CDXtract 4 is a handy cross-platform utility for extracting and converting sample data.
Bernard Chavonnet's CDXtract is a well-known shareware sample conversion utility. Last year's version 3.6 could read Emu, Kurzweil, Akai and Roland formats and save in EXS24 format. Chicken Systems' rival Translator (reviewed in SOS January 2002), however, could read more formats, sometimes provided more thorough conversions, and could write image files in various formats for burning onto CD-R. Bernard has responded with version 4.0 of CDXtract, which for the first time is dual-platform. The PC version runs on Windows 98, Me, NT, 2000 and XP, while the identical Mac version runs on OS 8.6 and later (forthcoming OS X support will be in a free upgrade). The Mac Translator, by contrast, lacks the full PC feature set.
CDXtract 4.0 supports more sample formats than v3.6 (see box), and can convert from as well as to EXS24 and Giga formats, so you can use their libraries in HALion, for example. It can still read from most IDE, SCSI and USB drives, whether CD-ROM, Zip, Jaz or MO, and a new Virtual Drive function now lets you use Akai, Roland and Emu disc images stored on your hard drive. Its own disk caching system is used when reading files, while conversion is done 'on the fly' and is noticeably faster.
Version 3's database has been replaced by a new one, which can store information about an unlimited number of CD-ROMs. Like GigaStudio's QuickSound database, you can search using keywords like 'bass' or 'drum', which is a boon, while a Magic Player lets you easily audition files from CD-ROMs.
The most intriguing new features are more creative. CDXtract now lets you Merge programs from multiple locations, while Stack Mode and Controller Switching let you layer samples and switch between them according to velocity or mod-wheel position, with a X-Fade function to smoothly fade between them. Switch and X-Fade are designed solely for HALion's Meta Trigg feature, and don't alter actual sample data — they just map it in different ways. They aren't entirely intuitive to use, but tutorials will be available on the CDXtract web site.
CDXtract 4.0 still doesn't offer image writing capabilities like Translator, but these are perhaps only of real interest to sound library developers. The new Stack, Switch and X-Fade functions are innovative, letting you create new layered programs with a few mouse clicks. However, the price rise from $79 to $139 means that CDXtract 4.0 has lost one obvious advantage over Translator, although Mac users will find that CDXtract 4.0 currently supports more formats.
Nevertheless, CDXtract is still very easy to use, and its convert function now has even clearer context-sensitive options. Some conversions are also more thorough — for instance, Akai-to-Giga conversions now include filter settings. If it offers the source and destination options you require, it will make your sampling life a lot easier.
- Akai S1000/3000, MPC2000/3000, S5000/6000.
- Creamware Pulsar STS.
- Digidesign Samplecell.
- Emagic EXS24.
- Emu III/ESI/IV/EOS, SoundFont.
- Roland S7xx.
- Tascam GigaSampler/Studio.
- Samples in Kurzweil, WAV, AIFF, Akai MPC SND, Creamware Pulsar S and (Mac only) Sound Designer II.
- Akai S5000/6000, MESA.
- Creamware Pulsar STS.
- Emagic EXS24.
- Emu SoundFont.
- NI Reaktor MAP.
- Steinberg HALion.
- Tascam Gigasampler/Studio.
- Samples in WAV, AIFF and (PC only) MP3.
- More conversion options, and more parameters are converted than in previous versions.
- Innovative Stack, Switch and X-Fade functions.
- Mac version has same feature set as PC.
- Switch and X-Fade functions are only useful to HALion users.
CDXtract 4.0 is still a handy utility for any PC or Mac samplist, with plenty of new features, but these have sadly been accompanied by a significant increase in price.