Serato's Pitch 'n Time has carved out a reputation as one of the best time-stretching and pitch-shifting plug-ins out there, with special features including 'morphing' time-stretch and the ability to recreate varispeed effects.
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Ableton Live is one of the software success stories of the last few years, with devoted users in fields as diverse as DJing, remixing, theatre sound and music production. Version 5 addresses requests from all these areas, whilst retaining the program's renowned ease of use.
Although it includes all the features of Steinberg's Cubase SX3 MIDI + Audio sequencer, Nuendo is targeted at the post-production market. To this end, the new version 3 includes features such as AAF import/export and integration with video editing systems.
The tools available in Magix's highly regarded recording package cover every stage of the recording process, from MIDI sequencing to mastering and CD burning. Version 8 adds some neat extras including analogue-style processors, a virtual drum machine and an Acid-style beat-mapping tool.
If you are attracted by the idea of Linux and open-source music software, but put off by the thought of installing it on your PC, there is another way: a bootable CD-ROM containing both the OS and all the software you need, ready to go.
Flagship sequencer apps are so packed with features that it could almost be a full-time job learning the package of your choice. If your needs are simpler, why not make it easy on yourself and investigate one of many options that are more entry-level or cut-down, yet still remarkably capable?