Cakewalk Sonar and Cakewalk Next DAWs replace Cakewalk by BandLab

BandLab Technologies is relaunching one of music production’s stalwart DAWs, Cakewalk. Alongside a general rebrand, it will now be split into two versions, Cakewalk Sonar and Cakewalk Next, with the latter bringing the brand back to macOS.

READ MORE: You can now download a free sample pack of Yamaha DX7 drums from BandLab Sounds

Currently free to use and named Cakewalk by BandLab, the DAW has been a music technology legend for over 30 years. BandLab Technologies acquired the software in 2018 from Gibson Brands as a Windows-only product and has ensured the software remains supported and updated for Cakewalk users.

So, what does Cakewalk Sonar and Cakewalk Next mean for the DAW’s loyal community?

Cakewalk Sonar

Image: BandLab Technologies / MusicTech

Cakewalk Sonar is a clear tribute to the DAW’s original roots as, well, Cakewalk SONAR. However, this new version introduces a refreshed GUI and a “platform committed to ongoing feature development,” BandLab says. Cakewalk Sonar will still be a Windows-only product, and the company assures that it will be compatible with older projects created in past versions of SONAR and Cakewalk by BandLab.

The DAW will offer unlimited tracks, a 64-bit audio engine, VST3 and ARA support, a library of virtual instruments and effects – including VocalSync – and much more.

There’s no release date yet, but you can learn more about Cakewalk Sonar as it develops by signing up for updates via the new Cakewalk Sonar webpage.

Cakewalk Next

Cakewalk Next

Cakewalk Next is a little more mysterious. With a GUI that is strikingly similar to the BandLab app and browser-based DAW, Cakewalk Next seems to be primed for providing simple, powerful tools for creators, regardless of their music technology experience. It’s available for Windows and macOS and connects directly to the BandLab platform.

With BandLab Sounds integration, the DAW will let you drag and drop royalty-free samples straight into your project. You can also load in your favourite AU and VST plugins, create sounds with the Sampler and Pad Controller, and even write and edit lyrics as you build your song. To get started quickly, Next also has a host of templated projects to inspire your next track.

Details are pretty scarce right now, but you can request to join the beta program on the BandLab Next webpage.


Cakewalk by BandLab and the BandLab music creation platform are both free to use. Although BandLab will continue to operate as a free browser and smartphone app, Cakewalk by BandLab will be completely replaced by Cakewalk Sonar and Cakewalk Next.

However, whether these new DAWs will be free is currently unknown. BandLab Technologies says that “pricing for both Cakewalk Sonar and Cakewalk Next will be provided as the products get closer to launch.”

A new era for Cakewalk

Cakewalk Sonar
Image: BandLab Technologies

With the Cakewalk revamp, BandLab Technologies says that it is “cement[ing] its position as a leading provider of world-class music creation tools for artists at any level, using any device from mobile to desktop, at all stages of their creative process.”

It feels evident that these Cakewalk products will be more than standalone desktop DAWs.

Given that many music-making smartphone apps and grooveboxes allow you to export ideas as a project for a desktop DAW, such as Ableton Live for example, there is a higher demand for cross-compatibility. With BandLab connectivity touted for Cakewalk Next, you may well be able to bring your ideas directly from your phone to your desktop.

BandLab Technologies CEO and co-founder Meng Ru Kuok says: “We want to empower all creators by giving them a range of workflow options across our product offerings, and that includes a robust desktop ecosystem. We see it as one interlocking chain that supports creators throughout their creative process.”

“With BandLab, we’ve taken mobile creation possibilities to the next level, but we still think there’s more to deliver, especially as our users mature and interact with more creators and partners in their journey. Cakewalk now stands alone as an independent brand, with plenty more exciting news to come over these next few months.”

Last month, BandLab was valued at $ 425 million following a $25m Series B1 raise that the company says is “strategically directed towards key areas that further enhance the company’s commitment to accessible music-making and innovation.”

Editor’s note: BandLab Technologies is part of Caldecott Music Group, which is also the parent company of MusicTech, NME Networks


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