Review by Katie Tarrant
Edited by Sam Hughes
ACID Pro 8.0 is a DAW targeted at music creators and producers that thrives on loop-based experimentation and production. In need of an upgrade since its initial creation, MAGIX have given ACID a much needed makeover, with a sleeker design, the addition of a multitude of new features, and the much needed upgrade to 64-bit architecture.
From first look, it’s clear to see that ACID Pro 8.0 has had a solid re-work with a much more modern design and layout that for me feels like a blend between REAPER and Adobe Audition. Interestingly, the icon for ACID Pro 8.0 is near identical to the icon for Adobe Audition which can be a little inconvenient when they are both sitting side-by-side on my task bar. Nevertheless, you can see that ACID has followed a similar vein to MAGIX’s revamp of Sound Forge Pro, although ACID possesses the clearer and smarter appearance that I feel Sound Forge is still lacking.
In terms of installing ACID, everything was seamless until I got to the loops. I opted for installing on my E: drive as opposed to my C: drive as it had more space, which is rarely a problem with modern programs, but I had some struggle with ACID frequently trying to revert back to my C: drive. The loop installation kept reaching a point where it demanded to use my C: drive even though I had asked it to use my E: drive. There may be a way around this that I have not yet discovered, but to avoid issues, just make sure you have enough C: drive space!
Upon using ACID Pro 8.0 for the first time, it loaded up a pop music template with a selection of ACID‘s stock loops already loaded into a playable session. This is interesting for having an introductory listen to what some of ACID‘s loops can do, but I found I would have preferred it to have just opened a clear session. This is due to ACID‘s “Load recent project” feature which is on by default. It can be useful for some, although can be turned off in preferences if you prefer to start from scratch.
Within minutes, it was clear to see that ACID is incredibly intuitive to use. It’s straight-forward in its design, everything is easy to find and navigate to, and it does not take long to get your head around its in-built features; so much so that MAGIX have not even released a manual for it. However, they have included a series of interactive tutorials to clarify anything you might be unsure on. Its simplicity is ideal for those that are new to this kind of software, or are intimidated by the more complex DAWs. Like with most DAW’s, it can take some time to learn the icons, but once you’re over that hurdle, everything is smooth as silk.
Tracks can be created with an quick right-click drop down menu on the left of your window. You can also access your preferences, toggle your buses, toggle your output meters, open projects and several more options from this drop-down. Your toolbar at the top of your window shows your usual new, open, and save project, undo, redo, as well as snapping, automatic crossfades, and your editing tools (draw, erase, select, paint, envelope, and more). Your bottom toolbar includes your record arm, invert phase, master, plugins track.
ACID has some nifty features. For example, when you import a track and select the draw tool, you can simply click and drag your cursor across the track and it will duplicate your audio for as long as you want to duplicate it for. This makes working with shorter loops (and longer, too) an absolute breeze as you can import a shorter loop and simply use the draw tool to extend it in milliseconds. You can also click and drag the start and end of the original imported file and it will do the same thing. ACID will also remember what you had on a track after you deleted it so if you deleted a drum loop and decided you wanted it back, you can use the draw tool to simply draw it back in again. This is dependent on the clip’s ‘ACID type’. By right-clicking the track and selecting ‘Clip Properties’, you can change your audio to either a ‘one-shot’ in which the audio will maintain its imported state, ‘loop’ so that it can be extended as explained above, or ‘beat mapped’ so that it can be time-stretched. There is also cluster editing, which enables you to pitch, move, cut, or copy entire sections of your project which is ideal when working with a large session or multiple loops or audio files.
I particularly enjoyed how ACID Pro 8.0 handles and manages your plugins. It presents you with a plugin management window in which you can quickly tab between all of your loaded plugins, as opposed to having to bring up individual windows per plugin like several other DAWs do. This makes loading and moving between plugins faster and more efficient, and also reduces the amount of clutter on your screen. The only downside is that your plugins can’t be transferred to standalone windows if you wanted to, but the plugin management window will suffice for most people.
ACID Pro 8.0 comes with its essential FX suite, including a compressor, gate, vocal strip, tremolo, chorus, deEsser, phaser, limiter, tube stage, reverb, and stereo delay. This means that even if you do not own any of your own plugins, you still have access to everything you would need to competently mix and master your music. Although, ACID Pro 8.0 is also soon to support VST3, allowing you to introduce any of your third party plugins into your ACID workflow if the stock plugins do not suit your needs.
Your mix console is incredibly customisable, with a list on the left-hand side for toggling the features that you want to view, such as your audio tracks, insert FX, sends, VU Meters, busses and more. Some of the features from your main toolbar are also visible on each individual channel so that you can solo, mute, record arm, invert phase, and so on, for any particular channel strip. You can also down-mix or dim your output from here, and customise your meter layout if you prefer showing/hiding peaks, level increments and so on.
Recording with ACID Pro 8.0 is as straight-forward as all other DAWs an it can record up to 24bit and 192kHz. Automation is effortless thanks to Touch Record. Selecting this feature sets your pan, volume, and FX faders to record so that you can perform all of your automation in one small section. As soon as you play then adjust the faders, your automation will be drawn in and will create an adjustable point mark each time you move the fader, so you can quickly adjust any particular points after your automation is recorded.
On the whole, ACID does a great job of condensing all of your features, so you only need to expose them when you need them, which is hugely responsible for why the layout feels clear and free of clutter. Navigation is also to be commended. All of your features are available either via an icon or a right-hand click somewhere on your window. For example, you can record arm a track via your edit window icon, by right-clicking the track itself, or in your mixer. You can get to your plugins by right clicking the FX icon on your track, right-clicking your audio file, or by using the FX panel in the mixer. You can also do automation by hitting the touch record icon, by right-clicking your audio file, or by using your mixer. You get the idea – MAGIX have worked to ensure that you’re never more than 1 or 2 clicks away from what you need, which is essential for the speedy workflow that most producers end up honing.
As aforementioned, ACID is targeted at music producers and one of its main selling points is its loop-based music creation. It comes with over 9GB of loops for creative production and remixing. ACID has several useful tools for getting hands on with the editing and experimenting of your audio. Some examples are ‘Beat Mapper’, which is a tool that allows you to detect and map the tempo of any imported audio. Once mapped, your project can then be locked to that tempo, and the tempo and pitch can also be edited afterwards should you decide to alter it further.
Accompanying this, there is ‘Groove Tool’ that allows you to change the entire tempo, swing, or overall groove of your project. This is ideal for experimenting with your music, and for completely changing the style of the loops you’re working with if you prefer. There is also Chopper: a tool that allows intricate slicing and editing of your audio based on transients, tempo, or set points so you can quickly chop up and completely re-arrange your loops or recordings. Once edited, you can drop these events straight onto your timeline using ‘Insert Selection’ or ‘Insert Selection at Play Cursor’. This progress makes it really easy to edit, re-order, or simply highlight certain sections of loops and audio files and drop them straight into your project.
As well as 9GB of loops, ACID Pro 8.0 comes with a miscellany of virtual instruments: concert grand, church organ, electric piano, analog synths, cinematic synth, vintage organ, electric bass, jazz drums, urban drums, pop drums, a drum engine, a choir and more. Additionally, ACID Pro 8.0 365, MAGIX’s subscription version of the software, also comes with an orchestra and pop brass. To add more power to your arsenal, ACID Pro 8.0 has ReWire support, enabling you to rewire it with Pro Tools, Cubase, Reason, and many other DAW’s, either at the input or the output stage depending on what you want to achieve. Moreover, it is surround compatible, boasts control surface support, and can be used with video.
Overall, ACID Pro 8.0 is a fantastic DAW for any music producer or creator, especially those who prefer to remix or use loops in their music. It’s incredibly straight-forward and intuitive to operation and MAGIX have made a lot of smart decisions about its functionality and design. This makes it ideal for entry-level producers and creators, as well as for those who prefer a powerful yet easy-to-use product. The ability to rewire makes it feasible to integrate ACID Pro 8.0 into your existing or future workflow, and its strong ability, wealth of content, and balanced design make it a brilliant choice for any music hobbyist or professional. My only qualms were the issues I had with installation of the loops.
Replace with Outro.