by Steve Cunningham
Can it really be five years since we last looked at Samplitude? As Groucho Marx once remarked, “Time flies like an arrow. Fruit flies like a banana,” which has nothing to do with this month’s review of Magix’s Samplitude Professional version 8. But clearly we have some catching up to do, and I’ll point out the new stuff along with some of the existing features to jog your memory.
Samplitude 8 is a powerful multitrack software editor and mixer, and has been around since dirt (well, actually since 1994, but that might as well be dirt where software in concerned). It is offered in three flavors — a two-track Master version, a 64-track Standard version, and the Professional version reviewed here, which is capable of 999 tracks. It supports VST plug-ins and ASIO audio card drivers for low latency, and can handle sampling rates up to 192kHz with internal 32-bit floating-point processing for proper support of both 16 and 24-bit resolutions (that means it sounds good and won’t munch your audio). It has unlimited undo and batch processing, as well as some networking features for sharing work across multiple computers. Finally, Samplitude is controller-friendly and surround-friendly. It works with everything from the Mackie Control and Yamaha digital boards, to the cool little Tascam Firewire and USB controllers, and includes effects that will process up to six channels of surround.
Unlike most other editors, Samplitude still runs on almost all flavors of Windows, from 98 through XP, and will run on a Pentium 3 at 700MHz or better. However, its multitrack, real time performance doesn’t really kick in until you run it on a 1.8GHz Pentium 4 or Athalon with a half-gig of RAM. I evaluated it on my 2.4GHz Thinkpad laptop with 768MB of RAM, and it sang nicely until I added the 35th track (with heavy edits). That sent the CPU and Disk meters in the lower left corner into overload mode, accompanied by crackles and pops. More RAM would probably have allowed me to push it further, but my track counts never get near 35 anyway. Point is, it’ll run on dang near anything.
One significant difference in Samplitude 8 is the inclusion of a USB dongle called the Codemeter. You must have this dongle connected in order to install or boot Samplitude. It’s different than most dongles in that it shows up in your My Computer window as a new drive, and you have to un-mount it before you remove it or else Windows will complain. The Samplitude CD installs a program in the Windows taskbar to allow you to do that easily, but it’s still disconcerting when you forget (not to mention annoying). Further, it actually communicates with your computer via your network, so you may have to adjust your firewall settings, although I experienced no difficulties in that regard.