Review: Mixed in Key Captain Plugins 3.0

Championed by the likes of David Guetta and Kaskade, Mixed In Key’s latest compositional suite gives you limitless melodic generation and manipulation capabilities. Captain on deck!

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Mixed In Key Captain Melody Plugins 3.0

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Price $79 (Mac & Windows)
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Although we reviewed the first version of the Captain Plugins only 14 months ago, there have been many updates since, making this latest version a dramatic development over the initial concept. The package includes Captain Melody, Captain Chords, Captain Play and Captain Deep (Captain Hook and Captain Beat are coming soon), which are all bespoke songwriting tools that work as plug-ins or MIDI effects in your DAW, with inter-plug-in communication to keep them all in key. You can choose to use any of the 249 built-in sounds, which are surprisingly decent and usable, albeit with basic sound editing, or you can route the MIDI to an external VST. We’ll focus on Captain Melody here, as this has seen the most interesting updates.

You can choose to play in a melody idea from the keyboard, with all keys jumping to the correct key set by Captain Chords, or alternatively, you could use the Smart Pencil and Paintbrush tools to input rhythms and MIDI notes. Once you have your rough melody, you can use the innovative Idea Tool to manipulate the shape, density, rhythm, variation and more by tweaking the dials. You’ll need a degree of trial and error, but overall it’s a very flexible tool. There’s good use of colour here to indicate how much tension each note brings in relation to the chord shape, which is a great way to visualise harmony and scales. You can also use the Lanes tab of the Idea Tool to quickly reshape how much of this tension is present in your melody.

Finally, there’s a cool dice randomisation feature that gives an alternative pattern based on your settings, which is useful for generating variations. Once you’re happy with your pattern, you can simply drag and drop to your DAW of choice. Thankfully, in this update you can now edit notes on the plug-in screen, so you can get your melody closer to how you want it before exporting. Something that remains and may still be a big issue for some though, is the need for a constant Internet connection to use the plug-in fully. Although this is a pain, the upside is that Mixed in Key can push constant useful updates without the need to download new installers.

This is a big update that provides much more control and power to edit the shape of your melodies, and putting you more in command allows you to imprint your own creativity rather than simply letting the software compose for you.

Key features

  • Melody, Bass and Chord writing tools
  • 249 sounds based on Spotify/Beatport top 100
  • Route to external VSTs/hardware instruments
  • Plug-in and MIDI plug-in versions
  • Capture live performance & MIDI file import
  • Unique melodic Tension Editor and Idea Tool
  • Randomisation tool

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