Audio editors are the Photoshop of the sound world, letting you "retouch" sound files to remove flubbed words, to rearrange the verses of a song, to create special effects, and to convert one sound format into another. The long-awaited update to the popular audio editor Peak, from Berkeley Integrated Audio Software (BIAS), has the potential to take Mac digital audio editing to new heights. But although Peak 2.03 sports a variety of interface enhancements and new features, bugs mar its power.
Peak's editing features are complete and well designed. You can zoom in to make edits at the single-sample level and set markers to navigate a large document quickly. Peak 2.03 adds tape-style scrubbingthe ability to play a sound forward and backward slowly.
Like all audio editors, Peak displays a waveform window that graphically depicts the sound you're manipulating. On-screen volume meters dance as a sound plays, while a counter ticks off elapsed time. The program also offers unlimited undo's and lets you undo one operation without affecting others.
Peak 2.0's audio-processing features are also dramatically improved. With its DSP (digital signal processing) menu, you can change the sample rate, create fades, remove clicks, change a sound's pitch while retaining its duration, and much more. Unfortunately, Peak lacks high-quality bit-depth reduction.
Third-party plug-ins expand Peak's processing repertoire. The new version adds support for TDM-format plug-ins, the mainstays of professionals who use high-end Digidesign audio hardware. For the rest of us, Peak supports Adobe Premiere-format plug-ins (see the accompanying review ). You can create envelopes that gradually apply a Premiere plug-in, or apply a plug-in in real timethat is, get the effect without actually modifying the sound file.
Many of Peak's other new features will appeal to audio and video professionals. For example, you can open QuickTime movies and modify their soundtracks, and a new batch processor lets you automate format-conversion and DSP chores without scripting. Peak's playlist feature lets you define regions that play back sequentially. And if you have Adaptec's Toast, you can burn audio CDs directly from Peak, using the playlist to define each track.
Finally, musicians with sampling keyboards and modules can use Peak to edit samples and transfer them among instruments. The handy new Loop Surfer command makes it easy to locate the ideal loop points for samples.
Peak's keyboard- and tool-bar-customizing features are terrific, but the tool-bar icons are too small and cryptic. It's also worth noting that Peak uses a copy-protection scheme: to install the program on an iMac or a blue-and-white Power Mac G3, you must contact BIAS for a text key.
Peak's documentation is thorough, but the manual's index is abysmal. Worst of all, Peak crashes now and then.
Peak 2.03 is an exceptionally powerful, versatile program. It could be more reliable, but BIAS has a solid track record of delivering free bug-fixes, so there's hope that Peak will stabilize over time. If you need Peak's power now, don't hesitate to buyjust be sure to save often.
RATING: PROS: Versatile; innovative plug-in support. CONS: Copy-protected; buggy; no high-quality bit-depth reduction. COMPANY: Berkeley Integrated Audio Software (800/775-2427, http://www.bias-inc.com ). LIST PRICE: $499.
September 1999 page: 42