Benchmark:Sonic Foundry Acid

Groovy Baby

Acid

($399)

Sonic Foundry

754 Williamson St.

Madison WI 53791-8062

(800)577-6642

www.sonicfoundry.com

With an ever increasing move to computer video, it only makes sense that music would soon follow. While music creation might not be the first thought on a videographer’s mind, Acid by Sonic Foundry will definitely get intermediate and advanced users’ toes tapping. Say good-bye to those groovy music libraries and say hello to Acid.

From the creators of Sound Forge comes a loop-based music production tool that allows anyone the creative tools to arrange and create music in just minutes. Users can repeat short music samples, creating what have come to be called "loops" of music. With a huge selection of instruments and effects, Acid is capable of creating music in a wide range of styles. With direct output to .wav, .aif or streaming .asf formats, it’s easy to incorporate "Acidized" files into a variety of multimedia projects. Targeted at videographers in both the music and video worlds, Acid delivers a powerful punch, though its $399 price is a little steep.

Acid has a look and feel that’s very similar to many timeline-based nonlinear editing packages, but instead of editing video, you’re creating loop-based music. With a simple design, Acid delivers a very user-friendly navigation system that lets the user pick from three main areas: the track view, the track list and the multi-functions section that houses the media explorer, edit window, mixer and effects pages. A timeline holds your track allowing you to place loops in your own horizontal column. First, you must select a loop from the Media Explorer. Each loop is clearly classified into a type of instrument or musical style. Once you’ve selected your loop, you simply double click it and it’s added to your project. You can add dozens of loops per track. From there, you move to the editing phase of Acid.

With both a time ruler and a beat ruler, Acid is well designed for visual editing. The pencil or paintbrush tools allow you to place your loops into the timeline. You can make a loop as short or as long as you desire. Once your loops are in place you can then go one step further and change the tempo and musical key. This means that you have total control of the final sound. Above and beyond this, Acid also allows you to adjust each loop’s own mix. By adding a point in a loop, the user can pan from right and left and fade audio levels up and down. There’s also a final master mix for your entire track. For editing ease, any loop can be selected to be mute or solo. This allows you to clearly hear and work on just one or two loops and avoid a major headache if you’re working with dozens of loops. Acid also features special effects plug-ins to further enhance your musical masterpiece. A major high mark for Acid is the fact that you can expand or compress your finished track to fit a specific amount of time with out loss of quality or tempo. This is a feature that any videographer will definitely find useful.

Acid’s system requires an Intel Pentium 133 (but prefers a 233) or Alpha AXP microprocessor, Microsoft Windows 95/98 or WindowsNT or later, Windows-compatible sound card, VGA display, CD-ROM drive, 32 MB RAM and 5 MB hard-disk space for program installation. We did our Benchmarks test on a 400 MHz Pentium II running Windows98 (64MB RAM), which ran the software flawlessly. You may have different results on other systems.

We found that Acid worked well and did exactly what it said it would. In little more than 30 minutes we had arranged and created a musical bed that rivals many music libraries. Musicians, however, may find Acid to be a bit limiting, as it doesn’t give the kind of control over your music that a full-blown MIDI sequencing program would. While some MIDI programs allow users to capture music from a guitar or keyboard, Acid users are limited to the instrumentation provided. Nevertheless, even the most computer-phobic musicians will find Acid to be an excellent representative of its category, and in the end, downright fun to play with. –MS


Tech Specs

System Requirements

Intel Pentium or Alpha AXP microprocessor

Microsoft Windows95 or WindowsNT or later

Windows-compatible sound card

VGA display

CD-ROM drive

32MB RAM

5MB hard-disk space for program installation

Strengths


  • easy to use
  • many plug-ins available
  • automatically fits music to time

Weaknesses


  • expensive

Summary

A handy music-creation tool for videographers who need royalty-free music for their productions

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