No one likes a bargain more than the editors of EM, and we are always on the lookout for products that deliver plenty of bang for the buck. Although great-sounding hardware is rarely inexpensive, it's another story when it comes to software. Associate Editor Len Sasso's “Download of the Month” column is a testament to that.
This month I've asked the editors to share their software favorites priced below $50. The result is a collection of shareware, donationware, and freeware that is heavy on creative potential but light on the pocketbook (see “Cheap Fares,” p. 32). Who says you only get what you pay for?
For those of you who think this class of software is mainly for experimental use or for music that resides on the fringes, look closer. You'll find products that rival those created by major companies in their usefulness, often with feature sets that would appear only in a product developed by a musician or sound artist rather than a team of marketers. And because they are often created by one-person operations, tech support and bug fixes are often handled quickly.
Pushing the boundaries of creativity is something I admire in any field, and the creative act of coding is rarely recognized outside the circle of programmers themselves. I'm always humbled by the fact that someone will put in an extraordinary amount of time developing a unique software tool, only to offer it to the public for little or no financial reward. “We do this for fun, you know” is how Koen Tanghe, one of the members of the Smartelectronix group, puts it on his page.
As with any other software app, if you do decide to download and use one of the products covered here, please be sure to register and pay for it. If a donation is requested, be sure to follow through with one. Not only is it the right thing to do, but it also encourages further development. And many of the developers I know like to get user feedback about their products, so let them know what you think.
While I'm on the subject of development, I want to say thanks to the man responsible for making EM what it is today. Steve Oppenheimer, who most recently served as our editor in chief/director of technology, is moving into the esteemed list of contributing editors on our masthead.
In his 20 years with Electronic Musician, Steve has filled every editorial position, taking the wheel with both hands as editor with the January 1998 issue and leading the magazine for nearly a decade. His inquisitive mind, journalistic integrity, deep understanding of technology, and exacting standards helped EM gain its reputation for in-depth coverage of topics that matter in the personal studio.
On a personal level, he has been a friend and mentor in the myriad aspects of magazine publishing for over ten years, and I wouldn't have the chops to sit in the editor's chair without such a patient and thorough teacher. Thank you, Steve, for seeing in me the potential to work in this field. And thanks for helping bring the magazine to where it is today!