Kinetic 2 is here for Windows, and it looks promising not only as a way of getting beginners into music making, but as a really good buy on soft synths for everyone else, as well — especially at US$80.

Cakewalk Kinetic is a groovebox / all-in-one looper and synth studio. I liked the first version: not necessarily the world’s most powerful software but nicely integrated, intuitive, and fun to play with. The target is definitely beginning users, particularly for DJs and electronica lovers, and if you’re a Windows user looking for a piece of entry level software, it’d be hard to go wrong with this app. Cakewalk also makes a full-fledged sequencer, Cakewalk Home Studio, but I find Kinetic more fun.

What interests me about this release is that this isn’t a bad toy to add to your studio even if you’ve got more high-powered software at your disposal, especially given the price: US$80 list, or for a limited time, $59 for Cakewalk customers ($39 for Kinetic 1 owners). Cakewalk has beefed up the soft synths in a big way. They’ve added presets from the Roland GrooveSynth line (101, 606, 808, 909, etc.), using the genuine sounds thanks to a deal with Roland. Better yet, they’ve included the superb PSYN II virtual analog synth from Project5 and SONAR. There’s also a drag-and-drop sampler, made more interesting with REX and OGG Vorbis file support, and a nice selection of effects. On its own, it might be limiting, but it has VST/DirectX plug-in support and ReWire, so it’s not hard to imagine plugging this into Ableton Live — ignore the simple groove interface for Live’s more capable rendition, and take advantage of the presets and analog synth Live lacks. And it’d be equally fun to add Kinetic to FL “Fruity Loops” Studio just to get synth overkill on the cheap. Don’t forget, Cakewalk also earns points for having serial number-only copy protection. They don’t seem to be going out of business because of that, either. (Cough, cough.)

Kinetic 2 Product Page

And, of course, QWERTY drum programming means this might be an enjoyable way to spend a plane flight.

In other news, means I need to update my book Real World Digital Audio, which includes a tutorial on the software as the app makes a pretty decent introduction to groovebox programming. I’ll make that update online; stay tuned. Incidentally, if it seems like I’m always being positive about software, here’s a hint: aside from the fact that I’m a software addict, I tend to skip over the stuff I don’t like. (Unless it makes me really mad, in which case you get a rant.)