New Toys

Digidesign X-Form

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Digidesign X-Form X-Form is an AudioSuite Time Stretching and Pitch Shifting plug-in for Pro Tools TDM systems. Using iZotope's Radius technology, X-Form delivers the best time stretching and formant-correct pitch shifting I've heard yet. Results are natural sounding even when using the most extreme settings. X-Form is useful in music production, sound design, and postproduction when music clips must be time-stretched and/or pitch-shifted for artistic reasons. Other uses are: to correct pitch problems, time restrict a performance, or match the pitch and tempo of multiple clips.

I relied heavily on X-Form during my recent work on a reality-based music TV show where completed, mixed music backing tracks had to be changed in key to accommodate singers of different abilities and ranges. There was no budget (or time) to re-record the tracks and the show's structure did not allow us the foreknowledge of the appropriate key. X-Form performed flawlessly on stereo track mixes as well as the individual tracks of multi-track Pro Tools sessions due to its Polyphonic algorithm--I was able to key change up or down many semitones without worries of weird artifacts or flaming drum attacks. I found solo instruments or vocals to sound best when using the Monophonic algorithm.

When changing song tempos, the Transient Sensitivity control allows you to compress or stretch drum loops and other percussive material without losing attack transients. Deciding to correct or not formants at the same time as pitch is an option with X-Form. Formant correction is crucial to natural sound--especially for vocals when you want male voices stay manly and female vocals to remain feminine. Not correcting formants produces strange sounding vocals--great for special effects.

With X-Form, you can process files within a range of 12.5 to 800 percent of the original length. You can shift a file up or down three octaves with proper formant correction. I had good results moving a track tempo from 70 to 82 BPM and changing key from G up to C#.

I am now using X-Form as a production tool instead of a 'fix.' I'm using it like the Beatles used the variable-speed tape deck. The Beatles would purposely play a song too fast and in an upper key and then slow it back down (with the vari-speed) to the intended key and tempo. The resultant sound is huge and fat--like drop tuning but in regular keys for singing. I recorded a Rock track in F and X-Formed it down a half step to E. Wow! This is my latest trick and (unlike the Beatles) you can track your songs at the normal tempos! X-Form sells for $495 and downloadable at www.digidesign.com.


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