Mixcraft 6 Vocal Studio: Affordable Home Recording Studio Software

mixcraft 6

The Mixcraft 6 Vocal Studio is a cost-effective way to get started creating and recording your music. As we all know, recording studios spend a lot of money on their recording software. For less than $200 you get everything you need to create and record your music.

The package includes software that’s easy to load, plus a USB microphone. Once you’ve installed the software, all you’ve got to do is plug in the mic, and the drivers will automatically load. With that, you’re up and running, and ready to begin.

When you open the program for the first time, it automatically brings up a requester asking what kind of project you want to make:  A basic recording (with your USB mic), Loops and Beats (Edit existing tracks or create your own from the on board loops), or Build Virtual Instrument Tracks.  Today, we’re going to build an instrument track.  Using this option you can also use Loops, Record Audio using your mic, or harness the power of on board virtual instruments.  Name your project and close this window.  You’re ready to create.

Mixcraft Opening ScreenOne of the great features of this program is looping. This is where it really gets fun. At the bottom of your screen are four tabbed folders: Project, Sound, Mixer, and Library.  Click on the Library Tab.  You can go through a ton of different sounds and repeating drumbeats just by clicking on the various items in the list. Spend as much time as you like clicking through this very extensive library of loops.

On the left hand side of this folder there are a couple of drop down menus.  The Library can be broken into two groups: Loops and Sounds Effects.  And you can sort these Loops by: Tempo, Key, Style, Instrument, Name, Song Kit, Date, or Imported Date.  (Yes, you can import new Loops.)  When you find a sound or beat you like, simply drag it onto an audio track on your timeline.  NOTE: in this mode the top two tracks are labeled “Instrument Track”.  We’ll get to them next.  The Third track down should be labeled “Audio Track”.  You can drop a loop onto an Audio Track or you can use an Audio Track to record your microphone.

Mixcraft 6 Workspace

This is what the Mixcraft 6 workspace looks like.

Once you’ve got your beat on the timeline, you can easily expand it so it will last however many bars you want. There’s a little plus sign at the top left hand corner of each Loop.  Click on it to repeat the Loop.  To add other effects, like a drum fill, all you have to do is drag, drop, and position them where you want on the timeline. If you’re happy with the few bars you’ve created so far and want to repeat them, it’s as simple as highlighting the desired area, copying, and pasting.  It doesn’t take very long to lay out the drum part for a whole song.

Mixcraft screen shot 3

The Mixcraft 6 comes with over 6500 pre-loaded sound effects, loops, and music beds in the sound library.

There are a couple of ways to add a nice bass part (or other instrument) to your track. One way is to load a virtual instrument.  Remember those top two tracks.  Click on the little keyboard icon on one of them.  It will open a window filled with all kinds of virtual instruments.  The default instrument is a piano.  Now that you’ve got that window open, click on “Musical Typing”.  Yes, using the keys on your computer’s keyboard you can play your instrument with key strokes.  It takes a little practice, but it works.  “Arm” the track with a click, it will turn red.  Now you’re ready to record. Then click on the little red record button on the transport bar.  (It will look familiar, with the symbols for play, fast forward, rewind, stop,  pause, etc.)  You can also hit the shortcut “R” on your keyboard, and off you go.  You’re recording.  Don’t worry.  When you’re done, just click on the track you just recorded and an editing window opens.  You can drag, stretch, and move around the notes until you get them just the way you want them.

If you have a USB interface to a MIDI instrument, you can input your performance using it.

Mixcraft screen shot 5

Another way to get a great bass part (and many other instruments) is to drag and drop an already perfect bass loop right onto your timeline.  OPEN your Library and see what’s there.  You’ll find all kinds of riffs in all kinds of styles.  You’ll want to stay within the same tempo and style.

The ability to quickly craft and loop a drum beat and bass line makes this program great for just laying down a beat that you want to jam on top of. So, even if you’re not interested writing songs by creating tracks from the ground up, you could still use it to practice your jazz or rock improvisation chops.

When you get good at looping, you’ll be able to drop in all kinds of riffs in all kinds of keys, with all kinds of virtual instruments.

It’s also very easy to record your voice or other real instruments into your project by using your USB Microphone.  Right next to the ARM button on an Audio Track is a little pull down arrow.  Click on it and select your USB Microphone.  Arm the track and hit the record button (or keystroke “R”).  Start singing or playing along with your track.

You’ll want to be using headphones during recording.  The mic will pick up the sound of your speakers.

So many of the controls in Mixcraft 6 are computer intuitive that you will easily adjust to shortcuts and move around the program with ease.  The space bar starts and stops play, Ctrl + C is Copy, etc.  And don’t forget the always useful Ctrl + Z.  Undo is going to be one of your most oft used commands.  Trust us.

Once you get all your parts recorded and edited into your project, your going to want to mixdown your song and create a nice file or burn a CD.

Open the Mixer Tab.  Your virtual mixer has faders, effects, EQ, and a host of bells and whistles.

When you’re happy with your mix, click on File and pull down to Mix Down.  You can export as an MP3 or a Wav, etc.  OR if you prefer a good ole CD Burn.  Stick a CD in your drive and select Burn CD.  You can even label your CD in the program.

Mixcraft screen shot of mixer

The audio mixer is user-friendly and intuitive. Once you’re happy with the levels, exporting the track to MP3 is just a click away.

Mixcraft 6 Vocal Studio is the perfect songwriting tool, but it can be used for many other very useful tasks.   Voice over Demos and radio spots can be created easily.  Record your voice and edit your performance until it’s perfect.  Load in a nice instrumental track and some sound effects, Mixdown and deliver.  You can create wonderful vacation travelogues and informational videos for the web.  The Mixcraft 6 software includes a very nice video interface.  Load in your favorite photos, import a little instrumental music, read your script into your MXL USB microphone, Edit, and Mixdown.

And don’t worry: inside the program is a help manual that you can index and reference at any point in your production.

Mixcraft 6 Vocal Studio rates very high on features, remarkably high on ease of use, and most impressively on price point.

Some nice add-ons to the Mixcraft 6 Vocal Studio

MXL Mic Mate USB Mini Mixer Kit

Mini Mixer

With this, you can add up to four other microphones and USB devices.  It’s a studio in your pocket.

 

MXL 990 Stereo Compressor USB Microphone

MXL 990 Microphone

This will allow you to go out and record concerts right to your computer.  We really like this add on.  MXL has manufactured a remarkably good USB microphone.  Great for concerts, rehearsals, or to record a student lesson.  You can then easily edit, mixdown and output to MP3 for the web or burn a CD.

 

 

Todd Hobin

Todd Hobin is a professional musician,recording artist, and composer who writes and lectures on the music industry and the History of Rock 'n' Roll. He tours as a solo artist and with the Todd Hobin Band. Hobin Studios is in Syracuse, NY. Learn more at Todd's website.

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