Incorporated in 2003, Sonoma Wire Works is a California company that develops software and hardware to help musicians enjoy playing and recording music on Mac, Windows and iOS. Sonoma's newest release is the DrumCore 4 AAX/VST3/AU plug-in with tempo-stretchable audio and MIDI drum loops of inspiring performances by hit-proven drummers in many styles, multi-velocity samples of their drum kits, a groove browser that makes it easy to find what you need, song timeline, mixer, effects and more. Use DC4's celebrity drum loops in your recordings royalty-free, or create your own grooves using the included drum kits, which are MIDI-mapped and customizable, making DrumCore easy to use with external controllers. Sonoma's was first known for creating RiffWorks guitar recording software with an easy-to-use InstantDrummer and great sounding effects. RiffWorks is used by thousands of musicians who want playing and composing to be as immediate and as fun as possible. Sonoma's iOS products include FourTrack, GuitarTone and StudioTrack. Sonoma's audio interfaces for Mac/Win/iOS are StudioJack Mini and GuitarJack Stage. StudioJack Mini is a compact, multi-platform, device-powered, 24-bit audio interface with studio-quality sound, and includes a mono Hi-Z ¼ inch input for guitar or bass, stereo mic/line ¼ inch input for vocals or keyboards, two analog input level knobs with LED metering, a stereo ¼ inch output for headphones, plug-in power for electret microphones, and all the cables you need to plug into your compatible Mac, PC, iOS and Android system. Both interfaces allow you to charge your iOS device while you play! For even more features, check out GuitarJack Stage which adds an expression pedal jack to control wah, volume, or other effects, 2 line level ¼ inch outputs (left and right) for monitors/amps/mixer, 5 knobs, 4 foot switches, and 4 LEDs to control MIDI enabled software, and a rugged aluminum chassis. The 24-bit AD/DA converters in SJM and GJS, by renowned audio designer Joe Bryan, move two channels in and out with clarity and vitality. All Sonoma's products are proudly Made in the U.S.A.
Summary/Short Description: Great sound quality. Generous variety of drum kits, and loops (audio & midi). Clean GUI. Easy navigation.
Starting with the user interface, it is clean, uncluttered, and easy to use. Navigation is simple and straightforward. Drag and drop for audio loops and MIDI clips into your DAW is an absolute breeze.
The 11 kits in DC4 Lite all have great sound, with good variety for a "Lite" version. Also, the sound of each kit piece can be altered in the "Kit" tab, with pitch, gain, and ADSR, per sample. You get 11 sample layers, which can overlap. DC4 even randomizes which sample is played when layers overlap. On top of all of this, you can easily use your own samples. Best of all worlds.
DC4 easily solves a common problem: dynamics can be off when driving one drum VI with another, or importing a MIDI clip. Some snare/tom/kick hits can get way too loud, and soft ones can disappear. This is easy to track down and fix in DC4. Just loop the section, find the offending pad, and adjust the level of whatever sample is off in the sample editor. The layout in DC4 makes this as easy as it gets.
I love the hat opening and closing articulations. You know. That Tsssup...Tsssup...ttt-Tsup sound. Tssup bro! Love it.
14 drummers are included, each with several audio & MIDI clips. * There are more audio clips than MIDI for most drummers, and the audio loops are summed, so you can't adjust individual kit pieces. However, there are still 800 MIDI loops, 500 of which are under the "Song Beats" icon. There are several variations of many loops, which work seamlessly together. There are also drop-down boxes that let you look for different styles, shuffles, time signatures etc. And everything can be time-stretched (audio or midi).
The effects sections are very streamlined, accessible, and simple to use. It's impossible to get lost, and you are very unlikely to have situations where a setting gets accidentally messed up, and you can't figure out what went wrong. Everything is easy to get to and intuitive.
So much to love that's it's hard to keep this short.
* I have never even considered doing a Youtube video. But maybe I'll try to do a demo. I'm very surprised that there's not many out there.
I'm a big fan of Riffworks. This was my first DAW. I still am pretty much using Riffworks exclusively even though I have other DAW's now.
The format is simple - songs are written in Riffs... why not record in them?
The technique is very simple - create a new riff by clicking a button. Choose your InstantDrummer (btw, the InstantDrummer track is a separate track, and does not count towards your max of 24 tracks), choose the intensity and pattern, then switch over to the layers view and click "record". It defaults to 120BPM 4/4 time 8 Bars (all of which are editable). Sonoma offers hundreds of Instant Drummers, all in a large variety of styles and genres.
