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MuLab is a little known gem of a digital audio workstation

Jon L. Jacobi | April 1, 2013
At first glance, MuLab from MuTools might appear to be one of those simple, feature-deprived efforts you see from a multitudes of software vendors trying to cash in on Garage Band's success. However, just a few minutes with the free edition of this audio recording and MIDI sequencing program, and you'll realize there's much, much more to it than first meets the eye. Indeed, it's now my favorite track-based recording app--and I've used nearly every product on the market. It's available for both PC and Mac.

MuLab lacks one feature that many users will miss--audio punch in/punch out. Called punch because the process originally involved a recording engineer punching a button, it allows recording to start when you reach a marker, and cease when it reaches a second marker. You can of course record on another track (MuLab does this automatically where there are overlaps), then cut and paste, but punch recording is a time-saver for quick fixes and for those of us that can't one-take everything. I'd also like to see Music XML support, but I could say the same thing for nearly the entire industry.One MuLab perquisite is portability; you can install it on a flash drive and take it with you for use on any computer. It's also very light weight for a DAW (Digital Audio Workstation), coming in at less than 19MB--including a fair number of instrument samples. And it's self-contained, i.e. it doesn't install any third-party or Microsoft Visual C++ DLLs as some programs to.

Any musician who records audio and MIDI, even if entrenched with their current DAW, should download MuLab and explore it for an hour or two. It's not what you're used to, so give it some time. It's powerful, clean, simple, and the right-click functionality is highly efficient, not to mention addictive. So addictive that you might have a hard time not plopping down 25 Euros for the 8-track XT version (not the 70s tape format!) or 75 Euros for the 32-track/32-bit version without limits on effects or instruments. Consider that fair warning.

Note: The Download button on the Product Information page takes you to the vendor's site, where you can download the latest version of the software. The free 4-track version is perfect for small recording projects like the local school play, church choir, etc. but you'll hear intermittent noise if you exceed its (or the XT version's) track, instrument, or effects limits.


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