Sound Quality of Sonar X1

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brozobob
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2012/03/05 16:54:35 (permalink)

Sound Quality of Sonar X1

I've read countless articles/ forums that ponder whether or not a DAW colors sound, or differs from one to the other.  Well, I've been using Amplitube 2 with Sonar X1, and when I compare the audio with both Reaper and Live, there is no question that Sonar sounds muddy and unfocused.  In fact, the audio was crisp and clear using Reaper and Live. 
All settings remained the same on each daw (as far as imput levels, etc).
 
I don't have any audio to post (I could do that if necessary).
 
I'm using an E-MU 1616m interface, E-MU ASIO drivers, Windows XP, Sonar X1c Producer
 
Is anyone experiencing a similar situation?  I've A/B'd this several times, and without question the other DAWs sounded better when using Amplitube 2.
 
Maybe this is a problem with the combinaton of E-MU and Sonar, or the drivers???
 
I'm really comfortable with using Sonar, but was really disappointed when comparing the audio quality...it's enough that I may be forced to use a differend DAW.
 
Thanks!

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    Compguy
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    Re:Sound Quality of Sonar X1 2012/03/05 17:01:07 (permalink)
    I have absolutely found the same thing using Cubase and anothe lesser-known DAW that I can't remember the name of. Sonar definitely sounds muddy to me, and I noticed this before comparing. It's also muddy compared to 8.5.
    #2
    GIM Productions
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    Re:Sound Quality of Sonar X1 2012/03/05 17:20:40 (permalink)
    Not here,Sonar X1 Expanded 64 bit sound awesome,punchy and clear in my studio.My clients often choose the Sonar prj over other DAW for his detailed sound.Best.Roby

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    #3
    jamescollins
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    Re:Sound Quality of Sonar X1 2012/03/05 17:44:58 (permalink)
    Guys this is easy to prove or disprove - just do a null test and be done with it! Just make sure each DAW is using the same pan law. 

    I'll have three fingers of Glenlivet, with a little bit of pepper... and some cheese.
     
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    #4
    Scott Lee
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    Re:Sound Quality of Sonar X1 2012/03/05 18:04:05 (permalink)
    jamescollins


    Guys this is easy to prove or disprove - just do a null test and be done with it! Just make sure each DAW is using the same pan law. 

    Yes it is. But thats not just the way to do it. How the DAW handles routing that null, mixes, and mastered can result in interesting results.


    Do a search about Sonar and pan laws. Many moons ago there was a huge bug that was debated for a long time about Sonar and pan laws with Ron Kuper. It was found to have a bug which Ron Kuper addressed at the time. I heard the same "just test with a null argument". 


    I too agree being a Sonar / Pro Audio / Cakewalk DOS user that against other DAWS I am constantly tweaking the low end EQ to clean up that "muddy" sound. I've spends year after year fighting it. I would suspect their is still a bug or something going on with the bus mechanics. (Doubling?) 

    Scott Lee (ASCAP)
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    #5
    billruys
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    Re:Sound Quality of Sonar X1 2012/03/05 18:09:46 (permalink)

    Everyone has an opinion, I guess:


    JR Rotem switched from Cakewalk’s Sonar to Pro Tools around the same time as his move to Chalice Studios, but still has a soft spot for his early DAW. “When I listen to the beats I made in Sonar, they still sound fatter and warmer than the sounds in Pro Tools. I don’t know whether it’s to do with the programs’ respective algorithms or the MOTU soundcard I used with Sonar, but there’s a warmth and punchiness in Sonar that I have not been able to replicate in Pro Tools. I try to compensate with all sorts of analogue sound simulating plug-ins, and it’s not a day-and-night difference, but I cannot tell you that Pro Tools sounds better. I also really enjoyed the creative process in working with Sonar, and continue to look back on it very fondly. Switching from Sonar to Pro Tools was a lot of work. I had to export every single audio file from Sonar!

