Magix Samplitude Music Studio 2014 review

Price when reviewed

The Samplitude name is best known for the £450 Pro X digital audio workstation package. For those who can’t stretch that far, the latest Music Studio edition is a remarkably capable alternative at a fraction of the price.

It supports up to 128 tracks of MIDI and 24-bit, 96kHz audio, with a generic ASIO driver helping to squeeze low-latency performance out of consumer audio chipsets.

There’s no limit to the number of DirectX and VST plugins and instruments you can use, and while each track offers only four effects slots, these are in addition to Samplitude’s onboard EQ, compression, reverb and delay modules. If you need a longer chain, you can route your audio through a submix bus to get another four slots. In short, there’s more than enough headroom here to assemble a professional-sounding mix.

Magix Samplitude Music Studio 2014

To do so, however, you’ll need to fight through Samplitude’s bewildering front-end: even the default “easy” workspace is dotted with cryptic controls in seemingly random fonts and styles, and occasional labels and tooltips in untranslated German don’t help. Some panels can be moved around and docked to the edge of the screen, but they don’t snap to intelligent places, so valuable space is wasted – and, maddeningly, the floating Mixer panel can’t be docked at all.

In fairness, though, most digital audio products have their foibles, and once you get the hang of Samplitude’s conventions, it’s admirably quick and easy to make edits and configure instruments. The option of switching between five customisable workspace layouts mitigates the frustration of trying to fit everything on screen, and the ability to fully customise both keyboard shortcuts and mouse behaviour is another big plus.

If there’s a disappointment, it’s the headline instruments. The DN-e1 module, new in Samplitude Music Studio 2014, is advertised as a “spectacular high-end synthesiser”.

Among its 256 presets, you’ll find searing lead sounds, atmospheric arpeggiations and respectably rich bass tones. Unfortunately, while you can tweak and automate the filter and envelope controls to create beautiful sweeps and squelches, there’s no way to directly control the oscillators, nor the sequencer. That’s not our idea of “high-end”.

Magix Samplitude Music Studio 2014

You also get four of Magix’s Vita Solo instruments: Electric Piano, Vintage Organ, Power Guitar and Pop Brass. These last two make clever use of the bottom MIDI octave to control dynamics, so your guitar parts can move from a full-bodied rasp to a muted pluck, while your trumpet phrases swell and die away, without any need to mess around with patch changes or automation.

The catch is that, while the patches are well implemented, the instruments themselves are all a bit secondary: more useful modules, such as piano, strings, drums and bass, will cost you £30 a pop from the Magix website.


Software subcategoryAudio production software

Operating system support

Operating system Windows Vista supported?yes
Operating system Windows XP supported?yes
Operating system Linux supported?no
Operating system Mac OS X supported?no
Other operating system supportWindows 8

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