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Review: Wave Mechanics UltraTools
Plug-In Suite for Pro Tools

by Walt Szalva

UltraTools is a suite of plug-ins by Wave Mechanics that works with Digidesign’s Pro Tools TDM system, as well as third-party programs that utilize the Pro Tools|24 MIX hardware. The suite consists of four different plug-ins: PitchBlender, TimeBlender, Pure Pitch and Pitch Doctor (each plug-in may also be purchased individually). I tested the UltraTools suite with Emagic’s Logic Audio (using Digidesign’s Pro Tools|24 MIX hardware and DAE) and Pro Tools.

SoundBlender
Wave Mechanics groups two separate plug-ins called PitchBlender and TimeBlender into a single module dubbed SoundBlender. PitchBlender and TimeBlender are based on the same architecture and feature similar user interfaces. A lot of DSP power is required to run these plug-ins, and the hit on your TDM farm cards will be substantial—each instance of either PitchBlender or TimeBlender takes up one entire chip on a farm card. However, when I began to tap into the number of tweak options available, I understood why these plug-ins are so DSP-hungry.

The DSP “engine” of the SoundBlender module shared by both plug-ins is a 2-channel effects processor that combines delay, filtering, panning and modulation. Many of the parameters within these features are identical within each of the plug-ins. The main variable component is that pitch-shifting is utilized in the PitchBlender plug-in, and reverse pitch-shifting is used in TimeBlender.

The Main parameter page contains the most frequently used parameters for quickly tweaking the sound of a particular preset. Most of the functions on this page act as master controls, and their functions are related to parameter settings found on other pages. The functions are Mix, Feedback, Master Pitch, Master Delay, Mod Rate and Mod Depth. A BPM and Trigger control function with a variable threshold are identical in both plug-ins, and trigger sources include sidechain, input, output 1, output 2, mod 1 output, mod 2 output or mod 3 output. You can also trigger a modulation manually with the mouse, and mods can be recorded as automation events. An “expert” section contains parameters for reconfiguring the signal flow and optimizing the audio processing.

Both plug-ins have a nearly identical modulation engine, with the only difference being the pitch range (±2400 cents in PitchBlender vs. ±3600 cents in TimeBlender). The modulation control panel is very complex and feature-filled, and I’m sure that an entire article could be written about this feature of SoundBlender alone. The basic structure is based on three modulation sources that can be mixed and routed to dozens of effects parameters. Mod rates can be adjusted as units of frequency or bpm, and a wide range of modulation waveform and trigger options are available.

The filter section is a good way to really mangle an input source by altering the frequency of the audio, much like the filter of an analog synthesizer. The filters can be programmed to reduce high or low frequencies, eliminate or enhance a band of frequencies, or create highly resonant effects. Modulating the filter frequencies can create many synthlike effects. The parameter controls are quite extensive, and tweakheads will have a ball morphing the most basic sound into complex timbral masterpieces with a click of the mouse.

The delay section of SoundBlender contains two digital delay lines; typical delay effects include echo, slap delays and rhythmic effects. Delay values can be modulated to create chorus, flange, vibrato and other extreme modulation effects. Delay time parameters can be adjusted in milliseconds or bpm; the maximum delay time in PitchBlender is 700 milliseconds and 1,000 milliseconds in TimeBlender.

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