Why I use Cakewalk and mix in the box

Author
RexRed
Max Output Level: -86 dBFS
  • Total Posts : 236
  • Joined: 2011/05/20 14:09:38
  • Location: Maine
  • Status: offline
2017/07/08 20:37:24 (permalink)

Why I use Cakewalk and mix in the box

Hello Cakewalk forum peeps!
 
I thought I would write some of my experiences and share them; so here it is.
 
The very first Cakewalk version I ever owned was Cakewalk for DOS.
 
Before that I was using an FSK box a friend of mine built for me and some MIDI software he wrote called ScorePoint and I was syncing my music that way; then I moved on to SMPTE time code tracks and Cakewalk for DOS.
 
While many of my friends were realizing that most 4 track reel to reel machines were actually two tracks both ways; I managed to get myself a brand new Fostex 80, 8 track reel to reel. Now I was not Abby Road and I was only one musician singer/computer nerd. I was certainly not a sound engineer. I would read books upon books about compressors, and effects processors and it really seemed over my head; like I was terribly missing something. Most of how we communicate is we visualize things with our eyes and not so much with our ears. Some people are born with that knack, some pretend and some need a little help.
 
I was more in the last category fooling myself that my mixes were fine but when I went to listen to them in small car radios they ALWAYS sounded like a dying speaker cone.
 
I held once in my hand one of the very first full-duplex sound cards. My computer friend was working on a multimillion-dollar project and he had sent to him one of only two prototypes. Thinking back, it is quite an honor to have held in my hand technology that is now in every telephone, computer and audio device in the world by the billions. It passed through my hands people and now you all have it. This device was invented by Creative Labs, of course, and later became the Sound Blaster and then the general-purpose audio interface. There was one other of these devices in the world at the time and I am sure it was at Creative Labs being tested like crazy as their software developers puzzled over the vast array of specs.
 
Full duplex mode! Cakewalk would take years before it would implement code to make use of this; besides the fact that most computers were not powerful enough to make use of software for audio recording and play back simultaneously. I am not even sure that ASIO had been conceived of or developed at that point. Windows was limited to a several second sound recorder. But When ASIO came around that was surely a game changer; that was the very birth of multi-track recording and playback.
 
Even today I have yet to experience “zero latency” but supposedly it is around. The best I can get is about 6ms; where I can still perceptibly hear some delay.
 
Well, before audio recording came to Cakewalk in Version 6.0 (I think or maybe earlier) I had a lot of residual devices for before mixing in the box a was available. Namely a drum machine; a Roland TR-505. This was back when each snare hit and cymbal crash had to be programmed out long before any other tracks could be recorded. So, you had to know in advance how your song progressed and where every silence came in so the drum machine could aptly fill that space. This meant pages and pages of scribbled notes on paper and lyrics/chords/dynamics all before even a bass line could be laid down. What became evident at that time in using that drum machine was, how tedious it was going through endless levels of menus/functions/parameters simply to raise or lower the velocity of a single drum note. It could only display one parameter at a time in this sort of yucky pea green display with barely visible black characters. Low contrast and like peering through a keyhole at your work. My Yamaha DX27 was the same; it had no multitimbral capabilities and programming it was again, endless levels of parameters; one parameter at a time.
 
Then when it came to my equalizers, mixers, effect processors and compressors they had no displays at all. I was lucky if my Tapco mixer even had a single on/off blinking peak meter per channel.
 
This is when I devised a plan…
 
I was going to as quickly as possible phase out these devices and move towards the computer. When I saw Cakewalk for DOS and began to use it, this was what became extremely evident. There were my parameters all in one place! No more functions and levels and endless menus.
 
I never even at the time dreamed that my instruments, mixers and effects would all get swallowed up also in this one-stop shop musical creation sequencer. With my neat and tidy full-duplex sound card to record and play it all.
 
So, what is the moral of this story?
 
I can sum it all up in three words… “Screen real-estate” No more scratchy pant pots and sliders; they become superfluous, as any MIDI controller will do.   
 
Music is such a complex endeavor that one needs as many parameters visible at one time as possible. That includes spectrum analyzers, peak meters, envelopes for every controller possible, note positioning etc.
 
To think that people spend money on a phone that would buy a very decent desktop workstation and the wonder why they have no content; it all boils down to screen real-estate.
 
I knew before I even had audio recording available in Cakewalk that I wanted to get rid of these external near-sighted devices and work completely in the box. So, I fully embraced Cakewalk even before its time. I put up with the fact that my computer recorded audio terrible just to avoid getting a DAT recorder; I did not want another blind device; and where are DATS now?
 
