Magix Software’s SpectraLayers Pro 4 concentrates on workflow improvements

SpectraLayers started life as a sluggish but innovative spectral analysis app. After Sony took over, it became snappier and was developed further with some much needed functionality. Now, in its fourth generation, SpectraLayers Pro changed hands again. With Magix at the wheel, the application has been significantly upgraded once again.

The biggest new feature in SpectraLayers Pro 4 for Mac is the new support for exchanging audio data with Avid’s Pro Tools. I wasn’t able to try out the new support as Avid, after two years of nagging, still has to respond to my requests for a trial copy, but there’s plenty more to write about. Magix has expanded SpectraLayer’s workflow capabilities considerably, so let’s take a look at those.

SpectraLayers Pro 4 now supports the grouping of layers. This is a boon for when you have many layers and want a simple way to move them within the Layers panel. You can also select portions of all the layers inside and copy them to a single layer, for example. However, processing entire groups, e.g. channel mixing or level adjustment on group level is not possible.

Via its now tabbed interface you can work with multiple SpectraLayers projects in a single session. That’s useful in its own right, especially as the application’s responsiveness doesn’t seem to suffer, but it really becomes into its own due to the extra capabilities related to it. For example, you can now duplicate a project. The menu option for this feature is found under the Layer menu, which to a Mac user feels a bit odd, but you get used to it very quickly.

Duplicating a layer to another project is now possible too. If you draw a selection prior to duplicating, the selection will be copied instead of the complete layer. Entire groups can be copied to another project as well. Even better, when you paste a layer from a 96kHz project into a 48kHZ project, the sample rate is automatically adjusted. The same applies to the number of channels. I tried this by copying a stereo file to a mono project and it worked fast and flawlessly, converting the stereo file into a mono file with only one option to set.

The Frequency Selection and Harmonics Selection tools now include a “Lock to clicked Frequency” check box that allows you to create selections quickly and accurately when dragging in the spectrum graph. The purpose is to relieve you from the task of carefully following the frequency band of a glitch such as a phone ringing during an interview.

I tried this with files that had no frequency bands clearly standing out and it worked by picking out the loudest areas that were more or less continuing the frequency I clicked. In some cases, I clicked a frequency of 700Hz and expected the app to follow this selection within a narrow band, only to discover it quickly would select frequencies below 40Hz. This is clearly a feature that will only work within very strict rules.

SpectraLayers Pro 4 is the first new version under Magix Software’s wings, and it is showing much promise for the future. The updated features aren’t earth shaking, except for the Pro Tools integration. They do justify an upgrade price of around €142.