Many of us have used buyout music libraries in the past. You find the music you like, buy it and it’s yours to use as many times as you like, with no additional fees. Those with more time or creative energy on hand enjoy using music creation software like ACID or other loop-based products to gain (almost) complete control over the music. With the release of StackTraxx, Digital Juice has come up with a unique product that straddles the fence with one foot in the music-library camp and the other in the creative-loop camp. Just imagine buy-out music that you can customize and you are on the right track.
Juice Up your Audio Video Production
StackTraxx comes in a nifty library case that contains four audio CDs and a DVD-ROM. The CDs are pretty standard buyout music fare, with ten full-length songs on each with 60, 30, 15 and 10-second edit variations. The DVD contains compressed MP3 previews of each song; Digital Juice’s proprietary STX format versions of each edit and its Juicer software.
The Juicer, now in version 2, is Digital Juice’s interface to all their content. It acts as a sort of library browser and also as a processing engine to automatically convert Digital Juice’s files into files that you can use in your editing software, whatever that may be. We downloaded the free latest update from Digital Juice (2.1.1), as well as the Getting Started manual for audio products, since StackTraxx comes with precious little documentation.
The audio/video production software has a very Mac-like interface, with glassy transparent buttons and bars, and is pretty straightforward overall. We then installed the song previews, which loaded the MP3 versions of each song and used up a couple of hundred megs of hard disk space. The Juicer has several windows, each with unique tasks. You will spend a good deal of time in the Browser window sorting through the included 40 full-length songs and their accompanying edits. For StackTracks, you will see each instrumental part on its own track in the Preview window with a musical icon and simple waveform view. Once you will have found a song and length you like, the Batch window let’s you process the media for your editing software.
Audio/Video Production Mix Master
With a click of a button, the Juicer software divides the StackTraxx into each of its individual parts. Up to seven parts are available, depending on the song, and you can mute and unmute parts with a click on the checkbox while listening to the playback. Now, you can get rid of that screaming guitar solo if you want to create a drum-and-bass-only mix of the song, for example. This breathes new life into each arrangement and gives you unprecedented flexibility in molding the music to fit your project. It also lets you create variations on a theme, perhaps having the full mix for the intro and outro of your video and then creating a more subtle mix to lay down behind your voiceover narration.
The Output tab is where you will process the song and maybe output down-mix to an audio file. The cool part, however, is that it lets you create individual audio files of each track in the arrangement. Now you can import each of these files into your editing software on separate tracks and you can mix the audio to suit the video. So if you need a hole for some dialog, just turn down the tracks that get in the way. You can remix the song to taste with volume envelopes or use the audio mixer in your software to mold the music to your needs. Of course, you can also import the audio tracks into any audio-only program as well, such as Sonar or even ACID. Flexibility on this level is unheard of in a buyout library.
From Audio/Video Production to The Music
We reviewed the Power Stacks (Volume 2) for this review and, make no mistake, power is the right word. These are aggressive tracks, leaning toward heavy metal and power grunge, from a stylistic standpoint. While you won’t be using these arrangements for productions such as realtor videos or wedding montages, they are a perfect fit for action videos and extreme sports like skateboarding or super cross. If head banging does not suit your clients, Digital Juice offers three other selections at this time: Extreme Stacks, Serious Stacks and Smooth Stacks (you can preview any of the tracks on their Website). At $249 per volume, it’s a good variety for any buy-out library. Add the power of the Juicer and you have a great deal of flexibility. These tracks compare nicely in quality and variety to any of the other buy-out and royalty-free libraries on the market. There is a good deal of variation within each volume and, while the tracks have a sense of unity, there is no impression of boring sameness. I did notice some of the songs in the Power Stacks volume jump around a bit in their arrangements, but ultimately, they sound like a song and not just a bunch of chunks thrown together.
Final Audio/Video Production Mix
StackTraxx Layered Music Libraries fill a need in the video producer’s bag of tricks. This tool combines the ease of buyout music with unprecedented power to remix the final track, without the hassle (or creativity) of a loop-based tool. StackTraxx gives you a different sort of control over the mix than the SmartSound products do and, better still, they let you modify your mix within any video editor without any sort of plugin. Video producers at any level can finally have some creative control over their music without having to hire a studio band. Instructions are sketchy and you should definitely preview the musical styles before you buy, but StackTraxx from Digital Juice take royalty-free music into a new realm.
Contributing Editor Hal Robertson is a 25-year production veteran and owns a media-consulting firm.
Version: PowerStacks Volume 2
Platform: PC and Mac
Operating System: Windows 98SE, 2000 and XP; Mac OS v9.22, OS X v. 10.1.5+
Hard Disk: 256MB
Demo Version: Free Download
- Very easy to use
- Mixing flexibility
- Mac and PC
- Limited documentation
More flexible than buy-out libraries and easier to use than loop-based music tools, StackTraxx is an ideal way to get royalty-free music into your productions.
Digital Juice, Inc.
1736 NE 25th Ave
Ocala, FL 34470-4854