    Bill Ruys
    Silicon Audio


    #6
    billruys
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    Re:Sound Quality of Sonar X1 2012/03/05 18:24:05 (permalink)

    Scott Lee


    I too agree being a Sonar / Pro Audio / Cakewalk DOS user that against other DAWS I am constantly tweaking the low end EQ to clean up that "muddy" sound. I've spends year after year fighting it. I would suspect their is still a bug or something going on with the bus mechanics. (Doubling?) 



    If you are having audible issues mixing your low-end, it is almost always an issue with your room.  Home and project studios often have less than ideal dimensions and less than perfect bass-trapping.  So you end up with room modes and nodes all over the place.

    You can treat high to mid frequency problems with foam and other acoustic treatments, but low frequency accuracy is reliant on room design and can't be fully fixed in a non purpose-built room.  Unless you have a professionally, purpose-built room, you are in no position to judge low frequency mud.

    Start playback of a project on your DAW and walk from the back wall to your mix position, listening carefully.  Do you hear changes in bass response?  Those are time-domain issues you are hearing, that can't be corrected with EQ.

    I wonder if people who do some work at home on Sonar and some work in pro studios on other systems are hearing different rooms.  Without a perfect room, you just can't judge anything in the low frequency domain, because your room is having way more impact on the sound than Sonar ever will.

    Bill Ruys
    Silicon Audio


    #7
    brozobob
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    Re:Sound Quality of Sonar X1 2012/03/05 18:32:17 (permalink)
    Guys, thanks for your response...

    But this isn't a question of if they sound different, they do....the other DAWS have awesome sound quality when using Amplitube 2, Sonar X1 does not.  There's no doubt as to what my ears "hear".  The question is, perhaps my setup, with an E-MU audio interface, and the drivers are causing Sonar to have inferior sound quality.  

    The room isn't an issue, as I am using an Amp Simulation program..the room is a non factor.

    With that being said, is anyone else out there noticing that their Sonar audio is not up to snuff with others when using a program such as Amplitube.

    Thanks to everyone who reads and posts...I really do appreciate your help.

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    #8
    Lanceindastudio
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    Re:Sound Quality of Sonar X1 2012/03/05 18:33:17 (permalink)
    Sonar definitely has great sound and is not inferior by any mean to any other DAW in sounds quality.

    I work with pro tools, Ableton with people in other studios and Sonar in mine and the sound is fine on both.

    Any muddy sound is the result of another variable.

    For example, I can hear the difference of my m-audio delta 44 and my echo gina3g. The delta 44 sounds like it has less details in the highs and is not as bright, neutral.

    Same Sonar, different sound because of the interface.

    Lance

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    #9
    Middleman
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    Re:Sound Quality of Sonar X1 2012/03/05 19:16:23 (permalink)
    If you take a file and render it with the same pan law in Reaper and then in Sonar X1D then input them both into either program and phase invert one, there is perfect cancellation. If you are hearing a difference, its your setup. I just did this not 5 minutes ago.

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    #10
    dappa1
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    Re:Sound Quality of Sonar X1 2012/03/05 19:25:26 (permalink)
    I always thought Sonar sounded good Ableton has a different texture definately whether it is better is up for debate though SOnar does sound different. Less mainstream sounding if you get my drift.

    You could probably use sonar to create a vibe from years gone by easier than any other modern DAW. Is that what is meant by warmth I am not sure but there is a texture that you will not find on other DAWs other DAWs may sound more pristine.

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    musicroom
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    Re:Sound Quality of Sonar X1 2012/03/05 19:29:14 (permalink)
    If we are just going by ear - then I can tell you from many projects recorded in both Reaper and Sonar. Sonar sounds a little better to me. But that is blurring imagination I'm told. Null test prove me wrong. But if I were in the shoes of picking a daw - I would pick the one "I" like the sound of. In this case, it is Sonar hands down. 

     
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    #12
    Middleman
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    Re:Sound Quality of Sonar X1 2012/03/05 19:33:22 (permalink)
    Not what would be interesting, as I didn't test this, would be  rendering a file with Amplitude in both programs to see if DAWs handle 3rd party VSTs differently. I don't have Amplitude so you are on your own there.

