Cakewalk is a digital audio workstation (DAW) software that allows you to record, edit, mix and master your music. It is one of the oldest and most established DAWs in the market, having been around since 1987. Cakewalk has gone through many changes and updates over the years, and the latest version, Cakewalk by BandLab, is a free download that offers a comprehensive set of features and tools for music production.
In this review, I will give you an overview of Cakewalk’s main features, strengths and weaknesses, and how it compares to other popular DAWs. I will also share some tips and tricks on how to get the most out of Cakewalk for your music projects.
Cakewalk’s Main Features
Cakewalk has a sleek and intuitive user interface that is easy to navigate and customize. You can drag and drop windows, panels and tools to create your own workspace layout. You can also switch between different views, such as Track View, Piano Roll View, Console View, Staff View and Matrix View.
Cakewalk supports unlimited audio and MIDI tracks, as well as unlimited buses and effects. You can record audio with up to 384 kHz resolution and 64-bit depth. You can also import and export audio in various formats, such as WAV, MP3, OGG, FLAC and more.
Cakewalk has a powerful MIDI editing and sequencing engine that allows you to create complex musical arrangements with ease. You can use the Piano Roll View to edit MIDI notes, velocities, controllers and automation. You can also use the Staff View to edit MIDI data in standard musical notation. You can also use the Matrix View to create loops and patterns with drag and drop functionality.
Cakewalk comes with a large collection of virtual instruments and effects that cover a wide range of musical genres and styles. You can use the Browser window to access and load any of the included plugins or third-party VST plugins. Some of the notable plugins that come with Cakewalk are:
– TTS-1: A general MIDI sound module that offers 256 high-quality sounds.
– SI-Bass Guitar: A realistic bass guitar instrument that features various articulations and amp models.
– SI-Drum Kit: A versatile drum kit instrument that features multiple kits and mic positions.
– SI-Electric Piano: A classic electric piano instrument that emulates the sound of Rhodes, Wurlitzer and FM pianos.
– SI-String Section: A lush string ensemble instrument that features various sections and articulations.
– ProChannel: A modular channel strip that offers various modules for EQ, compression, saturation, reverb, delay and more.
– TH3 Cakewalk Edition: A guitar amp simulator that features over 70 models of amps, cabinets, pedals and effects.
– BREVERB 2 Cakewalk Edition: A high-quality reverb plugin that features four algorithms: Hall, Room, Plate and Inverse.
– Rapture Session: A sample-based synthesizer that offers over 4 GB of sounds and 450 presets.
– Z3TA+ 2: A waveshaping synthesizer that offers over 1,500 sounds and a flexible modulation matrix.
One of the main strengths of Cakewalk is its price. It is completely free to download and use, which is a rare offer for such a full-featured DAW. You can access all the features and tools without any limitations or restrictions. You can also get free updates and support from BandLab, the company that acquired Cakewalk in 2018.
Another strength of Cakewalk is its compatibility. It works well with Windows 10 operating system and supports most audio interfaces and MIDI controllers. It also supports VST plugins, which means you can expand your sonic palette with thousands of third-party instruments and effects.
A third strength of Cakewalk is its stability. It runs smoothly and reliably on most systems, without crashing or freezing. It also has a fast workflow and performance, allowing you to work efficiently and creatively.
One of the main weaknesses of Cakewalk is its learning curve. It is not the easiest DAW to learn or master, especially for beginners. It has a lot of features and options that can be overwhelming or confusing at first. It also has some quirks and bugs that can be frustrating or annoying.
Another weakness of Cakewalk is its documentation. It does not have a comprehensive or user-friendly manual or tutorial system that explains how to use all the features and functions. You may have to rely on online forums or videos to find answers or solutions to your problems or questions.
A third weakness of Cakewalk is its innovation. It does not have many unique or cutting-edge features that set it apart from other DAWs. It does not have features such as clip-based editing, groove extraction, pitch correction, or advanced automation. It also does not have a built-in sampler or drum machine.
Cakewalk vs Other DAWs
Cakewalk is a solid and reliable DAW that can handle most music production tasks and genres. However, it may not be the best choice for everyone, depending on your preferences, needs and goals. Here are some comparisons of Cakewalk with other popular DAWs:
– Cakewalk vs Ableton Live: Ableton Live is a DAW that is designed for live performance and electronic music production. It has a unique Session View that allows you to launch and manipulate clips and scenes in real time. It also has a powerful sampler, drum machine, and audio warping engine. Ableton Live is more expensive than Cakewalk, but it offers more creative and experimental features and tools.
– Cakewalk vs FL Studio: FL Studio is a DAW that is popular among hip hop and EDM producers. It has a user-friendly and intuitive interface that allows you to create beats and melodies with ease. It also has a large library of sounds and plugins, as well as a flexible mixer and piano roll. FL Studio is cheaper than Cakewalk, but it offers more fun and inspiring features and tools.
– Cakewalk vs Logic Pro: Logic Pro is a DAW that is exclusive to Mac users. It has a professional and elegant interface that offers a comprehensive set of features and tools for music production. It also has a rich collection of sounds and plugins, as well as a smart tempo, flex time, and flex pitch engine. Logic Pro is more expensive than Cakewalk, but it offers more polished and sophisticated features and tools.
– Cakewalk vs Pro Tools: Pro Tools is a DAW that is widely used in the music industry for recording, editing, mixing and mastering. It has a standard and streamlined interface that offers a high-quality audio engine and workflow. It also has a powerful editing and automation system, as well as a robust plugin compatibility. Pro Tools is more expensive than Cakewalk, but it offers more professional and industry-standard features and tools.
Tips and Tricks for Using Cakewalk
Here are some tips and tricks that can help you get the most out of Cakewalk for your music projects:
– Use the Smart Tool to switch between different editing modes with your mouse cursor. You can use the Smart Tool to select, move, split, trim, fade, draw or erase audio or MIDI data with ease.
– Use the Control Bar to access the most common functions and settings in Cakewalk. You can use the Control Bar to play, record, loop, metronome, transport, sync, snap, zoom, undo, redo, save or export your project.
– Use the Browser window to browse and load any files or plugins in Cakewalk. You can use the Browser window to drag and drop any audio or MIDI files or VST plugins into your project.
– Use the Inspector window to view and edit the properties of any track or clip in Cakewalk. You can use the Inspector window to adjust the volume, pan, mute, solo, input, output, effects or automation of any track or clip.
– Use the Console View to mix your project in Cakewalk. You can use the Console View to access the faders, meters, panning knobs, mute/solo buttons or ProChannel modules of any track or bus.
– Use the Skylight Interface to customize your workspace layout in Cakewalk. You can use the Skylight Interface to resize, rearrange or dock any window or panel in Cakewalk.
Cakewalk is a free DAW that offers a comprehensive set of features and tools for music production. It is compatible with Windows 10 operating system and supports VST plugins. It is stable and reliable on most systems.
However, Cakewalk is not the easiest DAW to learn or master. It does not have many unique or innovative features that set it apart from other DAWs. It also does not have a comprehensive or user-friendly documentation system.
Cakewalk may be suitable for you if you are looking for a free DAW that can handle most music production tasks and genres. However, you may want to consider other DAWs if you are looking for more creative or experimental features and tools.
I hope this review was helpful for you. If you have any questions or comments about Cakewalk, feel free to leave them below.