Instead I perused every new feature Cakewalk would come out with and I put all my lunch money into always upgrading my PC. In the end, I became expert at tearing down and upgrading my PC and I learned Cakewalk like the back of my hand.
 
It paid off bigtime! Now I can use Cakewalk nearly blindfolded. I keep it simple and have a very bare bones approach to recording, mixing and mastering.
 
I both mix and master in the same machine. I just sacrifice a lot of the extras that come along with cakewalk that use a lot of processor headroom.
 
Many of the devices can deteriorate a good mix rather than augment.
 
For instance, it took me days to find out where this noise was coming from in a mix.  It was a very low-level hum. I used an analyzer and it was very low but visually present. I may not have ever even noticed it had I not used the analyzer. Again, this echoes back to screen real-estate. I isolated which track it was coming from and found it was the vocal. There hidden in the effects chain was a tape emulator. I spent years trying to get rid of tape noise, ironic that I should need it to warm up my vocals.
 
Most of you all here know this if you have worked with Cakewalk for years like I have. But some do not and I wrote this for them.
 
If you want to make music don’t spend your money on a phone or an I pad. Just because they are marketed as “smart” they are dumb comparted to a PC desktop. The problems are screen real-estate, software and CPU power. In all three categories, they lack.
 
Stop tweeting and start reading the help files on Sonar Platinum, learn your PC inside and out and get a nice keyboard controller, a good audio interface, graphics card and some nice monitor speakers and headphones. That is all you need besides a fast internet connection.
 
It was much harder years ago when everything was modular and rarely interfaced at all; but now with so many devices and choices, artists are becoming lost in the flood. They spend money on a tablet or a phone and wonder why they have no content except for a few blurry photos with bad lighting for Instagram.
 
Learn your instruments… The human voice is the very best instrument, then guitars (strings) and keyboards. Buttons, buttons, buttons; become dexterous with them.
 
Learn how to set up your PC but remember a PC without software is useless. So, learn how to set up cakewalk on your PC and learn your VST instruments and effects. It will be very complex at first but just consider that years ago it was exponentially more complex. You are at the precipice of the democratization of music; so do not get sidetracked because you have a lot to learn!
 
You need to not only learn to use these tools yourself but you need to write lyrics and map out songs, record, edit, mix and master them. Publish them, promote them with your very last dying breath or you will never succeed.
 
Unless success is handed to you on silver platter, which it rarely ever is, then you must work your way up from the very bottom to hopefully the top of your discipline.
 
You can do it too, but it takes a lifetime of unwavering dedication. You must learn everything; and the rest is bluffing your way through because you are up against people who have 5 or 6 people to simply write their songs, they have a pool of sound engineers to make their music and they cancel their concert if they feel a slight cold coming on.
 
If you catch a cold, never cancel, sing the gig anyway, a good audience will help carry you through.
 
Never lose faith in yourself and show them a fun time.   
 
I hope this helps…
 
I could have gone on for 100 more pages but I figured this was enough. :)
Feel free to add your own experiences here.
 
Best
RexRed  
#1

6 Replies Related Threads

    Grem
    Max Output Level: -25 dBFS
    • Total Posts : 5031
    • Joined: 2005/06/28 09:26:32
    • Location: Baton Rouge Area
    • Status: online
    Re: Why I use Cakewalk and mix in the box 2017/07/11 06:28:03 (permalink)
    RexRed
     
    If you catch a cold, never cancel, sing the gig anyway, a good audience will help carry you through.

    Never lose faith in yourself and show them a fun time.   




    Yes! If you have a good time, so will the audience. Good read Rex.

    Grem

    Michael
     
    Music PC
    i7 2600K; 8gb Ram; 3 256gb SSD, System, Samples, Audio; 1TB Project Storage; 2TB system BkUp; VS-100; Win 10 Pro 64; Sonar Platinum 64,
     
    Home PC
    AMD FX 6300; 8gb Ram; 256 SSD sys; 2TB audio/samples; Realtek WASAPI; Win 10 Home 64; Sonar Platinum 64
     
    Surface Pro 3
    Win 10  i7 8gb RAM

     
    #2
    SF_Green
    Max Output Level: -63 dBFS
    • Total Posts : 1369
    • Joined: 2005/09/13 20:37:55
    • Location: San Francisco
    • Status: offline
    Re: Why I use Cakewalk and mix in the box 2017/07/11 07:17:08 (permalink)
    Thanks Rex. I enjoyed reading your perspective. Well done.

