Two plug-ins you should try: Eventide Physion and SplitEQ

What if you would be able to EQ transients separately from tonal sound? Or create a different effect on transients from that on tonal content? Would it open up new frontiers in correction and creativity? It’s what Eventide promise with their SplitEQ parametric EQ and Physion Mk II creative effects plug-ins.

Transients are short bursts of sound like in when a percussionist hits a timpani. The moment the skin is hit makes a transient, the reverberating sound afterwards is tonal.

Transients in any sort of recording from music to soundtracks and foley can be desired, but often they are unwanted, so we’ll EQ the audio to make it sound better by filtering them out or decreasing their energy. Traditionally, you’ll use a compressor or a transient shaper plug-in for this job. However, those tools will dampen all sound in the transient’s frequency band, and that creates muddy or fuzzy results.

SplitEQ by Eventide, a 179 USD EQ plug-in, lets you perform corrective — and creative — audio equalisation on transients and tonal content separately. As a result, you can sculpt the sound you’re correcting or shaping to your vision in a much more surgical way than with any traditional parametric EQ.

For example, to remove plosives you will decrease the corresponding transient frequency band with SplitEQ. That effectively decreases or removes those plosives and nothing else. Because every type of sound source creates transients with different characteristics, Eventide developed the “Structured Split”, a name they promptly trademarked.

Because of this tuneable split, SplitEQ’s interface has more elements than other EQ plug-ins, but I found that doesn’t complicate its use. There is a short learning curve, although functionality like Mid/Side panning, high-pass, low-pass, and even tilt shelf filters demand you know your business. There’s a Pre/Post spectrum analyser and of course the ability to listen out your edits — even transient/tonal content — isolated from the rest.

SplitEQ is stereo only; it would probably have become a mess if they’d thrown in the complexity of Dolby Atmos. That might make it less suitable for movie or broadcast post-production. However, with the ability to boost or decrease frequencies at up to 96dB of gain, SplitEQ by itself already allows for some interesting creative effects that are not possible with other EQ’s.

Physion Mk II

In addition, Eventide’s got another Structured Split tool, the multi-effects Physion Mk II plug-in, which allows you to create high-quality effects. Many of those would require multiple other plug-ins stacked on top of each other to achieve the same results. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised you can’t create some of them with anything other than a synthesiser plug-in, and it’s all due to that Transient/Tonal separation functionality.

Physion Mk II comes with a factory library loaded with a whopping 500 presets to give you a head start, but even when I haphazardly selected and changed parameters without planning anything in advance I got very interesting sound effects that are impossible to create without the split. Especially Eventide’s delay and tap delay effects, for which the company is famous, enable you to convert tracks into amazing sounds.

Just as with SplitEQ, you can tune the Structural Split detection parameters, with the rest of the plug-in offering a simple knob-turning experience for the actual effects.

Obviously, some transients effects are different from those for tonal content, and you can apply effects only to either transient or tonal, or to both. When you select to turn off the Split section, Physion Mk II works just like any other multi-effect plug-in that offers the same parameters. Combined with SplitEQ, Physion Mk II allows you to create anything from huge reverbs and spatial delays to stutters and raw sounding results.

All this power comes at a cost and that’s latency. There’s quite a bit of that, which isn’t a problem because your DAW compensates for it, but it can become a problem when you want to use them in real time recordings. Another thing I missed was that neither plug-in is MIDI controllable.

For music and soundtrack

Both plug-ins together are a powerhouse for special effects, allowing you to alter music and other recorded or synthetised audio in unexpected ways. Both having been equipped with the Structural Split allows them to be used for anything from perfect sounding music to sound design projects and soundscapes .

Available for resale online at Eventide’s website, SplitEQ as well as Physion Mk II costs 179 USD.

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