Randy's recent post on ambience tips in Aria has prompted me to post my own experiences with Sonar X1.
When I first started out I worked entirely through MIDI in Sonar and only exported as an audio file when my project was complete.
Then I changed to working with audio files having bounced my Aria MIDI tracks to individual audio tracks and worked on these to craft my performances. Now I seem to have encountered a problem working this way with my present project.
My present score has thirty tracks (audio) and I judiciously set all my individual volume and panning levels. For my ambience I use the superlative 'Altiverb'. I added three stereo buses and loaded an instance of Altiverb into each bus.
I need the three buses for various instrumental grouping and effects reasons including using the superb speaker placement feature of my beloved Altiverb.
Then ….. then ….. arghhhh … all my careful, judicious panning flew out the window. It was as if my score was plunged into mono .. everything dead centre.
Then I realised that each bus had its own panning dial and that this overrides the individual panning of every instrument/track routed through the bus. I deleted the buses and voilà my panning returned and I had my stereo score back … er .. but no effects .. no Altiverb.
It makes no difference if the tracks are stereo or mono. They can be panned fine but as each bus has its own panning every track routed through that bus loses whatever panning is applied to the individual tracks.
It seems I have two choices:
1. Either add Altiverb to every track .. which would be OK with a small score but thirty tracks is not really an option.
2. Re-record each audio track with Altiverb added.
I tried my second option above and re-recorded every audio track and reset my volume and panning levels.
The result! Well, I could then place my instruments as I wanted them add my effects and I had my ambience but .. . Well I felt that the result lacked the overall feel of unity and as of an orchestra. Instead I felt it was thirty individual musicians .. which of course it is .. but lacking the unity and of working together as a group of musicians .. as an orchestra.
My solution .. well .. my response was to return to the MIDI workflow.
I've now completely reworked my score in Sonar and setup MIDI tracks. Now I have three instances of Aria each with 'Stereo Stage' and 'Ambience' disabled. I've loaded Altiverb into each of the Aria 'FX' strips and setup Sonar to control Aria's instrument 'faders'.
Now I can position each instrument/track effortlessly and now I have my orchestra back. Wonderful!
However, I think most people work through audio tracks so where did I go wrong? I must have missed something somewhere. How do folk use buses and still manage to achieve the panning they want?