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    Lanceindastudio
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    Re:Sound Quality of Sonar X1 2012/03/05 19:34:55 (permalink)
    Good call Middleman

    Lance

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    Middleman
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    Re:Sound Quality of Sonar X1 2012/03/05 19:59:03 (permalink)
    Thanks.

    For grins, I did put the same VST UAD2 1176 on the same wave file in Reaper and then in Sonar, default setting in both as it would be impossible to hand match them. Interestingly enough, they do not cancel at all and at very low levels around -84 you can hear a differential if you crank the volume. The conclusion is that Reaper and Sonar X1D handle VSTs differently. Whether you can actually hear that difference may be debatable. It does appear plugins perform differently within different DAWs from this test. Draw your own conclusions.

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    Seth Perlstein [Cakewalk]
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    Re:Sound Quality of Sonar X1 2012/03/05 20:02:30 (permalink)
    Middleman


    Thanks.

    For grins, I did put the same VST UAD2 1176 on the same wave file in Reaper and then in Sonar, default setting in both as it would be impossible to hand match them. Interestingly enough, they do not cancel at all and at very low levels around -84 you can hear a differential if you crank the volume. The conclusion is that Reaper and Sonar X1D handle VSTs differently. Whether you can actually hear that difference may be debatable. It does appear plugins perform differently within different DAWs from this test. Draw your own conclusions.

    You need to make sure all variables in each DAW are set exactly the same. The settings to look for are Pan Law and 64-bit audio engine. Otherwise, your results will not be accurate.

    SP
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    Middleman
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    Re:Sound Quality of Sonar X1 2012/03/05 20:07:10 (permalink)
    I used -6 pan on both, 64 bit engine was engaged on Sonar. Let me go back and turn that off.

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    Middleman
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    Re:Sound Quality of Sonar X1 2012/03/05 20:13:59 (permalink)
    Ran the test again, the noise difference is below the meters now but if you crank the master volume you can hear a faint sound. Is complete cancellation even possible? Not sure, but let's say the differences are so inaudible as to not be a factor.

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    Noel Borthwick [Cakewalk]
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    Re:Sound Quality of Sonar X1 2012/03/05 20:40:43 (permalink)
    Complete cancellation is possible if you run a plugin that doesn't have any built in randomization. You can test by running the same wave on different tracks through the plugin and then invert the phase on one and playback. If its deterministic the two tracks will perfectly phase cancel.

    With the exact same gain staging, preset used and floating point bit depth there should be no difference between daws when processing plugins.

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    Scott Lee
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    Re:Sound Quality of Sonar X1 2012/03/05 21:24:18 (permalink)
    billruys



    Scott Lee


    I too agree being a Sonar / Pro Audio / Cakewalk DOS user that against other DAWS I am constantly tweaking the low end EQ to clean up that "muddy" sound. I've spends year after year fighting it. I would suspect their is still a bug or something going on with the bus mechanics. (Doubling?) 



    If you are having audible issues mixing your low-end, it is almost always an issue with your room.  Home and project studios often have less than ideal dimensions and less than perfect bass-trapping.  So you end up with room modes and nodes all over the place.

    You can treat high to mid frequency problems with foam and other acoustic treatments, but low frequency accuracy is reliant on room design and can't be fully fixed in a non purpose-built room.  Unless you have a professionally, purpose-built room, you are in no position to judge low frequency mud.

    Start playback of a project on your DAW and walk from the back wall to your mix position, listening carefully.  Do you hear changes in bass response?  Those are time-domain issues you are hearing, that can't be corrected with EQ.

    I wonder if people who do some work at home on Sonar and some work in pro studios on other systems are hearing different rooms.  Without a perfect room, you just can't judge anything in the low frequency domain, because your room is having way more impact on the sound than Sonar ever will. 



    Im sure you mean well.

    Which pro studios have you worked in since you mentioned it? Ive tested my findings at Toad-AO Sound stages - CBS Radford, Los Angeles Ca, Capitol records, Novalogic, THQ, Volition, and the dozen or so video game companies I've worked as senior audio director using the product for since, well before the audio engine existed.

