Crane Song Phoenix is designed to emulate the unique properties of a magnetic tape machine. Designer Dave Hill has crafted this software with the same attention to detail he used to create the electronics for ATR Service’s much heralded “Aria” discrete tape recorders. His intimate knowledge of analog electronics, as well as decades of experience as a recording engineer has spawned a very useful, musical suite of plug-ins.
The Phoenix process not only incorporates the nonlinear saturation characteristics created by magnetic the tape itself, but also includes the interrelation of an analog tape recorder’s record/reproduce electronics and equalization curves. The Phoenix suite is not merely a down-scaled version of the Crane Song HEDD processor, but a ground-up application derived from HEDD technology, and specifically engineered and optimized for Avid’s TDM architecture.
Five different TDM plug-ins emulate different tape characteristics, each one incorporating a color change button allowing three choices to modify the process. The Gold button is the position where the color is approximately flat in frequency response, with Sapphire being a brighter, and Opal being a warmer tonality. A level control determines the amount of the Phoenix process integrated into the audio signal, and an input trim determines “how hard you hit the tape.” Because the DSP process is level dependent, reducing the input level will also cause a change in sound.
The input trim can also be used to prevent clipping in the rare cases where clipping may be a problem. This can be useful on material that is hitting close to or at digital zero. When the input trim is at 0dB, (no change in gain) and no tape process is being added to the sound, the plug-in is bit accurate, meaning the output exactly matches the input.
The Crane Song Phoenix Plug-In contains five separate plug-ins:
- Luminescent is the most neutral sounding process of the five.
- Iridescent has a similar magnetic character, but with a fatter bottom and midrange. This plug-in is the most similar to the tape knob on HEDD-192.
- Radiant is characterized by a more aggressive compression curve
- Dark Essence is even more aggressive. (The effect is a color with a wider frequency range--when used on a vocal Dark Essence can reduce sibilance problems by increasing the apparent loudness of the rest of the signal.)
- Luster starts more gently than the other four processes, but becomes as aggressive as Dark Essence when the process is at full scale.
Running within Avid’s multi-shell architecture, PHOENIX is very DSP efficient. It will run approximately twenty instances of a plug-in on a single DSP chip (HD system at 44.1 kHz sample rate).
Phoenix’s color is dependent on signal level, program material and sample rate. A higher sample rate results in smother sounds.
The Phoenix plug-in suite provides a wide range of choices to make your digital world sound warmer, fatter, and more analog. The plug-ins can be somewhat subtle, but the cumulative affect when used on a number of tracks can bring back the warmth and richness which only analog recording has been able to provide.
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