Acousttica MixCraft 5 is an affordable , powerful choice for home recording buffs
(Dave Molter | Posted 2010-03-06)
A flexible, powerful, easy-to-use Windows-based home recording software package for less than $80? If that seems impossible, I urge you to download a trial version of Acoustica Inc.'s new Mixcraft 5. recording software, available on the Internet at www.acoustica.ocm for $74.95 for Windows 7, Vista and XP.
Three years ago, seeking to record simple demos on my PC at home, I purchased Steinberg’s Cubase 4, mainly because the software had a great reputation and I was able to get it at an educational discount. Still, the software set me back $400, and the learning curve was rather steep . I had recorded on four track analog machines for years and was familiar with tracking and overdubbing and knew computer interfaces well enough to make editing less than a chore. Still, I found Cubase frustrating and, after a few months, I pretty much gave up. .
A friend had ProTools, but I couldn’t see sinking that kind of money into software I didn’t plan to use professionally. He also had GarageBand, but I had a PC. What to do? An Internet search led me to Acoustica Inc. and Mixcraft, 4.0. Acoustica offered a free trial, and even better, they bundled its virtual drum software, Beatcraft, for less than $100. I had been using Acoustica’s CD Labelmaker for some time and knew their software was reliable. I downloaded the trial program and had a track laid down, with drums, keyboards and bass, within three hours. I bought the package the same day. I found it intuitive, easy to use, and flexible, and I expect similar results from Mixcraft 5, just released (March 2010) with an upgrade price of $19.95 for previous users and a first-time user price of $74.95.
The new Mixcraft 5 is faster and more powerful than its predecessor. Here’s what you’ll need to run the software:
* 1 GHz CPU, 2 GB Ram
* Windows® 7, Vista, or XP
* Sound card, USB, or Firewire sound device
The Mixcraft interface (pictured) will be familiar to anyone who has used recording studio software before with a display of tracks, individual channel controls, timeline, etc. Mixcraft also Includes over 3000 professionally produced music loops and sound effects in dozens of popular styles, an improved collection of virtual instruments, ranging from modeled vintage synths to high-quality sampled acoustic instruments – guitars and keyboards as well as strings, drums & percussion, and 20 high quality effects, ranging from studio standards such as reverb, chorus and EQ, to high-end guitar amp simulators, vintage tube EQs, and more.
For Mixcraft 5.0, Acoustica has added a raft of great features, including the ability to edit video, and an improved mixer interface. Here are some highlights:
Mixcraft 5’s Video Track allows loading and editing of video files. Easily cross-fade from one video clip to another. Remix the audio, add a soundtrack, and effortlessly render your video project to a new video file.
New Automation features provide automated control of all parameters and controls in any VST effect, VSTi instrument, or Acoustica effect. All tracks can contain an unlimited number of automation curves on an unlimited number of effects and instruments. In addition, you can even automate the track volume & panning, and more.
The Master Track allows you to smoothly automate the global effects parameters and master volume, for smooth and easy fade-ins and fade−outs for your mixes.
Send Tracks (aka Auxiliary Busses) let you route audio from multiple Audio Tracks and Virtual Instrument Tracks to a single set of audio effects. For example, use one reverb effect on multiple tracks. Audio can be routed both pre-fader and post-fader to the Send Tracks, and effects on the Send Tracks can all be easily automated.
Mixcraft 5’s powerful Mixer Interface provides a convenient and familiar interface for mixing a project. Complete with easy access to volume, pan, mute, and solo controls, as well as effects and instrument dialogs, our Mixer Interface also includes a 3-band EQ on every track, so you can get every instrument fitting perfectly into the mix.
WaveRT Exclusive Mode (available in Windows 7)
WaveRT Exclusive Mode (available in Windows 7) provides ultra-low-latency, solid audio performance on most audio hardware without any special sound card drivers. With WaveRT Exclusive Mode, Mixcraft can now interface directly with the audio hardware, bypassing the operating system for truly stunning audio performance.
Mixcraft 5’s Notation tools allow you to create, edit, and print your MIDI data in familiar music notation format. Record your own MIDI tracks and instantly generate high-quality professional sheet music based on your performance. Or, construct your own musical composition note-by-note with traditional music notation.
Musical Typing Keyboard (MTK)
The Musical Typing Keyboard lets you play and record Mixcraft 5’s virtual instruments without the use of a MIDI keyboard. Use your computer’s typing keyboard to play notes and chords. Control pitch bend, modulation, and velocity. Sustain notes with a simple press of the Shift key. You can even transpose by octaves and semitones.
