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Cakewalk Music Creator 7 Review

Ben Pitt
25 Apr 2015
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
30
inc VAT

A well-conceived creative environment, but Cakewalk Music Creator's steep initial learning curve can suck the enjoyment out.

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Specifications

OS Support: Windows 7/8.1, Minimum CPU: 2.6GHz multi-core, Minimum GPU: N/A, Minimum RAM: 4GB, Hard disk space: 5GB

Music production can be hugely rewarding but it can also be fiendishly complicated. The challenge for consumer software designers is to make something with enough assistance to get people started and enough freedom to let them follow their creative goals. Music Creator 7 comes from the makers of Sonar, an extremely sophisticated application aimed at professional musicians that makes few concessions for less experienced users. Music Creator caters for a very different audience. This is the first time we've reviewed this software, and first impressions were positive.

Music Creator looks clean and inviting, particularly with its single-knob effects

The interface is refreshingly uncluttered, with a Control Bar across the top offering basic file management, a toolbox, transport controls and the ability to switch between Screensets for different tasks. The area below is neatly compartmentalised with an arrange window in the middle, an Inspector for the selected track on the left and Browser on the right. The Multidock area at the bottom can show an editor for the selected audio or MIDI object, a mixer or various other panels. All panels can be hidden, undocked and relocated, but it's good to have a sensible starting point.

After loading up a demo song, we found it easy to navigate the software, make precise edits and adjust mix settings. A new MixStrip panel includes three effects – Grit, Max and Space – which apply tube distortion, compression and reverb respectively, each with a single knob to adjust the amount of processing. There's also a four-band EQ section with a straightforward, if rather small, graphical interface. Eleven other bundled effects include delay, chorus and gate, plus a virtual guitar amp plug-in that provides plenty of scope for sonic experimentation.

The TH2 Creator guitar amp simulator adds some crunch and wail to clean guitar recordings

Few people have lots of live instruments lying around to record with, so it's good to see some other sound sources included. There's a library of 2,620 audio loops that can be dropped directly onto the arrange window. They're automatically stretched to fit the tempo of the project, but the quality of the time-stretch algorithm isn't up to scratch. Unless a loop happened to be very close to the project tempo, the result was a garbled mess. At least the samples are labelled with their original tempos so it's easy enough to see whether it'll match.

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