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Free upgrade to Cakewalk by BandLab!

 

This article is intended to help existing SONAR users, as well as new users, transition to Cakewalk by BandLab, by answering common questions and clarifying the differences between Cakewalk and SONAR.

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SONAR is now Cakewalk by BandLab

SONAR is back with a new name. Cakewalk by BandLab is a continuation of the SONAR Platinum you know and love, and it’s significantly better.

Cakewalk picks up where SONAR Platinum left off, and has continually evolved with regular updates delivering significant stability and performance enhancements. With a focus on stability, Cakewalk by BandLab is taking things to the next level. Advanced audio processing, integrated collaboration tools and cutting edge features, and hundreds of bug fixes are just the start of what users report to be the most stable version they have used.

Here are the key points you should know:

  • Cakewalk by BandLab is 100% FREE
  • Not a limited edition of the SONAR application
  • Significantly optimized and runs faster than SONAR
  • Works with all VST plug-ins, including those bundled with SONAR; note that Cakewalk by BandLab includes only a subset of the plug-ins that shipped as part of SONAR Platinum, due to licensing restrictions
  • Exclusively a 64-bit application, but you can continue to load most 32-bit VST plug-ins using BitBridge
  • Fully compatible with all SONAR projects
  • We’re totally committed to continually evolving and enhancing Cakewalk by BandLab

Create a BandLab account

Create a BandLab account to get started - it's free and only takes a few seconds.


Experience the new Cakewalk forums

Check out the new Cakewalk forums to get the latest news on product releases and peer-to-peer support on Cakewalk products.


Get Cakewalk by BandLab for free


 

If you haven't already done so, create your free BandLab user account.

  1. Click here to download and install the BandLab Assistant desktop app
  2. Launch BandLab Assistant and sign up or log in to your BandLab account
  3. Go to the Apps tab to install Cakewalk
  4. As a Cakewalk by BandLab user you’ll enjoy updates as they are released via BandLab Assistant


FAQ

We have heard concerns from many existing SONAR users who have been reluctant to upgrade to Cakewalk by BandLab, such as:

  • "I paid for SONAR and don’t want to lose any features"
  • “Cakewalk is free and must therefore be a downgrade from SONAR”

This FAQ answers common questions to alleviate any concerns you may have about upgrading to Cakewalk:

 

Is Cakewalk by BandLab the same program as SONAR Platinum?

Yes, Cakewalk by BandLab is the exact same core program as SONAR Platinum, only with a new name and many improvements.

The key difference is that Cakewalk does not include some of the 3rd party plug-ins that were bundled with SONAR Platinum. Because Cakewalk is now a free program, it does not include any licensed 3rd party plug-ins. However, if you have SONAR installed, the 3rd party plug-ins will also be available in Cakewalk, ready to use in all your projects.

Is it really free?

Yes, 100%. Cakewalk does not require a subscription, and no credit card is required. You simply need to create a BandLab account in order to use the latest version of Cakewalk.

Will I lose any SONAR features I paid for?

No. Cakewalk is the same core program as SONAR Platinum, minus a few 3rd party plug-ins. If SONAR is already installed on your computer, all 3rd party plug-ins and SONAR content will be available to use in Cakewalk.

Will SONAR be updated?

The application named SONAR was discontinued in October 2017 and is no longer maintained or supported. Instead, SONAR lives on under a new name Cakewalk by BandLab, which is vigorously supported.

Cakewalk picks up where SONAR Platinum left off, and has continually evolved with regular updates delivering significant stability and performance enhancements. With a focus on stability, Cakewalk by BandLab is taking things to the next level. Advanced audio processing, integrated collaboration tools and cutting edge features, and hundreds of bug fixes are just the start of what users report to be the most stable version they have used.

Regardless of whether you own SONAR Platinum, SONAR Professional, SONAR Artist, or SONAR Home Studio, Cakewalk by BandLab has evolved to become a far superior program.

Can I keep SONAR if I install Cakewalk?

Yes. Cakewalk installs in a separate location and does not overwrite your existing SONAR program. Please note, however, that SONAR has been discontinued and is no longer supported.

Does Cakewalk by BandLab require an Internet connection to work?

Cakewalk by BandLab requires an Internet connection to install, activate and update, but an Internet connection is not needed to run the program.

Have existing bugs in SONAR Platinum been fixed in Cakewalk by BandLab?

Yes. We’re picking up right where SONAR Platinum left off, and have made hundreds of bug fixes since the initial release of Cakewalk by BandLab.

