound Quality of Sonar X1 2012/03/06 10:50:19 (permalink)
Scott Lee


Hi all,

My theory about this topic? Straight digital audio from sonar is no different then any other daw. Their I said it! Null til you heart is content or your HDs fill up.

Now a few of my personal concerns. The VST / sonar bridge? Possibly. Vsts were never native to sonar, DXi was the standard. VST support was purchased and added late in the plugin game. I suspect this is one reason why we don't see true VST3 support yet. While it has been integrated and streamlined into sonar x1, its not native code ron or noel wrote.. I cannot say how much has changed I have no idea of the inner workings but then again cakewalk use to talk a bit more freely about bugs and programming years ago.

Other possiblies? We can agree straight digital audio is well, null perfect. How it mixed, bussed, routed, phased, is another factor all together.. Pan laws? There was a bug a few years back that the singals on -3 were doubling. After the usual cakewalk forum "fun" debate, it turned out to be true which Ron corrected. Bugs can and do exist even ones from years back..

News flash! Noel is the chief programmer, the número uno. Note: also a fine jazz guy.  Pro audio was pre sonar by twelve tones ( ah the days ) late 90s and was coded by Ron Kuper. Sonar boasted a new engine with Acid type audio control, but really was an overhauled pro audio. How much code was changed? That's a question for Ron k, as we don't know what's under the hood. What we do know is we are still building off a quite an older audio engine, one revamped  and reworked for many years.. Old code bad? Not saying that. Could x break backwards compatibility? Every daw on the market has gap less elastic audio, some better then others. Why not Sonar? 

The cakewalk team has some fine programmers. In no way am I'm knocking anyone. I suspect, it's a huge market risk to rewrite the engine esepecially when folks say "the color is great!" :-) just always and still bothers me about the mud around 70-200 hz.. 

Not trying to win over the hearts for my campaign here. I truly want sonar to improve its weaker points, risk or otherwise. Don't take my word for it, dig a bit deeper in these forums and you'll find some very old interesting reads..

Best,

Scott,
 
I am curious about something. You say that everyone can null until their HD's fill up, but later in the same post you refer to color in the engine again. If there was indeed some color, would that not make nulling impossible? Just an observation. I have read very carefully everything written in this thread and this stuck out to me.

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Re:Sound Quality of Sonar X1 2012/03/06 11:23:28 (permalink)
I wish someone would acknowledge RodC on his two comments here. He is dead on. If there is a difference in sound, it would not be found with comparing the files ITB which will always null. It would come from putting up a microphone and recording the track from the speakers, trying to null the resultant files. There could be no change in volume, mic position or the position of any object in the room including the listener (better in an anechoic chamber). If the two files don't null, it would be the way the DAWs handle the output to the audio driver. That would be the only variable in this case. Also it would need to be a full range mic with very neutral characteristics which can do a good job of capturing 70 to 200 if that is the suspected range.

As Noel pointed out, using any plug in which has a random response would provide challenges. So you can't use any old plug in.

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Re:Sound Quality of Sonar X1 2012/03/06 11:56:53 (permalink)
javahut


bobguitkillerleft  

"All Media Player/Windows Audio enhancement bollocks, all off" 


                    Facepalm.


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Re:Sound Quality of Sonar X1 2012/03/06 13:05:52 (permalink)
LJB


In the good ol days, a bit of colour was considered a bonus.. Oh, wait, that's why UAD, Slate and lord knows who else all clone classic gear! :O)

good call!
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Re:Sound Quality of Sonar X1 2012/03/06 13:22:19 (permalink)
Scott Lee

Other possiblies? We can agree straight digital audio is well, null perfect. How it mixed, bussed, routed, phased, is another factor all together.. Pan laws? There was a bug a few years back that the singals on -3 were doubling. After the usual cakewalk forum "fun" debate, it turned out to be true which Ron corrected. Bugs can and do exist even ones from years back..
 
