A new year, a new Music Maker - and a new formula to boot this time. Last year, with MAGIX Music Maker 2016 Live, we saw the introduction of Live Pad, a unique way to both add to your produced work more naturally, and enable you to play live, if you choose. The newest addition with this version of Music Maker is an improved mediapool, and the ability to directly purchase Music Maker-Compatible soundpools very efficiently.
The new mediapool has ups and downs, but overall I find it to be a fairly improved experience. To start with the bad, the mediapool now takes up the left side of your screen. While giving you an easier time vertically in your arranger, makes it harder to see the edges of it and personally I prefer more horizontal space as opposed to vertical. The second downside I saw was the lack of detail for each sample. Granted, the only times this was useful was generally when I wished to sort all my samples by BPM and see which soundpack they were from, but nonetheless it is still an inconvenience to be unable to use that functionality anymore. However, the rest of it seems to be quite improved. With the new vertical window, you can see your soundpools easier and locate the exact one you’d want without much searching. You can also see more samples at a time, mostly useful in going through the numerous drum samples to find that certain letter. You’re more easily able to navigate it via the tabs at the top that let you head straight to the shop in-program, instead of forcing you to head to a web page just to see what they have available.
|1) Record 2) Arrange 3) Mix|
I can’t personally say how much value the new soundpools have on their own, generally being priced at $20 apiece with a few exceptions of higher price tags. Considering the premium version - priced at $130, $70 more than the base version - has 6 extra soundpacks (among other things) the price may be a slight bit steep for those used to the general pricing of the Music Maker products. However, that’s not to say it is not worth the price as sample packs of this quality and quantity are generally quite expensive, and these have the added benefit of already being constructed to work within Music Maker, so there’s no hassle. On top of soundpools, you can also purchase new instruments, which will likely be added to in the future. Do noet there can be some sticker shock here too - being $40 per item. That being said the Music Maker instruments are really quite good. As always, I recommend the Premium edition for those looking to get as much bang for their bucks here. This applies to whether you want the soundpools or whether you want the mastering, extra instruments, live pads, and unlimited tracks - the latter two being available in the Live version, which has less soundpools and instruments than Premium, but still more than the base version.
The visual design, aside from the aforementioned mediapool, hasn’t changed noticeably, but still remains the same solid design as before. Nothing will seem wildly out of place if you’re already familiar with the program. I’ve seen some odd glitches so far, but nothing that drastically breaks the experience for me. I’ve yet to see slowdown from an overpopulated arranger, and nothing has struck me yet as problematic. The mastering system has - regrettably - not improved much from the prior iteration. When I first laid hands on this program years ago, it had a great mastering system, which looked a bit more convoluted, but was quicker to use, with helpful presets for quick mastering. These have since changed it to a very simplified set of screens that I find somewhat odd to navigate, and the presets still end up something of a mess now. You can still master effectively, but it takes a bit of trial and error to find something you like, and is a hassle with all the menus. If there’s one thing I greatly want fixed, it would be this feature which has long been a case of 'if is not broken, do not fix it'.
Now, the soundpools. These are all of very high quality. Of course, your personal tastes will vary - there are some I am incredibly fond of, and others that are just kind of 'meh' for me personally. That being said, they all have a rich quality to the sound and are worth taking the time to explore. Included in this review is the song I made from the Hip-Hop soundpool, which does include vocals, for those curious. If you’re here for the soundpools, you won’t be disappointed.
Overall, this iteration of MAGIX has gone from strength to strength last year to this, and is worth the upgrade - but maybe only for the soundpools. While it seems to have increased stability, which was an issue with the last release, their biggest addition is the ever expanding library of soundpools and instruments to purchase. For the users that relished these tools, they come at acceptable pricing. While I wish they would update (or would it technically be an un-date as I liked how it used to be better) the mastering system, and a couple of small UI elements take a little getting used to, MAGIX Music Maker Premium a solid addition into the Music Maker lineup, and I hope to see the soundpool size grow over time.
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Article by Chris H.