NCH's MixPad Free is a studio-quality music mixing app that integrates with a variety of audio tools that, like this version of MixPad, are free for non-commercial use. It differs from the usual mixing software in that it doesn't try to look like a studio console but rather uses an easy-to-understand, drag-and-drop layout that takes its visual cues from Explorer and Office. It rips and edits audio clips, samples tracks, changes pitch, adds effects like beats and reverb, and supports low-latency recordings for best audio quality.
While installing and setting up MixPad, we took advantage of downloading some of the extra tools, such as WavePad Sound Editor and Express CD Ripper. These can be managed from the NCH Suite at the far right of MixPad's Ribbon-style toolbar. At the bottom is an integrated media player; to the left, an optional task panel. MixPad displays tracks in a stacked series of little media players -- an ingenious arrangement that let us configure, edit, and play each track individually without getting mixed up by the usual mixing console's army of knobs and buttons. Each track also displays its own spectral graph.
Every music mixing tool has its own methods, yet they're all based on multitrack recording technology, which records or samples bits of music on individual tracks and gradually mixes them down into two or more tracks for playback. It's easier than it seems: Start with a bass track, for example, and then add keyboards, and so on. We've tried a lot of mixing and recording tools, both free and paid. MixPad Free may not look like other mixing tools, but it can go beat for beat with the best of them.