Choosing a DAW when you know very little about them is daunting.
Making matters worse:
Now there are so many of them that few stand out.
Everyone has their favorite, which, because you may not agree with their taste in music, or approach to music production, won’t necessarily tick all the boxes for you.
Today I am reviewing one that just might: Magix Music Maker
Join me as we put this DAW to the test.
I will reveal the DAW’s best features as well as areas where it falls short.
And if Magix Music Maker isn’t quite what you are looking for, I will also discuss two alternatives that are worth a try.
What Makes a Good DAW?
DAWs are tricky.
You feel, to be any good, they must have some level of sophistication.
Yes, it is a fairly complex technology that you won’t master in an hour.
But using one shouldn't feel like you are decrypting national security software files.
It is a tricky balance to strike, and one that DAW software developers are still working on.
When the balance is just about right, the DAW will give you easy access to the tools you need to compose, mix, edit, and master your music without much difficulty.
How does Magix Music Maker measure up then?
It depends on who is using the software:
Who Is Magix Music Maker Best Suited For?
The Magix Music Maker DAW software is broken down into four separate editions:
- Music Maker
- Music Maker Plus
- Music Maker Live
- Music Maker Premium
Music Maker, which we are reviewing today, is the basic edition.
It will suit absolute beginner music producers best.
If you have had prior experience with music making software and don’t consider yourself a newbie at music production, you should probably look for something more advanced than Music Maker.
Scroll further down and check out the section on the pro and paid editions of the DAW.
This free edition, however, comes with enough pre-loaded sounds and loops you should find it adequately suitable to produce music for your YouTube videos and demo tracks.
It will help you familiarize with DAW software, and train your audio composition, recording, and editing skills before you can dabble in the more sophisticated, premium DAWs.
Want to access their free trial? Click here to download the free trial of Magix Music Maker.
What You Get From Music Maker
Music Maker only runs on Windows PCs.
Unless you are super motivated, a DAW that’s too complicated will kill your interest in making music, especially when your are just starting out in music production.
This version was introduced, perhaps as an afterthought, to help beginners try the software before they can move onto the premium versions, which can be a little challenging for first timers.
To their credit, the developers of this software made sure Music Maker was easy to use, even for absolute beginners. As long as you have basic computer skills.
There is even an Easy Mode, with an intuitive and less cluttered interface.
And as if they knew you will get stuck at some point, the developers included tutorials with guides on how to perform some tasks. This is a great touch that beginners will appreciate.
A Stock Of 425 Sounds and Loops, Plus 3 Virtual Instruments
The beauty of DAW software is even if you have never played a music instrument, you can use the provided virtual instruments to produce sounds that can sound as good as the real thing.
You can mix-and-match with the sounds and loops that come preloaded in the DAW. All in all, Music Maker has 425 sounds and loops.
And, to up the fun, almost all the sounds and loops can be pitch-adjusted seven levels high.
Or, you can try your hand at the virtual instruments in the DAW:
There is a grand piano, an analog synthesizer, as well as a realistic sounding acoustic drum module.
Music Maker’s lack of VST plugin support is a major handicap and one of the things that count against it. But the virtual MIDI editor goes some way in assuaging that weakness.
You can use your mouse or keyboard to do most of what you would do with a MIDI keyboard.
Another saving grace is you can use your virtual instruments to play the compositions you make with the MIDI editor.
Depending on your composition skills, all these instruments, with the loops and sounds in the media pool, will enrich your music, which helps to you build a unique sound and identity.
The 2017 update brought a less cramped interface, with the improved media pool that’s been shifted from the bottom up to the top right of the main arrangement window.
That’s not all:
Options For Recording Audio, and Importing External Files
Not enough sound presets and loops in the app to create the sound you are looking for?
Music Maker allows you to both record and import audio files that you can incorporate into your own compositions. Even if the external files are in video mode, Music Maker can open a separate video monitor that will even play in fullscreen.
Or, you want to add another instrument, besides the pre-installed grand piano, acoustic drum, analog synthesizer?
You can do that. Although you will have to pay for it, at $29 per instrument. Go ahead and make the in-app purchase, if you feel that makes more sense than simply upgrading to a paid version with more instruments.
And if composition isn’t one of your stronger skills, there is a song generator with song construction kits that will create song ideas and roll down a not-so blank canvas to work from.
An Effects-Laden Editing Suite
The average music producer will tell you selecting sounds, layering loops, and recording instruments is probably the easiest part of their job.
It is with the mixing and editing where your skills are really put the test.
To ensure symmetry and a flowing melody, you need to know which loops and sounds go well together, how to pace certain sounds, and which parts of the song to add an echo or reverb effect, among other tricks.
It is the real bolts-and-nuts of music production.
Thankfully, Music Maker has all these effects right at your fingertips. There is a 10 band Equalizer, reverb, echo, flanger, and compressor effects.
These effects each come with a choice of presets that you can adjust as you do your mixes.
For editing, there are just about enough tools to trim the fat, file the edges, and buff your sound pieces to a shine - metaphorically speaking.
The editing tool chest includes a processor, spectrum analyzer, master limiter, infinite cue points, a channel mixer, frequency tuner, equalizer, and effects previewer.
A Self Contained Mastering Suite
After mixing and editing, making sure every sound has the right pitch, that all the effects jell to a T, Music Maker will migrate your work to the mastering suite.
In this post production end of your virtual studio is where your final mix is transferred to a storage medium.
