Melodyne in Cakewalk Sonar X3 with ARA

As an extension of the VST interface, ARA provides for a particularly close integration of Melodyne into Cakewalk Sonar X3, thereby making for a very user-friendly Melodyne experience. In this short guide, you will find all you need to know in order to use Melodyne in Sonar with ARA. This guide complements the normal Melodyne User Manual.

Please take note also of the information regarding the compatibility of Melodyne with Sonar on our website.

Installing Melodyne

Melodyne essential is bundled with Sonar X3 Producer and Sonar X3 Studio and installed along with them. If you have unintentionally interrupted the installation of Melodyne and only succeeded in installing Sonar X3, all you need do is run the Sonar installation program a second time, this time remembering to install Melodyne.

When you launch Melodyne for the first time, the Activation Assistant will ask you for your Melodyne serial number. If you already owned Melodyne prior to the Sonar update, your serial number will be entered automatically, so you need only confirm it. If you did not already own Melodyne, the Serial Number field will be empty. In this case, enter the Melodyne serial number that came with the Sonar bundle. You will find this either in the Sonar packaging or, if you purchased Sonar X3 as a download, in your Cakewalk user account; in this case, upon completion of the download, you should also have received an e-mail from Cakewalk containing your Melodyne serial number. After entering your serial number, follow the instructions provided by the Activation Assistant.

When you have completed the installation and activated the program, you will be able to use Melodyne as before as a plug-in. This ensures compatibility with songs previously edited with Sonar X2. When editing other audio clips, however, or beginning new projects, we recommend the far more user-friendly ARA integration of Melodyne as a Region FX.

Editing of an audio region or a clip with Melodyne and ARA

Select within Sonar an audio clip or make a selection within an audio track. Now right-click within the selected area and choose “Region FX > Melodyne > Create Region FX”. Melodyne will launch immediately, analyze the clip, and display the notes contained within it. Melodyne is now embedded in the lower area of the Sonar window just like the audio editor or mixer of Sonar. If you wish to access this clip again later, just double-click on it and the notes will be displayed immediately in Melodyne.

Tip: you can also apply this procedure to the selected clip or the current selection using the keyboard shortcut “CTRL+M”.

Procedures that are no longer necessary thanks to ARA

To get to know Melodyne, we recommend the normal Melodyne User Manual or the handbook films in the English language. Each of these describes the use of Melodyne without ARA. Since ARA brings considerable improvements in the use of Melodyne, some of the subjects dealt with in the User Manual are no longer of relevance:

Transfers: In the absence of ARA, before you can begin editing an audio segment you must first transfer it from the DAW to Melodyne in real time, in what is essentially a recording process. With ARA, no such transfers are necessary. It suffices to open Melodyne as a Region FX and the desired clip will automatically be displayed in Melodyne. So when ARA is operative, the “Transfer” button is no longer displayed in the Melodyne user interface.

File management: Since there are no more transfers with ARA, you no longer need to concern yourself with the management of transfer files. Melodyne Plugin therefore no longer has a File Management dialog. This means that all you have to worry about now, when saving and restoring your work or passing it on to other users, is your Sonar project. All the data required by Melodyne is stored along with the Sonar project.

Tempo and time signature changes: With ARA, Melodyne follows automatically any changes in tempo or time signature in Sonar provided the option “Follow Host Tempo” is checked in the local Region FX menu. Without ARA, all such changes must first be played through to Melodyne in real time.

MIDI export Even with ARA, a command is provided in the “Settings” menu of Melodyne editor and Melodyne assistant (but not Melodyne essential) for the exporting of MIDI. But ARA makes exporting MIDI to a Sonar track far simpler: if you have previously opened a clip in Melodyne, all you need to do is drag it by its upper handle to a MIDI or instrument track within your Sonar arrangement. Note that the polyphonic conversion of audio to MIDI is only possible with Melodyne editor or the trial version when activated. Otherwise the conversion of audio to MIDI is always monophonic, and also functions in Melodyne’s playback mode.

Tip: it is not, in fact, necessary to create a Region FX with Melodyne in order to convert audio to MIDI. It suffices to drag it to a MIDI or instrument track in the manner already described. The requisite exchange of information with Melodyne is performed by Sonar in the background using the ARA protocol.

Changes to audio clips that Melodyne follows automatically

If you change the arrangement of audio clips in Sonar, Melodyne, when connected using ARA, follows automatically, as long as the function “Follow Host Tempo” is checked in the local Region FX menu. In the absence of ARA, every change to the DAW track has to be repeated manually in Melodyne. The changes to audio events automatically followed by Melodyne with ARA include:

Note: even when Melodyne is running in playback or trial mode, Melodyne will follow the tempo of the sequencer through time-stretching, provided the “Follow Host Tempo” option is checked. Most of the ARA functions mentioned are also active; it is only editing within Melodyne that is impossible.

The time-stretching behavior of Sonar and Melodyne

In Sonar, simply by holding down the CTRL key as you drag the right-hand edge of a clip, you can stretch or squeeze the corresponding audio material (Slip Stretch). The resulting stretch factor is displayed at the top of the clip.

As long as Melodyne is inserted into the clip as a Region FX, it is Melodyne’s algorithms that will be used for the stretching of the audio material. In this case, the Time ruler in the Melodyne display will adjust automatically.

Inserting Melodyne into a channel strip: no ARA

To profit from ARA, Melodyne must be loaded as a Region FX. It is also possible, however, to load Melodyne as an insert into a channel strip (“Track Effect Bin”) though in this case no ARA integration takes effect. This means you do have to perform transfers, and Melodyne will no longer follow tempo changes and changes to the audio events on the track in Sonar automatically.

Bypassing Melodyne or removing it from a clip

You have several ways of removing Melodyne as a Region FX from the signal path. For temporary comparisons between the edited and unedited clip, you can use the “Compare” function in the Melodyne user interface. With this function, Melodyne’s time-stretching remains active, but all changes to the notes are temporarily undone, a fact indicated by the fact that the affected blobs are displayed in gray.

It is also possible, however, to switch Melodyne to Bypass in the Region FX menu, so that the CPU no longer needs to process it. In this case, any time-stretching will no longer be performed by Melodyne but by Sonar.

The final option is to remove Melodyne permanently by removing the corresponding Region FX from the clip.

Other things you should know about the use of Sonar

Buffer size We recommend an audio buffer size of 1,024 samples. Smaller values lead to a marked increase in the CPU load. Should you require a smaller buffer, e.g. when you are performing the headphone mix directly in your computer and not monitoring via an external channel strip or mixer, switch all instances of Melodyne during the recording to bypass Reactivate Melodyne as soon as you begin editing your new track.