Do your kids love music? Do they spend hours playing Rock Band or plugged into their iPods? If so, they will love U-Create Music. It’s not just a toy that makes noise, it’s actually a serious little music creation device.
The concept is fairly simple, you become the DJ, creating your own dance mixes. You insert different beats, riffs, licks and runs (even your own voice). Adjust the speed and add effects until you get it just right, save your track and then play it at your party. You can connect U-Create Music device directly to your speakers as well as attach a mic to give voice-overs to your tracks. You can even attach an mp3 player and record 5 second clips of your favorite songs.
Using the USB interface gives you access to the U-Create Music Mixer software. With this you are able to change the available sounds on the device(Hip-Hop, Techno, Rock, …) and also transfer your music creations to the computer and even share with others online. Though it’s not available yet, there will be a store to buy more loops and expand your music collection.
In the box you get the unit itself, an instruction booklet, short USB cable and 4 “AA” batteries. I love toys that have “batteries included.” There’s nothing worse than getting home and opening your new ‘toy’ only to realize you forgot to get batteries!
Upon opening the box my first thoughts were, “This looks cool! How’s it work?” And I must admit, at first, the instructions were bewildering. And the U-Create Music Mixer software made no sense when I first looked at it. The little instruction book had a lot of explanations, but not much ‘instruction.’ However, once I found their website things got better. They have several very nice tutorial videos taking you through pretty much every step, from unboxing to saving your first song. So after about 45 minutes I was making music!
Setup on the computer was fairly painless, plugging the USB automatically brings up the dialogs to download and install their software (only about 4 mb). A possible annoyance during the setup is the need to install Microsoft .NET Framework 2.0 or later and Flash Player 10 or higher. But most should have these components installed already.
You are then prompted to open an account online (which allows you to access you settings and music from any computer running their software).
There is also an Flash based image of the Music Mixer unit, as you roll over different areas, a popup will explain each of the buttons.
Once you are logged and all the updates are made you can start using the Music Mixer software. There are seven tabs on the right. The first is “Store,” which appears to be a portal to by more music packs online. However at this time, it is not yet available.
The next tab is for the filters. You scroll through those available and then you drag them over to the spot you want on the right. These eight buttons correspond to the stops on the Filter dial.
The last few buttons are the themed music packs, including “My Packs.” These are your custom creations that you can save for future use. you can choose one loop from several different packs or load all from one. Again, you simply drag and drop them on the button to the right.
You can then save directly to the unit and start ‘mixing’ or you can save your pack. Both of these options are easily seen at the top of the screen. If you choos to save the Pack, you can then name it and even choose the ‘album’ art from images on your computer!
Now, let’s say you have just created your song and you want to save it. After connecting the usb, simply choose “Export Song” and follow the dialogs to save it to your harddrive. The file is saved as a “.wav” file.
Yes, learning curve is STEEP, but it is climbable. And in under an hour of watching the tutorials and experimenting I actually made a song! It was kinda fun too. An associate of mine in his late 30’s, with somewhat of a background in music, loved it! He sat around all afternoon making new tracks. However, the target age is “8 and up,” how easy is it for the kids to pick up and use?
I have two nephews, ages 6 and 12. They love Rock Band. What did they think of U-Create Music? After a 15 minute explanation of how to use it, the 6 year old was making pretty decent music. He got the concept down real quick and the two of them played with it for the rest of the day. They particularly enjoyed using the built in mic to record little clips and then sampling them in their songs. Click the link below to hear a medley of a few of their songs. I would think that tween and teens would really use this device to it’s full potential.
U-Create Music is a well built little device, but it does have a couple shortcomings. There are no lights indicating which loop you are using, which can cause a little confusion. Also you can only record one song to the device. If you want to create another, you must first delete it or upload it to the computer.
All in all, it’s a good product for the money. Radica Ucreate Music retails for $34.99 at Amazon.
The Good: Well built and it does what it promises…“You create your own music!”
The Bad: Tricky to learn, limited song recording.