Test Drive: ACID from Sonic Foundry

Acid

By Tom Richards

“Have you tried ACID yet?” “Man, I’ve been on ACID for months now, and I’m never gonna stop!”
Oh, to have been a fly on the wall of the marketing department at Sonic Foundry when they dreamed up their latest creation, ACID. They really outdid themselves. Unlike their stellar digital editor, Sound Forge 4.5—which at least implies what the product does—ACID, like its chemical predecessor from the ‘60s, defies description. Sonic Foundry literature calls it a “breakthrough loop-based music production tool.” I call it an anarchic revolution that liberates the creative producer from the tyranny of MIDI and the Dallas-Los Angeles stock music axis. So much for my career as a marketing guy.ACID

What ACID does

So what does it do, anyway? What no other software does: ACID enables you to take audio samples of different key signatures and tempos and meld them into a common key and tempo. So you could take, say, a hip hop drum groove performed at 136 beats per minute (bpm), a jazz bass line played in G at 98 bpm, a blues keyboard comp in F# at 118 bpm, and a grunge guitar crunch in E at 124 bpm, and ACID-ize them to all work together in the same key and tempo.
Consider the creative power that puts in your hands. No longer do you have to play an instrument to create effective, original music. Now you can craft your own music beds to your own specs. Think world music’s got diverse influences? Hah! You’re designing universe music! Make Jimi Hendrix jam with Steve Gadd on top of a J.S. Bach counterpoint. Hey, it could happen! But maybe we’re getting carried away; perhaps you’re not quite ready to blast into orbit yet. Fair enough. Get your feet wet by tweaking somebody else’s music. Got stock music that’s almost perfect, but the tempo’s not quite right? Dump it into ACID and throw it from 60 bpm all the way up to 240. Got two or more beds that you’d like to blend into the same key, or transpose into different ones? ACID gets the job done quickly, elegantly, easily.

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