Questions & Answers

Cakewalk Sonar Refugee: best way to migrate standard midi projects with as much data as possible?

+13 votes
asked Nov 22, 2017 in Studio One 3 by andreasschwabe1 (1,270 points)
edited Nov 23, 2017 by andreasschwabe1
Hello. I'm the vanguard of what will be at least some migration from Sonar. I've been using Cakewalk/Sonar for just over 20 years aaaand I'm done. Too much drama. The writing was on the wall when "lifetime subscription" cost a mere $99 for us long-timers. "One last bit of cash please."

The wall now has new writing which reads "PreSonus Studio One 3." It also reads, "am I going to have to manually assign all my instruments and everything when I port files over from Sonar to S1.3?"

I'm assuming I need to export my Sonar projects to a Midi1 and then simply import. Is that my best/only option? Is there something that allows a more seamless port between the two, or is it really just MIDI1 ?

Sonar exports MIDI0, MIDI1, RIFF MIDI0, RIFF MIDI1 - I've never seen anything else even use RIFF MIDI x

In any case I'm hoping to be able to export files that won't cause me a lot of headaches. I don't have much of anything with tempo tracks, so that's a non-issue (been reading a bit about that).

And hello.


FOLLOW UP: Thanks for the feedback. It looks like it's a manual process. It's to be expected. It's less of a hassle with audio only projects and OMF files to export out of SONAR, but that's the minority of my work at the moment. I've been good about labelling tracks with synth and patch info, and that comes through in MIDI 1 files. It primarily means reloading Synths and VSTs.

It's going to be a hassle, but I already suspect it's going to be worth it. I'm already really diggin' the interface and workflow.

8 Answers

+3 votes
answered Nov 28, 2017 by andreasschwabe1 (1,270 points)
Best answer
I've made an exciting discovery thanks to a dumb experiment "just to see."

Porting MIDI files from one DAW to another is a nightmare. MIDI 0 and MIDI 1 are basically ignored and even OMF for audio is sketchy (hence, everyone just exports stems). MIDI has been a real problem. Studio One has made it VERY simple. This is much easier with a dual monitor setup, or a BFMonitor (yuge). You'll see why in a second.

This process works for both MIDI and Audio clips.

1. OPEN SONAR and the project you wan to port to S1

2. OPEN Studio 1 and start a blank song

3. In S1, create a MIDI instrument track (and the patch) corresponding to the first MIDI track you want to port.

4. In SONAR, select all the clips on a midi track (you can even select EVERYTHING) and drag & drop it in S1. Move it to where you need it and you're done.

Note 1: You can drag/drop from SONAR to S1, but NOT from S1 to SONAR.

Note 2: If you're moving MIDI or audio groove clips, you need to bounce them to a new clip (right click, bounce to clip). It just makes it easier. I'm actually bouncing all my midi clips too.

I have to say it's a great compromise, and if I hadn't tried it just to see, I wouldn't have believed it.

I'm happy to report that I ported a 16 instrument 32 track SPlat project into a 16 folder, 32 track song file in S1 - it took 25 minutes. It was my first attempt and I was learning (like the groove clip thing) by trial and error.

For me, this is a big win (and thanks to PreSonusSoft for such great implementation of drag/drop).
+2 votes
answered Nov 22, 2017 by nickdavy (550 points)
As another SONAR refugee I would also be interested in the answer as I prepare to install Studio One 3 tomorrow and start the steep learning curve before I can migrate.
+1 vote
answered Nov 22, 2017 by vasilykorytov (11,560 points)


moving projects between daws is expensive anyways. you may purchase a non-cheap 3-rd party utility for converting from one DAW to another, but if you're using the built-in DAW instruments and effects that won't make much more that exporting midi, as far as I believe. I didn't try any of them though. I know there's (they offer a free convertation of one track), but did not use it.

you may also want to export and import rendered audio stems (that is rendered audio that will keep your instruments, effects and automation) to the new DAW, but in this case you won't be able to edit instrument parameters or something like this. I actually prefer this way when I started the project in one DAW, but want to mix and master it in other. though you will lose the mixing part, you will have to re-do in a new DAW.

that's all I have to share at this moment with my experience as a person moving projects between my DAWs. it's an expensive process always, as I said. more questions welcome.

+1 vote
answered Nov 22, 2017 by barrygalvin1 (380 points)
I have actually been doing this for about two weeks. Before the announcement was made. Looks like I got it right for once.

I had already decided to go to Studio One and to learn it I moved a CD project over song by song.

