77-Cakewalk music software

Cakewalk makes solid, reliable and powerful music software, mainly for Windows. This page will (eventually) have information about their flagship DAW (Sonar), and their extremely interesting soft synths Dimension, Rapture, Z3TA, Pentagon, sfz and other products.

For the time being, besides their own website, another strongly recommended one is Simon Cann’s site for great info about all these things. (In particular, one of my two or three favorite books on music software is “Cakewalk Synthesizers: From Presets to Power User” by Simon Cann.)

(I combined the Sonar fan page with this one since I needed another page specifically for the Zebra synth.)


Although I primarily use Ableton Live for my own productions, for power MIDI editing I use Cakewalk’s Sonar product (version 8.5.3 as of this writing.) For things like microscopic tinkering of MIDI events, handling System Exclusive and the like Sonar is the way.

Due to budgetary reasons, I’ve only been upgrading it about every other version. In 2010 I finally plunked down the upgrade money (which is usually quite reasonable) to get up to the 8.5 version. For my needs it probably has more power and functionality than I really need.

Here’s a quick list about some of the things I like and don’t like about it

Good things

  • Pretty nice GUI
  • Plenty of MIDI functionality

Not so good things

  • NO HEXADECIMAL!! I understand that it’s tough to get your mind around hexadecimal notation when first getting into computer music, but you really do need to do it at some point. it makes handling of program changes and MIDI controllers too weird (for instance, a bank of programs that might be referred to as 1500 Hex would be something like 5376 in decimal.)
  • Somewhat equally complex to do simple functions particularly the drum editor
  • Soft synth handling and VST a little baroque
  • Although the GUI is very customizable, the size of fonts is not. So throughout the GUI on a large monitor set to a hgh resolution all the GUI labeling is in tiny letters and numbers.

For someone used to using Live for most of his production, Sonar is a bit cumbersome. But there are plenty of keystroke shortcuts and such, and if I used it on a more regular basis I might get more adept.

Page#77 / last modified 20100604