How to Listen While Recording in Cakewalk SONAR

Written by simon foden Google
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How to Listen While Recording in Cakewalk SONAR
It's important to have a clear monitor mix when recording. (Comstock/Comstock/Getty Images)

Cakewalk Sonar is a digital audio workstation from music technology firm Roland. With Cakewalk Sonar, you can record, edit, mix and master your music from a computer. This removes the need to hire expensive recording studios or purchase large recording consoles. Line-level instruments, such as synthesizers and keyboards, don't produce an acoustic sound. This means that you need a monitoring system to hear them when recording. Your monitoring system can be a pair of headphones or a set of speakers.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • 3 1/4-inch jack cables
  • Audio interface
  • Headphones
  • Speakers
  • Speaker amplifier if speakers are passive

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  1. 1

    Connect an audio interface to the computer. The type of cable required varies according to which audio interface you have, but you typically need either a USB or FireWire cable. It's more likely you'll need a FireWire cable if your interface was manufactured after 2006. Connect the cable to the relevant port on your computer.

  2. 2

    Connect an instrument or sound source to the audio interface. For example, if recording a synthesizer, connect a 1/4-inch jack cable to the "Output" jack on the back panel of the synth. Connect the other end of the cable to the "Line In" jack on the front of the audio interface. The audio interface converts the signal from audio to data, so it can be interpreted by the Cakewalk Sonar software.

  3. 3

    Connect either a pair of headphones or a pair of balanced 1/4-inch jack cables to outputs 1 and 2 respectively. Connect these two cables to either a pair of powered speakers or to a speaker amplifier if you have passive, or non-powered, speakers. You can switch between speakers and headphones by removing one connection and replacing it. For some recording applications, such as singing and recording acoustic instruments, headphones are the preferable mode of monitoring, as they prevent the audio that you're listening to from spilling onto the microphone, creating feedback. In all other applications, it's a matter of choice.

  4. 4

    Double-click the Cakewalk Sonar desktop icon.

  5. 5

    Click "Options," then choose "Audio." Click the "Input Monitoring" tab. Sonar automatically detects connected audio interface devices and displays them in this menu. There are multiple sound card options in this menu as well. Click on your audio interface to assign it as the primary output device.

  6. 6

    Click the "Output Drivers" tab. Assign your audio interface as the output driver as well. This assigns the audio interface as the output source for all audio going out from the Sonar master channel.

  7. 7

    Click "OK" when prompted. A message will pop up once you've assigned your input and output devices, telling you that the changes won't take place until you restart Sonar.

  8. 8

    Quit sonar and then restart it by double-clicking the desktop icon. Once launched, you can listen using headphones or speakers via the audio interface.

Tips and warnings

  • Use the "Monitor" or "Output Level" dial on the audio interface to control the volume level of the playback.

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