Acoustica claim that Mixcraft 8 is “A new standard for performance”. Whether that’s CPU performance or live performance is unclear. But with a new sound engine and live recording to the performance panel grid then I think they are angling for both.
I confess to not knowing Mixcraft as well as most other DAWs. For some reason I guess I’ve seen it as more of a home studio recording platform. And there’s certainly a cutdown version designed to be that. Mixcraft 8 Pro Studio aims a lot higher, although its very keen price point perhaps keeps it from being taken too seriously. That’s probably unfortunate because the feature set is pretty impressive.
It’s fair to say that Mixcraft borrows from a few other DAWs – they all tend to do that to some degree. The arrange page and clip launcher is lifted straight from Bitwig Studio. The one window approach and right-hand panel comes, perhaps, from Tracktion and the mixer at the bottom is very Studio One. However, the virtual wood ends and pseudo 3D knobs give it a quite dated feel in an otherwise modern interface.
Mixcraft has been going something like 20 years – that’s a lot of years in development. Version 7’s big feature was the Performance Panel Grid – a clip launching view similar to Ableton Live and Bitwig Studio. They’ve built on that by adding support for recording directly into the grid. You can now create live looped performances without ever having to stop playback. With version 8 a lot of the development is under the hood. They’ve created a new “next-generation sound engine” which offers increased flexibility and performance. VST3 plug-in support has been added and you can now import and export MP4 video. They’ve revamped the audio routing bringing in side-chaining control from any audio path. Sound library browsing has been improved – there are thousands of loops in there. Every DAW improves that with every version, it’s like no one has yet found a completely satisfactory way of building a library. There’s a new global automation feature.
Mixcraft has always had a strong plug-in library. Version 8 includes 56 audio plug-ins and 21 virtual instruments, which, if they sold them separately, would cost over $1250. Since they don’t sell them separately then it’s a bit irrelevant and you could pull out any number you like. Anyway, Mixcraft 8 has some new “pro” type effects, with a mastering EQ, reverb and “the super-transparent G-Sonique DTC-1” whatever that may be. There’s a new Kastelheimer Veldberg XD virtual synth which sounds like it could be really interesting. The Omni Sampler has been upgraded and now has 8 outputs. And finally, Celemony’s Melodyne has found itself integrated into the edit tab.
It’s difficult to find a unique feature set to tempt people away from other DAWs. They are all sharing so much functionality that I’m finding it hard to come up with a reason why you should choose Mixcraft 8 over something else. But at the same time you wouldn’t be disappointed if you did. What’s really going for it is the amount of stuff you get for a really great price. It has an impressive set of virtual instruments and effects – it could rival FL Studio in that respect. The Bitwig style loop launcher is a real asset. I like the way it integrates with the main arrange page which is why, for me, Bitwig wins out over Ableton. Mixcraft copying that was a good move.
The video editing side is probably undersold. Rather than simply offering a video player track, you can actually edit the video as well. There’s crossfading, transitions, text and titles all available within Mixcraft. Then you can export it as an MP4 straight up to YouTube or Vimeo if you so wish.
So, as a full featured DAW it’s very capable, there are some nice features in there. The look doesn’t excite me personally but if you’re looking for something comprehensive, that includes recording and live performance, video editing and notation, with a shed load of plug-ins then this could be worth a look.
Mixcraft comes in two versions, Recording Studio for $89 and Pro Studio for $179. There’s a demo version available and more information can be found on the Acoustica website.