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Software Review: ACID Pro 7 from Sony

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ACID Pro 7 is a professional Digital Audio Workstation (DAW). It now contains full multi-track recording and mixing, MIDI sequencing, as well as the standard in ACID looping functionality to give you not only a music creation system, but a post-production environment as well.

ACID, when it was first launched in 1998, was the first loop-based music sequencer in which someone could just drag-and-drop a loop file on to a track and it would automatically adjust itself to the tempo and key of the song with no degradation. This became extremely popular with composers, producers, and DJs for creating everything from beats to complete compositions.

ACID Pro 7While version 6 began its move into DAW territory with the addition of important core function additions, in this latest version of ACID Pro, Sony has added significant new user interface features.  Among them are an audio and MIDI mixing console that complete its transition from being one of the best remixing tools, and places it right in the middle of the DAW market.

What do you need to run ACID Pro 7?
• Microsoft Windows XP (SP2 or later), Windows Vista, or Windows 7
• 1.8 GHz processor (2.0 GHz or faster recommended)
• 1 GB RAM (2.0 GB or more recommended)
• 150 MB hard disk space for program installation (8 GB of hard disk space for installation of all optional components)
• Windows-compatible sound card (ASIO driver support recommended)
• DVD-ROM drive (for installation from a DVD only)
• Supported CD-recordable drive (for CD burning only)
• Microsoft .NET Framework 3.0 (included on DVD for use with optional Media Manager component)
• Internet connection (for Gracenote MusicID Service)

So what is new with ACID Pro 7?
• Audio and MIDI Mixing Console now gives you a dedicated console that provides the emulation of a sophisticated hardware interface, giving you a single point that you can mix audio and MIDI, as well as the ability to specify routing, assign audio effects, and control automation. This gives you the ability to control your production in a visual manner while still providing the feel of a flexible and more efficient in-studio environment.

• Input busses give you the ability to record from external devices with effects and mix audio sources with your projects. They can be used as a mixer input for an external device such as a synthesizer. You can also use input busses for external effects processors with tracks and busses as well as performing time input monitoring. All of this gives you greater control in the routing of input signals and giving you more customization and mixing options.

ACID Pro 7• Real-time rendering is a playback mode in ACID that creates a .wav file of a project, allowing you to include the output from an external input source along with a project. This will let you route audio to external hardware — including effects units and drum machines — into your ACID project, giving you still more options for mixing during a session.

• MIDI Track Freeze will let you "freeze" MIDI tracks that use multiple soft synths and render them as a .wav file. Once they are frozen, the MIDI/Instrument tracks are streamed as audio files providing faster results and greater CPU efficiency during mixing when using multiple soft synths.

• Audio, MIDI, and bus track meters give you the ability to quickly view and tweak audio and MIDI mix levels in real-time using per-track metering. This is great for more precise mixing so as to get better sounding mixes and better accuracy. These meters can be customized by position, scale, as well as horizontal and vertical meter options.

• External control surface channel tracking, when enabled, will display an indicator in the Mixing Console track list to show which channels are under external control. This feature makes it easier to stay organized when working with numerous tracks.

• Zplane élastique Audio Timestretching and Pitch Shifting allows dramatic time stretches and pitch-shifts of Beatmapped tracks while retaining maximum sound quality. This means that your mixes will sound much better in ACID Pro 7.

• Enhanced Beatmapping allows you to edit clip properties and Beatmap songs with varying tempos and time signatures. Now you can work with a variety of songs containing multiple tempos which will provide more flexibility when composing songs and working remixes.

ACID Pro 7• Interactive tutorials provide step-by-step help. Work along with the tutorials from within your project so you can learn and create at the same time. The tutorials cover dozens of topics to let you get started learning about the features, giving you more time to create.

• Tempo curves will let you set different tempos between two tempo markers letting you provide a gradual transition from one tempo to another. Fade types include Linear, Fast, Slow, Smooth, Sharp, and Hold. These will give you the ability to create tempo changes ranging from subtle to dramatic.

• Metronome countoff gives the ability to count off a determined number of bars prior to recording or playback. You can select the number of bars and chose sounds from a variety of wood blocks, drums, sticks, and more

• Custom labels for ASIO devices and ports let you customize ASIO driver ports with labels to match your configuration, rather than relying on the default driver name.