The record function will automatically start the first track after a 8 bar click, and upon reaching the end of the 8th bar will start recording the second track. If you're set up and ready to go, you can continue recording up to 24 tracks. Each track is pannable, and you can add effects to any track. Riffworks comes with a large built in number of very nice effects, including a two-step flange that pans one flange left and the other right. In headphones, its a VERY nice effect with one flange at the top of the cycle at the same tie the other is at the bottom. Delay, reverb, octaver, compression, filter & wah effects, as well as phase, chorus and flange - all built in.
Track names are all editable, as well as Riff names.
Do you want to have the riff repeated but with a minor change? Just click "duplicate riff". This will copy the entire riff, and you can then edit whatever in that riff you want changed (say, adding a harmony guitar part). This is a VERY cool time saving feature.
Did you make a string noise? click the info window and "draw" a peak down, and it will silence that errant noise.
To build your song, simply drag your riffs into the song layer window. I literally can create a completed 5 minute song with 4 guitar tracks per song, two lead guitar tracks, 2 to 4 synth tracks, all panned and mixed, in two hours. As a song writing tool, Riffworks is absolutely amazing.
An overlooked feature is the "notes" window you can use to write down guitar settings, and even what synth patches you used.
Riffworks also can play REX2 files, a very handy feature which many of the Riffworks afficianados use in their tunes posted on Riffworld, a free service to any musician, but designed to function with Riffworks. Literally, after finishing my two hours of recording, at the press of a button and lots of typing descriptive labels for the song (you can upload it without any description if you're in a hurry), your song can be uploaded in about 90 seconds for a 5 minute song.
The important thing to keep in mind is - Riffworks is fun to use. Songwriting and recording is enjoyable, and not a chore. Try Riffworks T4 for a month (the 4 track free version) and I guarantee you'll spring for the full version. I've written over 100 songs in 1 year on Riffworks, and uploaded 80 of them to Riffworld.
See the screen shot on the Sonoma website to get an idea of how easy it is - and try it. i've been urging Sonoma to add VSTi support (they do work with VST right now, but not VSTi) and MP3 import/WAV import. Riffworks does Rewire into many other DAW's.
Not having much experience with DAW's, Riffworks is very straightforward and allows you to quickly assemble a tune by layering loops of guitar and building riffs from these loops. One of the best features of the software is the InstantDrummer section which is basically a series of drum grooves which you can place in a riff. Each InstantDrummer contains a series of parts that you can choose from and each part can then be varied by rotating some control knobs. This lets you change the feel of a drum part or add to it's complexity so you can obtain a lot of different sounds from an InstantDrummer collection. There are plenty of InstantDrummers in all different styles you can purchase. If you find auditioning loops and assembling them into a song cumbersome then you will likely really appreciate the InstantDrummer function. If you already have a loop library you can import that but unfortunately the software only supports REX format. I'm pretty sure you can use the IMPORT function but the software works best if you stick to the InstantDrummer files.
They include a collection of built in VST effects which are top notch and are always available to add to a single Riff or an entire tune when you are ready to mix it down.
The Riff feature makes assembling a song quick but might limit users because it's difficult to have parts layer over each other.. i.e. you play a guitar solo and at the end of the riff that contains your solo you would like to sustain that last note over the next riff. This is not possible by recording this as a Riff but you instead have to switch to a "song layer". A song layer is essentially a track that spans the entire timeline, which is determined by how many Riffs you have dragged onto the song timeline. It's pretty easy to understand once you have played around for while but if you start to make changes to the order of Riffs then you have to re-record anything in the song layer as it won't line up with your changes any longer.
Anything you record can be Riffcast to Sonoma's Riffworld servers to share with others. They are behind the times as there is no support to directly to any other social website but you can just export the file and upload it on your own.
Their Rifflink service should be the killer feature as it allows users to collaborate over the internet in almost real time. You can't use this to jam live but as soon as you record a loop it is automatically uploaded to the servers so anyone else in the session will hear it moments after you record it. The only problem with the service is there doesn't seem to be a whole of of activity so you might have to wait a few days until someone opens your session and adds something to it. Seems most users are just content with recording on their own and using the free Riffcast feature instead of collaborating. It's $60/yr which is quite reasonable but becomes harder to justify if you post something and don't see anyone add to it for days.. Something like OHMStudio is much more active and Riffworld needs to shake something up if they want to sell Rifflink bundles.
The software has been on sale for $49 for several months now even thought their website says it was temporary.. for $49 it's a pretty good value and it does come with several full InstantDrummer session and 60 days of Rifflink service.