Developer Notes: SONAR X3 Comping


SONAR X3 continues building on take lanes and goes into overdrive. We baked several ground breaking workflow enhancements including the new comp record mode, speed comping, integration with dim solo, rapid click audition and so much more.  In addition we integrated comping with the smart tool for improved workflow.


It all starts with the recording

The default in the normal template is a new comping record mode.  Simply record multiple takes and previous takes are muted with regions created for the new takes.


If you’d like to record with a classic mode instead, you can easily change the record mode.  Simply click and hold the record button:

  • Comping (new default)

    • You don’t hear previously recorded material while recording

    • New takes mute previously recorded material.

  • Overwrite

    • You don’t hear previously recorded material while recording

    • New material overwrites previous material

  • Sound on Sound

    • You hear previously recorded material while recording

Click to isolate

With multiple takes, simply use the smart tool to click the lower portion of a clip to choose it.  This action will mute other takes in the same time region.  Hold the Ctrl key to mute/unmute.

Swipe to pick the best parts

With the smart tool just drag over the portion of the clip you’d like to choose.  The region is split and other takes muted to enable quickly choosing the best take.


Speed comping

Welcome to accelerated comping.   Comp edits select clips so all you have to do is press Shift + Space to enter audition mode.  Use the cursor keys (up/down/left/right) to move effortlessly throughout the audition regions.  When you hear something you like, press the enter key to choose it.  This far surpasses other outdated approaches.

In audition mode, looping is on, leaving you free to concentrate on choosing the best parts.

Also,  during playback, use the smart tool to click isolate clips. The now time will be set to start that region, making it trivial to check alternate versions from the same playback position. No need to start and stop the transport.


Hearing in context

Previously with audition mode,  everything other than what’s selected is muted.

Now with dim solo turned on, auditioning will dim or reduce the gain of other tracks rather than mute them.  Stay in the creative zone.


Comp overview:

There’s now a comp track in the main track above the take lanes.  This shows what you hear and changes to reflect the current set of promoted clips. The comp track is always dynamically composed from the takes – it is a representation of the data which lives in the takes.

Using the comp track you can move the set of data as well as access 3 new comp specific commands.

  • Delete Muted Takes

    • Removes muted clips from all the take lanes on the track


  • Remove Empty Take Lanes

    • If after various edit operations there are empty take lanes, you can quickly remove them.


  • Flatten Comp

    • Render all the various clips to a single clip once you are satisfied with the results.  A new take is automatically created with the rendered comp and also data locked.  It’s data locked so you are all setup to create alternate comps without modifying previous work.


Clicking the Mute button on the new comp take will unmute the other takes in order to allow creating additional comps if so desired.


And More


Automatic crossfades on comp edits

SONAR X3 adds the ability to have automatic short crossfades on comp edits.  These can range from 0 – 25 ms.  All the previously mentioned operations work with this.  There is a new option in preferences to set this:

Easy adjustment of comp boundaries

Move the smart tool in the lower portion between two comp clips and the cursor changes to a cross crop tool.  Effortlessly adjust the boundary between muted and unmuted data by dragging left or right to get things in just the right place.


Easy adjustment of take crossfades

On the same border between comp takes you can drag up and down to change the crossfade duration.


Even with the fades, you can still drag left/right to adjust the placement.  Something that was simply not possible in prior versions.


Dealing with overlaps

In X3 we made a big effort to solve the cause of overlaps on takes lanes that result in audio you hear but cannot see.  This means that apart from crossfades, every other edit operation on take lanes will crop out the overlapped parts.  Note this happens per lane.  For example, dragging a 1 measure clip to measure 1 beat 1 on top of 4 measures of audio on take 1 will crop out the 1st measure.

after dropping on measure 1

Here’s some of the scenarios that were updated to address this:

Clip durations including crop, slide, slip stretch and other commands that affect length

Clip positions including nudge, revert, set start time and drag drop as well as quantize

New clips including file import, paste, drag from browser and explorer



But for those that want to have multiple clips sounding at the same time on tracks, just use a different take lane.  The resulting mix of data will be reflected in the comp clip on the main track.

Using the same example, here’s the result by dropping instead on take 2.

Note the comp clip now shows the merged data accurately reflecting what you hear.

Multitrack this

Not only do the comping actions work on single tracks, they can work on multiple tracks at once.

The selection group on record options were updated.

Recording multiple tracks at once will group according to the option.  Here’s an example:

Now clicking the clip on T1 will select on both tracks.  If auditioning, this would sound both.

Here’s the same example after swiping to isolate the range between measure 2 and 4.


Split clips for time regions would quickly become unusable when swiping ranges.

If 2 clips are abutting or crossfaded, and contain identical audio data (though cropped differently, in other words “split”), the split can be healed. Healing removes splits.

Example case where healing will occur:

  • With two clips on two takes spanning Measures 1-3, swipe measure 2 to isolate it.
    • The clips are split into 3 clips: 1:00:000, 2:00:000, 3:00:000

  • Next, swipe from measure 2.5 – measure 3.5.
    • Here, a heal would occur at measure 2 and measure 3, resulting in 3 clips: 1:00:000, 2:03:000, 3:03:000

A smarter way to record

Record at your best with the new accelerated comping features.

Altogether quite a collection of tools and commands to get you to polished tracks faster.

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