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Review: Digidesign SoundReplacer
Audiosuite Plugin for Pro Tools

By Erik Hawkins

The number of mind-blowing, incredibly useful plugins flooding the market continues to amaze me. It seems there are plugins for almost every task, from basic dynamics to outlandish effects and invaluable editing tools. Although it’s hard to pick a favorite, I particularly appreciate software that helps automate mundane, laborious editing tasks. Digidesign’s new AudioSuite plugin, SoundReplacer, is just such a plugin.

As its name implies, this software can take just about any sound and replace it with another. Pretty straightforward, nothing that exciting here, right? But SoundReplacer is deeper than its name implies. For this “Field Test,” Version 1.1 was put through the paces on a 24 MIXplus system running Pro Tools 5.0.

Installation of SoundReplacer is completely routine—you simply run the installer program on the CD. The plugin is plunked into your DAE folder’s plugins folder, and a Presets folder is put into the plugin Settings folder. The Settings folder is a bit larger than most (324K), as it contains actual audio files, the samples that go along with its demo presets.

The tutorial session, which takes up about 15 MB of disk space, is also dropped into your hard drive. It’s nothing to write home about, but it’s helpful if you have no idea what the program is good for—probably not the case if you actually went out and bought it. However, this plugin is a breeze to navigate, and most folks will be able to get right to work on it with hardly a glance at the manual. If you need the SoundReplacer manual, however, it is one of several in the Digidesign plugin User’s Guide; a copy of the booklet comes with the program. It’s well-written and has some solid user tips. I recommend flipping through it.

Copy protection is via key disk, as usual. You get one install, so don’t lose it.

Happy triggers
As many as three samples can be loaded into SoundReplacer simultaneously. Each sample can be set to trigger at a different threshold. Dedicated sliders, one per sample, allow easy adjustment of the thresholds. The threshold zones are visible in scales of gray, from light (most sensitive) to dark (least sensitive). Individual trigger points are delineated by different colored horizontal lines: yellow for sample 1, red for sample 2, and blue for sample 3. The colors and controls combine to make a user interface that’s a breeze to work with.

A dynamics slider controls how new samples trace the original track’s velocities. Settings range from 0.25:1 (14 the original velocities) to 4:1 (four times more dynamic than the original velocities). A 1:1 ratio is the plugin’s default setting. The dynamics control is global, affecting all three sample zones. (Discrete control over each zone, via individual sliders, would be particularly cool—maybe in the future.) The ability to tweak the velocities of your replacement samples is invaluable for music production. For example, replacing a live snare with a 909-type snare, but without the velocities of the live track, will produce a more electronic, drum machine-like, sound.

The mix ratio between the original track and the replacement samples is fully adjustable from 0 percent to 100 percent. The mix function, like the dynamics function, is global, affecting the wet/dry ratio of all the samples. (Discrete mix control of each sample would be a nice feature to include.) The ability to blend the original track’s sound with the replacement samples is a nice option, opening the door to some great creative sound mangling possibilities.

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