Sony Acid Music Studio 10 Review – Recording music is very rewarding, but it can be technically complex. Sony claims its Acid Music Studio program minimises the complexity and lets you get on with the fun of making music. It comes loaded with over 3,000 audio clips (loops), which you can layer and edit to create your own arrangements. The software automatically stretches and pitch-shifts the loops, so they’re in time and in tune with the rest of the composition. To add a live instrument, plug in a microphone, set the volume and press record.
Sony Acid Music Studio 10, Music-making made easy, but this program fails to hit all the right notes
Acid has employed this streamlined approach since it first appeared 16 years ago. A lot has changed in that time, however, not least the rise of virtual instruments. These include synthesisers that run inside music-recording software and are played via a MIDI keyboard. This means even if you don’t have an orchestra of real instruments at your disposal, you can still create your own musical compositions, rather than merely build collages from ready-made sounds.
Acid Music Studio 10’s new bundled instruments are of uneven quality. The main instrument (guitar) sounds lifeless and its settings can’t be tweaked, but there’s also a grand piano that’s much better, and it’s easy to add more instruments in the shape of plug-ins. This can get expensive, though, and we’d prefer a higher quality set thrown in as standard.
Editing MIDI in Acid isn’t easy. The graphic MIDI editor is cramped and needs regular resizing of track heights. The way Acid lets you copy and paste sections of a composition make it awkward to create varied recordings. It’s unclear how to carry out certain basic tasks, such as adjusting the volume of an instrument or an individual note.
Version 10 does introduce a few features that make handling virtual instruments and MIDI easier. If you add lots of virtual instruments to your arrangement, it tends to eat up memory and processing power. But the Freeze option makes instruments temporarily uneditable, freeing up your PC’s resources and avoiding audio glitches caused by your PC’s struggle to record live instruments while editing virtual instruments. It’s now possible to view drum-machine notes with a list of drum sounds rather than via a virtual onscreen MIDI keyboard. This makes it easier to find a specific sound when drawing notes directly into a drum track, although it won’t help if you want to perform the drum parts on a physical keyboard. All these changes would be very welcome if they were the icing on the cake, complimenting a solid set of virtual instruments and MIDI-editing features. However, there’s little practical benefit to these enhancements when they’re built on such wobbly foundations.
Acid Music Studio’s handling of audio recordings is better than earlier versions, but there’s still room for improvement. Sound quality deteriorates when loops are stretched to fit a track’s time signature, and the supplied audio effects are basic. Still, the new capacity to add effects to individual audio recordings – rather than just the whole track – is welcome. So too is the option to group different recordings together for easier rearranging. Acid Music Studio is a good program for quickly jotting down new musical ideas quickly, but there’s nothing significantly new in version 10 to tempt existing users to upgrade. Anyone with a MIDI keyboard keen to experiment with recording their own music is better off with a more polished rival program, such as Steinberg Sequel.
Sony Acid Music Studio 10 System Requirements
- Windows 7 or later
- 1GHz processor
- 1GB of memory
- 4GB of available hard-drive space