    Tell me all day long tell your blue in the face its my system.  If you are happy with it, great! Problem is obviously a lot of folks aren't - including me and the folks I have worked with over the years. 

    Their's a bit more transparency with the type of music genre you also write too. Ill go as far to say, if you are a rock or jazz guy, you aren't going to see the wild dynamics as a electronic dance music engineer would. Pumping, shelving, side chaining, multilayered sub sine generated kicks with leads that can fill the dynamic spectrum isn't as controlled as lets say traditional music when one would expect a guitar, bass, and drums the live in. This is why we need the visual type of EQing which I'm happy Cakewalk has taken steps to improve. 

    Now before I rattle the hornets nest, lets be clear on something. I use and own Sonar and want what is best for the software. The audio engine is quite old now and a revamp would be welcome! (I remember the problem when clicking "solo" use to make the audio pop or sometimes drop until Ron Kuper figured out to just silence each track rather then stoping playback) A lot of long term end users would like to see a gapless audio experience as well. (Im sure some will chime in and say otherwise.) Point is we see these types of posts mentioned by various end users time and time again. 

    Id do a search on the forums here about muddy audio, low end problems, phase and pan laws. A lot of long term professionals have had issues with the software, which Im sure it wasn't there PC, cables, room or an angry wife contribution. 









    Scott Lee (ASCAP)
    SFX Media 
    Song Composer / Engineer / Audio Director

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    #20
    hueseph
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    Re:Sound Quality of Sonar X1 2012/03/05 21:38:29 (permalink)
    I wouldn't want to attempt to master in Sonar.....well, I wouldn't attempt to master in the first place but I like the sound of  Sonar. I find it is closer to tape than anything else out there without the noise. I would pick any other DAW for clarity but I find it much easier to get warmth and musical eq without employing yet another expensive plugin.

    I do believe there is a difference between DAWs. I found this out by accident just listening to a file first in P**T**** then in Sam******. There was an audible difference that I was not looking for. In fact I was involved in a rather tedious discussion about the lack of difference between DAWs just before this. I was on the "all DAWs are the same" side. I found I was wrong.

    I don't think it's mud necessarily but certainly it's less "clear".  I would call it less brittle. Less clinical. I find it much easier to get a warm sounding mix in Sonar by far.

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    jimkleban
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    Re:Sound Quality of Sonar X1 2012/03/05 21:49:12 (permalink)
    Hmmm...

    First question I would have since the claim is Amplitube 2 is are the settings the same in both DAWS... I don't remember but there are a bunch of OVER SAMPLING and other ticks that you can turn on in AMP 2 to improve the sound at the cost of CPU....

    But, that being said, there has never been something that I couldn't mix that sounds good on SONAR... with a great tool box of plugs (UAD2 especially) SONAR sounds amazingly GOOD.

    But, there could be something to the claim but it really doesn't matter does it?

    If you got the chops, it will sound good in SONAR (chops equals mixing and performances)....

    But, if you think you sound better in REAPER (or whatever) than use REAPER.

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    #22
    Sylvan
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    Re:Sound Quality of Sonar X1 2012/03/05 22:22:05 (permalink)
    Well, for whatever it's worth, I took a song from Demons and Wizards (a completed professional stereo master) and imported it into both SONAR X1d Expanded and Reaper 4. I sent the track to a bus in each DAW. Test 1: Rendered the file with no changes Test 2: Raised the bus by 3dB Test 3: applied Sonitus EQ with a 6Db cut at 200Hz In each case I applied the same test in each DAW. I played them together in SONAR and Reaper, flipping the phase. I got complete cancellation in SONAR and in Reaper. There was absolutely no difference at all, even when changer the fader or adding the Sonitus EQ. Whatever you think you hear is placebo. SONAR's audio engine is just fine. If there is a difference anywhere, I am sure it is because SONAR is probably better. Just my input, thats all.

