Support Report: Getting the Most out of Your UAD-1 Sonar and Digital Performer

Randy and Jor
With a comprehensive and unique feature-set, Cakewalk Sonar is continually gaining in popularity amongst PC DAW users. There are now many users who are using the combination of Sonar with the UAD-1. This article is intended to help users of both of these products achieve great results, problem-free.

VST or DX?
Cakewalk natively supports DirectX plug-ins and now support is included for VST plug-ins using a VST-DX adapter applet. From our testing and from user experience we recommend using only the DX versions of the UAD-1 plug-ins. Select DirectX during the UAD-1 software installation to automatically make the UAD-1 plug-ins available in Sonar. If needed, UAD-1 Setup can be run at any time to add the DX plug-in format to your system. If a combination of DX and VST UAD-1 plug-ins are used in a project, buffer size mismatch errors will occur.

Known Issues
As always, we recommend updating to the latest available version of your host application. As of this writing, Sonar v2.2 and v3.11 updates are available. These updates have been fully tested with the UAD-1 and provide the greatest compatibility.

There are a few remaining known issues with the Direct X plug-ins, Below are the complete details:

High Host CPU Load
Some users will see abnormally high host CPU loading while using our DX plug-ins (this would be seen from the Sonar CPU meter). This problem varies between systems, most users won't see this happen at all, and other users will see it in varying degrees. Universal Audio is looking into this issue and is working on fixing the issue for all systems. In the meantime, however, you can bring your system back to it's normal CPU load by disabling/re-enabling the card from the UAD-1 Meter application.

UAD-1 DX Plug-ins and other plug-ins with latency
The DX plug-ins cannot be inserted after other DX plug-ins that introduce latency (such as a limiter with a look-ahead feature). When the UAD-1 plug-ins are inserted after such plug-ins, you will may receive a buffer size mismatch error e.g.: "A buffer size of 1033 samples has been detected, the current buffer size is 256...)
With some plug-ins, the problem can be avoided by not enabling look-ahead, with others, you must either render the effects to disk before using UAD-1 plug-ins, or use the UAD-1 plug-ins in the beginning of the effects chain.

Sonar specific problems
There are several issues that are specific to Cakewalk Sonar. Two of the problems can be fixed by upgrading to Sonar v3, so we would definitely recommend doing so.
  • (Sonar 2.x only) Delay compensation loses sync when looping. The first pass through a loop is in sync, but when the loop point is reached distortion occurs and then tracks are out of sync.
    Unfortunately, no workaround exists for Sonar 2 users. This issue is resolved in Sonar 3.

  • If there are no plug-ins on the first track, and UAD-1 plug-ins are running on other tracks while in loop mode, a dropout or buffer size mismatch error message may occur at the end of the loop. If playback is started again, a dropout may occur again. To avoid this problem, add a UAD-1 plug-in on the insert of track one. It can be bypassed or not. In most cases, this issue is resolved in Sonar 3, however some remaining cases will be resolved in the next Sonar update.

  • Both Sonar v2 and v3 provide the synchronization mode of "Full Chase Lock", In Sonar 3, this setting is the default. This mode may cause compatibility problems with UAD-1 plug-ins (Buffer size mismatch errors may occur). Switch this setting to "Trigger and Freewheel" to avoid problems. This setting is found in the "Advanced:Synchronization" section of the "Audio Options" panel.

  • If you use a MOTU PCI-324 card as part of your DAW system, you must change the audio driver mode to "ASIO" instead of "WDM". In fact, we recommend all users try the ASIO driver mode to see if performance is improved. This setting is found in the "Advanced:Playback and Recording " section of the "Audio Options" panel.

  • Offline processing of Grooveclips from Sonar is not supported by the UAD-1. If you want to use UAD-1 processing on Grooveclips, you can either run the UAD-1 effects in real-time, or use a separate audio editor program like Steinberg's Wavelab or Sony's Sound Forge.

