Mixing a piece of cake

Mix and record multitrack audio with this pro-level software.

MixPad Audio Mixer from NCH Software is a digital multitrack mixing suite that is easy to use yet capable of producing professional-quality mixes. It can mix and process more than 100 tracks at once in most audio formats, and it can also extract audio from video files as well as rip CDs. It works as a standalone app but integrates seamlessly with NCH's other media production and editing tools via the Toolbox utility.

Media-player-like buttons and time indicators give MixPad's interface a familiar feel. The main window displays each track horizontally, each with its own control console. The setup options basically involve selecting a recording device and output folder, while the Audio options included sample rate and other specifications. Selecting the optional Clip Manager on the View menu opened a right-hand panel displaying open clips. Since each track can hold multiple clips, and MixPad can manage dozens of tracks, this is a handy feature, and you can toggle it closed when you don't need it. We clicked Load Clip, browsed to a selection of tunes ripped from a CD, and loaded two, one clip each in the first two of the five default tracks. MixPad quickly scanned each clip and displayed its audio spectrum and title in the selected track and its data in the Clip Manager. Clicking the Play button started both clips playing at once, though we could also start either clip playing at a specific time. The extensive zoom and expand controls let us view entire audio clips or individual passages in tiny fractions, while the Pan slider shifted the sound of the particular track from the right channel to the left. Pressing the Fx button called up a dialog that we could use to string together a chain of effects to apply in sequence. We were also able to change tracks' playback speed to synchronize pitch. With just some brief and aimless fiddling, we were able to turn a sonic mish-mash into an improvised mash-up that didn't sound half bad. With some effort and direction, a Top 40 hit would surely emerge.

MixPad replaces the table-sized mixing panels and multitrack recorders that only pro studios could afford not so long ago. But MixPad does more than make it easy to mix and record high-quality audio productions, though; it makes it fun, too.

Editors' note: This is a review of the full version of MixPad Audio Mixer 2.2. The trial version is limited to 14 days.

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