EXCLUSIVE: Cakewalk and Roland launch V-Studio 700

Cakewalk has unveiled the Sonar V-Studio 700. This is a complete music production system that comprises both software and hardware elements.

Developed in collaboration with Roland, Cakewalk's parent company, it's fair to say that, in terms of scope, this is unlike any other product we've seen before. As its name suggests, the central software component is a copy of the Sonar 8 DAW, and a copy of the Rapture soft synth is included too.

Unlike other DAW manufacturers, Cakewalk has never previously produced a dedicated hardware controller for its flagship software, but it has one now in the shape of the VS-700C. This offers nine 100mm touch-sensitive motorised faders (you can tab between fader banks), an Access Panel section for quick call-up of different Sonar views and a bank of 12 continuous push-button rotary encoders.

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Also onboard are a transport section, jog and shuttle wheels, surround sound-friendly controls and a multi-function T-bar. LCD displays enable you to keep track of what's going on.

That's the hardware control sorted, then, but what of audio I/O? Sonar V-Studio 700 handles this with a separate box: the VS-700R. This is a 24-bit/192kHz USB 2.0 audio interface that offers a total of 20 inputs and 26 outputs, with 18 inputs and 24 outputs being available simultaneously.

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A range of connectivity options is available - it's safe to say that you could record pretty much anything through this bad boy - and digital effects can be applied to the inputs.

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Audio interfacing isn't the VS-700R's only job, though. Remarkably, it also contains a full Roland Fantom VS hardware synth that can be accessed as a VST instrument within Sonar 8. This imposes no load on your host computer, and comes with 1,400 sounds and the option to add more via an ARX expansion board.

To summarise, then, the V-Studio 700 is a DAW, controller, audio interface and hardware synth (we should also point out that the VS-700C is suitable for video editing). Setting up the system looks easy; one cable connects the controller to the interface and this hooks up to a PC over USB.

Cakewalk says that the V-Studio 700 will be shipping in February 2009 and that it'll be available for around $4,000 in the US. International pricing will be sorted out by local distributors - we're guessing that the system will cost in excess of £2,000 in the UK.

This sounds like a lot, but having seen the V-Studio 700 in action, MusicRadar has to say that it could be a price worth paying. You do get plenty of bang for your buck with this one, but those who can't justify spending so much will be pleased to learn that Cakewalk hopes to add more affordable products to the range in the future.

Hopefully, one of these will be a standalone controller: at the moment, the VS-700C has to be bought and used with the VS-700R, but existing Sonar users might already have a good quality audio interface and will question whether they can justify investing in a product that includes another one.

You can get just a small taste of what the VS-700C can do for your workflow by watching our demo video below - head on over to the dedicated Sonar V-Studio website for more clips and detailed specs.

Ben Rogerson
Deputy Editor

I’m the Deputy Editor of MusicRadar, having worked on the site since its launch in 2007. I previously spent eight years working on our sister magazine, Computer Music. I’ve been playing the piano, gigging in bands and failing to finish tracks at home for more than 30 years, 24 of which I’ve also spent writing about music and the ever-changing technology used to make it.