Acid Pro has evolved from a loop-based application for Windows into a fully fledged DAW with advanced features under the stewardship of Magix Software. In addition to a bunch of new features, the Acid Pro Next 365 version utilises a subscription model where you pay a relatively low monthly subscription for the app and a bundle of content, instead of making a larger one-off payment. This approach has its fans and detractors, but it’s certainly the way some software companies - notably Adobe - are going.
Running on Windows only (sorry, Mac users), it has everything you’d expect of a serious DAW including 24-bit, 192kHz multitrack audio recording and editing, VST2 /3 support with a 32-bit bridge for using older plugins, and a comprehensive set of MIDI tools. It ships with 29 instruments and some specialised plug-ins for manipulating your tracks, so let’s have a look at what makes it stand out from the crowd.
ACID-ized loops are what you might be most familiar with when you hear the DAW’s names, and of course it still supports these. Legendary for their complete flexibility when it comes to pitch, length and transients, you can use ACID loops to compose and arrange loops in any key or time signature without endless processing needing to be done first. As well as having this functionality baked in, it also comes with Melodyne Essential, which lets you get down into the nuts and bolts of manipulating pitch, time and tone within an audio part.
With support for both internal and external effects, there’s powerful routing via the mixer, so you can process external signal through internal effects easily, and you also get surround mixing options for more advanced projects. Professional loudness metering is also new, with comprehensive feedback about the levels in your tracks.
ACID has always been about finding a groove, and there are some excellent tools built-in to help you work with timing and feel. Groove Maps can be applied to parts and even to entire tracks, letting you quickly change the feel of MIDI and audio to suit your needs. There’s also groove cloning, allowing the copying of a feel from any part to any other part. Zplane elastiquePro algorithms mean that manipulating time and pitch works incredibly well, with no artifacting that I could detect, at least until you start to push things very far indeed. ReWire support means you can connect multiple third party instruments and even DAWs like Reason directly into ACID with just a few clicks, and full envelope control allows precise manipulation of parameters like volume or tempo - with tempo curves being particularly useful.
Subscribing to the Next 365 version brings other benefits in the form of bundled content. You get the Analog Modelling Suite, which has four excellent processors for mastering and bringing a retro or warm tone to proceedings. The essentialFX suite is a more workhorse collection of plugins like gate, vocal strip, limiter, reverb and the like for everyday tracking and mixing functions. The Vintage Effects Suite is next, three retro style plugs, and exclusive to this version is VariVerb II, an advanced and great-sounding reverb effect. Also only found in this version is Vandal - a virtual guitar and bass processing tool wot a bunch of amps, speakers and stomp boxes, to bring your guitar and bass tracks to life. yet another exclusive to the 365 version is the Independence Pro Plus Suite of 12GB across multiple virtual instruments covering a wide range of musical uses.
There are some other interesting features that set this DAW apart from many others. It uses zynaptiq’s STEM MAKER technology to let you separate existing mixes out into beats, vocals and backing tracks. You can hear this in action via audio examples on the product website, and in my tests it was surprisingly effective at breaking a mixed file into its constituent parts. Like any attempts to do this it takes a little work and tweaking to get right, but it’s well worth the effort and this will be an invaluable tool for remixers everywhere.
New in this version is the MIDI Playable Chopper, which brings MPC-style performance sampling and hip hop functionality directly into your environment. Using transients to split loops and samples into their constituent parts, it allows you to play hits and slices individually, then record the results as audio for instant remixing and groove-based jamming. It’s a nice touch, and very useful. A separate but related tool is Beatmapper, which can analyse the tempo and time signature of any audio file you import and then use this information to map its tempo to your project, or match other files to the imported one. Finally for remixers, Chopper gives you slice-based access to any audio file, and these can be re-ordered and arranged in any way you like, for even more slice-and-dice remixing fun.
ACID Pro Next is available to buy outright for £299, but lacks a few of the added goodies that come with the subscription version (and also the Suite version, which is £449). The subscription model may not be for everyone, but is sensibly priced and doesn’t require you to be permanently online - just periodically for authentication. The terms are fairly lenient too, so you do get some leeway if you decide to terminate your subscription.
Ultimately this is a solid and powerful DAW for Windows that will provide all the tools that most producers need. It’s especially good for remixers and those looking to break down existing samples, tracks and loops into slices and constituent parts, then rearrange and otherwise manipulate them so that they can be re-used and turned into new material. if the subscription model doesn’t appeal you can buy a near-identical version outright, although a few of the bundled instruments, FX and loop sets are exclusive to this version - all this information is detailed on the product website.
Price: £15.99 / month over 12 months. £17.99 / month over 3 months. Upgrade pricing is available.
Pros: Solid and well-featured DAW for Windows. Strong emphasis on slicing, stretching and remixing tools. Stem Maker is a clever and genuinely useful tool for separating audio. Excellent bundled content. Spread the cost, if that’s your thing.
Cons: WIndows-only. Some exclusives limited to this subscription version.
Learn everything you need to know about mixign and mastering: https://ask.audio/academy?nleloc=category/audio/topic/mixing