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The idea behind Soundtrack is to make it incredibly easy to produce music for videos, DVDs, Web sites, presentations, or recording projects. It gets you off to a good start by including over 4,000 professionally recorded, royalty-free instrument loops and sound effects that can be combined to build musical arrangements.
Apple claims that Soundtrack gives greater creative control over the sound of music than you’d get using stock music libraries or relying on an outside production facility. What you really get is the means to mess-up the supplied library – or to construct music that works well.
Don’t get me wrong here – there’s plenty to like about Soundtrack. You can import AIFF, WAV, or ACID files, and Soundtrack supports most popular loop libraries. Imported loops are matched to a project’s tempo and key. Also, loops and one-shot sound effects can be located by instrument, genre, mood, or whatever, using Soundtrack’s search engine. You can combine and arrange these in the Timeline and add any of the 30 Apple/Emagic effects supplied – or Audio Units plug-ins.
Apple says you can choose the style, tempo, and instrumentation of music, and arrange musical events in time, even with no musical experience. But those with no clue about music will still struggle to come up with any improvement on the loops supplied. Apple also says users can create original, royalty-free compositions – by transposing individual loops in the Timeline, shaping the sounds of the instruments using EQ, and automating volume, pan, or other aspects of a mix to create patterns of automation that repeat with the music. Just don’t try this with copyrighted music, else you’ll have a lawyer on your back. If you sing or play an instrument, you can record melodies into Soundtrack.
Soundtrack is easy to learn for those familiar with Final Cut Pro, and you can easily make roundtrips between the two tools while working on music for video. The way it matches files to the project tempo, key, and sample rate is great, and the search-engine facilities are a joy to use.
Soundtrack’s nearest competitor is SmartSound Sonicfire Pro (see last issue). It’s also an alternative to tools such as ACID or Ableton Live (see below). Where Soundtrack scores is in the slickness of its interface, the way it integrates with Final Cut, and by providing powerful search facilities to help you find suitable loops.
Min specs: G4; Mac OS X 10.2.5; QuickTime 6.1; 384MB RAM (512MB recommended); DVD-ROM drive for installation of Apple Loops (optional); 5GB hard-disk space.