For 18 years I was a dedicated Cakewalk user (starting from Cakewalk Pro Audio 9) and when Gibson dropped the news, I took advantage of the cross-grade price for Studio One 3. However, I can't say the transition has been seamless for me. I don't want to say Studio One 3 is a bad piece of software, but for some reason or another - it's hard for me to envision myself using it for the length of time I used Cakewalk products.
I recently reached out to the folks here at Acoustica and I've got my hands on Mixcraft 8 Pro Studio. I wanted to give a detailed first impressions thread as well as some praise and criticism.
Please understand that my only aim here is to give my honest opinion, thoughts, and ideas and I'm in no way looking to start a flame war of any kind.
The program installs without a hitch and loads quickly. The main start tab is sensible, allowing you to already insert tracks or instrument tracks if you know exactly what you'll be doing. Very nice.
The program itself is familiar and quite easy to get the hang of. It does remind me quite a bit of Cakewalk stuff for some reason - especially the piano roll functionality. I make extensive use of the piano roll, so that's a big plus for me.
The overall design of the program is not blowing my socks off and I think Acoustica could consider re-vamping to a more modern look, but that said, menus and options are located in very logical places and I literally had no problems finding the options I needed. In this case, I have no problem forgiving the out-dated design because the functionality of the program is great and really all that truly matters.
Tweaks I Made
I dove into the preferences tab pretty much right away to see what I could do. I was both surprised and somewhat pleased to see that the program is simple and it's only got a few options that can be tweaked. Some options I tweaked were:
- Removed note text;
- Removed note color changes when being played;
- Changed default audio/instrument track colors;
- Switched to "Light" theme;
- Changed the playback cursor to always be centered;
- Made it so the playback cursor goes back to the start position on stop;
- Changed the mousewheel and keyboard combinations for zooming;
- Removed FX from the tracks in the main clip grid;
- Removed EQ knobs in channel strips in the docker.
There were a few other changes I made that I can't remember off the top of my head at the moment. I'm more or less happy with how the program functions with the changes I made.
- Automatic routing with virtual instruments like Kontakt 5;
- MIDI Editing is fast;
- MIDI humanization functional contains ability to humanize within a particular velocity range;
- Interface is not cluttered - everything is easy to find;
- Separate window for Marker List;
- Tuner on every track is very useful - especially for quick guitar tuning;
- Automation is easy to do;
- I like the meters - very easy to see where I'm at dB-wise;
- No keyboard shortcut to open/close docker - having to actually click that tiny " - " symbol is annoying;
- Everything is grey - tracks could retain their color all the time instead of when only being active;
- No keyboard shortcut to add submix tracks;
- Timeline mode is either measures/beats or minutes/seconds and can't be combined;
- Can't have grid-lines appear on top of clips in main clip grid;
- Multiple track selection in the Mixer seems buggy - could only select 4 at a time?;
- No gain staging plugin such as Trim or the Gain knob such as in Cakewalk;
Stability & Bugs
Mixcraft 8 Pro Studio has already crashed on me a few times during very routine things such as recording guitar, inserting Kontakt 5, and even when saving and closing the program.
One specific instance was a case where I was testing out guitar tones for a product I'm reviewing. I inserted a new track, copied the FX to that track, and then I had outrageous noise. (The kind of noise you'd get if you accidentally put two or three overdrive pedals before an amp sim.) I deleted the FX on that track, but the amp-simulator remained. I went to "Edit FX" panel and now FX appeared there, yet the amp-sim sound was still there. I closed the program and re-opened it and no changes. I had to make a new project.
When compared to Studio One 3, I can't say that Mixcraft 8 has been more stable for me. In using this product thus far I can see that Mixcraft 8 is starting to make the jump from home hobbyists to the professional realm. I see real potential here and I'm going to begin creating content for my YouTube channel in regards to Mixcraft 8.
For those who are curious, my recording rig is:
- AMD Ryzen 7 1700X 3.4GHz;
- MSI Core Frozr L Cooler;
- MSI X370 Gaming Pro;
- MSI GeForce GTX 970 Gaming 4G;
- Eve Audio SC204 Monitors;
- Samsung EVO 500GB SSD;
- Western Digital Black 2T;
- Kingston DDR4-2666 16GB;
- Seasonic Prime Platinum 650W;
- 27" Samsung Curved C27F396F;
- Zalman Z9 Neo Black.
Thanks to everybody for reading this very TL;DR and if I'm wrong or have yet to find functionality that would help me, I'd be very eager to hear about it.
Once again, big thanks to Acoustica for everything!