    AMD FX-8370, Gigabyte 990FXA-UD3,  Win7x64 SP1, 16Gb CorsairDDR3-1600, GeForce GTX 950 (382.53[22.21.13.8253])
    SSD 525Gb (OS), SATA 1 & 1.5Tb, MOTU microlite, FireFace 800 (D 3.119, fw 2.77),
    UAD-2Q, Adam A7X, A-800 PRO, Alesis QS7.1, Arturia BeatStep Pro, POD HD500
    SonarPt-2017.07 (x64), Reason7, Live 9.7, Komplete10Ult, POD Farm2.5, Omnisphere2, BFD3, Alesis ControlPad, ARP Omni, many things with strings. GrSltz My Studio
    #3
    Jim Roseberry
    Max Output Level: 0 dBFS
    • Total Posts : 9345
    • Joined: 2004/03/23 11:34:51
    • Location: Ohio
    • Status: offline
    Re: Why I use Cakewalk and mix in the box 2017/07/11 16:01:31 (permalink)
    99.9% of the time I completely agree with the attitude that "The Show Must Go On".
    There are rare occasions where (IMO) it's the lesser of two evils to cancel the show.
     
    Had the Flu and a bad fever.
    Sets one and two were fine...
    Got to set three... and the voice just wouldn't do what it normally would.
    We got thru the show... but set three was a tough grind.
     
    Another show, I had laryngitis the day before.
    Followed a regimen of several treatments that brought back my voice.
    Couldn't believe how well it worked... and that my voice was in pretty good form.
    BUT... Next day I completely lost my voice... and it was about a month before I could sing normally.
    In hind sight, not even close to worth it.
     
    If you've got a cold... you can absolutely play thru it.
    Use common sense if it's something more.
    Health is priority one.
     
     
     

    Best Regards,

    Jim Roseberry
    jim@studiocat.com
    www.studiocat.com
    #4
    Zargg
    Max Output Level: 0 dBFS
    • Total Posts : 8404
    • Joined: 2014/09/28 04:20:14
    • Location: Norway
    • Status: offline
    Re: Why I use Cakewalk and mix in the box 2017/07/24 15:22:07 (permalink)
    Thanks for sharing this, Rex. It was a good read 
    All the best.

    Ken Nilsen
    Zargg
    BBZ
    Win 10 Pro X64, SONAR Platinum X64 (latest) ∞, AMD AM3+ fx-8320, 16Gb RAM, Asus Sabertooth 990fx R2, GeForce GT 610, 2 x 120gb and 2 x 240GB SSD, RME Ucx (+ ARC), Tascam FW 1884, M-Audio Keystation 61es, *AKAI MPK Pro 25, *Softube Console1, Alesis DM6 USB
    Laptop setup: Win 10 X64, i5 2.4ghz, 8gb RAM, 320gb 7200 RPM HD, Focusrite Solo, + *
     
    #5
    soens
    Max Output Level: -30 dBFS
    • Total Posts : 4518
    • Joined: 2005/09/16 03:19:55
    • Location: Location: Location
    • Status: offline
    Re: Why I use Cakewalk and mix in the box 2017/08/22 09:38:29 (permalink)
    I like cake mix in a box too.

    #6
    SF_Green
    Max Output Level: -63 dBFS
    • Total Posts : 1369
    • Joined: 2005/09/13 20:37:55
    • Location: San Francisco
    • Status: offline
    Re: Why I use Cakewalk and mix in the box 2017/08/22 19:23:20 (permalink)
    soens
    I like cake mix in a box too.





     
    Mmmmmmm....Caaaaaaake!
     


    AMD FX-8370, Gigabyte 990FXA-UD3,  Win7x64 SP1, 16Gb CorsairDDR3-1600, GeForce GTX 950 (382.53[22.21.13.8253])
    SSD 525Gb (OS), SATA 1 & 1.5Tb, MOTU microlite, FireFace 800 (D 3.119, fw 2.77),
    UAD-2Q, Adam A7X, A-800 PRO, Alesis QS7.1, Arturia BeatStep Pro, POD HD500
    SonarPt-2017.07 (x64), Reason7, Live 9.7, Komplete10Ult, POD Farm2.5, Omnisphere2, BFD3, Alesis ControlPad, ARP Omni, many things with strings. GrSltz My Studio
    #7
    Jump to:
    © 2017 APG vNext Commercial Version 5.1