A null test would reveal differences in pan law, bus summing, or even VST interaction, just as easily as any other difference. You would just need to render out a stereo file after it's passed through those various signal routes and null it against audio that's been through the equivalent process on another DAW.
News flash! Noel is the chief programmer, the número uno. Note: also a fine jazz guy.  Pro audio was pre sonar by twelve tones ( ah the days ) late 90s and was coded by Ron Kuper. Sonar boasted a new engine with Acid type audio control, but really was an overhauled pro audio. How much code was changed? That's a question for Ron k, as we don't know what's under the hood. What we do know is we are still building off a quite an older audio engine, one revamped  and reworked for many years.. Old code bad? Not saying that. Could x break backwards compatibility? Every daw on the market has gap less elastic audio, some better then others. Why not Sonar?  


It's pretty likely that every other DAW on the market contains code from older verisons, in the engine or elsewhere, and has been through a number of different lead programmers, as well.  No one throws out all the old code, usually even when they claim do a "complete rewrite" of something.
 
And I'm quite sure that any questions about changes in the code would be as much questions for Noel now as they would be for Ron.  Noel was around way back in the Ron days, as well.  He just wasn't the lead developer back then.  Even if he hadn't been around back then, he's had plenty of time to learn the code base inside and out since Ron left.  The implication that there are mysterious parts of the code that only Ron would understand is ridiculous.  If that's not what you meant to imply, I apologize, but that's what I get from reading the paragraph above, both in the lines and between them.
 
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Re:Sound Quality of Sonar X1 2012/03/06 13:38:42 (permalink)
Gee, the one thing I haven't seen anyone mention is that the shape of the ears of the listener will color the perceived sound as well.

Phillip Newell in his book Recording Studio Design, devotes several paragraphs including an anecdote of how the shape of ones ears can also color the perception of what is heard. Especially when listening to a mix through a monitor rather than headphones.

Just saying...

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Re:Sound Quality of Sonar X1 2012/03/06 13:44:17 (permalink)
Or turning your head, or moving around the room, or leaning one way in your chair versus the other.

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Re:Sound Quality of Sonar X1 2012/03/06 13:46:15 (permalink)
This is my first time in the forums, so read through most of this thread in a sort of fascination (I did not read all of the last two pages, my apologies). It seems that much of the focus here is to debate the algorithms and science to dispute the art. My two cents and perspective here... years ago I bought and old Dean guitar (my first), and being a physicist I rebuilt and customized it. It had two humbuckers, and I replaced the bridge with a PAF Pro, but for the neck I hesitated and left the original "muddy" humbucker. The differences between them left the art in the machine I was driven to perfect scientifically. I have used SONAR for years, although do not have the time dedicated to it that I would like. The bottom line (to me), is that SONAR can tweak most any sound into something else, so what is the real "difference"? If all music had the same tone, timbre, and clarity, the art of music would lose one of its major attractions - the ability for self-expression.
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Re:Sound Quality of Sonar X1 2012/03/06 13:58:26 (permalink)
Do your ears hang low?
Do they wobble to and fro?
Can you tie them in a knot?
Can you tie them in a bow?
Then you can work as a sound designer
Tell the difference between major and minor
Do your ears hang low?

Do your ears hang high?
Do they reach up to the sky?
Do they droop when they are wet?
Do they stiffen when they're dry?
Can you hear the mud on Amplitube
Does it sound any clearer on youtube?
Do your ears hang high?

Do your ears flip-flop?
Can you use them for a mop?
Are they stringy at the bottom?
Are they curly at the top?
Do things sound the same in every DAW
Only SOS can tell us more?
Do your ears flip-flop?

Do your ears hang out?
Can you waggle them about?
Can you flip them up and down
as you fly around the town?
Can you do a null test just to know for sure?
We wanna know the best sounding DAW
Do your ears hang out?
post edited by strikinglyhandsome1 - 2012/03/06 15:50:11
RodC
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Re:Sound Quality of Sonar X1 2012/03/06 13:59:21 (permalink)
Middleman


I wish someone would acknowledge RodC on his two comments here. He is dead on. If there is a difference in sound, it would not be found with comparing the files ITB which will always null. It would come from putting up a microphone and recording the track from the speakers, trying to null the resultant files. There could be no change in volume, mic position or the position of any object in the room including the listener (better in an anechoic chamber). If the two files don't null, it would be the way the DAWs handle the output to the audio driver. That would be the only variable in this case. Also it would need to be a full range mic with very neutral characteristics which can do a good job of capturing 70 to 200 if that is the suspected range.

