Sony Acid Pro 7 Pt.1: Inherent Musicality
Sony Acid Pro 7 is a powerful music production software application with a vast array of audio processing power complimented by a fully fledged MIDI functionality. Acid Pro’s uncompromising attention toward the creation of loop-based music is legendary and, by popularity, is considered to be ‘the’ tool among producers for remixing. The new features in the latest Version 7 of Acid Pro have truly ramped up the bar as the program now includes: Multitrack recording through dedicated input busses, real-time rendering of tracks as new clips, enhanced beatmapping for tracks with tempo changes, and a really cool time-based feature – ‘tempo curves’. Acid Pro also provides video monitoring and syncs with FLAC, AAC, AC-3 Studio, and MPEG-2 formats. It can act as a Rewire host or client, has MIDI track freeze functionality and an Audio and MIDI mixing console with Audio, MIDI, and Bus Track Meters.
Loops/Clips: Creating music with audio loops (referred to as clips) in Acid Pro 7 is a simple process of auditioning them in the program’s ‘explorer’ window (Alt+1) and dragging them into the track view. If the loop/clip contains tempo meta-data it will automatically stretch to the project tempo using Acid Pro’s excellent enhanced time-stretch engine.
To create repetitions and extend loops/clips into sections you can either ‘paint’ the audio across each track in a project or grab the end of each audio clip and drag them out and across. A dedicated mixer channel for each audio loop is automatically created and tagged in the updated and powerful ‘Mixing console’ (Alt+3). To change the name of your loops/clips just right click on the clip, choose ‘Event Clip’ and then ‘Rename’. This new information will update the clip in both the track and in the ‘mixing console’ channel.
Right Click: It is important to point out the importance of the right-click context menu in Acid Pro. Everything is right there and minimises the search for editing commands. Also, the shortcuts for the program’s project tools like the draw tool, paint or selection tool can be chosen using ‘D’ and Shift+D as shortcuts to scroll back and forth through the tools menu as required. Finally, use the ‘Arrow Up/Down’ to zoom in and out horizontally and Ctrl+Shift Arrow Up/Down to zoom in/out vertically. Easy to remember and very useful in practice.
Switches: Once you have created your tracks in Acid Pro 7 then the fun of arranging begins. I was happy to discover the new and excellent ‘Switches’ feature which allows audio clips to be locked or muted in a project. Muting clips across multiple tracks is particularly helpful when experimenting with different arrangements and textural densities. Muting temporarily greys the clip while preserving its position in the arrangement. When you hit on a musical phrase or section that works and wish to preserve its state in the song, then you simply lock it down by choosing ‘Lock’ from the ‘Switches’ menu. You can quickly unmute a clip as and when required.
Slicing: Slicing audio in Acid Pro involves positioning the cursor to the point in the clip where you want to make the slice and pressing ‘S’ to make the cut. Activating the new ‘Quick fade edges’ option ( right-click context menu) before making your in-track slices will intelligently create very short fades on the newly created clips to prevent audible clicks.
A further method of creating slices and one that generates new clips on seperate tracks is found in the Acid Pro 7 audio slicing editor ‘Chopper’.
Audio is sent to the ‘Chopper’ using the right-click menu, where it is immediately dissected into slices at key transient peaks in the audio. In the Chopper window simply drag across the track’s audio waveform to make a selection and use the right-click menu to send this selection into the project as a ‘New Clip’ to replace the existing audio clip or as a ‘New Track’. The Chopper feature in Acid Pro 7 is a very quick and easy way of generating audio fragments and short motivic phrases as new material for your arrangements.
Groove Editor: Now that you have a detailed arrangement on the go you may wish to ‘pepper up’ the groove of particular track elements, like the drums or the bass line. The ‘Groove Editor’ in Acid Pro is a quantise function that gives you the capability to alter the groove of any audio clip by tweaking and re-alligning its structural points in a measure. Audio ‘Grooves’ can be extracted, manipulated and saved to the ‘Groove Pool’ then recalled as presets. Simply put; Acid Pro will automatically detect, extract and super-impose the groove from one audio clip onto that of another. Open the Groove Editor by selecting - ‘Event Clip’ and choose ‘Add Clip to Groove pool’.
To experiment with ‘Grooves’ and hear the results, grab hold of the ‘Groove Pattern’ paint brush and paint across an audio clip. The audio will now quantize to the new groove pattern altering the audio’s rhythmic hit points accordingly. Acid Pro 7 supplies a generous supply of Groove Pattern presets which help to gain a good insight into this terrific feature.
Tempo Curves: The superb ‘Tempo Curves’ feature in Acid Pro 7 create smooth tempo-based transions from one time signature to another within the project timeline. The concept of pushing and pulling tempo as a structural element in a musical work is what makes great music and ‘Tempo Curves’ allows you to do just that!
The’Tempo Curves’ feature is accessed through the ‘Insert’ menu using the ‘Tempo/Key/Time Signature Change…’ option. Create your first tempo bpm to define a starting point in the project timeline. A marker will be inserted. Next, choose the transition mode from the drop down menu (see image for optional shapes). Repeat the ‘Insert – Tempo’ again entering your second tempo bpm – a second marker will be added to define a region. Depending on the choices you make, Acid Pro 7 will create an Accellerando or Rallentando determined by the ‘curve’ algorithm you have defined. A truly wonderful and inherently musical feature. Brilliant!
Additional Bundles: To add even more icing on top of an already generous supply of Sony cake: Acid Pro 7 bundles some impressive add-on extras from quality brands, such as: Garritan – iZotope – Native Instruments and Submersible Music. The Garritan Aria makes a very welcome addition to the Acid Pro package as a VSTi sample instrument with 1.5Gb of sounds ranging from: Orchestral – Big Band – Jazz and General Midi sounds which provide a varied colour pallette when working with MIDI.
Next up, ’worth the entrance fee’ alone, is the very impressive Acid Pro 7 Effects Rack developed by iZotope using their world-class DSP technology and includes: Phaser – Analog delay – Chorus/Flanger and Dynamics effects. The sound quality of the iZotope Acid Effects Rack is nothing short of quality and supply Acid Pro 7 with an elitist cutting edge.
Of a similar class is the inclusion of Guitar Combos by Native Instruments (NI) delivering high quality emulations of three classic amps renowned for their authentic tube warmth and ‘retro’ colouration, they are: The AC Combo modeled after the Vox AC-30, the Plexi Combo modeled after the Marshall JMP50 and the Twang Combo modeled after the Fender Twin Reverb amp. In addition, the NI Guitar Combos provide carefully selected choices of cabinets and mics ranging from the 2512 cabinet to a tube condenser mic, plus overdrive pedals, chorus, vibrato and reverbs. Across the three units, the NI Guitar Combos generates over 100 awe inspiring presets to get you into the zone. Finally, KitCore 2 and its acclaimed DrumCore library (Submersible Music) provides Acid Pro 7 with more quality in-depth adding more than 400 MIDI drum files, beats, fills, and variations to this confident producer package.
Brought to you courtesy of Soundwrx Digital