Mixcraft 6 Review and Mixcraft Pro Studio 6 Review
PRODUCT NAME: Mixcraft 6
PRICE: $0 for trial version (fully featured) /$74.95 for licensed version
PRODUCT NAME: Mixcraft Pro Studio 6
COMPANY: Acoustica www.acoustica.com/mixcraft/
RELEASE DATE: March 2013
COMPANY’S PRODUCT DESCRIPTION
Mixcraft 6 is a powerful music production and multi-track recording workstation that comes packed with thousands of music loops and dozens of audio effects and virtual instruments. Mixcraft enables you to record audio, arrange loops, remix tracks, compose with MIDI and virtual instruments, add effects, score and edit video, and mix and master your tracks to create polished, professional compositions. Mixcraft is your music production dream come true, instantly turning your computer into a fully-stocked professional recording studio.
As a Mixcraft user since version 4, I have been looking forward to getting behind the wheel of the newly released Mixcraft 6. It comes in both a standard version, and a specced-out Studio Pro version which is double the price because it includes more virtual instruments and effects.
Acoustica’s motto is ‘software should be easy to use’, and I’m glad to say that this new release of Mixcraft continues to champion that philosophy. The major changes in this version either fix Mixcraft 5 flaws or add new features, but ease of use and extensive functionality remain key characteristics of this impressive and surprisingly affordable DAW (Digital Audio Workstation).
WHO IS IT FOR?
Mixcraft 6 is for anyone interested in using a PC to record music, but it is particularly suitable for:
- beginners through to intermediate users of music recording software; and
- musicians who want to record music at home on their desktop computer or laptop.
You may wish to consider the more expensive Mixcraft Pro Studio 6 version if:
- you want a sumptuous-sounding virtual grand piano;
- you want to have access to additional synthesizers; and/or
- it is important to you to have a greater number of virtual instruments and special effects to play with.
EASE OF USE
Straight up, one of the most enjoyable things about using Mixcraft 6 is that does feel a lot like you’re using a version of Garageband for Windows. The interface is similarly sleek and professional, the layout is intuitive, and for such a polished piece of music software, it’s still affordable.
I have noted that several other reviewers have commented on the fact that they haven’t had to turn to a manual to learn how to use this software. If you’re completely new to DAWs, there will still be a learning curve, but to anyone who has used one previously, the interface is truly intuitive, user-friendly and very easy to navigate without instruction.
Mixcraft 6 has a professional DAW interface, and includes 11 virtual instruments and 25 special effects (there are more in the Studio Pro version). Its custom loop library is extensive. It contains over 6,500 royalty-free loops and sound effects, as well as a search tool to make it easy to find what you need. You can also import your own loops, or add an unlimited number of VSTi™ instruments, VST™ and DirectX™ effects.
Mixcraft is a MIDI dream – you can easily record multiple MIDI and audio tracks simultaneously. I really like the fact that Mixcraft has notation tools which allow you to create, edit, and print your MIDI data in music notation format (like sheet music), and there’s a piano roll to help you view and edit MIDI.
You may also route MIDI track data directly to audio effects (such as vocoder and pitch correction effects).
Mixcraft 6 is full of recording features, and I’ll talk about them in a moment, but I want to mention the most important one first (because too often in reviews, people get caught up rattling off feature lists without telling you whether or not the product actually works).
Mixcraft 6 works. It produces great sounds. When you record stuff, it sounds really good. Professional, clear and clean.
It also features:
- Multiple channel recording;
- Multiple input recording;
- Ability to record from a line input; and
- Ability to record from a microphone.
I particularly like that you can change the pitch of a recording without altering the tempo, and change the tempo without altering pitch (things that more expensive DAWs such as Acid and Cubase can’t do). Also, there’s a very nifty guitar tuner built in to every track, something else I’ve never seen in a DAW.
When you’re done with a recording, you can mix down to MP3, WAV, OGG or other audio file types, and burn CDs with a single click. The ability to record directly to high-quality compressed OGG files is particularly ideal for online collaborators exchanging project files over the internet.
Another thing that’s quite cool – users are now able to control Mixcraft 6 via a mobile device with the Mixcraft 6 Remote App. It’s available from both Apple’s App Store and for Android, and it allows you to use your smart phone or table to:
- start recording;
- play back a recording;
- change the recording and playback position;
- control the master volume;
- undo and redo changes, and;
- save your Mixcraft project from anywhere in your studio.
It’s a whole lot easier to record yourself when you don’t have to be sitting right in front of your computer – though over the years I’ve gotten quite used to pressing record and then running across the room to pick up my guitar ;-)
Mixcraft allows you to create complex virtual instrument setups that layer and split multiple virtual synthesizers and effects. You have the ability to set the key range, velocity sensitivity, transposition, pan and volume for each instrument separately.