As Noel pointed out, using any plug in which has a random response would provide challenges. So you can't use any old plug in.



I must be on everyone's ignore list ;)


Some interfaces will allow you to route the signal / pick it up before it goes out to the analog portion.  My old Delta 1010 would allow me to do this because I used to pick it up with Adobe FMLE and route that out when streaming.  Now with my MOTU I have to do a hardware loop and capture it after the DA.

If you could record the output of the DAW before it its converted to analog during playback, maybe we would have something to null out if there is no difference between the playback and the mix down.  You could also compare the same daw software, Mixdown vs playback, hopefully there is 0 difference.  

BTW, lets make it muddier, I have seen others complain that the mixdown does not sound the same as playback, I haven't seen it myself, but my ears are no where near as good as others.

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Re:Sound Quality of Sonar X1 2012/03/06 14:52:23 (permalink)
bobguitkillerleft


javahut


bobguitkillerleft  

"All Media Player/Windows Audio enhancement bollocks, all off" 


                    Facepalm.


Sorry, man. I missed that part of your post initially, but saw it right after I posted. None the less... if you're hearing much difference between playing back a track via your media player, and playing the identical track back from Sonar... there's a problem somewhere. Especially if you primarily use your media player to listen to music and Sonar to record and mix. If they don't sound at least close, you're gonna be in trouble with your recording and mixing, as subconciously, you'll be referencing the finished music you listen to while you record and mix, when you know one doesn't sound "right" compared to the other. 

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wmountney
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Re:Sound Quality of Sonar X1 2012/03/06 15:32:27 (permalink)
brozobob

I'm using an E-MU 1616m interface, E-MU ASIO drivers, Windows XP, Sonar X1c Producer 
 
 
Bob,
 
What are your settings on the Audio -> Driver Settings page of the SONAR Preferences, for Audio Driver Bit Depth, Sampling Rate and the 64-bit Double Precision Engine?  Are those settings consistent with what you have configured in the other DAWs?
 
Also, how about for the three File Bit Depths on the File -> Audio Data page?  The Record Bit Depth, in particular, becomes the project bit depth when you create a new project, and if that was set to 16 while you were working at 24 in another DAW, that could account for a difference.
 
Bill
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Re:Sound Quality of Sonar X1 2012/03/06 15:34:20 (permalink)
BTW, lets make it muddier, I have seen others complain that the mixdown does not sound the same as playback, I haven't seen it myself, but my ears are no where near as good as others. 



Just to prove you're not my ignore list  I too have read many threads where users have complained moaned whined observed this.


I cannot recall  a single outcome that wasn't down to some factor other than Sonar's mix engine.


Choosing the wrong set of export options, routing through a different monitoring chain, re-importing and duplicating Master bus Fx - these reasons in my estimation account for over 90% of their problems.


The other 10% is, in all fairness, due to user error of some kind.


My exports sound identical to my mixes, and have done so since I first started playing with Sonar in 2007 (6PE)

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Re:Sound Quality of Sonar X1 2012/03/06 16:20:45 (permalink)
mettelus


This is my first time in the forums, so read through most of this thread in a sort of fascination (I did not read all of the last two pages, my apologies). It seems that much of the focus here is to debate the algorithms and science to dispute the art. My two cents and perspective here... years ago I bought and old Dean guitar (my first), and being a physicist I rebuilt and customized it. It had two humbuckers, and I replaced the bridge with a PAF Pro, but for the neck I hesitated and left the original "muddy" humbucker. The differences between them left the art in the machine I was driven to perfect scientifically. I have used SONAR for years, although do not have the time dedicated to it that I would like. The bottom line (to me), is that SONAR can tweak most any sound into something else, so what is the real "difference"? If all music had the same tone, timbre, and clarity, the art of music would lose one of its major attractions - the ability for self-expression.




This is a great post. Even if there is a coloration, (which I have seen no proof of), but even if there is, so what. I agree with this user 100%. This post makes me actually wish that SONAR had a different sounding engine, it stokes the fires of self-expression, not just for musicians, but engineers as well. 

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