The Big Mix
With pop idol, opera idol and any other or form of finding the latest unfound talent trying to sing on television, people are turning in droves to their computers in their bedrooms to make them the latest pop sensation. After all, it worked for Daniel Bedingfield.
If you're a Mac user, you have quite a few choices; GarageBand from Apple will certainly do the trick, as will other more professional packages, however GarageBand and iTunes don't answer all the questions or queries you may have. In steps the Big Mix from Aladdin software.
More of a collection of utilities than one all encompassing software package a la Roxio's Creator 7 the collective of programs certainly offers plenty of useful features for the budding musician.
Audio Hijack is a great utility that allows you to record any audio stream on your computer whether it is radio or from a quick time file you've played. What's nicer still is that you're given the option to set timers if your computer is on. Other options include the chance to covert to AIFF, MP3 or ACC formats and you can even tweak the volume, bass and treble of the recording. The program is easy to use and for those who want to record audio files whether from radio or a DVD this will certainly do the job with little effort.
Other notable applications are Disco- a mixing package, Doggiebox- an application that lets you create and manipulate percussion-based songs and GrooveMaker 2.5 LE- that lets you create dance tracks in real-time with studio-ready loops including Bass, Bass-Drum, FX, Pad & Loop, Line and Percussion.
On the utility side you've got iPodRip that allows you to play tracks from your iPod via iTunes without the need to transfer the tracks to your hard drive and iTunes Publisher that lets you export playlists to html, text, tabbed-text, Quicktime Streaming Server, and M3U general playlist format.
If you need to mutilate tracks even further, then MP3 Rage should fix your needs and gives you the ability to change ID3 tags, embedded data and anything else you can imaging all at the click of the button. Better still is the programmes ability to do all of this on a batch level.
VerdictWhile the package offers plenty you can't but help feel that there's no real rhyme or reason as to why these selected programs have been chosen for the three-disc package. They all centre around applications to improve music but you get the feeling that you'll only ever likely to use perhaps one or two. At £40 this is cheap enough to be able to justify only needing one or two, but in reality this is just like a cover disc on a magazine, only the packages are the full versions rather than demos.
The £40 price also starts to put you into the realm of Cubasis which, coupled with a budget synth, would allow you to start learning the roots of full-blown music studio software as opposed to the limited mucking around you'll do with The Big Mix