Mixcraft 6 comes with 11 virtual instruments. These are:
- Impulse (a polyphonic analog synthesizer)
- Messiah (a polyphonic analog synthesizer)
- Minimogue VA (a monophonic analog synthesizer)
- VB3 Organ (a tonewheel organ)
- Acoustica Instruments General MIDI sample library
- Acoustica Expanded Instruments sample library
- Acoustica Studio Drums sample collection (drum maps are included for Mixcraft’s drum instruments – really useful)
- Alien 303 Bass Synthesizer
- Lounge Lizard Electric Piano (a vintage electric piano)
- Combo Organ Model F (a classic transistor organ emulator)
- Combo Organ Model V (a classic transistor organ emulator)
If you require synthesizers or a virtual grand piano, then it’s worth considering upgrading to Mixcraft Studio Pro 6 which also has:
12. ME80 Vintage Analog Synthesizer
13. Memorymoon Vintage Analog Synthesizer
14. Acoustica Pianissimo Virtual Grand Piano
The Acoustica grand piano as a stand-alone virtual instrument retails for $69, so if you need a really authentic, full piano sound, consider the Studio Pro option.
Mixcraft 6 comes with 25 high quality effects, including the Pultronic Tube EQ (modelled on the classic tube equalizer found in studios throughout the world), and the Shred Amp Simulator, a complete suite of 5 classic amp heads, 17 cabinet models, and 6 powerful effects.
You can also save and load complete audio effect chains, and there are a heap of effect chain presets included when you buy Mixcraft.
VIDEO SCORING AND EDITING
Mixcraft’s ‘Video Track’ lets you load and edit video files right alongside your recorded audio. You can easily cross−fade from one video clip to another, whilst remixing your audio or adding a soundtrack. It’s also very easy to then render your video project to a new video file.
Other video features include still image importing, automatable effects and transitions, and moving text. I think it’s important to point out here that Mixcraft is still primarily MUSIC recording and editing software. The fact that they’ve thrown in video editing capabilities is cool, but Mixcraft’s power is in the music production side of things. If you’re looking for a video editor with all the bells and whistles, then Mixcraft’s not for you. If you want to record music – well. You’ve come to the right place.
- 1 GHz CPU
- 1 GB Ram (2 GB or more Recommended)
- Windows® 8, Windows® 7, Vista, and XP
- Sound card, USB, or Firewire sound device
TRAINING AND SUPPORT
Acoustica has always provided excellent support for their products, and Mixcraft 6 and Mixcraft Studio Pro 6 are no exception.
Support: You may directly request email support, and can expect a prompt response within 24 hours. There is also a very active Mixcraft forum for you to post questions and comments, as well as a comprehensive FAQ site, an online help manual, a Teacher’s Guide and a Mixcraft pdf manual.
Youtube: Acoustica has their own youtube channel, and it features great quality training videos. Their ‘Mixcraft University’ playlist is a great training resource for Mixcraft 6, especially for anyone brand new to music recording software. There are also a series of ‘Mixcraft 6 Mini-Tips’ videos, which are short tutorials covering things such as removing noise from your recordings, how to beat sync images, making a dubstep bass, and how to use Acoustica studio drums.
Language Support: Mixcraft 6 can be used in multiple languages, including English, German, Norwegian, Portuguese, Russian, Danish, French, Spanish, Dutch, Simplified Chinese, and Traditional Chinese.
PROS AND CONS
- Easy to learn, suitable for beginners;
- Interface and usability most similar to Garageband out of all alternatives tested;
- Far more features than any other DAW in the same price range;
- Great creative scope – unlimited tracks and over 6500 loops and special effects;
- Excellent support and training – fast and helpful technical experts respond within 24 hours, plus availability of great quality training videos.
- PC-only (not for Mac OS or Linux);
- Limited video transition effects.
Mixcraft 6 is available to download as a trial version for free, so you can try before you decide to buy. The trial lasts for a fortnight, and is not cut down in any way. The only difference between the trial and paid versions of Mixcraft is that a registration code is needed to turn the trial version into the paid version. If you choose to purchase the software at a later date, a registration code will be emailed to you.
It is worth mentioning that after the trial period is over, you can still use the software, but you won’t be able to save any final mixdowns. This is useful if you want to play with the software for a while longer before deciding whether or not to purchase it.
Of all the PC music recording programs I’ve tested, this is the closest Garageband for Windows alternative I have found. From an aesthetic perspective, a usability perspective and a functionality perspective, it ticks all the right boxes and is quite simply a pleasure to use. The quality of recordings produced is amazingly good for such an affordable piece of software. I would encourage anyone with an interest in recording music at home to download the Mixcraft 6 free trial and get your hands dirty – it’s the quickest way to learn, and I know you’ll be blown away by the results.
GARAGEBAND FOR WINDOWS SCORE: 9/10
WHERE TO BUY: Best price direct from the Acoustica Website