customizable tool bar. QuickTime support alows users to import digital movies
and synchronize audio to them.
BIAS Peak 2.1
software for Macintosh
Paul D. Lehrman
Four years ago, a small
Northern California company called Berkley Integrated Audio Software (named for
its president, not the city), or BIAS, came out with what might be called the
first modern audio-design and editing program for the Macintosh. It was a product
that was sorely needed. Digidesign's Sound Designer, by then 10 years old, was
getting awfully long in the tooth, and the only comparable program, Donny Blank's
Alchemy, had dropped out of sight when the last of a series of publishers, Passport
Designs, discontinued it not long before they themselves bit the dust.
Alchemy (while still in many respects a very cool program, with an honored place
on my hard drive) is today long gone, but Sound Designer, despite regular reports
of its impending demise, is still available. For some of us, particularly those
using older Digidesign gear, Sound Designer remains useful for quick and dirty
editing, file format changes within a small universe, and other such straightforward
tasks, and I for one would not give it up quickly, either as a production tool
or a teaching tool. (Its visual FFT displays still give me goose bumps.)
Peak started out by deliberately filling in the gaps left by Sound Designer. Whereas
Digidesign's product was entirely disk-based and performed most of its functions
by literally chopping up disk files and moving them around, Peak, recognizing
that people have a lot more disk space and RAM than they used to, uses a combination
of disk access and RAM processing to manipulate sounds more quickly. It also does
so nondestructively, even when it's using hard disk space, thanks to its inclusion
of a scratch disk feature. So it's hard to make a mistake with Peak,
since nothing gets carved in stone until you tell it to.
From the outset, Peak could do sample transfers from the Mac to hardware samplers,
using both the impossibly slow MIDI Sample Dump Standard and the much more useful
SMDI. Sound Designer (which, historians will recall, actually began life as a
visual editor for the Emulator II) had dropped that particular ball, and so the
new software immediately gained a loyal following within the sampler community.
Other features that Peak brought to the table were a far larger choice of file
formats to save to and load from; unlimited Undos with an Edit History window,
which lets you travel back in time through your editing operations and at any
point change your mind and choose the road not taken; digital extraction from
audio CDs (actually part of QuickTime, but made easy in Peak); batch processing;
AppleScript support; and, since it couldn't easily use Digidesign plugins, support
for Premiere plugins, a format that started out as a kid brother to
Digidesign but now boasts some pretty impressive tools.
The latest revision, version 2.1
Filling the gaps left by Sound Designer is no longer a prioritya greater
challenge to the designers of Peak has been keeping pace with the formidable progress
made on the PC side of the audio world by programs like Cool Edit Pro and Sound
Forge. Which they've done: Peak remains a thoroughly modern program, with a terrific
In fact, it is now three programs: Peak LE ($99) is the entry-level lite
edition, which can also be found bundled with a number of other programs like
Adaptec's Jam and Macromedia's Director; the professional version
is just known as Peak 2.1 ($499); and Peak 2.1-TDM Edition ($699), for Pro Tools
owners who want to be able to keep using their collection of TDM plugins. Except
for the LE version, Peak supports Digidesign's DAE (the audio engine used by Pro
Tools hardware) and AudioSuite plugins. So in an atmosphere in which other manufacturers,
in an effort to save money, are withdrawing from Digidesign hardware support,
it's good to see BIAS working to keep all of its user base happy. All three versions
support the now-healthy family of Premiere-compatible plugins, like Peak's own
SFX Machine, a very comprehensive suite of processors, a demo version of which
is included. They also support Steinberg's ASIO protocol.
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Copyright © 2000 by Intertec Publishing.
Reprinted with permission.