Sony's ACID XPress - Music Creation and
says "...XPress products are basic software
versions that you can download and use for free. They give you a great
introduction to the full-featured versions of the software...".
can pass on a free app that lets you create and mix music? I
downloaded ACID XPress
and installed it on my XP and
Vista laptops. All was going well and expectations were rising.
Things went downhill bit by bit... feature by
feature. It's not that things didn't work... it's that the deeper I
got, the more I felt I was looking at a sales pitch rather than a
software app. Most of what I tried ended up with a pop-up message
saying in essense '... if you want to do that, you need to get the paid-for
version...'. I got so used to them they became entertaining and educational.
They were notes about what this version can and can't do. They were much
easier than reading a help file.
I thought of changing subjects, but decided to keep going to see
if there were any valuable nuggets for Movie Maker and Photo Story users.... and
I'm not out to compose my own music... but love having items in
my library that are copyright and royalty free. Sony provides some.
My sample video this week is one that uses music clips
from two free samples. It's a remix of my penguin flick showing
one gathering rocks for a nest. Click this link or the XPress splash
screen above to listen to the segments. I've annotated the video to tell you
where they are.
Sony provides 2 downloadable free sample ACID project files each
week that are easy to render to WMA files, and take to your movie or story
project. Here's why you want to get the software and register.
The WMA files you can render the projects to are lower
quality WMA file, less than CD quality but better than what you
hear from YouTube.
The background music for a home movie or story doesn't
need to be at the quality level an audiophile with big earphones
I'll show you the app with some of its features and sales
... before going into details, here's...
a couple notes...
a review of Presto! Video Works for Bright
Hub... thumbs down for, but as with Pinnacle Studio... lots
of neat things that Movie Maker doesn't provide, such as 3D text
with easy and unlimited positioning.
The final release for
manufacturing version of Vista Ultimate SP1
.... is now on
my test system. The installation went without issue. It's connected to
my best stereo speakers and I've been enjoying the videos at the Photo
Story Magic channel at vimeo, using the vimeo player widgets
added to a website page. Start the first video and
it'll play all the videos on the channel as if it was a video
Changes in Movie Maker are too
slight to warrant a minor incremental version number. It's still at
6.0.6000.16386, the version everyone already has in Vista.
... back to the main
Here's the main working window with a project
file open in ACID EXPress. Project files have a file extension of .acd-zip.
The tracks are all for audio. Here's one of
the many pop-up ads that tell you the limits of this version, and offer
more by purchasing ACID Music Studio. 10 tracks here... unlimited tracks in the
The software is well done, as are the pop-up ads.
It ended up being fun to bump into a limit when least expecting
it. Coming from Movie Maker and Photo Story, 10 audio tracks sounds like heaven,
but in this version of ACID EXpress it's a limitation.
I'm not out to start developing skills as a
composer, so I'll jump right into rendering the free downloaded projects
to wma files that are usable in movies and stories.
The rendering choices are to these 5 file
types... with limitations of course.
Select one and learn a bit more about the limits
At this point it seems that a WMA file
is a great choice. MP3 has a limit of 20 encodes/renderings. Or should I be
reading this note as it being a limit of 20 to any or all file
Select WMA and opt for the default quality
template of 128 Kbps stereo...
... just when you think you're home free, here
comes the WMA quality punchline...
According to the dropdown pick-list in ACID EXpress, 48 Kbps stereo is
for 56 Kbps modems... a couple notches below that of 128 Kbps CD quality.
As I write this I'm listening to an Internet radio station streaming in at 96
kbps via iTunes on my Vista Ultimate SP1 system. Maybe not CD quality, but
plenty good for my movie backgrounds.
The 48 Kbps is what I had to settle for here... you heard
the results in the sample video. I'm hoping the visual of the penquins is
sufficient distraction so you don't have concerns about the audio quality.
Rendering audio files is always a pleasure if you don't want to
wait long... in 4 seconds this one is 2/3 finished.
Back to the main working window for a few other points....
try to open a WMV movie or story and you get a
note telling you it can be done in the full software version.
try to bring in a WMA file to align the beat
between it and ACID project. You get another note.
So it goes, on and on like a broken record, as
you learn which features you don't have yet. You can't bring
in a midi file... you know the beat by now... not until you get the full Music
What can you do? Among others...
open a downloaded ACID project and play with
it... mute a track... change volume levels on any of them, use the
equalizer controls to adjust it... mute half the tracks..
save the project at any point to a 48 Kbps stereo
learn about how these audio software packages
work and think about the learning curve involved in mastering
find out if your heart and skills are in the
music editing arena... if not, feel good about being in Movie Maker and Photo
Story, and using the music developed by others.
split a clip
reverse a clip
raise or lower the tone of a selected
paint with a brush, but have it come out as music
use an eraser to quiet/remove selected
Even with the extremely limited features,
there's plenty to explore.
Conclusion and Closing... and What's
Did I mention that ACID XPress takes a long time to open. My
usual way is to double click an ACID project file to open it in the app.
The app always opens and works fine. There are no codec crashing or hanging
issues on either XP or Vista. Memory usage with an open project is in the
50 MB ballpark.
A benefit of having the software and being registered is
the ability to go online and download current freebies. I just downloaded
an ACID package with a project file and 19 WAV files. 10 of the WAV
files are restricted by DRM and don't work in WMP or Movie Maker... but
9 are unrestricted and work fine. Being uncompressed audio files, they are
full quality and don't need to go through the ACID EXpress rendering
process. I took the 9 of them into my Movie Maker collections.
Have a great week....