Audio production for the music professional

Sony Acid Pro 7 is a fully-featured audio production tool that's not for the feint of heart.

If the price tag attached to Acid Pro 7 isn't enough to scare off casual musicians, its technical interface and breadth of tools will be. This fully-featured music production software is a great option for those who know their way around mixing console, but can definitely be overwhelming for newcomers.

The good news is that the latest version of Acid Pro offers interactive tutorials, which is helpful for users who aren't familiar with the software. Given the vast array of features, this addition is more than welcome. Acid provides just about every tool an artist could want, from full multitrack editing to comprehensive MIDI support. In addition, more than 1,000 loops are included so you don't have to record your own before beginning to mix it up. Acid Pro has got chops, too: proprietary looping technology, video integration, and even plug-in support, assuming you need to do something that isn't included.

All in all, Acid Pro's interface is tidy and utilitarian. A multitrack editing window dominates the screen at the center top, while a multitab Explorer/Groove Pool/Plug-In manager resides below, next to the mixing console. It's hard to understate the usefulness of the clean interface, given the overwhelming number of options available, though it's nice that the hot keys for accessing the major option windows have been coded as ALT plus an ascending number, making them easy to remember.

Beginners and even intermediates should give this a pass because of the complexity. Knowing the real-world analogues of the features is a big help. You can't opt out of installing the Microsoft MySQL database manager, and registering for the trial version is also required. The price tag of $299 sounds high, but not compared with similar programs. Free upgrades are not included, but assuming you've got the knowledge, Acid Pro will make your music-editing experience a smooth, pain-free trip.

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