Recording - April 2016 - 48

...where we bring you follow-up articles
with application hints and upgrade news
about gear already reviewed in Recording

&

Acoustica Mixcraft Pro Studio 7
by Darwin Grosse

Mixcraft Pro Studio has been on our
radar for some time. John Rossi III
reviewed versions 4, 5 and 6 in previous
issues, always praising it for its simplicity
while pointing out its breadth and value.
John wasn't available for this review, but
his previous articles reveal a product that
has been evolving along with the state of
the recording art, and Version 7 is no
exception. Mixcraft Pro Studio 7 takes off
from previous versions with a slew of new
features, a number of operational and
performance enhancements, and an even
larger set of instruments and effects.
Just a list of the new features in version 7
is a little over-the-top. Some of the updates
are somewhat expected: 64-bit support,
improved control surface support, new
pitch- and time-shifting tech, and new audio
content. Others might actually change the
way that you approach the software, such
as the Performance Panel for clip launching
and unlimited automation edit lanes. And
finally, Acoustica has added more plug-ins,
which are always welcome additions. Let's
take a look at a few of the specific updates
to see how they stack up!

Performance Panel
An eyebrow-raiser in version 7 is the
Performance Panel. A concept first found
in Ableton Live (but now embraced by several software companies), the Performance
Panel presents audio and MIDI clips as a
matrix of boxes that can be clicked in
order to be performed. A vertical column
of clips can all be fired at once, a concept
similar to an Ableton Live Scene, and
each track can have multiple lanes, each
with its own Performance Panel clip.
Where things get interesting is with
some of the control that Mixcraft provides for the clip playback. In addition
to global clip launch settings, you have
individual clip settings that can force clip
restarts or even allow you to sync the
start point of a new clip to the playback
location of the current clip to provide a
clean mid-clip transition. This results in a
very dynamic and fun playing style, with
easy track variations in realtime.
You can arm the Performance Panel
system to record your clip selections; the
resulting performance data is saved in
your track and remains in place even if
you hide the Performance Panel... or
even delete the clips! This makes for a
quick composition system that is very
effective for song format development.
48

RECORDING April 2016

Multi-Lane Automation
While I enjoy working with physical
controllers to enter first-pass control movements, it's the use of detailed automation
editing that helps me bring a project
home. Mixcraft's new Multi-Lane
Automation editing functions allow you to
work on several automation envelopes
simultaneously-a super-useful function
that makes it much easier to coordinate
complex automations. The lanes drop
below the content tracks, and can control
any mix function (volume, pan or individual send controls), any effects parameter,
or any instrument setting in MIDI tracks.
It is surprising to me that producers don't
take more advantage of the extensive
automation provided by modern software;
it can liven up a track, or prevent overuse
of effects by allowing them to exist only in
select spots. I found Mixcraft's automation
very natural and easy to access. I hope
this makes it more likely that users will try
parameter automation in their own work.

Step Editing
The new Step Editing system will be a
great addition for anyone that is focused on
creating beats from scratch. While it can be
tempting to focus on the deep set of loops
and construction kits provided with Mixcraft,
having access to beat development tools
can provide a lot of creative options for the
beat designer. The Step Editing tool provides a drum-specific view of a MIDI track,
with mappings that match the drum kit sets
that are provided with Mixcraft.
Selecting the Step Editor from the
sound editing tab gives you a grid that is
sized to match your drum kit-and your
current zoom level. Zooming in will allow
you to enter very tight rhythmic content

(down to 64th notes), with rows labeled
by sample name, and a lane dedicated
to tweaking the velocity that each hit will
generate. This sort of editing is found in
many DAWs, but Mixcraft's highlyintegrated implementation will open
some new doors for beat creation.

New instruments and effects
One of Mixcraft Pro Studio 7's big
draws is the huge number of plug-ins that
are included. Each version of Mixcraft
introduces new plug-ins (some created by
Acoustica, others created by third-parties
and licensed for use in the software), and
version 7 introduced several new audio
effects and instruments. I could fill this
whole review just with plug-in reviews,
but instead I'll focus on a few new tools
that jumped out of the system to become
my personal favorites.
Alpha and Omni: Mixcraft comes with
two new samplers, and they are some of
the most enjoyable instrument plug-ins that
I've come across in some time. These
samplers, rather than being the featurefilled monsters offered by other developers, instead lie in the "software should be
easy" realm that Acoustica prefers.
The Alpha sampler couldn't be easier to
use: it accepts a single sample, then provides basic envelope and filter controls.
You drop a sample into Alpha and you are
immediately rocking the sound-it reminds
me of sampling with my old Ensoniq
Mirage, or (more recently) the sampler
built into the iPad version of GarageBand.
It includes some quick buttons for monophonic behavior, which is great for soloing
purposes, and quick reversal (especially
useful for pad effects). I loved the simplicity
of working with this instrument; while not



Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Recording - April 2016

Contents
Recording - April 2016 - Intro
Recording - April 2016 - Cover1
Recording - April 2016 - Cover2
Recording - April 2016 - 1
Recording - April 2016 - 2
Recording - April 2016 - 3
Recording - April 2016 - 4
Recording - April 2016 - 5
Recording - April 2016 - Contents
Recording - April 2016 - 7
Recording - April 2016 - 8
Recording - April 2016 - 9
Recording - April 2016 - 10
Recording - April 2016 - 11
Recording - April 2016 - 12
Recording - April 2016 - 13
Recording - April 2016 - 14
Recording - April 2016 - 15
Recording - April 2016 - 16
Recording - April 2016 - 17
Recording - April 2016 - 18
Recording - April 2016 - 19
Recording - April 2016 - 20
Recording - April 2016 - 21
Recording - April 2016 - 22
Recording - April 2016 - 23
Recording - April 2016 - 24
Recording - April 2016 - 25
Recording - April 2016 - 26
Recording - April 2016 - 27
Recording - April 2016 - 28
Recording - April 2016 - 29
Recording - April 2016 - 30
Recording - April 2016 - 31
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Recording - April 2016 - Cover3
Recording - April 2016 - Cover4
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