Music lovers have a new tool at their disposal for turning old collections into new, personalized CDs: Magix Music on CD & DVD, which helps you create audio CDs and long-playing DVDs, even with visual accompaniment.
Its music-editing capabilities make Music on CD & DVD different from conventional disc authoring tools such as Nero 6 Ultra Edition and Roxio Easy CD & DVD Creator, according to Caroline Soper, director of brand management at Magix. The program provides extensive tools for cleaning up, editing, and remastering your recordings. It can even turn two-track stereo sound into surround sound. The software is now available, priced at $40.
Music on CD & DVD complements other Magix multimedia tools, including an MP3 management program, MP3 Maker; and a song-creation tool, Music Maker.
But a hands-on look at Music on CD & DVD reveals that the program is sometimes difficult to use–often needlessly so.
Sound Mixer in All of Us
Soper describes the program as “Essentially a digital remastering tool.” It can clean up a recording by removing clicks, crackles, hisses, and other noise. Music on CD & DVD lets you fiddle with stereo width, dynamic range, bass, and treble. It can even turn two-track stereo into a sort of processed surround sound, adding reverb to the rear speakers. When you write to DVD, it can store the surround remix as a 5.1-channel soundtrack; on CD, it emulates surround sound within the two tracks the format supports. Correction: Magix stores the sound remix as an emulation of a 5.1-channel soundtrack.
You can also use the program to record from an analog source such as an LP or cassette (the ‘Record Audio’ icon is a turntable). This, of course, is where the cleanup tools are most urgently needed.
For sounds that are already digital, Music on CD & DVD supports a number of popular formats, including .mp3, .wma, and wav. Among the supported image and video formats are JPEG, .bmp, .wmv, .avi, .mov, and MPEG 1 and 2.
What isn’t supported? DVD Audio and MPEG 4. In addition, the program can’t use the secure audio files you buy and download from Apple’s ITunes, from Musicmatch, or from the new Napster. Clarification: This inability to run the SD files is shared by other music programs, and is a function of the copyright protection the music sites impose on the files.
Your Own MTV
Music on CD & DVD lets you write to standard audio CD, to MP3 CD, or to DVD; Magix says that MP3 DVDs can contain up to 100 hours of music.
The program also supports what it calls a Visual Disc, which is a DVD (or VCD) that displays eye candy to accompany encoded music. Music on CD & DVD comes with 51 animated, psychedelic patterns, and you can pick a different one for each song. These canned visuals truly move to the music–the program analyzes each song during the mastering process and animates the images accordingly.
Alternatively, you can use your own video files and photos. But you can display only one still photo image per track; this is not a slide-show program.
And yes, the program creates menus for the DVDs.
Trial by Hard Rock
Based on my very casual testing, Music on CD & DVD is a needlessly difficult program. Tasks that should be simple and intuitive pose major challenges.
For example, I tried to rearrange the order of songs on a planned CD by dragging and dropping them–as most such programs permit. But my efforts resulted in multiple-minute gaps between songs, tracks squeezed off the playlist, and a general mess of things. The correct way to proceed? Cut and paste, and then drag songs around to close gaps.
The program has other problems, too. If you change your mind about importing a large number of files, it offers no clear way to cancel the time-consuming operation. And Music on CD & DVD looks for your music and picture files in subfolders of the program folder, not in the default locations where Windows stores them.
Soper acknowledges that the program is rough around the edges. “It is a 1.0 version,” she says.
Editor’s Note: Brand Manager Soper refutes any implication the product is rough around the edges; she says her reference to the product’s 1.0 status refers only to the lack of an escape button to cancel the process of importing MP3 files.