Disco 1.0

This disc-burning software is a competitor to Roxio's Toast.

Analog Factory

You get 2,000 classic synth sounds in one AU instrument. It may be a high-tech world, but if you're a musician, sometimes the occasion calls for low-tech sounds. But acquiring older synths is a pain in the wallet, not to mention that they take up a lot of space, they're difficult to program, and they require a lot of maintenance. Thank the music gods for Analog Factory.

SFX Machine Pro

Who needs a fancy interface when the app is so powerful? Audio effects are a blast to create, but it's not easy to find an affordable equivalent of a Swiss Army knife for doing just that. SFX Machine Pro is a one-stop shop for audio processing at a reasonable price - and it makes sweet sounds.

Guitar Pro 5

The intuitive interface lets you focus on your music. Guitar Pro is a favorite among guitarists for composing and sharing musical scores, and it has a resource-rich workshop for honing your guitar chops. But until recently, it was only available for that other operating system. Version 5 now runs on the Mac.

FM8

FM8 finds its roots in the Yamaha DX7 synthesizer. FM (Frequency Modulation) synthesis is the foundation of the incredibly popular Yamaha DX7 synthesizer, which ruled the '80s music charts and is best remembered for the clear, bell-like sounds accompanying any number of corny dance hits. Native Instruments pushed this idea to the limit with FM8 - and while it's not exactly our one-stop, desert-island sound plug-in, this thing has more useful sounds than you can shake from a rain stick.

B4 II

True-Sounding Virtual-Organ Software

Reaktor 5

Merge John Horton Conway's Game of Life sim with Reaktor's Newscool Groovebox, and you get a groovy beat box. Reaktor is a guiding light for the do-it-yourself sonic set. The latest version extends the app in crucial ways, with awesome new sounds, a load of fresh building modules, and mounds of examples - expect this monster to keep you busy for the next 10,000 years or so.

silverscreen

Simple-but-Effective Media Player

Kontakt 2.02

The vast variety of surround-sound options will keep your music spinning in every direction imaginable. Samplers are the bread and butter of life for digital musicians of any stripe, and Kontakt 2 is quite possibly the most awesome and complete software sampler we've ever seen.