I take a screenshot of the project, bounce each midi to it's own clip, extend to the start, groove clip them, then drag into my target folder and rename with original name. Then bounce audio clips to one clip each, extend to start and export audio using built in functions. Set to 48Khz/24bit before exporting.

I then rebuild the song in S1 3.5 with these tracks.

Since these were songs from the 90's I did not have instruments, automation. Anyway wanted a new start for this project and learned Studio One at the same time.

Good Luck.
+1 vote
answered Nov 23, 2017 by erickgalenko (180 points)
Well, that makes three of us Sonar Refugees! PreSonus may have to create a welcome to the neighborhood for all of us that will be migrating over from Sonar.

It sounds like you have worked out a process to move your MIDI files over. If you don't mind, I would like add to your comment that the interface is impressively logical and easy to interact. I would recommend other Sonar refugees to come on board. The water's fine! I was recommended to Studio One by a Gear Tech at Sweetwater music that I have known for years. Since I bought all my gear from them, he knew my threshold for pain as well as potential hardware pitfalls. He was spot on! This DAW plugged right into my environment despite the issues I experienced with the recent Windows 10 Update that jacked up all of my audio hardware & software.

Thanks PreSonus for developing a very intuitive and "Sonar refugee" friendly DAW!
0 votes
answered Nov 29, 2017 by williamanderson7 (140 points)
I just bought this as a Sonar replacement too, and I figured out you can shift-select or Ctrl-select multiple tracks within sonar and drag them into S1 as well. That saves time. If you select too many tracks at once, you get different errors, just wait a few seconds and try again with fewer selected tracks. Having everything named in Sonar also saves time once it's in S1. For my MIDI tracks I had to make sure I had the external instruments set up and the midi channels set before I got anything that resembled music. After I figured out the drag/drop thing. everything else I need was in the manual - except the fact there seems to be no midi event list like sonar has, and that may be a show stopper for me because of the large number of midi tracks I have to convert to audio. Otherwise, so far so good.

Once I had the audio dropped in, I was able to put the Sonar console view up on one screen and then start adding effects to tracks in S1 to match on the other screen. I haven't looked at automation from sonar to S1 tracks yet, but if I figure that out, I'll post something. Being able to bring that over easily would be great.
+1 vote
answered Dec 30, 2017 by LucasTX (2,680 points)
HI - this is the process I use for transferring my Sonar / Cakewalk audio / MIDI songs to Studio One. The "drag and drop" approach described below doesn't work for me because I am unable to have Sonar and Studio One both running at the same time (conflicts over audio drivers I think). For me, the process described below has been reliable:

1. Open song in Sonar

2. Remove FX from any audio tracks (this will ensure you don't accidentally bake the FX into the audio track)

3. Use "Bounce to track" to bounce each audio track individually to a new audio track (this will ensure all clips in the track become a single wave file, and ensure alignment of the tracks if there are silent parts)

4. In the "File" menu, export as OMF - ensure the box "Reference Audio Externally" is ticked. This will create a folder with a separate file for each audio track.

5. Now for the MIDI - select "all" (or at least all of the tracks with MIDI).

6. In the File menu save as MIDI Type 1.

7. Close Sonar.

8. Right click on the MIDI file created in step 6, select "open with" and open with Studio One (if Studio One doesn't appear as an option you may need to navigate to C: program files / presonus/ studioone.exe and select that)

9. The above step will create and open a new song in Studio One with all of your MIDI tracks (you will still need to assign instruments). Tempo will be automatically imported.  You may also have some blank audio tracks - to avoid confusion, I delete the blank audio tracks - since the proper audio tracks get pulled in in the next step.

10. From the "song" menu in Studio One select "import file" then go to the OMF folder created in step 4 above and select all of the audio tracks

11. All of the audio and midi tracks from your Sonar song should now be in your Studio One song - and you will have to add back in your FX, fix up the instruments, etc. etc.

I hope this helps.
0 votes
answered Feb 8, 2018 by christophermander1 (410 points)
Thanks to everyone for their suggestions. Has anyone found a way to monitor the volume and pan levels (sliders and meters) for MIDI tracks on external instruments? I used to be able to do this in Sonar Platinum which had a TRACK mixer, where you could see all your audio and MIDI tracks together in the mixer (MIDI tracks for both VST and external instruments). I can't find my external MIDI tracks in the S1 mixer. Or in the external devices page, which just seems to have hundreds of rotary dials that only apply to one channel. I could work with volume sliders and meters (and pan) for all tracks per instrument on the same page for the External Device.

Has anyone found how to do this in Studio One or found an acceptable workaround? Thanks.