Project5 1.0 $429 Cakewalk www.cakewalk.com Rating: 4.5 CPUs
If you want to be the next Moby, Alice DJ, or whomever the kids are listening to these days, you'll need the right tool. Project5 is a "soft synth workstation," or a nonlinear sequencer for electronic musicians. Once you learn your way around its complex and feature-loaded interface, Project5 could have you pumping out jams like a pro.
Project5 is a well-rounded studio environment built around a familiar rack motif. It includes software synthesizers, integrated sequencers, audio and MIDI effects, and looping tools. There are multiple samplers and synthesizers to choose from, and the program can accept real-time MIDI input, talking to just about any MIDI device you throw at it. You can extend functionality through VST and DXi plug-ins, two popular standards for virtual instruments. The app also supports "acidized" loops.
The learning curve on an app like this can be steep, even if you're familiar with studio software. The 150-page manual does a good job of getting you started and includes a tutorial that gets you going without much fuss.
But stop the music. Project5's license agreement might stifle the song in your heart. One section forbids transferring the software to another person. (Don't like it? You aren't allowed to sell it.) And although the package comes with a CD-ROM full of drum kits and samples, you can't use them in broadcast or commercial projects without written consent.
The software requires an 800MHz processor (1.7GHz preferred) running Win2000 or WinXP. Although 256MB of RAM and 200MB of drive space are the minimums, the more you can give, the better.
The program is expensive, but so is its competition (Propellerhead Reason and Image-Line Fruityloops). There is a free trial version available at Cakewalk's Web site. Licensing issues aside, Project5 sounds good, looks good, and is stable. It provides just about everything an electronic musician could need in one convenient package, except the talent.
Reprinted with permission from Computer Power User magazine.