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    #23
    wmountney
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    Re:Sound Quality of Sonar X1 2012/03/05 22:33:55 (permalink)
    brozobob


    The room isn't an issue, as I am using an Amp Simulation program..the room is a non factor. 



    If you are listening to anything through a pair of speakers, the room is always a huge factor.  However, if you are comparing SONAR to other DAWs in the same room, through the same pair of monitors, and from the same listening position, then the room would be irrelevant because both DAWs would be subject to the exact same effects from the room coloring the sound.  However, even in the case of comparing in identical room conditions, if the room isn't tuned for flat response it still could be masking a difference that actually is there.
    #24
    Lanceindastudio
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    Re:Sound Quality of Sonar X1 2012/03/05 22:55:37 (permalink)
    The sound in all major DAWS is excellent these days. It is absolutely not going to be what makes or breaks a good mix.

    Whether they differ a tiny bit or not is really irrelevant. That absolutely will not determine whether you get good results or not.

    Lance


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    #25
    soens
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    Re:Sound Quality of Sonar X1 2012/03/05 23:28:37 (permalink)
    I read years ago that Sonar compresses audio when imported or recorded while some other DAWs don't. If that's true I wounder if it has an affect on what we're hearing.
     
    On another note, the forum "Reply to message" window loads in the font formatting buttons then they all disappear so I can't format my text.
    #26
    MelodicJimmy
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    Re:Sound Quality of Sonar X1 2012/03/06 00:50:53 (permalink)
    Just to chime in here.... I started with Sonar Home Studio 6XL and then upgraded to X1 Producer a few months ago. The first thing I noticed was a definite difference in sound quality between Home Studio XL and X1 Producer (X1 was way better). Originally, I had installed Cubase LE (not sure which number, it came bundled with my Presonus Inspire back in 2007) before I installed Home Studio 6XL and I thought Cubase sounded a lot better than Home Studio. It was a lot clearer and had more presence. I'm not sure how X1 compares to the latest Cubase, but I can tell you that there was definitely a difference between Cubase LE and Sonar Home Studio 6XL.

    Toshiba Ultrabook Laptop (Core i7)/ Sonar Platinum/ Windows 10 Home 64-bit
    10 gigs ram/ solid state drive/ Roland Cubix 22 interface/ M-Audio 88-key Keystation MIDI Controller/ Samson Monitors/ Sibelius 7 Notation
     
    #27
    wmountney
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    Re:Sound Quality of Sonar X1 2012/03/06 00:52:28 (permalink)
    soens


    I read years ago that Sonar compresses audio when imported or recorded while some other DAWs don't. If that's true I wounder if it has an affect on what we're hearing.
     
    On another note, the forum "Reply to message" window loads in the font formatting buttons then they all disappear so I can't format my text.

    SONAR does not compress any audio, neither at import nor recording, and it never has, nor did its predecessor Cakewalk Pro Audio.  I'm not sure where you read that -- and if it was years ago you probably don't remember yourself -- but it couldn't have been from any reliable source of information.
     
    #28
    bapu
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    Re:Sound Quality of Sonar X1 2012/03/06 01:07:18 (permalink)
    So there is concurrence in both directions. 

    Who do I believe?

    Oh wait, it matters not to me. I own three DAWs and I use SONAR nearly every day. So whether it is colored or doesn't sound as good I care not. I get the results I'm capable of (with no claim to be good or bad by professional standards) and I have no complaints*




    *Well, I'd love folders in folders and true solo capability on a muti-output/track setup with a Drum MAP (without having to first solo the MIDI track).

    #29
    LJB
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    Re:Sound Quality of Sonar X1 2012/03/06 01:20:00 (permalink)
    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)

    Ludwig Bouwer, One Big Room Studios.
    --------------------
    Cakewalk
    with all the trimmings / Win 10Pro 64 / Intel i7-7700 / Asus Prime Z270k / 16GB DDR4 / RME HDSP9652 / RME UFX / Black Lion Audio ADA8000 / ART MPA & ART Pro Channel / Focusrite Voicemaster Pro / Aphex 107

    Check out my work at www.onebigroom.co.za

    #30
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