Sony ACID Loops and Artist Integration Review

Matt Fink played keyboards with Prince & the Revolution for over ten years. Dr. Fink's Funk Factory from Sony Media Software contains nearly 1000 original royalty-free loops. This includes drum loops, analog synth themes, clavinet licks, thick analog solos, classic orchestral stabs and more. It provides solid building blocks for a wide range of pop and dance grooves.

Tony Franklin: Not Just Another Pretty Bass Player is a collection of bass loops featuring Tony laying down his signature sound on his Fender' Fretless Precision Bass'. We first heard some of the loops at the NAMM show with Tony performing live. This is not your typical collection of bass loops.

Both of these new libraries from Sony Media Software are two-disc sets with 24-bit quality and a new twist Sony calls artist integration. Artist integration means these loops were created by musicians playing along to loops created by other musicians. Instead of just creating a bunch of samples in a vacuum the artist is recorded playing along to other loops. This gives the effect of real musicians playing together. The end result is a final composition that is tighter and more musical sounding.

Sony Media Software ACID Pro 6 Review

ACID Pro 6 is the ACID we've all been waiting for. It remains true to its pick, paint and play intuitive interface and adds professional level multitrack and MIDI capability. Sony also beefed up the effects package and includes a paired down version of Native Instruments KOMPAKT sample playback engine as well as a library of samples from the Sony Sound Series. That's a pretty attractive bundle for under $400.

When I first fired up ACID 1.0 back in 1998 I was instantly hooked. However, since it lacked the MIDI and multitrack capabilities I needed, it became more of a musical phrase generator more than anything else. I would often start in ACID and then export my various creations as WAV or AIF files into another program. ACID Pro 6 changes all of that. Now it's possible to build a solid foundation with loops and build on top of it with live instruments and external MIDI gear. Having that ability makes it a true musical environment versus a remix or loop engine.

ACID Pro 6 now includes full automation support and works with external control devices. You no longer have to tweak all the settings using your mouse and keyboard. The plug-in support is much better too. We used both the WAVES and Universal Audio plug-ins with great success.

Sony now supports a wider variety of file formats for importing and exporting in ACID Pro 6 including MPEG, QuickTime, Real Media and others. However, we were disappointed to learn the MainConcept MPEG plug-in requires an upgrade. There's nothing worse than attempting to render a file and learning it's going to cost a few extra bucks for that capability. MPEG gripes aside, ACID Pro 6 makes an excellent platform for composing for video.

ACID is one of the most intuitive music making programs on the planet. If you can't get your groove on with this software it's time to think about another hobby or profession. For the rhythm challenged there's a Beatmapper tool that does a pretty good job of analyzing audio, finding down beats and locking it to what's already in your mix. With 4/4 style rhythms it does a pretty good job and often nails it spot on. But when things get complicated don't expect ACID to do the work for you. You're responsible for your own trip.

Visit Sony Media Software for more information and all the specs on ACID Pro 6.

NAMM 2006 Highlights

The NAMM, International Music Products Association, show is a lot like the Consumer Electronics Show, CES, but with musicians and whole lot of creative gear. New components, gadgets, software modeling and workstation programs make the show a geek's paradise. The complement of beautifully crafted acoustic instruments reminds everyone of why they're at the show in the first place. It's all about making music or inspiring others to do so.

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