In the busy world of software plug-ins, EQ programs are as common as bread and butter. That’s a good thing because we all like choices. One plug-in, however, sets itself apart from the crowd with some interesting twists and turns. Arboretum’s Ionizer 1.3 program ($499) is a Power Mac-native application that supports 24-bit files with 32-bit floating-point internal processing (a Windows DirectX version is in beta testing).
Product PointsApplications: Studio; multimedia
Key Features: Power MAC MAS plug-in; EQ; noise reduction; expansion; vocoder
Contact: Arboretum Systems at 650-738-4750; Web Site: www.arboretum.com
Ionizer offers 512 bands of EQ per channel. It also provides noise reduction, upward and downward compression/limiting, expansion and a new spectral key vocoder – and it can do all this stuff at the same time. What’s more, the filters are free of phase distortion. That’s hard to beat.
Ionizer is a plug-in for the MOTU Audio System within any Mac OS Premiere-compatible audio application. This includes Adobe Premiere, DECK II, Opcode Studio Vision, MOTU Digital Performer, BIAS Peak, Emagic Logic Audio, Cakewalk Metro and Gallery TurboMorph. It also works in Digidesign’s Audio Suite format.
When installed in the DAE Plug-ins folder, it works with Digidesign’s Pro Tools, Avid Media Composer and Avid Xpress nonlinear video editing systems. The program also functions within Arboretum’s own HyperEngine application.
When a file is loaded into Ionizer’s “green window,” the Spectrum function analyzes the audio and maps it on an X-Y plot. Amplitude is positioned along the vertical axis, while frequencies are on the horizontal axis. By using red, blue and black curves, the program provides a visual representation of the sonic characteristics of the sound. Furthermore, the blue and red curves divide Ionizer into a grid with three different zone configurations. These zones represent the energy in each frequency band relative to the total energy. It does get a little complicated, but it is logical. Expect to spend some time with the program and the CD manual in the beginning.
Unlike other software equalizers, Ionizer does not have a read-out for level settings – it has the Mood Bar instead. This color-coded bar changes hues to indicate the amount of gate and gain processing. The host program controls the input levels. Ionizer has output controls with its native host, HyperEngine. For other hosts, such as Premiere, Audio Suite or MAS, Ionizer relies on the interface and controls for the outputs they provide.
The program provides downward expansion in the area of noise reduction. Two available modes include manual and automatic. When noise can be isolated from the source material, use manual mode. Otherwise, automatic mode is the choice. Like any other software of this type, you will need to tweak the results to your liking.
As for editing, this is done by moving fit-points on the frequency curves (and there are plenty of them). A multimode pencil tool is also available for other detailed editing chores. At the bottom of the window is a numerical readout for cursor positions.
Sound designers will appreciate Ionizer’s ability to bend audio in interesting directions. Use a brick-wall filter to completely remove specific frequency regions from a song. Or maybe change the harmonic structure with a band-pass filter. The splitband compression/limiting and expansion functions provide an unlimited array of options. Try limiting the low end, expanding the midrange and compressing the high end all in a single pass.
Also unique is being able to analyze any sound and then apply its frequency characteristics to another piece of audio with Frequency Morph. This comes in handy, for example, when trying to match vocal tracks that sound different due to proximity effects. Don’t expect the Frequency Morph function to make some garage band’s demo sound like Dark Side of the Moon, however.
So what’s the verdict? Ionizer sounds great – smooth and clean! Arboretum created one cool plug-in. Another added benefit is that the program is not a CPU power-hog. So stack Ionizer all over the place and get to work.