Online Review: Acid Pro4.0, Sonic Foundry




Some time ago, I did a review on Acid Music 3, a smaller brother of the Acid Pro 3. Smaller meaning somewhat less features and a smaller number of effects possible, but yet a powerful tool for audio production. Recently, Sonic Foundry came up with Acid Pro 4. Just as we started testing, a letter came in announcing version 4a, to be downloaded from the web site. So we did and we tested that version. We did so by producing some files for my Dutch web log, of which the URL is only of interest for Dutch language users. (http://pbdoetmee.blogspot.com). The productions were also used in a classroom of the Conservatory at Novosibirsk (Russia), where production techniques and concepts as provided by Acid Pro 4 are not very well known yet, and where software like Acid Pro can be of great help as an educational tool, but still is something to dream about due to low funding possibilities.


* Acid Pro 4 main interface.

The main interface basically not changed. It is still very complete and easy to use. Even complete new bees will find there way in the interface very quickly. It is very intuitive, which is very important for musicians who do not want to struggle with long learning curves.

Automated effects.

Acid Pro 4 comes with a few new Sonic Foundry effects, such as Resonant Filters, Track EQ, and Flange/Wah Wah/Phase. Acid Pro 4 also includes 20 Direct-X audio plug ins. This collection gives you a complete base for effects production, and the quality of the effects is good enough to get you started with even real professional productions. Maybe, after some time when your demands become more serious, you want to buy some extra effects stuff from Sonic Foundry or other suppliers to get an even more better result. This basic package will save you the money for quite dome time, that's for sure.


* Automated effects. You can chain the effects in one window, click the desired effect box, and alter the settings, all in just a few mouse clicks. Good.

VST Instruments.

Acid Pro 4 is capable of "importing" VST Instruments. This means that you can activate any VSTi compatible sampler or soft synthesizer from within Acid Pro, thus opening a huge range of possibilities for you.


* Acid Pro 4 supports the use of VSTi, virtual instruments under VST, like the emulation of a Hammond organ in the screen shot above.

Midi.

Acid Pro 4 contains a professional piano roll midi editor, that is very well equipped and comparable to midi sequencing editors you find in the more expensive range of software. The big advantage of midi integration into Acid Pro 4 is that you can treat the midi tracks the very same way you do with audio tracks. They can be stretched perfectly to any tempo, thus making the match between midi and digital audio a very easy job to do. And isn't that what musicians like most? Furthermore, midi tracks can be rendered with effects just like the audio tracks. A very nice way integration solution. Acid Pro 4 now supports the Yamaha Open Plug-In Technology (OPT) as well.


* A full piano roll midi editor enables you to combine digital audio and midi (external instruments of those compatible with VSTi) for a maximum of flexibility.

Surround.

If you have any Surround aspirations, Acid Pro 4 will even help you out in this case. It supports Surround version 5.1, a standard widely use in e.g. DVD productions. Provided you have a surround audio set in your (home)studio, you can make instruments running' around your head if you like. With the orange dot in the interface below, you can pinpoint position the placement of any instrument (per track, be it audio or midi). This is -as far as I know- the very first software on Win tel that makes using Surround so easy.


* Yeah! Surround support!

Time signatures.

Time signatures is maybe one of the most creative parts of Acid Pro 4. It allows you to select time signatures anywhere from 2/4 to 9/8, or even create completely customized time settings from 1/1 to 99/32. This may sound a bit confusing, but after some experimenting with this feature in the file Sixteen (see list of productions below) we found this a very easy to use and creative part of the package. Very challenging!


* Alternate time signature so you can easily "glue" differently timed audio files into the right rhythm.

Looping the loops.

Loop cloning is a new feature, that makes it incredible easy to distill new loops out of existing loops. You can select the new to be loop and past it directly into a new track, thus making all hassle of saving and importing no longer existing. The saving is done automatically. Great!


* Loop cloning. The is a very handy feature when producing dance stuff and the like. It provides you with an easy way to expand your arsenal of loops.

Beatmapper.

With the Beatmapper, you provide imported loops or audio files with extra info. Using this info, Acid Pro 4 will be able to stretch and pitch the file. An absolute must if you want to adjust external files into an existing production.


* The Beatmapper. Enhance samples or complete audio files with extra Beatmapper information, so Acid Pro can handle it in terms of pitch change and time change.

CD.

Ripping a CD or burning a CD from within Acid Pro 4 application is a job easy to do. Provided you have a CD-R of course, you can directly burn your productions to an audio CD and let the world know about your work. Very handy.


* Acid Pro 4 lets you rip and burn CD's.

Video.

If you're in for clip production, version 4 now offers import of Windows Media Audio and Video (.WMA and .WMV). It provides you with some basic features to match audio and video, but if you really want to go all the way in this field, you will need Vegas Video, reviewed earlier in this site.


* Video scoring, an interesting feature that enables you to put your music and a video clip together.

ASIO.

Maybe the most important enhancement in version 4 is deeply hidden: Acid Pro now supports low latency ASIO drivers, providing professional users with faster results. ASIO is well know for it's high quality and low latency, resolving one of the biggest problems in digital audio production on computers.

Info on all new features.

If I was to describe all new features here, it would take me a complete weekend to do the job. But why do extra work when Sonic Foundry already made a very informative sub web where all the features are explained in an excellent way, including screen shots of most of them. So, being lazy this time and having some production work to do, I give you here the URL to this sub web so you can absorb the huge amount if info there for yourself. It gives you a very detailed idea of what you get when you by Acid Pro 4:
http://www.sonicfoundry.com/Products/NewShowProduct.asp?
PID=704&FeatureID=6243
.
If this info is not enough for you yet, you will find a comparison chart between version 3 and 4 at following URL:
http://www.sonicfoundry.com/Products/NewShowProduct.asp?
PID=704&FeatureID=6317


Productions.

We did a several productions with Acid Pro 4, all published on my Dutch web log. The files (MP3) are not streamed, so you have to download them as a whole. Most samples are from the CD full of ready to use samples you get with Acid Pro 4. Some are downloaded from the free stuff you can get at Sonic Foundry's Acid web site:



Mongrel 1,4 MB
Eleven, 0,5 MB
Thirteen, 1,5 MB
Fourteen, 1,6 MB
Fifteen, 1,6 MB
Sixteen, 1,6 MB
Seventeen, 2,3 MB
Eightteen , 3,4 MB .

Conclusion.

We rated version 3 differently: an 8.5 for average use, and a 10 for Dance use. But: the 3 we tested was more limited (the Music edition, not the Pro), and this 4 we tested was the Pro. Our affection to Sonic Foundry has become a bit bigger again with this new version, as it is very, very complete, has easy to use tight integration of digital audio and midi, and tons of features that makes music production life easy. A very fat 9+ is well deserved, as far as we are concerned. You get tons of value for a very reasonable price. If you're serious about your music production and want to do it the easy yet professional way we say: go for it! Trying is believing, and says more then a thousand words here. You can download a trial version at Sonic Foundry's web site to see for yourself why we are so enthusiastic about Acid Pro 4.

Nothing to complain about? Yes of course: why is this software not available on Mac under OS X 10.2? Would be a huge hit, I can tell you guys at Sonic Foundry. Come on, start the coding today!

As you may know by now, AudioMac.net tends not to mention pricing in the online reviews, so you'd better have a quick look at www.sonicfoundry.com for pricing info.


All reviews in AudioMac.net are written by Peter J. Bloemendaal. All rights reserved.

All reviews Mac OS | All reviews Win OS | Other stuff |
Home

12.01.2003