Sonar RIP: Gibson Pull The Plug On Cakewalk

Cakewalk Sonar is no more. It's been discontinued. This DAW bites the dust. Gibson Brands have just announced Cakewalk will no longer be developing software with immediate effect!  

Most Windows PC musicians and producers will know about Cakewalk, the music making company acquired by Gibson in September 2013. Sonar has been a powerful, and popular DAW on the PC side of the studio for some years now. Unfortunately, after just four years under the Gibson Brands umbrella it's time to bid a fond farewell to Cakewalk and all its music software products.

Gibson gave Cakewalk just four years before closing it down which will undoutedly upset the Sonar faithful. Back in 2013 Gibson Brands (Gibson guitars, Onkyo, TEAC, TASCAM, KRK, Stanton, and Cerwin Vega) evidently wanted Cakewalk to be "a vital part of the pro audio group". They intended for development of Sonar to continue, "As a market and technology leader with many industry firsts, SONAR will be the flagship product of TASCAM Professional Software. The program will continue to innovate in exciting, unique, and even surprising ways."

One surprising innovation is to shut it down completely. But we're perhaps being too harsh. It was always going to be tough to compete against the most popular DAWs on PC like Ableton Live, Pro Tools, Cubase, FL Studio and PreSonus Studio One. It's very possible they weren't able to pull in new users in the way that new kids on the DAW block, Bitwig, have been able to.

Sonar was a mature DAW and had some good features including Melodyne built-in, Drum Replacer, Vocal sync, and lots more that made it a good choice for recording and mixing. But features are irrelevant if you can't grab marketshare.

Cakewalk Sonar. RIP

Here's the statement Gibson Brands Inc. released about the closure of Cakewalk:

"Gibson Brands announced today that it is ceasing active development and production of Cakewalk branded products. The decision was made to better align with the company’s acquisition strategy that is heavily focused on growth in the global consumer electronics audio business under the Philips brand.

Cakewalk has been an industry leader in music software for over 25 years by fusing cutting-edge technology with creative approaches to tools that create, edit, mix, and publish music for professional and amateur musicians. Gibson Brands acquired Cakewalk in 2013."

So, if you're an existing Cakewalk Sonar user there are plenty of DAWs to switch to. Which will you choose? Or perhaps you're thinking of staying with Sonar for as long as possible? (If it ain't broke, don't fix it).

But here we are. Another DAW bites the dust. We hope all those working on Sonar find employment elsewhere if needed where they can put their audio development skills to help the industry continue to evolve and innovate.


Rounik is the Executive Editor for Ask.Audio & macProVideo. He's built a crack team of professional musicians and writers to create one of the most visited online resources for news, review, tutorials and interviews for modern musician and producer. As an Apple Certified Trainer for Logic Pro Rounik has taught teachers, professional... Read More


I started using it back in the early 2000's when I worked at my first studio. We had moved to Cubase after awhile, but I still used it at home.

I still use it off and on for my older projects, but moved back to Cubase as my primary DAW when 8 came out.
Ah, Gibson...where good companies go to die. I could count at least 10 companies they've killed over the decade, including another early DAW: Opcode Studio Vision. While I hadn't used Sonar or Cakewalk for years, thinking of those products brings back fond memories.

Back in the early '90s, Performer (by Mark of the Unicorn) was the pre-eminent MIDI sequencer for Mac. That left PC-compatible users out in the cold until Cakewalk and (another early DOS-based sequencer) Cadenza hit the scene. We sold a ton of those programs to our customers at the music store, and almost all of them purchased a multi-port ISA MIDI interface card. Remember the $595.00 Roland MPU-401? (Yes, $600 bucks for a 1-in / 2-out MIDI interface. [No audio in those days unless you had an Atari Falcon030 or an Amiga...sort of.]) Remember going through IRQ hell trying to get the interrupts assigned without conflicts? (The outputs would usually work because there were more addresses than interrupts; you wouldn't get MIDI input unless you had one extra interrupt [aka IRQ.]) Wow, this is bringing back memories alright, not all of them entirely fond.

At any rate, I'm sorry to see Sonar become another extinct 'DAWnosaurâ„¢'.


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