SONAR ReWire

By AgincourtDB

Introduction

Rewiring Project5 into SONAR can increase your options to a staggering extent when it comes to editing as well as mixing your audio. For example, SONAR's envelope implementation is deeper and in my opinion easier to use. SONAR's bussing capabilities are incredibly versatile (any track can go to any bus directly or to any bus or multiple busses through sends. Any bus can go to any bus. Any bus can go to any hardware output.) There are also plugins (such as the Lexicon Pantheon Reverb bundled with SONAR) which will only work in SONAR.

For the purposes of this article we will use SONAR Producer 4.02 and Project5 2.0.1, since that is what I have got installed on my machine at present. Most of what will be included here is not going to be specific to those builds, however.

Also, be advised: there are many ways of arriving at the same mix beginning in P5 and ending in SONAR Pro 4, this just happens to be mine. I invite others to detail their workflow.

In Project5

To begin, open Project5, and choose or create the specific project you'd like to send into SONAR. Listen to it a number of times so you're immediately familiar with the sounds you've been working with. Then either save a backup copy to another location (i.e., MyProject_backup.p5p) or save a new copy to a new location to work with as a rewire copy (Myproject_rewire.p5p).

It's likely if it's an existing track that you've roughed in a mix already, setting levels, using one of the 4 aux busses to add send effects or even strapping effects across some of your tracks directly. We're going to undo all that. In whichever copy of your project you're going to use as a rewire source project, strip off any and all effects, including bus sends, and set all volume knobs to unity (0db). Set all pans and widths to default. Any instrument volumes should be set high as well, just on the principle of keeping the incoming signal as hot as possible. (Probably if you play the project in P5 now it'll sound horribly dry and there will probably be clipping: fear not.)

Now count the number of outputs you're using. Not the number of instruments, or tracks, but the number of outputs. For example, if your first track is Velocity, and you're using the first three of its outputs (kick, snare and toms, hats/ride/cymbals), then it counts as three. The next output (maybe it's Psyn, a single-output synth, set to a bass patch) would be number 4. Let's say you have 16 outputs. Add to this number the main outputs and the aux bus outputs (which we won't be using, but due to the way SONAR counts P5's rewire outputs, we have to count them) and you get 21. Add a few to grow on. Go up to Options/Audio, and at the bottom of the window, set the number of Rewire outputs to 24.

If your project only has 4 single-output synths, set it to 10 or something in that area. The formula should be, number of tracks + 5(the number of P5 busses) + X(X=a few more in case you want to add stuff later)

Or you could 'eyeball it' and just take a rough guess.

The reason we limit the number of Rewire outputs at this stage is to conserve memory and to make the process of rewiring into SONAR easier from the SONAR end. You'll see why in a minute.

Also at this stage when using Project5 1.5, we would have to note the project tempo setting, because on loading a project into a rewired Project5, the tempo would be dictated by the host, and the tempo window in p5 would reflect that. This is no longer true with v.2: The project will still follow the host tempo, and play at that tempo, but the tempo specified by the .p5p file will be displayed in Project5's tempo window, so don't worry about it.

Now save your Myproject_rewire.p5p (or whatever) and close Project5. Project5 must be closed now because the rewire client must be opened BY SONAR.

In SONAR

Startup SONAR. Choose New project, Blank template. (Eventually you can save a custom Rewire template. There was already one with SONAR 3, but I don't see it now. I never used it anyway.) Add a stereo bus, this will be your 'mains'.

Next, click on the Synth Rack (The button has the DXi symbol on it.) Now Click on 'Insert DXi instruments and Rewire devices' (or hit the 'A' key) From the dropdown menu, mouseover Rewire Device, then select Project5 version 2.

The 'Insert DXi synth options' dialog will appear. Note to Cake: this should really be called the 'Insert Rewire device dialog' when that's what we're doing. Noodge Noodge. Select the checkboxes (put a check in the boxes) for MIDI source Track, All Synth Outputs (audio), and Synth Property Page.

The track view will begin populating with audio tracks with their inputs already set to Project5's rewire outputs. And, Project5's splash screen and then main window will appear.

In Project5's window, load your project file. If you're in version two, note that the tempo window shows the original bpm, while SONAR's shows SONAR's default tempo. Change SONAR's tempo to match the tempo of your project, because, again, SONAR controls playback tempo. (Nice of them to fix this, I was always forgetting what my tempo was and having to close out and reopen in P5 just to check it.)

Now if you examine SONAR's track view, you will notice a few things:

  1. SONAR has added a stereo audio track for each of Project5's rewire outputs. The first five tracks will be P5's Main bus, and Aux 1-4, respectively. I usually delete these first thing, but you can just mute them if you like. The rest will start with “Project5 Synth-1 L/R”, “Project5 Synth-2 L/R”, etc, up till it runs out of rewire outs coming from Project5 (which you set earlier, after all that pesky counting, remember?) These are your actual instrument tracks, plus any additional outs you counted in 'to grow on'.
  2. 2) All the track outputs are set to your soundcard's default. Go ahead and set them all to the single stereo bus you added before rewiring Project5. You can add new sub or aux busses later on as the mood strikes you.
  3. 3) SONAR will also have added any loop point selection which may have existed in your project.
  4. 4) Life is good.

Now what?

Proceeding from here depends largely on you. My computer is usually robust enough to handle mixing with P5 still rewired (she's a good girl, I'm very lucky), but you also have the option of bouncing each track to audio (in a new track) before continuing. If you do this, be sure to set your levels first, to avoid clipping. Play your project through and lower the volume of any track that clips, but only enough to keep it from clipping. Once you have all your audio bounced, you can close P5, remove it from the synth rack, and delete the original rewire tracks from your SONAR project, leaving you with an all-audio project you can mix/edit as such. Remember that you can always re-rewire Project5 in if you want to add something, and would rather use P5's interface.

Also, when bouncing rewire tracks, remember to select the region you want in the time ruler (click and drag from the end). This is necessary because a rewire track is basically an audio track with no audio in it. Bounce will look at it, think it's empty, and bounce nothing. You have to tell it specifically what region to bounce.

If you proceed into mixing with Project5 still rewired, be cognizant of CPU load issues. If you're not going to do any more recording (midi or audio) then it's advisable to leave your latency as high as you need to for SONAR to run comfortably. Give yourself some padding.

Effects?

Either way, my advice is to insert any effects you use in SONAR, rather than in Project5, for the simple reason that you're definitely going to want some in SONAR (any bus effects, and also any effects plugins that will only run in SONAR) and having them in both might grow confusing. ("Hey, why does this track sound like it has too much reverb on it? I've checked the mix knob twice…. Oh, yeah, that's right….")

This is why we stripped them all away in Project5 before we saved our rewire copy.

I hope this helps you get started rewiring Project5 into SONAR. Good luck, and have fun!

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