• Enhanced plug-in management will allow you to sort plug-ins into the various categories as well as renaming them. The process that scans your plug-ins has also been optimized so that they can be scanned faster.

• Cross-track event drag and drop now lets you simply cut, copy, or paste events across multiple tracks for even faster editing.

• New track, clip, and event switches including normalize, invert phase, and lock now include Normalize, Invert Phase, Mute and Lock. You can use switches to quickly normalize events and perform other processes from within the ACID Pro workspace.

ACID Pro 7• Additional software for professional music production and editing, including ACID Pro Effects Rack, powered by iZotope, Garritan Aria for ACID Pro Player, Submersible Music KitCore, and Native Instruments Guitar Combos. This is estimated at $500 dollars of additional bundled software that you can use in your productions.

While from a technical improvement standpoint, version 6 may have had an edge, ACID Pro 7 makes its mark from a foundation aspect on the end user experience and overall satisfaction. It feels like a full fledged professional DAW. That doesn't mean there were not technical enhancements to version 7 — everything in this version feels more responsive and optimized. This is especially true on a well built multi-core system.

Obviously, one of my favorite features of ACID Pro 7 is addition of the mixer. Sure prior versions had a simplistic mixer, but now you have a much more complete integrated view of all tracks and buses that let you control routing, inserts, and control mixdown. The input buses are also a treat giving you the ability to monitor input from external devices and more.

Then when you add the élastique Audio Timestretching, the enhanced Beatmapping, real-time rendering, track/clip/event switches, as well as all the add-on products, ACID Pro 7 a really must have upgrade. If you have never worked with a version of ACID Pro, then I think that you will be in for a treat. It is incredibly fun to work with, really easy to use, and continues to improve dramatically. I very highly recommend ACID Pro 7.

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About T. Michael Testi

Photographer, writer, software engineer, educator, and maker of fine images.
  • really?

    I respect your review, and this isn’t a personal attack, but I’m going to have to politely disagree, and this is why: I used Acid Pro for years, and stood by it from way back in the Sonic Foundry days. But once I started looking around at what the competition was bringing to the table, I regretted ever giving Sony a dime of my money. Acid Pro becomes incredibly unstable once you have a decent number of tracks (anything that would warrant the purchase of a “Pro” version of software). The routing is terrible, it is impossible to set up any kind of sidechaining anything to anything. This review should read “Sony finally figured out Acid Pro didn’t have a mixer, and now add one like it’s a feature, rather than a requirement of a DAW.” lol. The “Acid FX” bundle are the same effects that were on the Acid Pro 5 disk, with an INTERFACE designed by Izotope… not a feature. The NI Guitar Combos are basically a demo version of Guitar Rig, who’s full demo version (which includes the combos and more) can be downloaded for free from NI’s website… not a feature. KitCore is pretty much in the same boat, but for DrumCore… Not a feature. The ARIA player is essentially a sampler that you can’t load samples in unless you pay for them (can’t even load your own drums into it, it must be out of a paid-library from ARIA); other DAWs incorporate samplers directly into the software with features like “slice audio to new midi track” which cuts the audio up and maps it directly into the sampler and then extracts the groove onto a midi track so that the sampler plays the midi track EXACTLY how the audio was played, enabling incredible editing options. Good luck using a vocoder or any kind of pitch correction, because MIDI cannot be routed to a VST. And the beatmapper is terrible, never ONCE in 5 YEARS of using it has it ever given me a whole number (78, 97), but instead it just ignores groove or humanization, and gives outrageous tempos (78.032, 96.743), which isn’t even close to useful. I won’t be a jerk and reference the names of any other products, but I will say that a consumer’s money is much better spent on one of the leading DAWs: On MusicRadar.com’s Top 10 DAWs, Acid Pro isn’t even mentioned, with some “Music Studio” equivalents of other DAWs making the list instead of Acid PRO! Acid’s got its uses, and it is INCREDIBLY easy to use, but they dug a hole for themselves when they put the “PRO” title on it: If you’re going to do that, it needs to be capable of professional results, or at least capable of more than the competition’s stripped down versions! For a beginner, Acid Pro is awesome. But what beginner is going to spend $300 on a product that a little research will tell them is inferior? Once Sony took over, it was all downhill from there. So like I said, I have to politely disagree. Much respect tho.