Sony’s sound editor SpectraLayers Pro has been upgraded to version 2. The new version has several improvements and new features. It’s much faster than its predecessor and has one-shot noise removal. It also enables users to cast or mould layer peaks. The extracting tools have been upgraded with a new shape tool that can extract any shape you like. However, I had the idea the new version isn’t quite ready for showtime, with several glitches showing up and the application occasionally crashing on larger sound files.
SpectraLayers Pro 2.0 is quite an upgrade from the first version of this spectral analysis, editing and repair application. The first version was hampered by slow performance. That has been improved and dramatically so: version 2 should be eight times faster, according to Sony. While I can’t say for certain it’s eight times faster, it does perform much snappier. Selections and painting with tools is zippy. Still, if you insist on “painting” large areas, the speed gain becomes much less noticeable.
A number of tools have been much improved and add to the pleasure of editing with SpectraLayers Pro 2. For example, although you can still use the noise removal tool as you’re used to, you can now also just remove all noise globally once you’ve registered your noise-print.
It’s much faster to do, but gives you slightly less control over the results. Of course, the beauty of a sound editor like SpectraLayers Pro is that you don’t have to apply a layer 100%. You can always put some noise back for the perfect natural result.
The toolbox of SpectraLayers Pro 2 has gained an extra tool: the shape extraction tool. With the shape tool, you paint a shape and all of the shape’s frequencies will be moved to your selected layer. The tool includes power tracking, as do most of the other tools.
Another new capability in the sound engineering department is what Sony calls “Spectral Casting and Spectral Molding”. The two features let you use the frequency spectrum of one layer as a mould or cast for carving an impression of its frequency signature directly into the spectrum of a second layer.
I found casting easy enough to understand, but moulding didn’t seem to make much of a difference, until I asked Sony’s tech representative for help. Casting, it turns out, just eats away frequencies and there’s no third layer involved.
With moulding, it’s a different story. You first need to duplicate the layer that you want to work with, then select the layer below the one you want to mould with the selected layer. The selected layer — now called the impression layer — will now contain the impression of the layer above it. I tried this with a voice over and a brief musical piece below the vocal one.
After moulding, the voice over sounded as if the voice was made up of the instruments in the moulding layer. When I turned the original layer back on I could get various different results by just increasing or decreasing each layer’s power.
Here’s what it sounds like: [powerpress url=”http://photo.it-enquirer.com/files/2013/09/SpectraLayers-mold-mix.mp3″%5D
You can also invert the moulded layer’s phase and combine it with the second layer. It can deliver a more elegant approach than simple ducking, but it sure opens up creative possibilities I have yet to find in other comparable applications.
Other new features in SpectraLayers Pro 2 include metadata and marker editing — very useful if you’re working with video voice-overs or background music — and more frequency range display options.
Interoperability with Sony’s sound editor “Sound Forge Pro” for Mac is brilliant too. When you’re done editing in Sound Forge Pro, you save the file, after which you switch back to SpectraLayers Pro 2 that asks you politely if you want to apply these edits or not.
I tested SpectraLayers Pro 2 build 21 on a mid-2011 iMac. While the new features and improvements are all great and working quite well, this build of the app did still break in several areas. The Sony representative has already ensured me the bug reports I sent to them are being followed up and will be fixed with the next update.
For an upgrade price of about 150 Euros, you’ll get yourself a sound editor that lets you do a good deal beyond what others are offering. When all the bugs have been squashed, SpectraLayers Pro 2 is set to be a real eye-opener (or should that be “ear-opener”?) to sound engineers and enthusiasts alike.