Magix Music Maker Premium (2018 Edition)
I took a look at the previous version of Magix Music Maker
last year and came away impressed with its capabilities. 2018 brings a new version and I was
interested to see what new toys have dropped into the laps of aspiring amateur
musicians. For the purposes of this
review I looked at the Premium edition.
I will touch on the differences between editions at the end of the
Little has changed, with the track-based interface present
and correct. As before, it does not work
too well on high DPI-displays, being pretty much unusable on a physically small
high-resolution laptop screen. I did
most of my testing on a 24 inch monitor which was perfectly adequate and I
reckon a multi-monitor set-up would work well here.
Ideally, something with a huge touch-screen would be ideal
to make use of the supposedly touch-enabled interface, although I have to
confess that I still found trying to use touch a little clunky on Surface Pro
and found myself regressing to the mouse.
As I mentioned in the previous article, someone serious
about their music is likely to have a MIDI keyboard connected to their PC so is
unlikely to need to jab at on on-screen keyboard.
On a few occasions, the user interface got confused when
being resized, with the keyboard panel becoming oddly stretched. Closing and opening the application solved
the problem, but it doesn’t take one ‘out of the moment’ somewhat.
With the interface seeing so little change, my main annoyance
is still present – Magix’s insistence at going their own way and ignoring
design guidelines for dialogs and menus.
A new user will initially find the experience a little jarring, with the
whole thing feeling a little dated by modern standards.
Magix provides Soundpools, which give the user a selection
of loops to choose from around a central theme.
Selecting a Soundpool shows a list of instruments available, and from
there a specific loop can be dragged and dropped onto a track. The process is easy and intuitive.
Once a loop has been dropped onto a track, the user has a
vast array of options for fiddling with it including added echo and reverb or tweaking
the pitch. An effects rack that includes
tools such as graphic equaliser allows some very fine control.
Guitarists will be pleased to see the inclusion of the
Vandal suite, which allows effects to be adjusted through an interface that
resembles an amplifier. Additional Virtual
Studio Technology (VST) patches can uploaded if needed.
The quality of the samples included in the product are first
rate and producing something that sounds very professional and highly polished
is not outside the reach of a normal user.
While the initial selection of Soundpools is quite limited,
Magix will be very happy sell you some more through the in-application
store. Users of the Plus and Premium
editions get some additional toys, but it is likely that any serious user will
find themselves pulling out the credit card in search of that perfect sound.
Prices in the online store may seem a little high (with some
Soundpools getting close to the purchase price of the software itself) but the
quality of the loops and instruments mean they do represent good value.
Of course, it also remains simple for those with sufficient
musical ability to create their own loops, either using the on-screen (or a
MIDI) keyboard, or simply dragging sound files into a track itself, from the
file browser on the right of the screen.
Music Maker can import files in a variety of formats,
including the commonly used WAV, OGG Vorbis, MPS and MIDI formats. The editor of this magazine will be pleased
to know that WMA continues to be supported.
The Song Maker tool continues to be present and correct and
represents a good jumping-off point for a user alarmed by a new project full of
empty tracks. The tools to configure the
Song Maker are limited, but appropriate for a user new to the tool.
The finished masterpiece may be exported in any of the
supported formats described above, as well as being uploaded directly into the
likes of Facebook, YouTube or SoundCloud.
Users are likely to prefer to do this manually in order to keep control
of the options in those services.
Music Maker also features some support for video, which
feels a little gimmicky. It is possible
to import a video file and extract the audio.
The audio can then be tinkered with using the effects available in the
studio, with additional music added, before being mixed back into the video and
This feature felt incomplete to say the least, and users
would be better off considering a stand-alone video editor, such as Magix’s own
Magix has mixed up the offering this time around. There is now a completely free edition, a
Plus edition that bundles in some additional instruments and other features,
and a Premium edition that shovels even more extra toys into the bundle. With the Plus edition retailing at £49.99 and
the Premium edition going for £59.99, there seems little point in bothering to
purchase the Plus edition.
The stripped down Free edition is good way to get started,
but with only 8 tracks available for composition, 8 effects and none of the
instruments and soundpools that feature in the paid-for editions, anyone with
more than a passing interest in composition is likely to become frustrated.
As with other Magix products, a huge amount of tools are
bundled in the paid-for products (with Magix claiming that there are over £600
of goodies in the Premium version alone) and users may initially feel a little
overwhelmed with all the options on offer.
The 250 page user guide is, unfortunately a must-read to get the full
value out of the product.
If you don’t have a favourite music editing tool, then the
free version is a safe way of dipping one’s toe in the waters of music
creation. Its also worth a look even if
you are used to other tools, such as Garage Band. If you like it, then I would strongly
recommend opting for the Premium version for the extra options.
However, if you are an existing Magix Music Maker user, then
there is not a huge amount here different from the last version, so unless you
are on a licence that allows free upgrades, it is probably best to stick with
what you know.