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zplane élastiqueAAX

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zplane élastiqueAAX
 zplane élastiqueAAX 
élastiqueAAX is zplane's time and pitch manipulation AudioSuite plug-in for Pro Tools. It uses the élastiquePro V3 time stretching and pitch shifting engine/algorithm already integrated into numerous DAW software programs. zplane is a software development and licensing company based in Berlin, Germany.

I am familiar with zplane from using Vielklang Instant Harmony 2 (RTAS), also élastique Pitch Shifter version 1 plug-in (RTAS), and élastique Pitch version 2 that added AAX support, feedback, freeze capabilities, and voice control.

élastiqueAAX is an offline AudioSuite plug-in (only) that will apply time-stretching and pitch-shifting in faster than real-time. It will work multi-channel for synchronized processing of up to eight audio channels at a time. It also comes with factory presets for typical film pull-ups/pull-downs that make it the "go-to" plug-in for film and video conversions.

As a music mixer, my main interest in élastiqueAAX is for both tempo and song key shifting multi-track masters, entire music mixes or as a compositional adjunct to audition already recorded demo tracks in different keys or tempos. I am also interested in using it to pre-process individual instrument tracks for use in other keys and tempos such as guitars and recorded loops.

In my experiences with many pitch and time shifting software, élastique V2 and now élastiqueAAX are, by far, the best sounding tools to do these kinds of processing. And now with eight tracks at a time and faster than real-time, I can freely shift all tracks in a surround mix, multi-track recordings or several stereo mix versions quickly and easily.

élastiqueAAX's GUI has two views: Time view where only the Time Stretch top half is visible and Time + Pitch or Normal view where both Time and Pitch stretch windows are visible. The Normal view is fine for me as the GUI is not abnormally large but if all you're doing is Time manipulations, the smaller window is nice too.

In the Studio

My first test was extreme. I time-stretched all the tracks of a multi-track song in Pro Tools HDX12.7.1. I selected eight tracks at a time and made six passes of eight tracks each for a total of 48-tracks. I found that the tracks can be a mix of either mono or interleaved stereo tracks--interleaved tracks count as two tracks in Pro Tools. If an interleaved track makes it a total of nine tracks, the right track of the stereo pair will not be processed but left blank. This is a good way to deal with that I believe.

I entered the song's tempo in the Source window as 75.000 BPM. Source can also be switched to FPS (frames per second) for film work. I then typed into the Target window 90 BPM. That's a ratio of 0.8333 as indicated in the Stretch Factor window. You can slide the Time Slider lever and see its value in the Stretch Factor window.

In my Mac 8-core (2 X Quad-Core Intel Xenon) 2010 tower 2.4Ghz clock, it took about 57-seconds to time shift eight contiguous mono tracks recorded at 44.1/24-bit. The song went from about 3:15 minutes to 2:45 minutes in length. In addition, there is no need to consolidate tracks before processing in élastiqueAAX--a series of consecutive clips will emerge as a single, consolidated clip.

This was an incredible difference in tempo and for the most part audio quality was excellent--especially for the drums. The drums retained all their size, pitch and ambience--tempo was just much faster. Noticeable was the expected speed up of vibrato of the vocal tracks and I did hear some warble in some of the bass guitar notes. But timing and track sync was great. I would never stretch this far but it is great to know that I could with minimal re-recording or fixing necessary.

Now Pitch Shifting

The few adjustments required for optimizing processing is a major feature of élastiqueAAX. There are no controls for selecting a particular algorithm for monophonic, polyphonic or percussion sources as in other software and DAWs. You can elect to preserve formants or not with the touch of a switch. You can adjust the Source Material Voicing fader that ranges from a bass clef to a treble clef accordingly depending on whether the fundamentals are in the lower or higher frequencies.

I did experiment with the Source Material Voicing fader--it is adjusted before pitch shifting. On the same song in D drop tuning, the bass guitar sounded noticeably better when I pushed the fader towards the bass clef and pitched the entire track down two semi-tones to the key of C.

The Pitch section has a text entry box calibrated in either semi-tones or percentage. I kept the original tempo of 75BPM and did not touch the drums. After separately re-pitching the bass guitar, I use the default, center position of the SMV fader except for one heavily flanged guitar track that sounded much better with the lever pushed towards the treble clef. This is an effect I will keep in mind for future productions.

I also thought all the single vocal tracks sounded better with the control in that position but the backing vocals mixed to a couple of stereo tracks sounded better with the default, center position.

Awesome Tool!

I am well pleased to report that élastiqueAAX worked flawlessly and did everything I expected quickly and with the best possible sound for either mixed stereo tracks or separate tracks in my Pro Tools sessions. I highly recommend this product to music makers and songwriters for creative uses and possibilities. In addition, Film/video mixers will find good use when they need to pull up/down accurately to compensate for any mismatches that can occur during the transfer from film to video and back again.

élastiqueAAX runs AAX 32/AAX64 AudioSuite only and will time stretch from 25% to 400% and pitch shift +/- 24 semi-tones or 25% to 400% while preserving formants.

Now Here

Version 12.8.1 of Pro Tools includes zplane's integration of élastiqueAAX as both Preview and TCE Tool if you buy it or if you already own it.

Check this review: Pro Tools Expert.

élastiqueAAX runs on OSX 10.7 and higher, Windows 7, 8, & 10 and Pro Tools 10 or higher. It sells for $399 as download.


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