In conclusion, the combination of Cakewalk's Sonar and the UAD-1 makes for a very capable and user-friendly DAW. If you follow the pointers in this article, you can take full advantage of this powerful system.

This info is also available on UA's support pages.

-Jor van Gelder and Tom Freeman

Digital Performer 4 Realtime Bounce
Like many Digital Performer users, I have grown accustomed to using DP's bounce to disk feature. However, if you have tried to use this feature with the UAD-1 in OS X, then I am sure that you have seen an error message. The release notes state that this currently is not working with DP 4. Rest assured that MOTU is aware of the problem and we are working with them to remedy the situation.

In the meantime, the current workaround is to do a real-time bounce instead. I myself have used, and actually prefer the real-time bounce to the non-realtime bounce for a couple of reasons. First of all, in this modern day of digital recording on computers, most of us know that sometimes there are problems and glitches in our recording or mixdown, especially when using a myriad of plug-ins and external hardware. By using the real time method, it's a lot easier to catch any problems up front, because you can actually monitor the mixdown in real-time and listen for any artifacts that may occur. When you think about it, using the non-realtime bounce, you still have to listen back after the bounce to make sure the bounced file is OK. Right? So why don't you just save yourself a step and listen in real time and catch any that's wrong right when it happens. Obviously, I understand the convenience of doing something faster than realtime, but this is just another option for you to consider.

Another issue with non-realtime bouncing is that it can affect how sequencer events (such as automation and MIDI) are handled in plug-ins. This is because a non-realtime bounce changes the timing relationships between when sequencer events are received by the plug-ins, and when the plug-in applies those events to the data processing. If you have, say, lots of very quick automation movements recorded, it is possible that some of these parameter changes could be missed altogether in a non-realtime bounce. (It is also possible that this could happen in realtime playback depending on the CPU load and the buffer size, but if you are playing back in realtime you will likely notice any such anomalies, and can correct them.) Note that this particular issue can affect any plug-in, not just UAD-1 plug-ins. Bouncing in real-time ensures you that what you are hearing in your mix while mixing, will in fact stay that way.

So if you are not familiar with setting up a real time bounce in DP, lets take a look at the steps in setting this up:

First I would suggest that if you're not familiar with using busses and groups in DP, to spend a few moments and read the section of the manual regarding this, so you are familiar with the terms that I will use in the remainder of this article. I will be referring specifically to DP 4.12

  • Add a stereo track on which to record your mix to. To do this select from the project menu->add track->stereo track.

  • Assign the outputs of all of your audio tracks to an unused bus. In my example below, I have chosen bus 9-10. To do this, in the mixer window view right below the faders, you will see the inputs and outputs of the desired track, select the lower section and select the desired bus you want. Or you can do this in the tracks window as done below:
Fig. 1
Fig. 2

  • On the stereo track that you just added, select that same bus 9-10 for the input of the stereo audio track. In essence, you are routing all of your audio tracks to a bus, and then taking the output of that bus and assigning it to the input of your mixdown track (Audio-1). See examples above. You will also see that the output of my stereo track is going to my audio hardware for monitoring in this example (Main Out 1-2). Record enable the stereo audio track and press record on the DP transport bar.

Now if you want some extra control, you can add a master fader. From the same project menu->add track-> and choose the output bus that you assigned to your tracks (Bus 9-10). This will give you an optional volume control for the entire bus feeding the audio track. To name this master fader, simply option-click the name field to change it. In my example here I have chosen the word "Group". I have also added another master fader to control the master output going to the audio hardware in my system; (896 OUT) this fader controls the main output to the MOTU 896 main outputs that go to my monitoring system.

This simple procedure will allow you do a realtime mix back in to DP, allowing all of your automation and UAD-1 plug-ins to work properly.

Stay tuned for more tips and tricks.

-Randy Knaub

Questions or comments on this article?