Sony Acid Music Studio 9 review
The Acid Pro was a revelation when it first appeared in 1998. It rejected the virtual hardware concept that dominated music-production software at the time, and presented a set of tools that played to software's strengths. It automatically matched the tempo and key of samples, letting users throw arrangements together at breakneck speed. Tracks to record appeared automatically as soon as you hit record, and mixer controls were integrated into the track headers.
Acid Pro 7 is still an accomplished application, but after a gradual cross-pollination of ideas, it has more similarities than differences to Cubase and Sonar. However, the cut-price Acid Music Studio is closer in spirit to the original release. It has also expanded in scope but its fast, intuitive operation is especially welcome in a low-cost package.
This update removes the 16-bit, 48kHz limitation that made previous versions unable to exploit the full potential of high-quality audio interfaces. Recordings are now made up to 24-bit and 192kHz, audio hardware permitting. It took us a while to find these options, though, as they're undocumented in the Help section and tucked away behind a tab in the Project Properties. By default, the software still runs at 16-bit and 41kHz.
Another major development is automation for VST effects and virtual instruments. Previous versions supported envelopes for the volume and pan on each channel, but it's now possible to draw envelopes with the mouse for virtually any parameter. Oddly, the bundled Acid FX plugin doesn't support automation, so you'll need to install VST equivalents to use the feature.
Automation isn't in keeping with the immediacy for which Acid is known. It must be enabled for each parameter in a pop-up window that casual users may never find. It isn't possible to add automation simply by recording fader and knob movements - you have to draw them as envelopes. Confusingly, it's possible to adjust the controls for parameters that have been automated, but they jump back to the automated values when playback is resumed.
New Folder Tracks are used to pack tracks into folders and sub-folders to tidy up the arrange panel. These folders can still be moved around but their behaviour is unwieldy and could cause problems.
An easier way to move large chunks of music around is by using the new Sections feature. A Section is a vertical stack of audio and MIDI objects, which is given a name, and can be dragged left and right to perform quick rearrangements. Other parts of the project shuffle along to close gaps or make space, similar to ripple editing in video-editing software. It feels a little strange in this context but it has its uses.
- What's on this week's PC Pro podcast?
- Spotify now free on tablets and smartphones
- Nokia's Android smartphone "due next year"
- MPs push for tighter laws against online spying
- Should Microsoft make Windows 8 free?
- Canonical finds first partner for Ubuntu Touch smartphones
- Dell's Chromebook 11 for schools starts at £190
- Leap Motion: we can't fix "broken" Windows 8
- Surveillance panic could lead to restrictive data laws
- CyanogenMod offers encrypted text messages
- Play it again: Berlin's Computer Game Museum
- Switching from iPhone to Android: what I miss, what I don't
- Tech City: Easy to score when you move the goalposts
- How to remove SkyDrive from the Windows 8.1 Explorer
- Switching from iPhone to Android? Switch off iMessage
- Why is Google pumping more money into Firefox?
- Sky Broadband Shield review
- Samsung Galaxy S4: how to double your battery life
- Motorola Moto G review: first look
- IBM Watson meets Willy Wonka
- Best tablet PCs to buy in 2013
- Closer to reality: photorealism in computer graphics
- Windows 8.1: Top 10 advanced features
- Securing the Internet of Things
- Internet of Things: five unlikely hacking risks
- Life behind the wall: censorship in China
- 42 best Android apps
- 3D museums that never close
- 29 best Windows 8.1 apps
- Bring an old PC up to speed
- The importance of load balancing
- Windows Phone App Studio: an easy way to create your first Windows Phone 8 app
- The end of Windows XP support: what it really means for businesses
- Don't rely on Chrome's password vault
- Using Buffer to manage your social media
- Microsoft needs its own Steve Jobs
- Forget credit cards: hackers want your Facebook account
- Can't get fast enough broadband? Here's what to do
- Leap Motion and the battle against UI stagnation
- How to build a really bad network
There are dozens of exciting prizes up for grabs on PC Pro Competitions. All our competitions are free to enter. Try your luck.ENTER NOW