Overall Satisfaction with ACID Pro
I primarily use ACID Pro for electronic music production for music beds, film and videogame soundtracks, podcast intros, interstitial music, and for my own personal music projects. However, I have used ACID Pro in a professional capacity for many years and I still find it ideal for loop-based, beat-driven music, as well as assembling ambient soundscapes.
- Audio sequencing: It's great for those who like to work primarily with waveforms, rather than MIDI.
- Loop-based sequencing: It's perfect for loop-based music.
- Envelopes: It's quite easy to do things like volume fades, crossfades, and other envelope-based audio manipulation of the waveform.
- Time-stretch: ACID Pro has nice time-stretch filters.
- Multitrack nondestructive sequencing: I like the UI for multitrack, and how easy it is to get back to a previous state through undo history, even copying something from a future state and then undoing a number of steps before pasting in the later content.
- MIDI: I don't think it is great for MIDI sequencing. There are much better piano rolls and software step sequencers out there.
- Built-in effects: ACID Pro has not kept up with competitors like Ableton Live, who licensed Cytomic's Glue Compression for version 9 of their software, an incredible-sounding plugin that would otherwise cost a pretty penny but is now included for free in Live. That being said, I haven't used it but I see they are making strides in this area, with new versions of ACID Pro including third-party licensed effects like Zynpatic STEM MAKER 2 out of the box for free.
- Live performance: ACID Pro still doesn't hold a candle to Ableton Live in this department.
- Improvising with loops: Despite recently added features like the ACID Morph Pads, the Chopper, and the revised Beatmapper, which allow MIDI triggering of parts of samples as well as creating new sounds using raw audio as an input, I feel that ACID Pro has a ways to go before they harness the improvisatory power you get with something like Stutter Edit, or the performance features of Ableton Live.
- Positive: Easy to use. Up and running in minutes. Virtually no learning curve, just drag, and drop.
- Negative: Limited in its improvisatory and live performance. This has not made a negative impact on the business per se, but can be a creative block when you are trying to come up with a music bed or interstitial and want to experiment with mixing and matching different loops. There's no easy way to do this on the fly in ACID Pro, as there is with Ableton Live.
- Positive: ACID Pro now includes more effects than ever, ameliorating the need to purchase plugins.
Due to my history as an audio engineer and having worked at many studios over the years, I've been exposed to a wide range of DAWs from Pro Tools, Cakewalk, and Nuendo to Reaper, Max/MSP/Jitter, and Processing. (These latter two are not really DAWs, per se, but rather systems that can be used for programming audio production — Reaper has features like this as well.) I point this out simply to say that I have experience with a wide range of DAWs and am fairly agnostic about them. I certainly have preferences. If I'm working with an indie rock band or a singer-songwriter, I like Pro Tools, since it is an industry-standard. For hip hop or electronic music, I prefer Ableton Live or ACID Pro, since they make working with loops so much easier, and I believe the sound fidelity is better. I choose ACID Pro specifically for loop-based music which almost entirely comes from waveforms rather than MIDI instruments (real or virtual). I find ACID Pro's MIDI functionality lacking, but the ease of sequencing and working with loops more than makes up for it.
ACID Pro was the first loop-based DAW I ever used, and I fell in love with it. I was an avid ACID Pro believer for many years, before making the switch to Ableton Live as my primary DAW. Even still, I prefer the sound quality of ACID Pro in many cases. Ableton Live just "sounds" like Ableton, and there are audio artifacts that annoy me. I have been able to work around many of them, but I still have a special place in my arsenal for ACID Pro and use it whenever the chance arises, typically for loop-based wave-heavy music that doesn't need to be performed live and doesn't have a strong reliance on MIDI sequencing.
Do you think ACID Pro delivers good value for the price?
Are you happy with ACID Pro's feature set?
Did ACID Pro live up to sales and marketing promises?
Did implementation of ACID Pro go as expected?
Would you buy ACID Pro again?
ACID Pro is great for electronic music, hip hop, and any loop-based music production such as for videogame soundtracks. It is great for audio-forward production, rather than MIDI-forward. If I were running a lot of hardware synthesizers, or even softsynths using MIDI, I would prefer another DAW since they often have better features, for instance in the shuffle department where Ableton Live has hundreds of shuffles to choose from for MIDI instruments. However, I still prefer time-stretching sound quality in ACID Pro, as well as the lack of audio artifacts in looping. To this day, Ableton Live has still not entirely figured out how to prevent clicks and pops at the beginning and end of loops, especially lower frequencies like basslines, without shaving an arbitrary amount of time off each side (.5 ms by default), resulting in lessened attack and audio artifacts during cuts. I feel that ACID Pro has a better audio engine for looping, although for many purposes this is not noticeable. Still, I prefer ACID Pro for wave-based (rather than MIDI-based) music that makes extensive use of loops.