Cakewalk Updates SONAR, Intros New Membership Model

SONAR-computer2015 NAMM Show: Cakewalk has announced a new SONAR product lineup and a new model for buying and owning DAW software.

With the new SONAR, the company is introducing a Membership model. Now, users have the option to choose either a traditional upfront payment, or to make monthly payments. New users receive 12 months of Membership free, while for current SONAR users, Membership renewal—which is priced similarly to a traditional lower priced product upgrade brings new updates every month instead of yearly (and sometimes overwhelming) updates.

The three new versions of SONAR are more clearly differentiated to focus on specific recording needs.

Here’s the official video intro:

All three version have the same core features:

  • Touch control
  • unlimited tracks/FX/Sends/Busses
  • VST3/VST2/DirectX compatibility
  • video track
  • support for high-resolution audio via DSD compatibility and sample rates to 384 kHz
  • enhanced MIDI editing
  • Mix Recall for switching quickly among different mix options
  • advanced publishing options
  • innovative “one-stop solution” effects chains
  • amp simulations
  • advanced comping

Here’s an overview of the three SONAR versions:

  • SONAR Artist ($99) adds to the core feature set with 19 bundled effects and 11 virtual instruments that focus on music creation and songwriting.
  • SONAR Professional ($199) folds in the analog-style, expandable ProChannel Console Strip that allows creating/customizing virtual console architectures, as well as Melodyne Essential pitch correction with ARA integration, and Addictive Drums 2 Solo Edition—50 effects and 18 virtual instruments in total, including the vintage sound of Blue Tubes effects, convolution reverb, and the surgical precision of linear phase EQ and dynamics.
  • SONAR Platinum ($499) features a wide variety of tools, plug-in effects, and instruments. With advanced tools like Console and Tape emulation, VocalSync for tightening vocals or matching dialog to picture, 21 virtual instruments, 57 effects for mixing and mastering (from vintage to cutting-edge), convolution reverb, step sequencer, and improved audio quantization/stretching, Platinum provides power tools that complement the superior workflow.

A detailed comparison of the SONAR versions is available at the Cakewalk site.


All three SONAR versions run on Windows 7/8, will be available globally in late January 2015 through music and sound retailers as well as the Cakewalk Store. Each SONAR version can be purchased up front, or with a monthly payment option. After 12 months, anything acquired during the Membership is fully authorized and never expires—regardless of whether Membership is renewed or not. See the Cakewalk site for details.

21 thoughts on “Cakewalk Updates SONAR, Intros New Membership Model

    1. It’s probably the best deal in Windows DAWs and has lots of users. I’ve never met somebody that uses FL Studio, though it apparently has more users than just about anything.

  1. I use it. All in all it’s nothing fancy. Just a good DAW. It’s a good software if you’re the kind of person who’s interested in the music rather than the DAW itself.
    It does everything use you need. It’s useable, it’s feature packed, it’s reasonably priced.

  2. Cakewalk through a third-party vender also offers a version of sonar that is totally accessible for blind and visually impaired users using screen-reading software–cool stuff.

  3. SONAR Rocks as a DAW

    To TC: Really !!! If you are only going to swallow what the “education” system serves up, well you deserve to be ignorant.

    Many other DAWs are great and most of them have basically the same application principles.
    I am very comfortable with SONAR.

    1. Software rental isn’t exactly a new thing. The whole business model is moving that way and if you don’t like it you better speak up now. Adobe’s entire product line is already there.

      1. I stopped purchasing Adobe products because of that. Still on CS6 and have no desire to rent 1’s and 0’s. At least Sonar still has the purchase option.

        1. I started renting Adobe products because its much cheaper than buying it every year if you wish to have the latest version.

    2. Sonar’s membership model has two options: (1) As before, you can buy the latest version which you then own. You also get free updates for one year. (2) You pay for each month that you use Sonar. Once you stop paying you can’t use Sonar. If you pay for 12 continuous months, you own that version.

    3. I will never ever update my Adobe InDesign to the rental crap. Companies have the right to change their business model when they please. And we customers have the right not to buy it. That way we can eliminate companies that abuse a certain level of monopoly. This is the way evolution has been working for eons and the reason planet earth is populated by intelligent beings. Or is it?

  4. The subscription based model is a screw job. Pay forever, but never really own anything. Like renting a house. Adobe can get away with it because they basically have a monopoly on graphic design software. It sucks, and if you’re just an individual, and not a larger organization, the ongoing costs are a real problem.

    When I see more companies jumping onboard with the subscription model, I see it as adversarial behavior. I Should be able to choose when/if I want to update software because, as many of us know, constantly being forced to update, ends up creating comparability problems with other software and hardware. To Hell with companies that adopt the sub model!

    1. People seem not to be paying attention: this is not “subscription” or “rent”. You can either buy a full license up front, or pay monthly until you payed 12 months. The license is yours, forever, so you basically get a full new version, since one year has been traditionally Sonar’s upgrade cycle. No difference from the ownership side at all.

    2. Mahhk

      Sorry if the man is getting you down – but if you actually check out SONAR”s deal, the monthly option looks pretty good.

      It’s more like a ‘rent-to-own’ option. You can try the full version, without having to shell out hundreds of dollars, and if you don’t like it, you cancel your membership. On the other hand, once you’ve made payments for a year, you own that version of the app.

      And it also allows you to do exactly what you say you want – quit being a member, stay on a version you like and start it back up whenever you damn well feel like it and then upgrade to the latest version.

  5. I use Sonar X3 Producer and love it. I even use the VS-700 system with it. It works really well for my needs. I don’t understand the hatred Sonar seems to get, I’ve yet to find a DAW I like better and I’ve tried all the big names.

    That said, I will not be upgrading to this strange business model. For what I do, X3 covers everything, anything else would just be another toy to play with. Now if they did a major upgrade to the Matrix view I might be tempted, it’s not broken or anything but better support for Midi and Midi controllers would be nice.

  6. Roland dumped this money pit after a few years. If a company that makes fake versions of their old products such as Roland doesn’t want it, nobody wants it.

  7. the latest sensible version was 8.5. it was always primarily midi sequencer. probably, the best for windows.
    i use 10+ hardware synths and mostly want to edit recorded midi first. i want to be able to edit notes in staff view quickly (don’t like piano roll). i want to set velocity with one click of mouse. newer versions, starting from X1 are useless for me. i have no time to learn “old” DAW from the start. why should i ? i have to search for functions which were logically put in the same place for 20+ years. today i open X1 and don’t know where to find most of previous functions. it is like with Microsoft Office from version 2010. user interface changes for the sake of change. i can record and edit midi with sonar 8.5. i can record audio in 48kHz/24bit format with sonar 8.5. i don’t need the bells and whistles because it is fashionable today. because they look like its competitors. btw… when my son asked what DAW I use to record music, said: “it is an old program” … maybe that is the meaning of things?

    greetings to all cakewalk sequencer users.

    1. I have used Sonar now since version 3. Im not sure what you are talking about. I find every version has had great improvements in editing and workflow. I can do all you mention above in seconds, easier than Ableton. I don’t know why people bag Sonar , the only DAWs that can match it for editing etc would be logic or Pro Tools. Its endlessly powerful.

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