Review: Magix Music Maker 16
Iain Laskey thinks Magix Music Maker 16 is a lot of power for the price.
|Product||Music Maker 16|
|We like||Quality sounds, huge range of tools, excellent manual and online resources.|
|We don't like||Daunting ot begin with|
|Requirements||Windows XP/Vista/7 operating system|
I've always had an urge to create music but have been hampered by a lack of time to learn the skills and money to buy the kit. When Magix offered the latest version of their Music Maker package to review, I jumped at the chance.
For a mere £49.99 in its basic version, Magix Music Maker 16 provides an incredible amount of music making technology in a single package.
At its most basic level, it allows you to play audio loops and mix them with sequenced tunes then mix and master the final results. Not that unusual in itself. Where it really scores is in the detail.
When you first start, you are recommended to work in beginner mode. Here you can select one or more loops and place them on different tracks. You could have a drum track, bass and perhaps a couple of guitar tracks. The loops are selected from a huge pool of supplied sounds, each grouped by intrument type and music style. Within minutes you can have a basic track in place and whilst it might sound a bit generic, it's all going to be in time, in pitch and fairly musical.
You can then start to tweak. You can select a single loop, an entire track or even the entire song and apply a huge range of quality sound effects (FX). You adjust the length of loops, tweak the volume, play with the attack or release parameters and so on.
Once you've got used to the basics, you can enable advanced mode which opens up a whole range of new options. You can start to add your own melody lines via the bundled synths, creating the tunes note by note. You can also make use of more mastering options, FX and fine tuning of each sound object. The strength of Magic Music Maker 16 is that you can work at a high level, just dropping the supplied loops onto the tracks or you can drill right down at almost every level of the song's structure, adjusting, tuning and adding effects.
Minimum Requirements Too Low?
One thing was apparant straight away was that even the supplied demo songs struggled to play 100% on the dual core 3Ghz test laptop. The manual suggests a 1Ghz minimum and for loop playing, this seemed fine but once I added the synths and a few effects playing, both CPUs showed very high usage. Magix's own website had a user submitted video showing how to help offset this by using Windows' task manager to change the application's priority from 'Normal' to 'High' so I suspect this is a common problem. Just playing loops and adding some effects seemed much easier on the system though.
Speaking of user submitted videos, there is a good online community for this piece of software with online help, tutorial videos and downloadable sounds, demo songs and more so lots of help is available.
Bundled Soft Synths
As mentioned above, Magix Music Maker 16 offers a number of soft synths namely The Beat Box, LiViD and Robota providing various drum machine facilities, Drum & Bass Machine and Atmos covering bass and atmospheric synth sounds and Vita which uses samples to simulate a variety of real instruments. Pricier versions of Music Maker 16 include extra synths or you can use any of the 3rd party VST based synths which adds a huge amount of potential.
You can apply effects at the track level or globally and these include a fine roster such as EQ, compressor, reverb, a vintage effects suite and Vandal. Vandel is particularly impressive and simulates the whole guitar processing chain from microphones through to processing.
Once you've finished a track, you can set up the final mix and mastering. Again, the options are many and flexible and include additional FX and levels per track. Finally, the results can be exported to MP3, CD or published online to Myspace or Magix own area.
Beginners may find the whole package overwhelming to begin with, even on the easy setting. The 276 page manual is excellent though and explains everythingl. The best way to learn is to try though and it doesn't take too long before you feel your ready to switch to advanced mode and to start exploring the powerful options that brings.
Whilst the supplied samples and loops are all high quality and copious, they'll only get you so far and there's no substitute for good ideas if you really want to get some decent results.
The user interface is logical and well thought out and the presentation of the instruments and FX racks is excellent with them all appearing as photo realistic models of real hardware, as is the norm these days.
For those with more cash, Magix do a version that comes complete with a USB keyboard and also sell additional soundpool files with many more loops and samples.
Magix Music Maker 16 is a hugely expansive and powerful package for the money. There's enough here to help anyone turn their ideas into reality. The sheer volume of features is initially overwhelming but the easy mode helps get you going quickly and all processes work logically once you realise what each piece of the puzzle can do for you. If you want to create music of any genre, you're not going to get better value than Music Maker 16 which wouldn't disgrace itself at 2 or 3 times the price. Recommended.