As more and more tools come into the market that help producers and songwriting produce high-quality music, it seems like every week there is a new contender for the “best songwriting tool ever.”
Captain Plugins EPIC, an updated iteration of Mixed In Key’s popular production suite, is the latest contender to the bill, and we recently got our hands on it to see how it fairs against the competition.
Other sites and apps like Scaler, HookTheory, and others all put their own spin on similar technology, so let’s dive into the best parts about Captain Plugins EPIC to see if it deserves a spot in your arsenal.
Purchase EPIC Here.
Captain Chords EPIC
Chords help give direction to the entire track and act as a framework and skeleton for the rest of your music to live within. Captain Chords Epic helps create this foundation and provides a platform for the rest of the song (and plugins in the bundle) to jump off from.
In my opinion, Captain Chords EPIC is the primary plugin in the bundle that almost serves as the HQ for the rest of the plugins to operate. As such, I will be diving first and deepest into this powerful songwriting plugin.
What I Loved About Captain Chords EPIC
Here are a few of the best features that made instant impressions on me when I opened up the bundle of plugins.
AI Chord Generator
Starting with a blank canvas is intimidating to the extreme. But with a few simple drop-down menus and a variety of different styles and keys, Captain Chords EPIC quickly generates simple and popular progressions within the parameters that you set.
While this might not be anything completely groundbreaking, it’s one feature alongside a suite of other tools that each build on each other to make songwriting and idea generation a breeze.
The “Generate” Button
Sure, this is just another feature of the AI chord-generating functionality of the plugin, but it really was damn impressive to me; enough to warrant its own bucket item in this list.
Hitting the “generator” button, once the parameters have been set for style and key, continues to churn out different chord progressions. You can create as many as you like until finally, one resonates with you that you want to move forward with.
The ideas are almost literally infinite here and are truly an inspiration machine.
What Is New In Captain Chords EPIC
EPIC brought some cool upgrades to the previous iterations of the plugin bundle and here are some of my favorite ones.
MIDI Can Be Edited
The AI chord generator above is a powerful tool, but wouldn’t be nearly as powerful if you couldn’t then edit the notes within it.
But with this new feature, you can now change the length. of the notes and more all within the plugin itself. It’s awesome stuff if you ask me!
A big emphasis for EPIC’s upgrade is the feel of real humans playing the plugins. Gone are the days of robot rigidity in the MIDI notes and playback.
Being able to lengthen the notes by hand is one way to do this, but also many other randomization parameters in the plugin can help shift the notes around by tiny amounts and give the impression that real people are playing the keys!
Importing Your Own MIDI
This feature is simply amazing and it’s a wonder why previous iterations of the software didn’t include it.
Because the plugins in this bundle work off of each other, being able to import your own creation or a MIDI file you downloaded from somewhere removes a vast amount of friction many were experiencing with other plugins similar to this.
Bravo to the Mixed In Key team on this one, as this feature was much-needed and incredibly powerful. And double kudos for allowing the plugin to instantly transpose the imported progression into the scale you are working in.
On Board, Shapable Sounds
While I can’t see this feature being used too expensively, the fact that you can cycle through a handful of Mix In Key’s native soundbanks helps give a quick and easy impression as to how your chords will sound when played by instruments other than the default piano.
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Strings, guitars, synths, and more are all quick and easy to implement so that you can test the progressions before transferring them to your favorite samplers or VSTs.
That being said, they do also offer you to route your own plugins directly into Captain Chords EPIC too. So whichever you prefer or whatever problems you’re encountering, Mixed In Key has thought ahead for a way to solve it.
Captain Melody EPIC
Music can’t really exist without a good melody or something for your listener to latch on to and Captain Plugin’s new iteration of their melody-generating tool really helps lock in something that will catch your fan’s attention.
What I Loved About Captain Melody EPIC
While the previous iterations of the Captain Melody plugin were decent, there are a few improvements to the bedrock of this plugin that make me love EPIC’s version more than its predecessors.
It Just Sounds Better…
With the previous models of the Captain Five plugins, the ideas generated by the melody plugins were good but rarely did I find myself using them.
But EPIC changes that and flips the script on its head.
Whatever Mixed In Key did in this latest iteration is a massive improvement. The melodies sound more human, more usable, and overall just better.
Captain Beat EPIC
This plugin helps you create rhythms and beats for your music and I didn’t find too many upgrades from the previous iterations of the plugin.
That being said, there were some things that I find super useful about this plugin overall that are remnants of the previous version that warrant its purchase.
What I Loved About Captain Beat EPIC
Here are the features that really stood out to me in Captain Beat EPIC!
While the plugin comes with a variety of different on-board samples that are great while auditioning presets, the ability to simply drag and drop your own samples from your DAW’s native browser is pretty slick.
The saving grace is that this plugin can help you generate percussion fills almost instantly. This was a super clever idea that I was surprised to see included.
For too long, I’ve relied on fills from stock sample libraries that always did the trick but sounded a little out of context when played against the rest of the percussions. This AI tool is an absolute beast for generating fill ideas using samples that actually sound like they belong in the kit.
Captain Deep EPIC
Captain Deep EPIC reads the notes off of the chord plugin and uses those notes to generate deep grooves and bass lines.
I didn’t find too many novel features in this plugin, as it recreated the functionality of plugins like the Captain Melody EPIC but just in a different register. But that being said, there’s still some fun stuff to talk about.
What I Loved About Captain Deep EPIC
Here are a couple of standout features that really caught my attention while using the Captain Deep EPIC plugin.
The Idea Generation
I’ll be candid when I say that the majority of the ideas created by this plugin don’t work. Bass lines are damn hard and locking in a minimalistic groove that makes real humans want to move will be tricky for any robot to recreate (at least for the foreseeable future).
That being said, the ability to cycle through new and fresh ideas until you find something that DOES work is lightning fast. And what’s better, the end result can often be something more interesting that you yourself could create by playing or by hand!
Most of the bass lines I ended up committing to were styles and progressions that were a bit unconventional in the typical and theoretical sense, but that uniqueness is exactly what drew me to them in the first place.
You are more than free to edit and move the notes around within the plugin as you see fit, just like the rest of the plugins in this suite. But that doesn’t mean that a few notes can go awry when you don’t want them to.
The color-coded scale degrees of the plugin helps you know when you are on track (Blue notes indicate there’s a solid chance the notes will mesh well with the above chord progressions) or if you’re not (yellows, greens, and others represent when a note is starting to move away from the root note of the chord or scale).
Not only does this help you write better and more in-key bass lines but it also trains your musical muscle memory to identify when future notes in future songs will “work.”
Purchase EPIC Here.