It’s never been easier to make music at home and, thanks to the ever increasing number of affordable music editing software programs, there’s no need to splurge out on expensive studio equipment to make something that sounds half decent.
The popularity of big names such as Apple’s GarageBand means music editing software companies with a consumer-based target audience have had to up their game a little, providing users with meatier, more professional sounding tracks and fancier production methods without getting too bogged down in technicalities.
Magix has always done a pretty good job of keeping up with the pace of cutting edge home studio software. You only have to take a look at the version number to see that it’s a program that’s consistently updated to keep up with new trends.
Since we reviewed Music Maker 14 just over a year ago this beginner-friendly software has had yet another freshen up and has been treated to a good few updates and feature enhancements.
It’s easy enough for those without even a hint of music editing experience to find their way around the Music Maker 15 interface. Working to a basic timeline structure you can ease your way into the workings of the program by clicking the ‘Easy Mode On’ button to keep things simple. To help you along an ‘Info’ box in the bottom right-hand corner acts as a useful ‘help’ guide, explaining all the useful tools and functions.
It’s possible to get good results using the pre-recorded loops found in the ‘Soundpools’ palette and although there’s not a vast selection of Styles included (Ambient Vol. 7, Chillout Vol. 3, Disco House Vol, 9, HipHop Vol. 10, Rock Alternative Vol. 1 and Techno Trance Vol. 11) they’re varied enough to have fun cobbling together your own original tracks.
If you’re selecting loops from the pre-recorded Soundpools palette you don’t need to worry too much about challenging problems such as tempo or pitch, as the program does a good job of auto-syncing them.
Once you start getting the hang of things you can take it up to the next level by turning off the Easy mode and revealing some of the more impressive manual controls and synthesiser features.
But if you’ve never dabbled in more advanced music editing before and don’t know your beat maps from your bongos, then turning the Easy Mode off can be a little daunting and quite a steep learning curve. It’s worth setting aside a weekend or so to experiment with the loops or to work out how to import your own recordings or MP3 tracks.
No matter how good you are it does take quite a long time to achieve an end result worthy of exporting, especially as it’s so tempting to tweak your productions and to experiment with different sound effects using the synths included.
Oddly, Magix chose to opt for a synthesised voice to narrate the rather dry and tedious instruction video included with the software so it’s practically impossible to get any use out of it. It’s a good example of the program’s ‘Text to speech’ feature but it’s certainly not appropriate to use as the main tutorial. However, venture up into the Help section and there are direct links to some useful online instruction pages as well as Magix’s own community forum.
If you’re really struggling for inspiration and are too impatient to work out a lengthy and complicated song structure, then you can make use of the impressive ‘Song Maker’ Tool. Here, after laying down a few choice loops or vocals, you can let the software automatically fill gaps and polish off an entire track, sit back and pretend you did all the work yourself. This provides endless hours of fun, even if the results are a little cringe-inducing.
Once you’re happy with your track, Magix Music Maker 15 offers some simple export features so you can share your creations with others. It’s intuitive enough to create an MP3 file within a couple of minutes or (if you’re daring enough to withstand the visitor comments) there’s also a feature to upload direct to YouTube: to give things a more professional finish, Music Maker 15 has the scope to combine video with your audio.
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