recording studio software – Sonar, 2017

Sonar Platinum is our Top Ten Reviews Bronze Award winner. This recording software presents a totally revamped version of the popular Cakewalk DAW (digital audio workstation). We were really impressed with the new layout and its clean and organized design.

Interface & Plugin Functionality

Another part of the software that has changed is how you pay for Sonar. You now can make payments for the program on a monthly or an annual basis, much like you would for Adobe Audition Creative Cloud. If you pay for a year of Sonar, you will receive updates and downloads for the year. Don’t mistake this for a subscription ??? subscriptions run out. If you pay in full and don’t want to renew your yearly payment, you will still have access to Sonar, it just won’t update.

One of the nice things about the newly updated Sonar is that whether you are working on a single-monitor laptop or a dual-monitor setup, all of the work windows ??? mixer, file browser and pro-channel ??? can float or be docked. You can organize everything you need within one window without having floating toolbars and windows in your way. This makes working with a single-monitor interface convenient.

The toolbar atop your interface is also customizable and scrollable. Having a scrollable toolbar doesn’t cluster your window with a bunch of buttons slammed together. You can also organize your toolbar so the tools are exactly where you want them.

No matter which version of this recording studio software you choose, intermediate or professional version, each presents the same unlimited recording and MIDI capabilities. All versions of the program also provide you with a 64-bit audio engine. Not many programs provide such free-range capabilities in the introductory versions.

Sonar is one of the few DAWs that doesn’t work with Mac. Limiting this music production software to PC users prohibits Sonar from taking the software to the next step. All of the best recording studio software work on both platforms.


Sonar Platinum comes with 57 mixing and mastering effects, and 21 virtual instruments. One of our favorite virtual instruments out of the group is TruePianos. The piano sound that this virtual instrument replicates sounds as authentic as it gets. If you want to further adjust the sounds and parameters, you can click on the advanced interface to bring up more controls such as reverb, room size and keyboard dynamics.

Sonar is also compatible with a number of different plugin formats including VST3, VSTI and DXi formats, which means you can expand your plugin library without running into compatibility issues.

On the right side of the recording program is the file browser window. Here you will find all of your audio FX, MIDI FX, virtual instruments and ReWire capabilities. A new feature in Sonar is that you can now drag and drop effects into the channel strips. This makes it easy to stack effects together in one channel strip. There isn’t a limit as to how many effects you can apply to a single channel, so you can stack as many as you need.

The Cakewalk website features Sonar University ??? a source for video tutorials and other information for Sonar users. The site has in-depth workshops and other useful videos you can view. If you need to contact Cakewalk, you can get in touch with technical support though the company’s support ticket system, or you can call during the company’s hours of operation.

The Sonar redesign and interface make this program ultra-usable and desirable. It is a shame that this program is only available on PC platforms, otherwise this program would be ever more sought after. Regardless, there are many reasons to give any version of this software a try, especially since all have unrestricted recording and MIDI capabilities.

Effects & Plugins


Help & Support