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Solid State Logic have unveiled X-ISM
which they describe as a state of the art VST/AU plug-in, available as a free download, which can interpret inter-sample peaks, allowing engineers to make an informed judgment about the ultimate quality of his/her mix.
Weâ€™ll leave it up to SSL to give you all the details in their own wordsâ€¦
'There is currently a trend in the in the audio industry known euphemistically as â€˜The loudness warâ€™ in which the engineering process is driven to produce a product which is as loud as is technically possible within the constraints of the medium. Debate rages as to whether this produces problems that degrade and distort the audio. One reason for this distortion is often blamed on the presence of â€˜inter-sample peaksâ€™, where signals that are usually missed by the Fs sampling of DAW meters, may actually exceed 0dBfs in reconstruction from digital to analogue domain in some Digital to Analogue Converters (DACs).
Why is this important? Reliable metering and monitoring is a key to consistent results. Recording studios of all sizes choose the best equipment in order to produce the best results possible, and this invariably includes audio interfaces. So it is very likely that the circuitry used in professional audio interfaces will be more sophisticated than those used in consumer devices. It is therefore entirely possible for an engineer to produce a mix which would sound great in the studio but may sound different on some domestic systems.
There have been several tests performed on domestic CD players with signals known to produce inter-sample peaks, with interesting results. The tests indicate that some players are quite capable of handling the peaks without audible results, but some models produce audible clipping.
So if the recording engineer has no idea whether the mixes he/she produces will sound distorted on some domestic playback systems how can the problem be fixed? Probably the best solution would be for the studio to have a variety of types of players to play mixes on, along with an engineer with very good hearing!
A practical alternative is to use a meter which simulates the oversampling DAC filtering processes used most commonly, and can therefore indicate the presence of >0dBfs inter-sample peaks, even if the peaks canâ€™t be heard in the control room. Preferably, this meter would take the form of a VST plug-in that can be inserted at the end of the DAW mix. In this way the pure digital signal can be monitored and results predicted - Enter X-ISM...'
The plug-in is available in VST, AU and RTAS* formats making it compatible with virtually all audio software currently available on both PC and Mac. A full compatibility list is available online.
*RTAS is supported through the VST-RTAS wrapper from FXpansion
Pricing and Availability:
Available now for free download.
More information and free X-EQ trial: