Review of ACID 4.0
MIDI, VSTi and Surround now incorporated
by the Tweak
in ACID PRO 4.0
- Plug-In effects automation
- ASIO driver support
- 5.1 surround mixing
- MIDI piano roll editing
- MIDI event list editing
- VSTi support
- Alternate time signatures
- Master, Aux and FX bus tracks
- MIDI step recording
Having had ACID
here since the 1st days of ACID 1.0,
I have watched the program grow considerably since its debut. When it
was first released ACID was a revolutionary, "dream-come true" program.
For the 1st time on the PC one could assemble loops into arrangements on a grid
and have each loop adjust automatically to the project tempo and key.
Up until the release of ACID, these functions could only be done in expensive
hardware digital samplers and took a lot of mathematical tweaking to time stretch
the loops so they would lock. Acid breathed new life into those writing
techno, trance, DnB and other loop based forms of electronica.
|Mini screenshot of a portion of Acid's screen.
You can extend ACID to a dual monitor for a very large workspace.
(click to enlarge)
Do not be fooled by the fact that you can go
to a major department store and find versions of ACID DJ, and other Acid starter
versions available inexpensively. You might delude yourself into thinking
that ACID is a program for kids, and think that it cannot possibly be a serious
application for music like Logic or Cubase, or Sonar. Here's something
you might not have known. ACID is used in some of the top studios and
yes, people everyday are making bushels full of money using it. Lets say
you are a composer doing TV commercials and you have five 60-second projects
due in 2 days.
Can you pull this off?. Maybe by working around
the clock 48 hours you might get close, but you'll pay with your health, damaged
relations with the significant other (means more expensive gifts) ah,
the list goes on. You could have done much better off buying ACID Pro
and buying all the royalty free loop libraries. The cool thing about
ACID is how fast you can assemble a project, render it down, and finish it.
You could conceivable get down a 60 second clip in a few hours, not a few days.
You actually could meet a 48 hour deadline for 5 TV spots. After you add effects
and a unique midi track or two, no ones going to know you made your cool
sounding clips in ACID. Except maybe the other studio tweaks doing it
Works with ACID 4.0
The Celestial Windowpane was developed
at TweakHeadz Lab and contains 650 megs of space-oriented dance and electronic
loops. Listen to a
The New 4.0 features:
LIVE 24-Bit Recording Software (Macintosh and Windows)
Live is an audio sequencer that you can
play like an instrument. Whether on its own or with other musicians or DJs,
live on stage or when remixing in the studio, all you need is Live and a
Mac or PC. Tweak:
The LIVE is a loop sequencer that works inside Cubase SX. If you have
lots of audio loops, check it out.
Read my review
I'm just going to give you my initial observations
on some of these features, which you can see in the sidebar. The most
important, IMHO, is the MIDI implementation. You might ask why a
loop audio sequencer even needs it, and whether Sonar might be more appropriate
for the job of combining loops and midi. Is not Sonic Foundry encroaching
on Sonar's territory here? Yes they are. Are they close to what
Sonar can do with MIDI? Nope! Not even in the same ballpark. Or
the same universe.
In terms of MIDI handling, ACID is extremely
basic. You can do piano roll editing, event list editing and step recording,
and you can record midi in real time, edit velocity with the mouse, but that's
about where it ends for now. Forget about extensive controller mapping,
program changing, groove quantizing or other things you expect a fill blown
midi sequencer to have. What you do get is basic MIDI recording functionality.
But in many projects, that is all one needs.
The new midi recording features essentially free you of a dependence on loops
for basslines, arpeggios, pads, solos--OK you got it. The best part
is that it works with soft synths. So if you want a killer trance bassline,
stop looking for loops, roll your own with the FM7, Pro 52, Kontakt, whatever
VSTi you can get running. (Note: not all work--see below) You can
point ACID to look in any VSTplugins folder on your system, so if you are already
using Logic or Cubase, then your whole setup ports in.
What is a plugin?
A plugin is a small program that is inserted on a track or mix bus that
act just like a hardware effects box. For more on plugins, see
my plugin page.
Are ACID Loops different
than Wave files? Can I use Wave files in Acid? A file
is "acidiized" when it has a software flag that says how many measures
the loop is and what key it is in and whether it is a one shot, or looping
file. The program will guess how many measures a non acidized
file it and does it really well. You can adjust these parameters
in Acid and resave these files to acidize them, or you can use sound
forge to do it too. You can use any standard wave file in acid.
Are all your Celestial
Windowpane Loops 100% acidized? Yes. The product works
perfectly in all versions of ACID.
Do you have any tips
for building unique sounds in ACID? But if course! Here's
ACID tips page
Go to Tweak's
ACID PLANET Site
These some new stuff going on with Plugins
in Acid 4. Most notable are the automatable effects. There
is a flange/wah, 4 band parametric EQ and best of all a resonant filter. The
filter is really nice. Easy to automate. It's not going the rival the Ableton's
effects, but its pretty cool to finally get some filter sweeping done in Acid. For
those of you with Waves plugins, a nice bonus is that the Waves Doppler, L1 Untramaximizer
+, the RComp and Trueverb are automatable as well. By the way, all my Waves
plugins can be used in ACID. Additionally, if you have Sound Forge 6, you
can use any of the plugin chains you made in Acid. Magically, these show up
in the well organized plugin list.
Acid 4.0 also features ASIO support, no
doubt to help users run their VSTi's in ACID with as little latency as possible.
On my system, using a delta 1010, which works excellently in many asio driven applications,
the results have not been stellar. I am experiencing clicks and pops when
moving or resizing windows and have had a few crashes that I think I can attribute
to the asio driver. The Windows "classic" driver, which appears to actually pass
the audio to the Delta WDM driver in my case, works better. Performance on
my SBLive is very good if not using soft synths.
Perhaps the coolest new feature in ACID 4 is
that you can use it to make and render surround source tracks. With the
new surround features enough to verify that I can move files to the front, back,
corners of a 3 dimensional listening area. And guess what, it works well!
This feature can be mind blowing for those with surround capable
soundcards who have never tried it before. A true delight. If you get
the optional surround 5.1 plugin pack from sonic foundry, you can render your
surround mixes to DVDR with full dolby digital sound. Amazing huh? And
you thought this was a program for kids!
Acid's main competition comes from the Ableton
my review. I can't do an exhaustive
comparison here, but I will tell you what I think on the most basic of basics
level. Ease of Use: Acid has a much more friendly interface. The
Live is less intuitive though perhaps more powerful MIDI: The Live
uses midi to trigger loops in real time. Acid uses MIDI traditionally,
to record and play MIDI notes. Effects: The Live has interesting,
effects and they automate intuitively. The Live lets you use VST plugins.
Acid comes with some sonic foundry plugins
and lets you us DX plugins. Arrangement: Acid has a better
way to get loops into the program. The Live is a little awkward, IMHO.
But the Live lets you put different loops on the same track. Acid does
not. Mixer: Acid has an easy to understand mixer with definable
busses. The Live mixer is very basic. ACID lets you use VSTi's.
The Live does not. In Use: The Live has a light feel that lets you work
fast. This lets you manipulate and transform your mix in real time, usually
without glitches. Acid feels heavier to use, more geared towards creating
a finished product, with lots of export possibilities, including CD Burning.
Things to watch out for: (i.e., things
you might expect to work that do not)
Acid 4.0 does not work with Native's Dynamo.
That's excusable, as Dynamo has badly needed an update for a long time.
Multiple VST outputs are not supported. Lets hope they figure that one out.
Battery, when used in Acid, may have problems on win 98se and WinME.. Absynth
may have MIDI input problems. There is a note that if you are using an
Audigy card that you may need to disable other soundcards (!) on your computer
(I did not find this to be true with my SB Live). As I wrote above, there
is an issue using ASIO with M-Audio delta cards. (No big loss, the windows
classic driver works OK).
Oh, one more thing. Sonic Foundry has
a way of telling you to contact "the other manufacturer" when there is a software
conflict with other applications, plugins, hardware drivers. Is this Elitism?
Does everyone else have to change because Sonic Foundry is the only company
that does its coding right? This "blaming the other guy" has got to go
in this business. It sure would be nice if software/hardware makers all worked
together before a product release to ensure compatibility. After
all, it is in both manufacturers' interests to do so. And definitely in the
consumer's interest. My friends, we must insist that companies communicate better
rather than enlisting us to do their dirty laundry. To Sonic Foundry's
credit, they do tell you the known issues in their products. Its far worse
when a software maker does not.
Update: M-audio has now fixed their drivers
so the issues no longer occur. Yay!
In the balance
Definitely a worthy upgrade if you are already
using ACID pro. If you need tools for fast, efficient construction of
loop based compositions, ACID is the way to go. The good stuff is all
here. Fast creation of music, export to wave, mp3 and other formats.
You can track alongside a video file, make a surround mix, go crazy with automation.
You can find out more about ACID 4.0 at
Sonic Foundry's Site It's available in packaged or downloadable form.
All the best,
Rich the TweakMeister
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