It is here where the final song will be pressed or duplicated into copies.
All the hard work from the composition, mixing, and editing should leave you suitably exhausted. An auto mastering option allows you to choose a genre-specific mastering preset and the DAW will automatically polish and deliver your finished song.
If you want to do it yourself, the StereoFX module, parametric 6-channel equalizer, limiter, and a multi-band compressor will lend the tools to put the necessary finishing touches to your audio creation.
Where Music Maker Falls Short
For a free DAW, Music Maker punches above its weight, accomplishing more than the average free DAW.
But choosing it also means missing out on a few features that would take it from good to great.
Among its weak points, Music Maker lacks a voice reduction feature. This means you can’t remove vocals from pre-recorded tracks. If you are a karaoke buff, this handicap may be difficult to ignore.
How about the tedium of constantly repeating the same tasks? A batch function would have removed this pain point.
But perhaps the greatest frustration with Music Maker is its lack of VST plugin support.
No DAW can claim to have every sound and effect there is. VST plugin support would enable you to integrate third party virtual instruments and audio effects to complement what comes preinstalled in the DAW.
As you use the DAW, all these limitations will start to weigh down on your audio creations, which may be the cue you need to upgrade:
Magix Music Maker Plus, Live, and Premium Editions Unlock Significantly More Features
The Plus, Live, and Premium editions will require you to purchase a license to use them.
The Plus edition is the least expensive, with the least features. The Music Maker Premium edition is where all of the DAWs features are unlocked.
The paid editions are a significant upgrade from Music Maker.
Starting from the Music Maker Plus edition, there is more of everything, as well as new features you won’t find in the free Music Maker edition.
To put it into perspective:
The Plus edition comes with 5,000 sounds and loops, up from just 425 in Music Maker. The Live edition takes this number to 6,000 and 8,000 in the Premium edition.
Where the Music Maker edition has just the one soundpool, there are 6,8, and 12 genre-specific soundpools in the Plus, Live, and Premium editions respectively.
For instruments, the Plus edition has seven software instruments, nine for Live, and 12 in the Premium edition, compared to Music Maker’s three.
As well as more tracks for each, the paid versions have significantly more effects, Magix Audio Remote capability, VST3 plugin support, and 30 live sets and a mastering package for Music Maker Live and Premium editions.
The Magix Music Maker Premium edition calls for a slightly higher financial investment. But it is here that you should aspire to be if you are looking to eventually go pro.
Alternative DAWs Worth Considering
Magix Music Maker will only work with computers running on the Windows OS.
There are also DAWs that will only run on the macOS, and a few that run on both Windows and macOS.
Let’s look at two of your best options for those:
Logix Pro X - For Mac Users Only
Logix Pro X only works with Mac computers, which run on macOS.
If you won’t use any other computer, Logix Pro X should be the DAW you consider first.
Despite it being only compatible with Macs, Logix Pro X is considered one of the most complete and versatile of all pro DAWs.
Even before the addition of the Alchemy synthesizer plugin after Apple acquired Camel Audio, the DAW boasted one of the largest library of stock sounds, loops, and effects.
The native integration of the Alchemy synth added 3,000 new presets for all types of music, including EDM, rock, and hip hop.
The Alchemy even has an integrated search browser to help you locate your sounds quickly, among other cool features.
Add all the improvements the current version 10.3 brought, and Logix Pro X becomes an absolute steal at just $200.
The new and improved features include support for 256 buses, which is up from 64 in the previous version, and the Alternative Tracks feature that allows you to work on different versions of the same track at the same time.
PreSonus Studio One - For Both PC and Mac Users
Having a pro DAW that’s cross compatible with both PCs and Macs has many advantages.
For one, you can switch computers between Mac and PC, and vice versa, and not need to buy a new DAW. Such a DAW is a great convenience as it saves you having to learn a new DAW all over again.
Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, a cross compatible DAW enables easy collaboration with other music producers.
You will not have to worry about what OS they are using. As long as they are on Studio One, they can read and make improvements to your work.
PreSonus Studio One is easily the most complete pro DAW that’s compatible with both Macs and Windows PCs. It evens runs on the Linux OS.
VST2 and VST3 support enables access to premium third party plugins for greater sound presets’ and effects’ choice.
As well as a drag and drop functionality, Studio One also includes a Project Page, which is an all-in-one sequencing and mastering suite.
Magix Music Maker Is A Solid, Functional Choice For DAW Software
Magix Music Maker is up there with the best free DAWs.
It ticks a lot of boxes and will be a great fit for a beginner.
To be honest, you are unlikely to find a better DAW, for which you won’t have to pay anything.
That said, the DAW is a solid choice that beginners, and even advanced music producers, can have a great time composing and producing music with.
Learning it won’t be a stroll. It never is with any good DAW.
Any DAW software is only going to be as useful as the time you allow yourself to learn and master it.
Even with the limitations we have pointed out, Magix Music Maker has enough features to be reasonably functional.
That it is ‘light’ on pro features also isn’t such a bad thing if you are a beginner. The interface is less intimidating as a result.
After using this basic version for a while you will start to yearn for more. Upgrading to the ‘full-fat’, paid versions will unlock a larger stock of sounds, effects, and tons of pro features.
With the two other alternatives we highlighted, we have pretty much touched on the best there is if you are looking for a more professional polish to your tunes.
Go on, download Magix Music Maker now, and put the DAW to the test yourself.
You can’t lose, the DAW is free - Click here to download the software for free.