I'm no loop guru or master loop slicer, so take my review with some salt, but I have to say I found Cyclone to be a powerful tool. I won't describe its abilities, since others have done so adequately. What I will say is that when I load up a nice ACIDized perc loop and transform it into a drum kit, that I more often than not end up with some of the most musical percussion I've ever heard. The fact that it is MIDI controllable allows me to play that kit from my PX7 pads, which transforms Cyclone into a *brilliant* tool for my purposes.
Would I have bought Cyclone if it didn't come with SONAR free? Honestly, I don't know. I do know that if Cakewalk stopped bundling it, I'd be quite upset.
A few downsides - the UI took a LOT of getting used to for a novice looper like myself. I still get confused by certain things. Cakewalk could have done a better job, IMHO, at making this thing more intuitive. But, for the price, I guess I can't complain.
In summary - an essential tool for loopers, and a great tool for everyone else.
Cyclone Rocks!. I love this box. Others have pointed to its similarity to pHATmatic PRO. Well, kind of. I bought PPro also, which I think is better than Cyclone at distorting and effecting loops and slices, reversing direction, etc. However, I find Cyclone to be much more adept at slicing and dicing, and in choosing and re-arranging/re-ordering individual slices of the loop or of multiple loops. Triggering sequenced slices from individual loops is dead easy and logical, and triggering them live in sync with SONAR is a snap.
Earlier versions of SONAR allowed one to paint, tempo match and pitch shift individual acidized loops onto audio tracks, which could previously be done only with ACID (et al). Now, Cyclone allows me to set up a single instance of 16 loop pads, and slice and re-sequence individual slices in any way I like, and trigger them accurately via MIDI (or live) in perfect sync with my SONAR project, without glitches, pops or crackles.
Any time I use loops now I automatically bring them into Cyclone.
I also like Cake's 'FxPAD' (DX, $19) as an excellent complement to Cyclone for adding morphing and modulating effects either in time with the project, or freeform. This combination somewhat matches (and in some ways surpasses) the effects advantage of PHat.
I don't look at the Cyclone versus Phat Pro decision as an either/or question. Both have their place in a certain type of project. Phat is better at mangling and twisting. Cyclone is better at slicing and arranging. I'm glad I own them both, and I can't wait for the DXi version of Phat
Think of Cyclone as aspects of a groovebox, Ableton Live, Recycle and Acid all rolled up into one plugin.
You can easily add Acidized loops and one-time hits, and then manipulate the hell out of them -- re-ordering the beat slices, or mixing and matching them from different beats. Then you can trigger them from a MIDI device or the virtual pads.
All the pads are independent from each other, and can be set up to follow or ignore project pitch, project tempo, whether they should loop or be one-time hits, and whether or not they should stop playing when you let up on the pad/MIDI key (this feature is called latch).
Since it's a DXi2, it has multiple outs, so you can route each pad to its own track for unique FX and automation.
It sounds really good, especially the v1.1 update, which auto-fades the beginnings and ends of slices to prevent pops and clicks.
There are no presets, but that doesn't bother me much, because I would rather just use it with whatever loops are appropriate for the project I'm working on.
There's a graphic event editor, sort of like a step sequencer, where you can manipulate loop slices and move them from one pad to the other. Each pad's events can be set to have a different loop length.
Bad News: Cyclone is only available with SONAR2
Good News: It's free with the SONAR2 purchase
I've been playing with Cyclone for a few days now. It's a good idea, one that has it's precedent in the Dr. Rex player in Reason, and some hardware samplers such as the Yamaha CS6X. It's really like merging ReCyle and a hardware sampler into one plug-in, only you are using ACIDized loops instead of .rex files. That's okay, as I feel that ACID and Sonar's time-stretching functions are better for sustained material than ReCycle is. However, you can ONLY import ACIDized waves or plain old wave files, no .rex files at all. Once you have the loops in there, you can alter the pan, pitch, and level of each slice, again, very much like Dr. Rex. Unlike Dr. Rex, it pretty much ends there. There are no filters, no LFOs, no nothing to really manipulate the sounds AFTER the slices are panned, pitched, amplified. The GUI is dead easy to understand, and there's a chapter in Sonar's manual on operating it. There are no presets, I've not even seen a tutorial on the disc, unusual for Cakewalk. However, it's pretty easy to figure out, and like the rest of Sonar 2, stable as heck. I suffered a dropout when trying to change the pitch of a slice while everything was playing, but nothing serious. It IS a lot of fun to play with, and having sixteen loops at a time sync'ed up can be a blast. It doesn't tax the CPU a bunch, either. It makes for a nifty arrangement tool, but I can't help but wish you could manipulate the sound of the slices more. It may usher in another rash of "stuttering" sample-based music, ala Art Of Noise, I'm afraid. I haven't had to call Cakewalk's support for some time, but if I did, I'd probably get the same well-rehearsed easy answers I've gotten in the past. It's always the drivers, you know. Seriously, tho', they help work it out in the end. It was a free plug-in with Sonar 2, so VFM is high enough. As a synth/sampler, it's okay, but as an arrangement tool, it really shines, and that's how it'll get used most often around here.
I only use ACID loops for ancillary percussion in some projects, however Cyclone makes this less of a chore and more of a creative experience because now I can "play" the loops live instead of hunting and dragging across the SONAR timeline.
Basically Cyclone allows you to assign individual loops to MIDI notes, the main advantage being that the loops automatically stretch to project tempo (and also pitch for pitched loops). Once the candidate loops (up to 16 per instance) are all loaded it's just a matter of arming the MIDI track and playing the various loops in real time. You can also mangle/rearrange/tweak indiviual slices, which is powerful, but was not immediately intuitive (to me)
The quality of the stretching is on par with SONAR and ACID, not bad at all.
My main complaint would be that there are two few pads for holding samples (limited to 16 per instance) 24 or 32 would be a better number. Also it's not possible to play loops using the built in virtual keyboard
On a positive note up to 16 stereo outputs are available (enabled by the Multi-output support in DXi 2.0)
Overall I think it's pretty useful instrument, especially if vendors provide pre-packaged loops. I look forward to ACIDizing and loading up high-end performance libraries like Spectrasonics BackBeat and GrooveMasters Drums and triggering these live.
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