Music Sales unveil new Commodore Software
Commodore Sound Studio
The arrival of MIDI on the latest software packages from Commodore/Music Sales gives one the impression that the designers of such ground-breaking concepts as Music Maker and Playalong Album are at last slithering out of the toy cupboard and into Daddy's studio. At the recent Commodore Computer Show in London, Special Products Manager from Music Sales, Dave Caulfield, introduced us to the delights of Sound Studio and Sampler - two extremely inexpensive pieces of software for the illustrious Commodore 64.
Priced at £14.95, the Sound Studio is a 3-track real time sequencing program on which sounds emanating from the Commodore's SID chip can be edited (in fact it retains up to 60 presets) and cobbled together to form embryonic songs. Since there is provision for MIDI, though, you can utilise 'pro' synths to take over from the obviously limited scope (in terms of sound quality) of the SID chip. The Casio CZ-101, with its MIDI Mono mode seems an obvious candidate for this task, since you'll be able to extract simultaneous but different sounding lines on each of the three tracks.
Although 3-track sequencing is hardly over the top, the program will undoubtedly be invaluable for all Commodore owners. In fairness, though, it can hardly be seen as a reason to go out an buy a Commodore 64 in the first place. The second package just might, however!
The Sampler sells for the giveaway price of £69.99. Okay, so it's not a Fairlight (no matter how many times references were made to Paul Hardcastle and his £26,000 devices for sampled FX on 19!), but it is an extremely cheap way of sampling, nonetheless!
The package includes software, a microphone, and hardware add-on cartridge which plugs into the user port of the Commodore itself. Samples sounds can be played back over a 10-octave range, with up to 4-second sample times. With good reason, no bandwidth specifications were given, since the noise level and general standard of the samples can hardly be called 'studio quality'. But up to four samples can be stored in memory, and the program can also function as an echo chamber and even a harmoniser. Unsurprisingly, and from the ensuing demo of the Sampler and Sound Studio in action, the Sampler works best on shorter, percussive sounds, but for under £70 it's absurd to make 'pro' value judgements! Commodore/Music Sales' latest additions may not yet rival Jellinghaus or Siel software, and certainly not UMI, but this partnership has made considerable strides from the overtly kiddie-class Music Maker, and will certainly - and justifiably - prove to be extremely successful.
As a reward for sitting through the sales patter (all too often, as seems inevitable with most computer-based products, a less than exhilarating affair), John McEnroe - hot from his popular if daft run of TV ads for crisps, or something - burst on to the scene and harangued the bemused gathering in mildly funny (if tasteless) fashion before demonstrating Commodore's latest 'game' of International Tennis. Priced at £5.99, it looks colourful, amusing and distinctly less dangerous than watching sport live these days!
More details from Dave Caulfield, (Contact Details).
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Review by Julian Colbeck
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