How To Quantize Midi In Cakewalk: A Complete Guide


To quantize midi is a vital editing function in Cakewalk by Bandlab. Quantize can be used to correct timing mistakes made when recording from a MIDI device or adjust audio clip timings.

Few musicians can perform in perfect time. You will likely play a few notes ahead or behind the beat or hold them longer than intended. These timing errors can be corrected with Quantize commands.

Having worked with Cakewalk (previously known as SONAR) for so many years, I have had to deal with quantization issues in midi operations severally.

Here I will share all I know about how to quantize midi in Cakewalk.

What is quantize?

To quantize is to align clips or midi notes to a grid on the timeline.

It helps us tighten up sloppy performances and improves precision.

If Your quantization is always at 100%, you may have a machine gun-like feel to your notes. Hence, it’s always better to allow some humanization when quantizing your notes or clips.

How does quantization work?

Cakewalk internally measures the note length, duration set, and the position of the notes or clips to be quantized and automatically pulls the notes to the nearest grid based on the strength set within the quantization dialogue.

How to quantize in Cakewalk

Cakewalk by bandlab is capable of various quantization operations. Most digital audio workstations (DAW) have inbuilt functions to quantize Midi; however, it’s not as easy to quantize audio files. Cakewalk makes audio quantization operation simple.

Basic quantize command

quantize midi interface
Midi quantize command

Adjusts start time and duration for selected notes to align with a fixed-size grid.

The keyboard shortcut for this is “Q.”

Groove quantize command

Groove quantize interface in Cakewalk by Bandlab

Creates a grid on an existing piece of music (the groove pattern) and adjusts the velocity, start time, and duration of the selected notes to align with the grid.

Cakewalk audiosnap

Audiosnap interface

The audiosnap algorithm detects transients in the audio clip. Usually, transients are the points of beat accents. Based on a set threshold hold and duration, the clip can be quantized like a regular midi clip with the wave file stretched to match the quantize settings.

Cakewalk vocal sync

Vocal sync

Vocal sync helps align two similar wave files to each other but with one as the reference file. It is an Audio Random Access (ARA) compatible plugin bundled with Cakewalk.

Cakewalk quantize midi plugin.

Midi quantize plugin

It is a real-time midi plugin that adds even more quantization options to your midi clips and notes. Unlike the previous quantize options, you hear the changes right away. Learn how to use VSTs in Cakewalk.

Basic Midi quantize operation.

A simple midi quantization operation follows the following sequence:

  1. Select the clip you want to quantize. You may also Lasso-select (by selecting the clips while holding down the right-click mouse button) the actual midi notes if in the piano roll.
  2. Go to the toolbar and select “process” and “quantize” from the dropdown. Alternatively, press the “Q” key on your keyboard. It brings up the “quantize dialogue.”
  3. Set the resolution of the quantize operation. It should be based o your grid settings. You may also enter a tick value. The default here is the 16th note.
  4. Next, you go to the options lane and set the desired strength. Default is 100%; the higher the percentage, the tighter the quantization.
  5. In most cases, that’s all that’s required. However, you may decide to adjust the start/end time, note duration, etc., under the ‘change’ section of the dialogue.
  6. You can click the audition button to check your settings. It plays the quantized clips.
  7. Just click “ok” when happy with the result.


Quantization is one procedure used very often throughout the composition stage of music production. Understanding the details and all the settings in Cakewalk will enable you to create exciting timing, tighten your groove and even add some bounce if desired. To know more about Cakewalk by band lab, check out my article Cakewalk by bandlab.


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