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Quick Groups in SONAR

Fast way to control volume or panning on multiple tracks at once By Frank Moldstad

Eight drum tracks set up as a Quick Group.Bright blue tabs at left of each track indicate grouped tracks.
Cakewalk's SONAR 5 has a neat trick called Quick Groups for controlling volume and panning settings for multiple tracks by moving just one control. While the same results could be achieved with automation envelopes, the advantage of using Quick Groups is that there's no need to set up envelopes or nodes.

Quick Groups make it possible to bring groups of audio or MIDI tracks in and out on the fly, or create spontaneous panning sweeps. Quick Groups are a useful tool for live music, presentations, radio or theatrical performances, in order to initiate the playback of prerecorded sounds at certain moments. These could range from multiple tracks containing laughter or applause to sound effects at the whim of the user.

Or, Quick Groups could also be used as a fast way to test a proposed mix automation idea. For instance, someone may suggest that a song's drum part be introduced gradually, instead of starting right at the beginning. This may be a good idea, or it may not. It could be auditioned by muting the drums tracks at the beginning and then unmuting them. But since a typical multitrack drum part consists of eight tracks, clicking all the mute buttons would be awkward and the tracks wouldn't come in simultaneously. The same with attempting to raise all the virtual faders at once. Without real faders on a mixing board (or a control surface), the only other ways to hear the results involve setting up a volume envelope on each track or assigning all the drum tracks to a bus, either of which would take several minutes.

Assigning a Permanent Group
By contrast, tracks (or busses) can be set up in Quick Groups in less than 30 seconds. In the Track View, all that's required is to click the top left corner of each track to be put in the group while holding down the Control key. Presto, they're in a Quick Group. When the volume or panning controls for any track are adjusted, all the other tracks follow in lock step. (A Quick Group can also be assigned and controlled from the Console View, using similar tabs at the bottom of every channel.)

Only one Quick Group can be used at a time, but fortunately, any Quick Group can be saved as a Permanent Group by right clicking on the volume or pan control of any track in the group and choosing the Group Save command from the popup menu. There it can be named and assigned a color. In the future, whenever you wish to use that Quick Group, you just go the menu and select it without the need to click the corner tabs on each track. You can save as many Permanent Groups as you like.

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Related Keywords:SONAR, Cakewalk, automation, Quick Groups, envelopes, audio, MIDI, live, performance


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