Roxio, famed for its DVD creation software is hoping that its latest bundle of Mac music tools will find its way on to a desktop near you, however is the bundle worth the cash? We plug in and find out.
Rather than one central piece of software that acts as a hub, The Boom Box is made up of six different programs that all aim to offer you something different, albeit in the music world. Audio Hijack services the recording functionality, MusicMagic Mixer a mixing application, CD Spin Doctor an application for transferring your LP or cassette collection to your computer, iPodderX a podcasting library sorter and iSpeak it a spoken word application.
Like previous bundles from Roxio, the applications themselves are fairly one dimensional doing the task at hand and nothing more. Audio Hijack is good and will allow you to record any audio whether it's from internet streams to DVDs. The application is very simple to use and you can even set a timer to record radio shows when you are away from the computer. The software also lets you set the recorder to create a new file after a certain size and you can set recording length in advance.
iSpeak it turns any text file or words into a audio file. You can either type directly into the box or download the latest news headlines from Google. You can also download the weather forecast, load in your rss feeds or simple attach a document. Using the Apple voices application already buried deep in OSX the software then turns the text into speech and automatically loads up iTunes and creates a track complete with ID tag information ñ that you can edit.
Apple has a range of voices to choose from or for the super keen you can pay and download additional voices. While a good idea in practice your readings sound like the platform announcer at waterloo; “The next train is leaving from…”
MusicMagic Mixer Synchronises with your iTunes database - something which took us hours and hours and hours to do. However once done you the program promises to build "intelligent" mixes based on the individual songs and artists you pick rather than the randomised playlists Apple's iTunes musters up for the Shuffle.
The results are actually very good. It works by fingerprinting and then analyzing the actual sound waves in each file and then depending on what track you pick first, matches the rest of the tracks in your library to create one playlist. That playlist can then be transferred to iTunes to play on your iPod.
Mixes can be set to fit any time or disk-space limits, and you can shuffle mixes for smooth transitions or alternate between loud and soft songs.
CD Spin Doctor is again, a very basic application that gets the job done. For those keen to embrace the digital world the application allows you to transfer all that analogue music you've got still lying around on to your hard drive. Features are limited, although you can send your end results directly to iTunes onces you've filled in all the ID3 tag information.
iPodderX is a podcasting directory now made defunct by the fact that Apple and the latest version of iTunes 4.9 has got involved in this area. Still, for those averse to iTunes, you can track your favourite podcast rss feeds and have them downloaded into the tracking window. iPodderX gives you a list of suggestions to get you started and you can organize everything into a series of boxes. Compared to iTunes the application is on the clunky side and expect this to be the least used app of the bunch.
The truth of the matter is, there is bound to be something for everyone in this collection. While you are unlikely to want all of the applications there are some that will become indispensable. For us it was the Magic Mixer and Audio Hijack, however that's because we've throw out the tapes and LPs years ago and use iTunes for podcast tracking. That said there maybe some who find it's the opposite.