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Magix Music Maker MX review

Ben Pitt
23 Jan 2012
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
40
inc VAT

Some strong music-making features but the interface lets it down badly

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There isn't much music-production software designed for home users these days, but Steinberg Sequel 3 sets a high standard. Magix's latest offering squares up pretty well in terms of features. There are 64 tracks with eight effect slots on each, plus eight virtual instrument types – welcome improvements on Sequel's 48 tracks with three effects each and three virtual instruments.

Magix Music Maker main

Quality is more important than quantity, though. There's a new analogue synth called Lead Synthesizer, but sadly, its controls and sounds are as uninspiring as its name. Also new is Loop Designer, which takes a drum loop, manipulates it beyond recognition and throws in a bassline for good measure. It reminds us of Steinberg LoopMash, which comes bundled with Cubase. Like LoopMash, the results tend to be fairly off-the-wall, but those who embrace bizarre noises should get some mileage from it. Drum Engine takes a no-frills approach to electronic drum sounds, with high quality results. They join the instruments from previous versions, including LiViD, which provides auto-accompaniment drum performances, and Vita, with its generous library of convincing orchestral and pop instrument emulations.

Magix Music Maker synth

I play synth... we all play synth

Ultimately, though, Sequel's instruments are less diverse but they have the edge for quality. They also benefit from a library of MIDI phrases, so users can press them into action if they don't own a MIDI keyboard.

Music Maker now supports VST plug-ins to expand on the built-in effects and virtual instruments. Only two of the eight effects slots per channel can be used for VST effects – the others are hard-wired into the signal chain. However, while Sequel can only use VST3 plug-ins, of which there are very few, Music Maker works with VST2 plug-ins too – of which there are thousands.

The bundled loop library is another highlight. It's not huge but it's well organised by genre and instrument, and the quality is unusually high for a consumer package. We're used to wincingly cheesy sound libraries that could have been knocked together by the work-experience boy, but Music Maker MX's are performed and recorded to a high standard. Best of all, the harmonic samples are presented at seven pitches – not simply pitch-shifted but re-performed so they can be used together to create chord sequences.

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