Magix updates MP3 maker

Magix AG is expanding its digital music tools, announcing MP3 Maker Diamond 2004, which builds on an already large set of features to rip CDs, manage digital music files, and create audio CDs of your personal greatest hits.

Magix MP3 Maker is one of a few titles to put tools for all of these musical chores into one program. MP3 Maker Diamond 2004 adds volume adjustment, 3D audio, DirectX support, and a CD-burning scheduler. The updated program, which competes primarily with Musicmatch Jukebox, is scheduled to ship in July and will sell for about US$30. Magix has dubbed this version Diamond because it follows previous Gold and Platinum editions.

Magix also develops several other music management programs. It recently updated its Music Maker 2004 and Music Studio 2004 Deluxe programs.

Music-Managing Tools

MP3 Maker offers more ways to grab music than just ripping .mp3 files from CDs. For one thing, it handles more than .mp3 files; the program also supports the WAV, WMA, OGG formats.

It comes with FTP capabilities to help you download your music. It can play and record off Internet radio stations, and it comes with a list of 150 such Net radio stations (you can add and remove stations from the list). And it can record off cassettes, LPs, or anything else that plays recordings and can be plugged into a computer.

Speaking of LPs, MP3 Maker has noise filters to help eliminate that old-fashioned, unintentional ambient noise heard on records. Among its other tools to customize your tunes are a ten-band equalizer and such effects as reverb, delay, and scratch. The 3D effect lets you create a virtual surround experience, so that something that was originally mixed as two-track stereo, and which you are actually playing back on a two-speaker system, sounds as if it's coming from all around you.

Fine-Tuning Touches

In addition to altering individual tracks, MP3 Maker helps you run them together, with an option to cross-fade songs so that the last one blends into the next. And the Automatic Volume Adjustment smooths out the volume level from one song to the next, so you don't have to keep adjusting that knob as you listen to your selections.

Those two features will be most useful when you're creating CDs, and MP3 Maker lets you burn either audio CDs or .mp3 collections (which can hold about 12 hours of music on one disc). Among the new CD-burning features are CD Text--which allows newer players to display the title, artist, and other info--and a scheduler for burning CDs when you're not around. As you would expect, you can also design and print your own CD labels.

There's also an integrated, CDDB-supporting database to help you manage the music you keep on your hard drive. You can use the database to create playlists, which you can then export to standard .m3u playlist files. MP3 Maker playlists can also carry photos and other media files, and you can turn them into multimedia slide shows that you can e-mail to friends along with a freely distributed viewer program.

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