Acoustica Mixcraft 6 review
A surprisingly well-featured and usable digital audio workstation at an attractive price
Acoustica’s Mixcraft is one of the most affordable digital audio workstations on the market. The standard edition costs a reasonable $75 to download (around £50), with the premium Pro Studio edition coming in at $150. You can install the software on as many machines as you like, so long as you’re the main user – and, unlike some other DAWs, the standard edition isn’t crippled in any way; it supports as many tracks, plugins, sends and buses as you care to create.
The difference between the two packages is which plugins you get. Mixcraft comes with 25 very usable effects, including EQ, delay, reverb and chorus, plus a multiband compressor. Pro Studio adds more professional tools, including harmonic exciters, a tape simulator and iZotope’s Mastering Essentials.
Similarly, Mixcraft comes with 11 instruments, including drums, organs, a good spread of sampled sounds and the Alien 303 bass synthesiser – and you’re free to install additional third-party VST 2 and DirectX effects and instruments too. Pro Studio adds the powerful ME80 and Memorymoon synthesisers, along with the Pianissimo grand piano, which on its own sells for $69.
The experience of making music with Mixcraft is a strangely inconsistent one. The timeline and transport controls are slick and colourful, as is the mixer; elsewhere you run into boxy buttons and drab dropdowns that hark back to Windows 3. The bundled Acoustica effects look cheap too: it can feel like you’re using a shareware tool rather than a pro audio workstation.
Still, the important thing is how everything sounds, and here we’ve no complaints. Several of the included instruments are inspirationally sumptuous. The creative workflow is clear and straightforward, too, with arming a track for recording a matter of a few clicks, and chopping and arranging takes a breeze. Every audio and instrument clip on the timeline has a convenient preview, mute and loop button, its own volume envelope and a title bar for easy dragging. The buttons and dropdowns in the mixer and track controls are clearly labelled, with the mouse pointer helpfully changing shape as it passes over sliders and knobs. A simple tabbed interface at the bottom makes it easy to get around.
|Price ex VAT||£42|
|Price inc VAT||£50|
|Ease of Use rating||5|
|Features & Design||4|
|Value for Money||6|
|Software subcategory||Audio production software|
|Processor requirement||1GHz or higher|
Operating system support
|Operating system Windows Vista supported?||yes|
|Operating system Windows XP supported?||yes|
|Operating system Linux supported?||no|
|Operating system Mac OS X supported?||no|