What can you say about a company that discards the 500-page manual that graced a fairly complex MIDI application and then “upgrades” it with 60 pages of PDF-format quick-start material and inadequate online help? While you might praise Cakewalk for its efforts to save trees, you might just as easily denounce it for making its midprice MIDI sequencer, Metro 5.0, more difficult to use than is necessary.
Metro 5.0 offers such typical sequencer features as track overview and graphic editing of MIDI data.
The lack of documentation, coupled with an interface that buries common commands in dialog boxes, mars a modestly capable MIDI sequencer. On the surface, Metro’s features compare well with those of its more expensive competitors: It records countless MIDI tracks and up to 64 tracks of digital audio. It supports ASIO (Steinberg’s Audio Stream Input/Output)-compatible audio cards, as well as Adobe Premiere-compatible and Steinberg’s VST-compatible effects plug-ins. It also offers such common features as mix automation, groove quantize, audio scrubbing, and audio cross-fades.
Of course, you shouldn’t expect miracles from a sequencer that costs hundreds of dollars less than the competition. Not surprisingly, once you begin to explore Metro’s features you discover they lack the depth of more-expensive sequencers. For example, Metro’s effects plug-ins, such as reverb, delay, and chorus, are of questionable quality. The mixing console within the Instruments window doesn’t let you assign a name to a fader or switch effects on and off. Nor can you loop or change the pitch of audio files or easily view single tracks in the Notation window.
Even though Metro lacks some features, it can do much more than simply record MIDI and audio data. The program gives you some useful musical goodies; for example, you can record multiple takes without having to stop and start the sequence. Using Multiple Take Mode, you select an area of a sequence, determine how many takes you wish to record, and start recording. As you finish each pass, Metro returns to the beginning of the selected section and starts recording your next take in a new track. A unique Note Spray tool lets you add semirandom MIDI data to a tracknotes constrained to a particular scale, for instance, or velocities that fall within a user-defined range sprayed over a drum track.
Macworld’s Buying Advice
Metro 5.0 is a serviceable sequencer for those on a budget, offering a competentthough occasionally shallowset of features. Regrettably, some users may never discover these features due to the lack of proper documentation and an unintuitive interface.