Studio Vision Pro 4.2.1
Opcode Systems

As with any new or updated product there's a certain amount of past mixed in with present, which makes the decision whether or not to upgrade to the latest and greatest version often a tough one, especially when the version you already have installed works just great.

So when version 4.2.1 of Opcode's flagship audio and MIDI recording and editing software arrived at the polished aluminum door of's Seattle headquarters, we figured it deserved a little more than a cursory inspection. And what better way than to install it into our brand new 400MHz "blue and white" Apple G3.

But wait, how do we get the authorization diskette into the new Mac? After a quick look through the installation notes we finally figure it out, simply register the product with Opcode, enter the response to the installer's challenge and presto, a fully authorized version of what we think has to be one of the cleanest, easy to use and powerful applications around.

Needless to say there's more to this version than meets the eye. For starters it's obvious that Opcode has been paying serious attention to the kind of details that often stay the same from upgrade to upgrade. Like the way in which a MIDI note, and channel, is chosen to produce a click for example. Yes, the good old virtual metronome often misses the new features boat, even though it's one of the most heavily used functions after the transport control panel itself (according to all the musicians I know anyway), and even there, within that most heavily trafficked patch of real estate on the digital musicians desktop, Opcode have managed to introduce the kind of features that have long been lacking.

Traditionally jam packed with stuff, the transport control panel is where you'll end up before and after each track is safely written to disk, and Opcode have gone all out to present the most efficient and easily accessed display to date, with all the tools you'll need for any session instantly available, or at least one quick pull down menu away.

The most often used controls are there at center stage, with play, stop/pause, record, fast forward and rewind accompanied by a handy scrolling tab which lets you get to where you need to be without having to go all the way down to the scroll bar at the base of the main time line window to move around.

To the right is the time display, switchable between industry standard ways of seeing where you're at, including SMPTE, and next to it are controls that allow you to enter drop in and out points, used while recording or just for rehearsal purposes.

Although the functions I just mentioned are basic necessities, used all the time by musicians who use such tools to craft their music, there are a myriad other examples that could just as easily demonstrate the way in which Opcode have made ease of use their number one goal with this release. And underneath it all is rock solid code, making it all run smoothly together, and allowing you to play and record numerous tracks of audio and MIDI simultaneously, limited only by the speed of your processor.

After putting Studio Vision Pro through it's paces, using all the controls and features I'm familiar with and noticing many more that I'm not, It was time to open the user manuals and see what I'd missed. After a few minutes I'm opening EQ's and sound effects panels (reverb, chorus, delay Etc.) from the Console window, changing the actual sound of the free audio files I'd imported into Studio Vision Pro from the installer CD-ROM. Just like third party plug ins that enhance the operability of digital audio tools, these were more than capable of giving me the extra control I needed without having to purchase more software.

Combining the power of Apple's new G3 computer and Opcode's latest offering is, to say the least, a formidable combination. There were no stability issues, configuration anomalies or nonsensical error messages, which is surprising given that I must have pressed every button and moved every slider imaginable, often while multiple tracks of MIDI and audio data were simultaneously being recorded and playing back. No mean feat, and something every discriminating musician should take well into account when looking to either upgrade or take that first step into the world of digital audio.

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Rating - 922,187 (out of a possible 1,000,000)

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