Let's start with basic definitions:



All the music data for a body of work is contained in a project. A project can be anything from a musical composition, a movie soundtrack or a song from your favorite artist. A project also contains the settings for your work such as effects and recording options. A project saved in a file with the .CWP extension will contain only MIDI data and project settings whereas a Cakewalk Bundle file (.CWB) will contain also any audio data.


Event is the smallest music data unit. It can contain a single music note, a patch change, an instruction to modify the volume, etcetera.


Clips are groups of events. They can contain an entire MIDI song as well as a vocal performance recorded as audio.


Tracks are used to store clips. A project could contain 3 MIDI tracks (let's say drum, bass and keyboard) and 1 audio track (like recorded vocals. Each track can contain any number of clips. The number of tracks in Sonar is limited to your computer's C P U power.


Track View

Sonar allows you to work with data using views. Each view allows you to manipulate data in different ways. You can switch between views by clicking on Views from the menu. The track view is the default view when you create a new Sonar project. This will probably be the one you will be using most. This view shows you all available tracks in a project.

Staff View

The staff view shows you the tracks as music notation. You can view multiple tracks by selecting them in the track view and then click on Views ⇒ Staff from the main menu. You can edit music notes using the staff view. Notation functions such as percussion parts and guitar chords are available.

The event list view

gives you control over individual instructions (music notes, patch change, tempo change, etcetera.) for an entire track or project. It is the raw data being sent to your sound card. You can edit the data from this view by double-clicking in the field you need to modify.

Loop Construction View

The loop construction view allows you to create your own sample loops. Loops are audio clips meant to be played over and over to construct partial or entire songs.

Step Sequencer View

The purpose of the Step Sequencer is to provide a very different method for working with drum patterns. Even though the interface remotely resembles that of Piano Roll view, with Step Sequencer you can do more with your drum patterns than with the other view.

Console View

The console view pretty much resembles a real recording console. This tool is made to mix down your MIDI and audio tracks to a single stereo file. You can use the controls from the console view to adjust panning and volume for each track. On-screen meters allow you to monitor volume level for each track.

Getting Started

  1. After installation Sonar will automatically open. After completing the product registration, the „project preferences“ dialog box appears.
  2. With a MIDI interface or USB keyboard connected or a Digital Audio System), select Choose MIDI Inputs Now. If you don't have a MIDI interface, select Continue with No MIDI Input. A MIDI keyboard is necessary if you wish to use software synths.
  3. Sonar opens and the „Tip of the Day“ dialog box appears.
  4. Click Close to close the dialog box. The Sonar Project Window appears.

Setting up Sonar

Set-up the Audio Options

  1. From the Options menu, select Audio…
  2. Click on the Advanced Tab to access the next window
  3. Select ASIO as the Driver Mode and click OK. You may get a pop-up dialog box explaining that the ASIO settings won't take effect until the next time you startSonar. (depending on the version of Sonar)
  4. If necessary, close Sonar completely and restart the application.

Setting up Sonar (continued)

Return to the Audio Setup Options

  1. Once Sonar has restarted, select Audio from the Options menu.
  2. Click the ASIO Panel. The pop-up dialog box appears.
  3. Set the ASIO Buffer Latency as low as your computer will allow. A low latency setting is important to assure fast response when using virtual instruments and to minimize delay when monitoring through Sonar. If you hear crackles or other audio problems, try increasing the Buffer Size.
  4. Close the Audio Options screen by clicking OK.

Note: If Sonar crashes for any reason, it is recommended that you re-boot the computer.

Set the Location of your Audio Files

TIP, If you have two or more hard disks, it's better to store audio files on a disk that isn't running your OS.

  1. From the Options menu, select Global.
  2. Select the Audio Data tab.
  3. Select a location for theGlobal Audio Folder. This is where your large audio files will be kept.
  4. Select 24 bits as the Recording Bit Depth. Why not use the best possible resolution?
  5. Click OK to select your choices and close Global Options.

Basic Multitrack Recording

This tutorial assumes you're using a single input or pair of inputs. Sonar opens by default with audio tracks and MIDI tracks.

  1. Track 1 is an audio track. Locate the input and output routing fields in the Track Pane.
  2. Select the input source by pressing ENTER on an INPUT field. Select the desired input from the list.
  3. The Input Echo button should be OFF. You will be direct monitoring the input through your midi Interface.
  4. If you have an interface, press the Direct Monitor button. If you are recording a mono track, set Direct Monitor to Mono by pressing the Direct Monitor (Input Echo) button again.

TIP, If you don't see meter activity on the track after enabling Record, check the Input for the track. Make sure you are selecting the proper input source.

  1. Press the Track Record Enable button for the track. The track turns a dull red color to indicate that it is record-enabled. You should now see activity on the Track Input Meter when inputting a signal.

If your input signal is either too weak or too strong, adjust the input level.

  1. Optional Step – Metronome: From the Options Menu, select Project. Select the Metronome tab. Next select Use Audio Metronome. Click OK. Make sure the Metronome During Record button in the Transport Bar is On.
  2. Press Record on the Sonar Transport control and start playing.
  3. Press Stop when you're finished recording the first track.
  4. Press Play on the Sonar Transport to play back your track.
  5. If you want to dump the track and start over, Right-click over the wave form display in the track and choose Delete.

TIP, You can create a new track by selecting Clone, from the Track menu. This handy feature duplicates the currently selected track complete with input/output routings.

  1. From the Insert Menu, select Audio Track. Track 3 appears in the Project window.
  2. Select Track 3 and click the Restore Strip Size button to expose the input and output routing.
  3. Set the Input source for the track. Click on the little triangle on the rightside of the track Input box.
  4. Disable record for Track 1 by clicking on the Track Record button Off.
  5. Enable recording for Track 3 by clicking on the Track Record button On.
  6. Press the transport Record button and you're recording.

Hot Tip: A quick way to record additional tracks using the same input is to simply drag the Part (audio region) you just recorded up or down to another audio track in the Sonar Project Window, then just hit Record again and go. Choose Blend Old and New when asked in the Drag & Drop Options.

  1. Choose Save As from the SonarFile menu to save your project. Choose a name and location that will make the project easy to find later.