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Software Review of:
Music Creator
Cakewalk

 

box

Russell Albach

From the September, 2002 issue of PC Alamode Magazine

This is the second music authoring software program I reviewed. While I had heard of Voyetra, I was unfamiliar with Cakewalk. I figured though, that this review might be a little easier, this being the second application tested. I mean, they should be similar, right? If I have an idea on how to use one, using another should be a piece of cake. 

System requirements are similar, but differ slightly in important areas. Operating system is Windows 98/ME/2K/XP,  but will not work with NT. The processor is 300MHz. Memory is 32MB. Hard drive space is 100 MB free space. Display is 800 x 600 at 256 colors. CD-ROM. MIDI interface or Windows compatible sound card. You see the requirements are similar to MusicWrite.

Again, inserting the CD in the player and closing it starts autorun, bringing up a menu. Problem number one came up right off the start. The installer complained I was not running DirectX 8, and would have to install it before I could install the application. Since I am not much on games, at least the blow ‘em up types, I have little need for the latest Microsoft plug-ins. DirectX can be problematic, and is, as is most software from MS, bloated. This consumes some 65MB of drive space, and unless you run things like games, or an app like this, is of no other use to me. Oh well. I do want to try this app, so I take a chill pill (chocolate chip cookie), and let it continue. Interestingly, the installation of Music Creator was only about 10MB more than DirectX 8. Oink. I let the default install run, but be sure to check out the options menus as there are many items to choose from, and you may not want all of them.

Music Creator can create MP3, Wave, RealAudio, Windows Media Format, and use ACIDized wave files to create remixes. Music Creator is used for creating music, while MusicWrite is used for actually writing music. The difference is, with ‘Write, you can pass the music to anyone able to read music, and do it in printed form. With Creator you use the actual music. 

The included manual is pretty thorough, and relatively easy to follow. There is a series of tutorials that you access by selecting File, Open, and then Tutorial. They are numbered, and you use the manual along with them, creating simple projects to learn how to use the software. You can also work with video, but when I tried, I had a problem. I opened the Help menu, and selected Readme.rtf, and looked at the section on video. My video card on the machine I installed this on uses an S3 chipset, and this was the source of the problem. I changed the driver, and this fixed the problem. I am using ‘98, and the drivers for this are old. If you use a newer version of Windows, you probably have the newer drivers, eliminating this potential problem. If you do have audio/video problems, look at this file. The online help brought out another problem for my system; you must have Internet Explorer installed in order to use the online help. I do not use IE, and did not even have it installed. There are too many issues involved with it to go into here, so I’ll just say I do not use it. I use Mozilla, but installed IE in order to use the online help. Now, if I continue to use Music Creator, I’m apparently stuck with leaving this bloated MS app on my machine, or don’t use the otherwise useful online help. Since most people use MS across the board, the majority of them will not have to deal with these issues. 

Believe it or not, I also had a problem with my sound card. On this machine, I use an older Creative Sound Blaster. There was some noise I could not track down, so I checked this rtf file again, and sure enough, there was a similar problem listed here. I swapped the card with an ESS card, reset the options, and the noise problem disappeared. You need to remember that I installed this on an older machine, running Windows 98. It exceeds the requirements for Music Creator, but the components are older than this application, and I am running an older version of Windows that was not very good to start. This machine is the one I generally use to test software, hopefully avoiding creating problems on my main machine. If I can get it to work on this machine, it should work on my newer machine. Note that this is a frequent issue with software, i.e. apparently meeting the listed requirements on the box, but finding problems like the above AFTER buying it. It occurs with a lot of applications, and I am unsure of a solution. How do you list problems on the packaging, or elsewhere, for the buyer to check out these problems BEFORE it is purchased? ‘Nother problem for ‘nother day.

The program worked great after I cleared up these glitches. This review is due like right now to meet the deadline, so I cannot go into details about what I am working on. I will say I am playing with creating mp3 files to listen to on the computer, and it is almost as entertaining to create them as to listen to the music. 

Music Creator is a useful and fun application, and a good buy for anyone looking for this type of program. The few problems I had are easily overcome, and if you are running newer stuff, probably won’t even come up.

You can generally find Music Creator locally available for purchase, or can but it online from Cakewalk, for $39.00.

Cakewalk
51 Melcher Street
Boston, MA 02210
Phone: 888-225-3925


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