Cakewalk Sonar X3 Digital Audio Workstation [Review]

Cakewalk Sonar X3 ImageSonar has been Cakewalks’ flagship series for the longest time, and for good reason.

Cakewalk is efficient for everything a DAW is for. Some DAW are only famous because many people use them.

DAWs are all but effectively. The limitations we find in one we wouldn’t find in another, but there would be limitations once again if that happens.

Sonar Lite and Sonar Full

So what’s new in X3?

A lot of things. For one, they’ve released a Sonar X3 lite that’s more affordable than the flagship product they’re endorsing. The lite version allows you to have infinite audio tracks as well as MIDI. What it doesn’t have is surround support and SMPTE/MTC Synchronisation.

If you go into the Producer or Studio Version, you buy yourself additional content. This includes the Melodyne Essential, which is the non-polyphonic vocal manipulation software that’s quite great around the market. You will have to purchase the full version from Celemony Melodyne if you want the latter one mentioned.

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VST Support

Softube Saturation Knob & QuadCurve EQNow, you’ve got support for ARA, VST2, VST3,  in X3 and Direct-X. You could also process modules in the Pro-Channel Format included only in the Studio and Producer Editions.

The Studio includes two modules,

  1. the QuadCurve EQ and…
  2. the Softube Saturation Knob

both useful for so many things.

Including Lounge Lizard, Strum Acoustic & Addictive Drums

The Producer Edition includes some awesome virtual instruments including the Strum Acoustic and Lounge Lizard. You also have a full version of Addictive Drums, which is a very, very huge plus!

Nomad Factory Blue Tubes FX suite Image

You also have the Nomad Factory Blue Tubes FX suite that is more than 10 plugins. What’s up man!

The only downside is that with all the packages, things seem to be in overlap mode. A lot of VSTs tend to function similarly to other plugins. If you just wanted a simple compressor, I believe it would be a burden, but a good one at that.


The Skylight interface is still familiar from X1 and X2. But it’s capability for toast notifications allows you to use pop-up information boxes instead of Windows telling you about something going wrong or going right. This helps you focus more on the music.

Track Inspector From Sonar X3The Track inspector found on the left of the arrange panel shows you the settings for your selected track or bus and its routing.

You also have a browser, a multi-dock, an improved Piano Roll Editor, Sample Editor and more, appearing in tabbed pages.

Grouping is quite tiresome. While some DAWs have a single key or shortcut key to achieve this, you’ll have to right click and find “Create selection group from clips” instead. This is troublesome if you have made a selection group of multiple clips so you’ll have to be accurate with your mouse to make sure every member you want is selected.

What Else To Say

Sonar X3 is Cakewalk’s latest project after it had departed from Roland to go off on its own. Bought by Gibson and would be supporting the Tascam Professional Arm. While it’s a great thing to look forward too, we must admit that Cakewalk is selling off many of its other functions to individual developers from VST to others.

But still, this is a fine product that you could address everything you need. Just don’t expect it to be similar to other DAWs and you should be fine. Please Share or Comment if you liked it