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When we last looked at Peak, the professional two-track, disk-based audio editor from Berkley Integrated Audio Software (BIAS) had turned 2.0 ( Reviews , September 1999). That update added a new interface, support for 24- and 32-bit files, and enhanced audio scrubbing to the program's existing features: waveform editing; region, loop, and fade creation; the ability to download sound files to hardware samplers; and DSP operations such as normalize and reverse. With version 2.5.3, Peak refines many of the features introduced in versions 2.0 and 2.1 and adds a long-awaited new function.
New . . .
The "VST" in Peak's name reflects the program's most important new feature -- support for Steinberg's popular VST plug-in format. VST support is a boon for those who have amassed a collection of these plug-ins, but others needn't feel left out: Peak VST includes 29 VST plug-ins, including a decent reverb and delay, as well as more exotic effects such as ring modulation. If you want to add more than one effect to your sound files, you'll be pleased to know that you can apply as many as five VST plug-ins.
Peak continues to support Adobe Premiere and Digidesign Audiosuite plug-ins. If you need support for TDM plug-ins, you must purchase the $699 Peak VST TDM Edition.
Version 2.0 had a more colorful visage than its predecessor -- in fact, its buttons were so vivid that it was often difficult to determine their functions. Thankfully, this version tones down the buttons and adds text balloons explaining the purpose of each. And BIAS has put ASIO (Audio Stream In/Out) drivers -- for third-party audio cards -- on the CD-ROM.
Encoding MP3 files remains a kludgy process. You must download Macromedia's SWA Export Xtra plug-in, and the actual encoding is time-consuming. Even when we heeded the manual's advice to lower our Mac's disk-cache setting, Peak, at its "quick" setting, took nearly three times longer than SoundJam to encode a five-minute AIFF file.Popular Plug-ins: Peak VST 2.5.3's VST plug-ins are easy to manipulate (though they get in the way on a small screen).