Review: MAGIX Samplitude 11.5 Producer

February 12, 2011 – 07:11 by in Reviews Print Share No Comment
Overview
Manufacturer: MAGIX
Price (RRP): $199.99
Best Price: $179.99 (save 10%)
Platforms: Windows XP (32/ 64-bit), Vista (32/ 64-bit), 7 (32/ 64-bit)
Requirements: 4GB free hard drive space, 1024x768 graphics card, full duplex 16-bit sound card or ASIO-enabled card
Softwarecrew Rating:
 
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Samplitude 11.5 Producer is a professional digital audio workstation that provides everything you need to produce music on your PC: a multi-track recorder, mixer, MIDI and audio editors, software instruments, quality effects and a whole lot more.

And MAGIX have extended this version with some very interesting and worthwhile features.

One immediate benefit comes in the new workspaces, for instance, which help to define the Samplitude interface. So if you’re a novice, say, you might choose the “Easy” workspace, which provides one-click access to the core five stages of music production: recording, editing, mixing, mastering and export. It’s still not simple, but at least you can work your way through the process without having to spend too much time browsing the huge menus.

Alternatively, the optimised recording workspace makes it easier to start recording right away, with the solo or integrated MR-64 multi-track recorder. If you need an extra instrument or two, then the new Automatic Accompaniment option can add it (you get to choose the tempo and music style so you can be sure it’ll blend it).

If you’re looking for software instruments then there are plenty on offer here. Revolta 2 is a versatile synth; Robota should satisfy your drum machine needs; and there are some impressive guitar sounds and effects. And new instruments this time around include an excellent saxophone in Vita Saxophonia, a quality set of keyboard sounds (Vita Century Keys), and Vita Jazz Drums, which despite the name could work well in many other musical genres.

Whatever you’re recording, Samplitude 11.5′s enhanced FX rack makes it easier to access integrated effects like the 10-band equaliser, the compressor, enhancer, reverb, delay or more. But if that’s not enough then the mixer can apply up to four VST and DirectX effects per track (and you’ve 64 audio and MIDI tracks in total) so there’s plenty of scope for getting inventive.

The expanded Mastering Suite can then apply its own parametric 4-band equaliser, compressor, limiter and stereo FX modules to produce the precise effect you need.  And when the process is finally complete, your masterpiece can be saved as WAV or MP3 files, uploaded and shares at SoundCloud, or burned to disc with the built-in CD mastering tools.

Samplitude 11.5 has plenty of powerful features, but uncovering these may take a little while. The busy interface can feel a little intimidating, and takes some time to master.

Still, MAGIX have been working to improve things, and this version does include some worthwhile usability improvements which should help you to find your way around.

As we’ve mentioned, the new workspace options allow you to choose an interface setup that’s more tailored to whatever you’re trying to do. And the default Easy workspace, which MAGIX call “Step-by-step mode”, does make it a little more straightforward for Samplitude newbies to find the options they need.

If you’re still out of luck, though, you can always turn to the sizeable and enhanced Help file, a PDF manual, and twice the number of video tutorials as before.

And best of all is a new search box, integrated into the toolbar.  Type “flanger” here, say, and you’ll see all matching references within the program and the documentation. So if you’ve forgotten that the function you need is at Track > More > Track Effects > MAGIX Plugins > Flanger, for instance, it doesn’t matter – just choose it from the list and the relevant dialog box will appear.

It’s still not for novices, then, but Samplitude 11.5 remains a powerful and comprehensive music production tool, which can be easily extended via VST, ReWire and DirectX plugins, and always delivers great sound quality.

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Verdict:
The complex interface can feel intimidating in places, but once you've found your way around then Samplitude 11.5 proves a feature-packed, versatile and very powerful music production suite
We Like:
Packed with features, some impressive software instruments, can automatically add accompaniment when recording, lots of effects, some usability improvements
We Don't Like:
The busy and overcomplicated interface
Softwarecrew Rating:
 

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