Will Cakewalk by BandLab support my SONAR Platinum plug-ins?

Yes – as long as they are installed on your computer and have been previously authorized, any SONAR compatible plug-ins will be compatible with Cakewalk by BandLab.

Why do I need a BandLab account?

You need a BandLab account to sign in to BandLab Assistant. BandLab Assistant allows you to download and authorize Cakewalk by BandLab and any future releases of or updates to Cakewalk by BandLab

Does this mean I have to be active on BandLab’s social music platform?

Signing up for a BandLab Account doesn’t mean you have to use BandLab the social music platform (although there are plenty of good collaboration options and other features in there – you can read more about them here). Try them out, all of BandLab’s features are free!

Should I upgrade from SONAR to Cakewalk?

In short, YES! You have nothing to lose, and everything to gain:

  • Cakewalk is 100% free
  • Cakewalk is the next generation of SONAR
  • Your SONAR projects are fully compatible with Cakewalk
  • Regular updates delivering significant stability, performance enhancements, and new features, plus compatibility with future Windows updates
  • Your SONAR Platinum plug-ins will continue to work in Cakewalk
  • SONAR and Cakewalk can co-exist on the same machine
  • Cakewalk has a thriving online community

Side-by-side comparison of Cakewalk and SONAR

FeatureCakewalkSONAR
🔥 Updated since Oct 2017, over 600 bug fixes✔️
ARA 2 support✔️
zplane élastique v3 audio stretch and pitch shift✔️
Comping and take enhancements✔️
Smart tool customization✔️
VST sandbox scanning✔️
Advanced Piano Roll editing✔️
Ripple Edit indicator✔️
Custom channel colors in all themes✔️
Multi-clip slip stretching✔️
Language switching✔️
Export Control Bar module✔️
Center Control Bar modules✔️
Selection markers✔️
Max number of tracksUnlimitedUnlimited
Max Bit Depth / Sample Rate64-bit float / 384kHz64-bit float / 384kHz
Max number of effects / instrumentsUnlimitedUnlimited
Max simultaneous I/OUnlimitedUnlimited
Internal mixing engine64-bit64-bit
Windows x64 SupportNative x64Native x64
Windows x86 32-bit native app✔️
ProChannel • PC76 U-Type Channel Compressor
• PC4K S-Type Bus Compressor
• QuadCurve Equalizer
• Tube Saturation
• Softube Saturation Knob
• Console Emulator
• FX Chain
• BREVERB 2 Cakewalk ProChannel
• Tape Emulator
• REmatrix Solo
• Style Dial FX
• PC76 U-Type Channel Compressor
• PC4K S-Type Bus Compressor
• QuadCurve Equalizer
• Tube Saturation
• Softube Saturation Knob
• Console Emulator
• FX Chain
• BREVERB 2 Cakewalk ProChannel
• Tape Emulator
• REmatrix Solo
• Style Dial FX
• Bark of Dog
• Panipulator
Drum Replacer✔️✔️
Melodyne✔️
(trial)
✔️
(essential)
Surround mixing✔️✔️
Theme Editor✔️✔️
VocalSync automatic audio alignment✔️✔️
Mix Recall✔️✔️
Patch points and Aux tracks✔️✔️
Plug-in load balancing✔️✔️
Plug-ins:
MFX MIDI plug-ins✔️✔️
Essential Suite (Sonitus fx)✔️✔️
Boutique Suite • TH3 Cakewalk Edition
• BREVERB SONAR
• TH3 Cakewalk Edition
• BREVERB SONAR
• Analog TrackBox
• PX-64 Percussion Strip
• TL-64 Tube Leveler
• TS-64 Transient Shaper
• VX-64 Vocal Strip
• Tone2 Bifilter2
Classic Creative Suite✔️
Studio Mixing Suite (Nomad Factory Blue Tubes bundle)✔️
Engineering Suite✔️
Instruments • Studio Instruments Suite
• Cakewalk TTS-1
• Studio Instruments Suite
• Cakewalk TTS-1
• AAS Lounge Lizard Session SONAR Edition
• AAS Strum Acoustic Session SONAR Edition
• AAS Ultra Analog Session 2
• Cakewalk Sound Center
• Cyclone
• Dimension
• DropZone
• PSYN II
• Rapture
• Roland GrooveSynth
• RXP REX Player
• Session Drummer 3
• sfz Sound Font Player
• Square I
• True Pianos
• XLN Audio Addictive Drums 2
• Z3TA+

Check out the following URLs to learn more about Cakewalk by BandLab and its community: