PROS / The mix recall feature allows you to compare different mixes side by side.
CONS / This program is only available for PC.
VERDICT / Sonar is a powerful DAW, even at the introductory level. It’s a shame Mac users can't experience it.
Sonar is one of the first and only programs to make the switch to a subscription-based user platform. There are two ways to pay for the audio production program: monthly or annually. If you do the annual payment, you'll receive free updates and downloads for the year. If you choose not to renew your annual subscription, you'll own the program and be able to still use it, but it will no longer update. Monthly subscriptions work as you'd expect – pay each month to use the product.
Sonar has introduced the Command Centre. It resembles the PreSonus and Steinberg Hub. The Command Centre is a centralized place for all downloadable content from Cakewalk. Once you fill out a user account, all of your purchases and downloads will be located within the Command Centre. This keeps everything organized and in one central place.
Sonar calls its interface Skylight. Skylight's main attribute is customizability. The interface can be manipulated in just about any way. You can fix (dock), unfix and rearranged all elements of the interface. The toolbar is also customizable. You can scroll through the toolbar, add and collapse areas and customize the layout of the buttons as you please. You can make this audio production software as comfortable as you like. We feel that Sonar is more customizable than many of the DAWs we reviewed. This gets you in a better workflow while you're using the software.
One of the best things about this music software is regardless of the version you choose – Artist, Professional or Platinum – recording capabilities are unlimited. You can add as many audio and MIDI tracks as you need within a project.
A feature that no other DAW has that Sonar boasts is mix recall. This saves all the parameters of a mix you've been working on. Then you can make adjustments and take another snapshot of new mix parameters and compare the two back and forth as you please. This is a wonderful tool to get experimental with your mixes without losing any previous work.
Currently, the Artist version features 27 total plugins and 12 virtual instruments. That is less than what you'd receive if you purchase either of its professional counterparts, but it's average as far as introductory-level products go. You can always upgrade the amount of plugins by purchasing third-party plugins. Sonar Artist supports VST2, VSTi, DXi and VST3 compatibility, which is standard among similar programs.
Sonar has long been a PC-based program, and that is yet to change. This was one of the first DAWs available, but there still isn't a Mac version. This is disappointing for Mac users.
For PC users, this music making software is a solid choice for many reasons, but especially because you can arrange the interface anyway you want. It has plenty of recording power and the mix recall is a great additional feature. Mac users will be disappointed that they can't add this DAW to their computer.