Sonic Foundry ups the standard once again with the release of their highly regarded music creation software, Acid 4.0. Never before has a software program so easily given the user so much power and control in the creative process. The program is PC only (sorry Mac users), but Acid is so great it will probably make the Mac users wish they had a PC. With the latest version, 4.0, Sonic Foundry has added features such as enhanced MIDI editing, automated plug-in effects and 5.1 surround mixing.
Acid allows the user to create music using a loop based process. Loops are dragged and dropped right onto the workspace as your project plays back, and can be placed anywhere within the project and moved along the timeline- either freely or while snapping to a grid.. Loops can be previewed in real time as your project plays back. Youre not restricted to loops, in fact one of Acids greatest features is its ability to work with long files. Just drag your long file (song) onto the workspace, and the Beatmapper starts. The Beatmapper effectively calculates tempo and downbeats for the song, and from that point on any loop you add to the mix is in perfect sync and pitch- no matter what tempo you choose.
The ease of synching loops to existing tracks and loops is an anchor feature of Acid (for DJs especially), but creating entire compositions based on loops is equally powerful. You can create loops from your own synths, a microphone- anything you feel like recording onto a track. If youre looking for inspiration, Sonic Foundry has an extensive loop library covering every conceivable musical style- country, middle eastern, jungle, trance, hip-hop, rock, classical, ambient, reggae, salsa. The sound library is worthy of an article in itself. Hundreds of sounds come with the program, and new free sounds are posted on their website regularly. You can create your own loop-libraries, use those provided by Sonic Foundry, record your performance straight onto the track, use virtual synths and drum machines; styles and sounds can be combined in ways never before possible.
Beyond loops there are track EQ and effects. A large group of Direct-X plug-ins are included with the program, and Acid will work with any Direct-X plug-ins you use. With the 4.0 upgrade, all plug-in parameters can be recorded and automated- allowing you to create resonant filter sweeps, track EQ changes that change with the mix. Also new is enhanced MIDI functionality- you can step record MIDI notes and edit them in a piano scroll style editor. If youre getting into 5.1 surround mixing for CD or DVD, Acid has added that function as well. There are many other enhancements and features in Acid 4.0 and I urge you to download the free demo version from the Sonic Foundry website. No doubt you will appreciate the ease of use combined with unparalleled power. I want to make music, not read manuals, which is exactly what Acid 4.0 allows me to do.