It's hard to keep track of all the versions of ACID out there. Sony Pictures claims there are only three, but that doesn't count all the different iterations of the "lite" versions you're likely to find in CD recording bundles—which is the first place many users are likely to encounter the ACID software. ACID Music Studio is the newest addition to the family, and it's also part of another family—Sony's new Studio group of products.
For many users, ACID is the go-to application for creating loops and mixing audio, and it's a great tool for videographers who need to enhance their videos with snatches of royalty-free audio and looping clips. Vegas and Movie Studio users will feel right at home in the ACID timeline; its track-list and window docking areas are virtual replicas of the comparable elements of the Vegas workspace. Here the emphasis is on mixing controls (also graphically presented
Everything you've done to a track is indicated and accessed via the track list. ACID tracks come in four types—loop, one-shot, beat-mapped, and MIDI—all iconographically identified in the track list. The Track FX button accesses the FX window where you can apply and configure a good-sized list of effects; also of note is a solo button that isolates a specific track for preview, and a multipurpose slider through which you can set a track's volume or apply panning controls. If you don't have good audio panning capabilities in your NLE, this is especially helpful for physically placing the various sounds in a scene. Like Sound Forge Audio Studio, ACID Music Studio supports the import of video tracks in various formats and the ability to manipulate and augment their audio for effective sound-synching. And it includes a full complement of mixing controls for adjusting volume of all audio elements and Soft Synth properties in your various events.
Of course, what the ACID products are best known for are their many included royalty-free loops (you get 1,000 on the content CD that comes with the software) and the ways you can mix, manipulate, and, well, loop them. And it's certainly as powerful a tool as I've seen for working with loops—especially its tempo, key, and time signature management tools. That said, you'll find many of those capabilities in more general-purpose, professional audio editing tools like Adobe Audition—which has excellent loops and fine tools for manipulating them—and at a net price that's only slightly higher if you buy it as a component of the Adobe Video Collection.
As for comparisons to ACID Pro, the highlights of the what's in/what's out breakdown are as follows: unlimited tracks, ripple editing, MIDI recording/editing, Flash and QuickTime support, and that cool Metronome feature are found in both; only available in the Pro version, most notably, are support for 5.1 surround mixing and 24-bit depth.
System Requirements: 500MHz PC with 128MB RAM running Windows 2000/XP; 150MB available HDD space for program and content disc installation; Windows-compatible sound card.