For amateur musicians, Apple has long been considered the easiest path to making music. German company Magix is working at changing that, with the recent release of Magix Music Jam for both Android and Windows tablets. This software allows users to take preexisting loops and beats and arrange and manipulate them to make their own creations. Once you make a quick and easy musical creation on the go, where do you go from there? Magix’s new Music Maker 2014 provides a robust answer.
The folks over at Magix were kind enough to provide me a sample of Music Maker Premium 2014 to put through its paces. As a musician and songwriter with a home studio, I have used a number of music programs, though I hadn’t tried a Music Maker title since its early days. As I’m a guitarist, most of my recording is from analog sources, and while I do use loops and some electronic accompaniment, the majority of my work involves wave editing. That being said, I thought it was time to give Music Maker another look.
Whereas Music Maker Jam is designed to be a really easy to use and portable arrangement tool, Music Maker 2014 can appear a little intimidating at first glance. Luckily, it’s not quite as complicated as it initially appears. Music Maker Premium 2014 is loaded with stuff to get you started. The premium version comes with 10 soundpools as opposed six in the regular edition. These are basically instrumentation groupings of a particular genre that are all designed to work together. Additional ones can be purchased separately. A few of those included are “Electro Lounge,” “Hip Hop Vol. 15,” and “Metal Vol. 2.”
Within these soundpools are a number of instruments with various recorded loops. For example, the Metal Vol. 2 grouping has nine different instruments to choose from: bass, drums, FX, guitar, keys, orchestral, pads, synth, and vocals. Each of these has between three and 50 loops that automatically fit with everything else in the soundpool. If you want to mix them with something else, there are a number of tools you can use to alter them. The loops consist of both audio samples and midi files, and there are slight differences in how you manipulate the two types.
The root of Music Maker is in the samples arrangement, and as such the program is still geared mainly towards that end. That being said, the program does allow live recording and includes Music Editor 3 which allows you to clean up and trim audio recordings. The strange part about that is that the core Music Maker program actually offers more manipulation options than the editor. There is also a midi editor included and a keyboard option to let you compose on your own. Included with Music Maker Premium 2014 are a ton of midi instrumentation choices as well as VST support.
Magix Music Maker 2014 Premium does allow for unlimited tracks, though eventually your computing power will dictate how many files you can manipulate at one time. With more than 6,000 sounds and loops, Magix gives you everything you need to start making music. Everything except for time. In some ways, Music Maker 14 is pretty easy to use, in others it can be kind of maddening. It took me quite a while to be able to record and mix an acoustic guitar piece with some of the prerecorded samples. This was chiefly due to the music editor not being well integrated into the main program.
Once you have your work assembled, at least in the most basic sense, the effects you can add are presented in an analog pedal or amplifier skin which allows you to set the component levels. This may make the program look less intimidating, but the combo effects can make finding the right package for particular adjustments difficult. As with many content creation packages, there is no substitute for just spending lots of time with the program until you can figure out how to make it do what you want. Though Music Maker will let you off the sample and loop arrangement rails, it doesn’t make it terribly easy for you.
I’ve been using the same edition of recording software for over a decade and after a couple of weeks with Music Maker Premium 2014, I’m not entirely sure that I would be willing to change over my home studio computer. While Music Maker does make some clean arrangements, and the licensing does allow a couple of installs, to take advantage of Live Performer, the wave file recording and editing leaves a bit to be desired. What each person does with music is very personal and varied, so what is great for one may not work as well for another. If you love what you can do with Music Maker Jam, but want to be able to do a lot more, Music Maker 2014 is definitely for you. The program will even allow you to import your portable creations from Music Maker Jam.