Cakewalk (formerly known as SONAR) is a powerful and versatile DAW by Bandlab. This guide will show you how to load a multi-timbral synth, such as Equator, into Cakewalk for use with BLOCKS.

Short answer

Enable Channel Aftertouch in the Preferences menu, create a MIDI track with the Block receiving on all channels, and load a multi-timbral plugin such as Equator through Cakewalk's Browser.

Detailed answer

The Seaboard Block and Lightpad Block use multiple channels of MIDI to achieve polyphonic dimensions of touch. Cakewalk is very easy to use with BLOCKS because it accommodates multiple MIDI channels on a single track and can appropriately host a multi-timbral plug-in like Equator.

Step 1: ROLI Dashboard Settings

  • Connect your Blocks and launch ROLI Dashboard
  • If you're using a Lightpad Block, load the "Note Grid" app and then click the "Edit" button.
  • Ensure that the MIDI Settings in ROLI Dashboard are set as shown below.

We have selected:

  • MIDI Mode: MPE
  • MPE Zone: Lower
  • No. MIDI Channels: 15
  • Pitch bend range: 48 semitones

Step 2: Add the necessary file paths

Open your Cakewalk project.

Go to Edit -> Preferences (or simply hit 'P') to open the Preferences menu.

Go to VST Settings and click 'Add' then add the following file path:
C:\Program Files\Common Files\Steinberg\VST2

Scan your plug-ins in the Scan Options just below the VST Scan Paths.

Step 3: Enable Press Dimension (Aftertouch)

In the Preferences menu ('P'), under MIDI click Playback and Recording.

Ensure that the "Channel Aftertouch" box is checked and click OK when finished.

Step 4: Create a MIDI Track
Go to Insert ➝  MIDI Track

Step 5: Set Block as input

Click and drag the bottom of the MIDI track until you can see the Input and Output options.

Select your Block and choose "MIDI Omni".

Step 6: Set up your multi-timbral plugin

Go to the Browser, select "Plugins" and click the Synth Icon labeled "Insert Virtual Instruments." The icon will change to the word "Instruments" once clicked.

Select a multi-timbral plugin like Equator.

Step 7: Insert Soft Synth Options

Ensure that you are using the following settings then click OK:

We have selected:

  • All Synth Audio Outputs: Mono
  • Synth Property Page

Step 8: Equator’s MIDI/MPE Settings

By default, Equator's MIDI/ MPE Settings will already match those that we select for ROLI Dashboard in step one. But since a mismatch of settings in ROLI Dashboard and Equator can cause silent notes or incorrect pitch bends, it's worth double-checking them now.

  1. Open the Equator plugin from your MIDI track in Cakewalk.
  2. Click on menu (☰) in the top right and select MIDI/MPE Settings.
  3. Ensure that Equator’s MIDI Settings match the ones we set in ROLI Dashboard in Step 1 (by default they should already be correct). Now that Equator is listening for MIDI on the same channels that the Seaboard is sending it, there will be no missing notes.

Equator MIDI MPE settings page standard MPE setup

Step 9: Recording

Simply arm the track and record in the normal way. All notes will be recorded onto the MIDI track and audio will come from the plug-in’s stereo output.