Cakewalk by BandLab : the free DAW of your dreams

Cakewalk by BandLab is a powerful and completely free DAW, well suited for professional use as well as home use. It is exclusively for Windows and if you are into music making with DAW you should try this free gem.

I’ve tried Cakewalk some time ago but at that time there was an annoying registration process aided by an additional app you had to launch before using this software, in the latest version I tried this process has gone and finally you have only to register on the site creating a free account, the software will activate by itself once you have registered.

As said Cakewalk by BandLab is an advanced digital audio workstation (DAW) with a very friendly user interface. Originally called Sonar, the DAW was acquired by BandLab Technologies in 2018 and relaunched as Cakewalk by BandLab.

The main feature of course is that Cakewalk is completely free. During the installation process users get full access to all its features and future updates.
But a complex app without the tools to learn it fast is almost useless so Cakewalk offers an help system that makes learning the DAW a quick and streamlined process helping newcomers with tips and suggestions. This feature, along the incredibly high flexibility of the user interface makes Cakewalk a good candidate for users that has never used DAWs before.

User Interface

As said, one of the strongest features of Cakewalk is its customizable user interface.  

When you select a layout or workspace, you have the ability to choose from a set of predefined templates, each one designed to help with a specific purpose.

Selecting the Mix or Arranger workspace, for example, shows you only the tools and windows most relevant for mixing or arranging respectively.

This is very helpful for beginners because the interface is simplified and streamlined, hiding all the tools and windows that are not involved in the operations users are going to achieve.

Cakewalk has a basic workspace that includes a help module docked at the bottom-right corner of the screen. This module gives clear information about the functions along with the usage of all the options and controls, making it a great asset for new Cakewalk users. Just hover over a button, and the Help module will tell you informations about that control.

It is also possible to contract/expand/move the track/console areas, as well as dock/undock them as needed.

All the changes you make can be saved to customize your very own workspace and recall it later using the workspaces menu. Moreover there is a View Menu that allows you to add different views to your workspace.

Mixing Console 

Cakewalk has a powerful mixing console that is designed to streamline and speed up the mixing process.

One of Cakewalk’s most useful features is ProChannel. ProChannel is a collection of audio processing modules available by default on each channel of the console. It includes a compressor, equalizer, tube saturation, and a console emulator.

You can freely move/arrange the modules in the effects chain and insert/replace/remove modules.

Cakewalk’s console consists of the individual tracks to the left and the buses to the right. The three default buses in Cakewalk are the Master bus, the Metronome Bus, and the Preview Bus, and any bus you create is added further to the right of these.

In an effects chain in Cakewalk, the signal goes from top to bottom. Cakewalk makes it easy for users to change the order of effects by simply dragging the plug-ins up or down in the FX Rack.

Another neat feature is the Automation Write button that allows to automate track parameters like volume or panning. When this feature is enabled, the changes in knobs and faders are recorded as the track plays. You can later manually fine-tune the automation using the pen tool.

The Mix Recall option is another useful feature that allows you to revert to – or toggle between – previous states or ‘scenes’ in the mix.

Stock Plugins/Effects 

Cakewalk comes with a set of inbuilt plug-ins for effects and virtual instruments. 

Most of the stock plug-ins are effects plug-ins, and options for virtual instruments are limited.

Cakewalk offers only a drum kit, a bass guitar, an electric piano, and a string section. These plug-ins are quite decent, however, and can be used to create relatively realistic instrument sounds.

MIDI and AUDIO tracks

Cakewalk allows users to seamlessly record and edit external audio.

You can simultaneously record multiple tracks using different microphones. You overwrite existing recordings, or even record sound on sound.

Cakewalk also lets you record MIDI without any difficulty. There is a great piano roll view you can use to edit the recorded notes, fine-tune the timing, use quantization or shift/snap particular notes to the grid.

Cakewalk is able to convert audio data to MIDI data. For this feature all you need to do is drag an audio clip to a MIDI or Instrument track and the audio data will be converted to a MIDI clip.

Cakewalk uses the Melodyne engine – which is offered as an add-on during installation – to analyze the audio and convert it to MIDI.

External Plugins 

VST plug-ins can be used in Cakewalk, VST3 are support.

Where to get Cakewalk

Here is Official BandLab website where you can download Cakewalk!

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