Rax 2.0

If you’re looking for easy access to music plug-ins without a lot of distractions, or need a way to quickly select virtual instruments and effects on stage, plasq’s Rax 2.0 is a must-buy.

First Look: Testing Logic's Universal appeal

The arrival of the Intel-native Logic Pro 7.2 will be welcome news to mobile musicians, as our tests of the Universal version of the audio production app found a major performance gain.

Peak Pro XT 5

Whether you’re a hobbyist producing podcasts or a pro creating studio-quality projects like CDs or game soundtracks, BIAS’ Peak Pro XT 5 could fit the bill.

Review: Numark iDJ

Assuming you have two compatible iPods already, and want to be able to dock them at home in a DJ-style mixer, or if you’re looking to hold iPod parties where friends come with iPods to try mixing, the iDJ could fit the bill. However, even amateur DJs might want to consider other options.

Final Cut Studio

Final Cut Studio is a substantial update to Apple’s professional-level postproduction software bundle. More than a simple bundle of stand-alone applications, all the applications are interconnected and their features complement each other nicely. Final Cut Studio is a very attractive and worthwhile buy, especially at $1,299 for the full retail box.

Soundtrack Pro

Soundtrack Pro strikes a good balance between the needs of musicians, video editors, audio editors, and multimedia pros. There’s no easier or quicker way to perform day-to-day audio-editing chores, repair sound problems, design sound, match audio to video, or automate sound-asset management, on either a Mac or a PC.

Reason 3

If you’re already a Reason lover, you’ll want Reason 3. It adds a stronger emphasis on live performance, and expanded presets, great mastering effects, and improved integration with newer keyboards and instruments.

Cubase SX 3.01

While it has fallen behind its competitors in some respects, Cubase SX 3.01 is the best choice here for cross-platform environments and integrating audio hardware.

Logic Pro 7.01

If you can adapt to its sometimes-idiosyncratic way of working, Logic’s gorgeous-looking and great-sounding set of sound tools is irresistible. There’s simply no better value in all-around audio bundles.

Digital Performer 4.52

Compared to other pro audio-production programs like Logic Pro and Cubase SX, Digital Performer remains the easiest to use, without sacrificing audio or MIDI-editing power.

Pro audio-production software

We look at three applications—Apple’s Logic Pro 7.01, Steinberg’s Cubase SX 3.01, and Mark of the Unicorn’s Digital Performer 4.52—to find out which one has the tools, features, and effects to help you make beautiful music.

Live 4

Live reamains the best tool available for on-the-fly remixing, composing, arranging, and performing. And Version 4 adds long-awaited MIDI support and virtual instruments.

Finale 2004 and Sibelius 3.1

Market-leading rivals Sibelius 3.1, from Sibelius, and Finale 2004, from MakeMusic, remain the most full-featured, one-size-fits-all packages available for producing printed musical scores. These programs are so evenly matched, most people will rely on personal tastes to choose one.