Posted: October 19, 2014
This review isn't aimed at music or DAW experts - this review is aimed at the next person who perhaps, seeing this on sale again in the future, decides to give it a try. By all means, creating music is an awesome thing, rewarding and satisfying - but it would be a shame if someone leapt into buying it, opened the program excitedly, only to break into a cold sweat when they suddenly realise they have no idea what they're doing, what they're looking at, and why they bought it.
I bought Music Creator 6 Touch and the Z3TA+2 bundle when it went on sale, and I have absolutely no regrets. The two products together were a massive bargain and I only wish at the time I'd bought a few more sound packs. Though after some weeks I'm still fully getting my head around some of the features particularly as it relates to mixing down, (my background is in music - but NOT in audio engineering!), I've found this software to be solid, and the more I get into using it, the more I appreciate it. While some online videos and tutorials help, I personally find what helps the most is a lot of experimentation (and saves).
Music Creator 6 may not have quite as many pre-packaged voicings as I might like, sure, but for those of you contemplating complaining about this aspect of the software, understand that MC6 isn't LIMITING you to those! That's where virtual instruments/VST plugins come in - and there's countless ones out there to play with - some of which are free, with active communities supporting them. There's literally no limit.
When this thing goes on sale, if bundles/sound packs are also discounted, then by all means, spring for those that are appropriate to your musical objectives - that gives you a head start into experimenting with this aspect of the program using known-entity compatible products. Just don't think those are the ONLY ONES you can use; they aren't.
If anything for me, what I know is the "outgrowing it" point for MC6 is going to be the soft synth limitation, that is to say - how many you can have actively running in a single composition. Upgrading to Sonar, for me, will likely be spurred by this as symphonic compositions (or any richly-textured electronic one) can easily require more than that.
In any case, I enjoy the interface and the more I use it, the more use I get OUT of it. That's a good perspective to have about this kind of application. Whether I'm edting a score, or working with loops, I feel like the software has a lot to offer, and weeks later, I'm still finding out new ways to work with it.
So, after reading all this, you find that you're tempted, but you're new to using a DAW, understand that there IS a learning curve, and that this kind of software is a good foundation for someone wanting to create audio music, but that there's headroom to expand it's capability as you expand yours.
Expect to invest some time learning how to really make the most of it. (Why else would you bother?)
Some additional tips and ideas:
If you find the on-screen keyboard frustrating, and want to get into the "piano" aspect of it, but are on a budget - then a nice place to start is to get yourself a little 32-key mini midi controller keyboard; you can always upgrade to longer and more feature-filled versions as you get more into composing. However - take a little time to educate yourself on the features - things like weighted keys, touch sensitivity, programmability, etc. And if you have larger hands? You may need to hold out for full-sized keys and skip the space-friendly mini-keyed boards.
Spend a little time watching online tutorial videos; while I didn't find that they necessarily teach you everything you might WANT to know, they give you the "lay of the land", so to speak - an idea of features, how to access them, etc. How each person chooses to use software like this can vary greatly depending on what they're composing, and how.
Most importantly - do not even start using this until you have either an internal, or external dedicated sound card - reason being:
If you plan to install a low-latency driver such as ASIO4ALL, and are only using mobo onboard sound, expect to run into challenges due to the fact that ASIO4ALL requires exclusive use of your audio device - effectively butting heads with Windows' attempts to deliver audio to any OTHER apps you're using. While you can get around this with various clumsy settings changes - the easiest/cheapest thing to do is (if you're not that serious about optimal audio quality) go grab a decent sound card. I got by with a basic Asus Xonar DGX PCI card, and that worked just fine, until I could sort out something a bit more serious.
Or - if you're ready to make leap into something even more purpose-built, then you can find external USB interfaces at any price range and input capability depending on how far down the rabbit hole you want to go and how many/what kind of inputs you want to use - this is also an ideal solution if you plan to compose from a laptop, or are using a desktop rig that (due to multiple graphics cards, for instance), can't accomodate internal sound cards due to a lack of slots (or space).