The Recording Count-In feature, which can be turned on and off in Mixcraft’s time display, tells Mixcraft’s metronome to count for several measures before recording begins. The length of the count-in is even user-adjustable, between 1 and 32 measures.
Lots of New Loops, including the following song kits:
New Instruments & Effects, including:
Lounge Lizard Session (by AAS)
Lounge Lizard Session by AAS (a $100 value!), an award-winning vintage electric piano emulator. Recreate the sounds of the ‘70s with unbelievably accurate models of the classic Fender Rhodes™ and Wurlitzer™ electric pianos.
Messiah (by Gunnar Ekoranas)
Messiah by Gunnar Ekoranas (a $30 value!), a phenomenal model of the classic Prophet 5™ polyphonic analog synthesizer. Messiah goes far deeper than the original hardware synthesizer, featuring 8 voices of polyphony, a powerful arpeggiator, distortion and delay effects, wave morphing, and a whole lot more, with truly stunning analog sound quality.
Pultronic Tube EQ (by G-Sonique)
The Pultronic Tube EQ by G-Sonique (a $60 value!), a detailed recreation of the classic vintage vacuum tube-based equalizer found in top studios throughout the world. Warm up your tracks or add a completely new character to your sound with the Pultronic Tube EQ’s array of tube models and killer presets.
Alien303 Bass Synthesizer (by G-Sonique)
The Alien303 Bass Synthesizer by G-Sonique (a $25 value!), which emulates the sound of both vintage and modern bass synthesizers, and is ideal for adding thick, thumping synth-bass to you techno, electronica, acid, and rave tracks.
Shred Amp Simulator (by AcmeBarGig)
The Shred Amp Simulator by AcmeBarGig, a complete guitar amp and cabinet suite containing 5 classic amp heads, 17 cabinet models, and 6 powerful effects. Shred faithfully models classic British and American tube heads, and adds powerful room modeling technology. From crisp cleans to roaring leads, Shred gives you instant access to $20,000 worth of classic guitar gear.
Acoustica's Expanded Instruments
Acoustica’s Expanded Instruments collection, which includes new sample-based instrument sounds, including a large collection of pads, synths, and much more!
Link audio, MIDI, and video clips together so they’ll select and move as a group.
Record Directly to High-quality Compressed OGG Files
Record directly to high-quality compressed OGG files in Mixcraft 5. OGG files can take up 1/10th of the hard drive space of uncompressed WAV recordings. This is ideal for collaborators exchanging projects over the internet, laptop users, schools, and anyone recording long speeches or conferences.
Mix to New Audio Track (aka Bouncing)
The new Mix To New Audio Track (aka Bouncing) feature allows you to mix down an Audio Track or Virtual Instrument Track, complete with all effects and automation, to a new audio track. This is a great one-click method to save CPU or “lock in” the edits and effects that have been applied to a track
Mix to New Clip (aka Merging)
Likewise, the Mix To New Clip (aka Merging) feature allows you to merge several audio or MIDI clips together to form one single clip. This is a great way to “lock in” edits that have been made to a recording, combine multiple loops into a single new loop, or mix multiple MIDI passages together into one MIDI clip.
Improved Seamless Looping Mode
Mixcraft’s improved seamless looping mode lets you smoothly loop sections of your project with no audio gapping.
Noise Reduction Technology
Every sound clip now features noise reduction technology. Mixcraft 5 will automatically find and analyze a section of noise, and you can reduce the noise level or eliminate it entirely.
Color−coded CPU Meter
Color-coded CPU meter on the status bar helps you keep track of your computer’s processing power at all times.
Archive your entire project to a ZIP file with one click.
Numerous performance enhancements have been made throughout Mixcraft’s audio and graphics engine, including SSE2 optimizations, multi-processor file decoding, and zero-CPU track muting. Mixcraft is now faster and more powerful, allowing for more tracks and effects with lower latency than ever before.
Support for up to 16 Processor Cores
Support for up to 16 processor cores, double the number of cores supported by Mixcraft 4, ensures Mixcraft will take full advantage of tomorrow’s cutting-edge multi-processor computers.
Improved Graphics & Visual Effects
Improved graphics and visual effects give Mixcraft 5 a sharp, polished and professional look.
Multi-monitor support in Mixcraft 5 lets you take full advantage of computers with multiple monitors.
Mixcraft also allows you to mix files down to several common formats and to burn them to CD from within the program.
Overall, I expect Mixcraft 5 to take up where its predecessor left off to offer even better recording at a very reasonable price.
Download the free Mixcraft 5 trial at www.acoustica.com.
Dave Molter (“Laklander”) has played bass professionally for 45 years. He is a freelance writer and moderator of the Music Gear Review bass guitar forums.