Spark FXMachine launched by TC Works By Dennis Sellers
has launched Spark FXMachine, a virtual, multi-FX processor and Synth Generator for Mac and PC-based VST (Virtual Studio Technology) Systems, complete with 21 TC-quality FX & Synthesis Plug-Ins.
Formerly, the FXMachine was only available on the Mac sold as a part of Spark. The FXMachine provides users with a new environment for creating unique effects or modular synthesizers by combining them freely in a matrix window, according to Ralf Schluenzen, CEO of TC Works. This is done in real-time, using any of the included or other VST Plug-Ins, even Virtual Instruments, he said. The matrix size can be changed from 1×1 to 10×10 according to your needs. Plus, the plug-ins can be moved around freely and changes can be heard in real-time.
The FX Machine’s Plug-Ins include a Modular Virtual Analog Synthesizer complete with Step Sequencer, sound design tools, Reverb and a mastering quality Compressor/Limiter and Split Filters for multi-band operation. The new SonicDestructor Plug-In is available as a free download upon registration and provides a tool to “vinylize” or otherwise “dirty-up” audio recordings.
The FX machine includes many “machines,” providing ready-to-use processors from “wild” multi-FX to multiband mastering, using only the supplied plug-ins, Schluenzen said. Those plug-ins include: Spark FXMachine, Spark FXMachine Instrument, Bandpass, Cut Filter, Reverb, Resonance Filter, FuzzSat, Grainalizer, Touch Wah, Tape Delay, one and three Band EQ Plug-Ins, Compressor & Limiter, MaxIt, Expander, TCO Oscillator, TCF Filter, TCA Amplifier, TCSeq Step Sequencer and TC K Virtual Keyboard
The Spark FXMachine will be shipping next month at a recommended retail price of US$199. It requires a Power Mac with a G3 300MHz or better processor, Mac OS 8.6-9.x (there’s no Mac OS X version yet), a VST host application and whatever amount of RAM is needed by the host application.
Also, Access and Emagic have joined TC’s PowerCore third party program. Access — which makes audio products used by such companies as Antares, Lexicon, Digidesign, TC and Waves — will create new virtual synthesizers for TC PowerCore. Emagic’s Logic Audio will take advantage of the open TC PowerCore DSP hardware platform. Delivery of the Logic PowerCore Collection is planned for this summer.
The TC PowerCore supplies 400 DSP million instructions per second (MIPS) of sheer power, according to TC Works. One DSP instruction, or “cycle,” is capable of loading two data items, fetching the next processor instruction and performing a combined multiplication and addition (multiply-add) simultaneously.
A current G4 processor, however, requires at least 4-7 cycles to perform this operation in a best-case scenario, according to TC Works. And if the data isn’t in the computer’s cache, the factor is up to 100 times worse, the company claims. What’s more, the computer’s theoretical power is reduced by the relatively slow memory used, TC Works adds.
Why should you care? TC Works says the PowerCore’s signal processing power “transforms all VST-compatible recording environments into professional high performance audio workstations, freeing up precious CPU performance resources.” With it, you’ll purportedly be able to run eight studio-quality TC Mega Reverb or other Hi-End TC PowerCore plug-ins simultaneously, without reducing your track count or using up all of the computer’s available CPU horsepower. The PowerCore integrates with VST-compatible software like Cubase, Spark or Logic, and any sound system supported by the software. No proprietary add-on software is required to access the board’s audio processing power.
According to TC Works, the PowerCore gives you “world class” Reverb, Modulation FX and EQ right out of the box. The company’s FX (special effects) package is bundled with the card. Now TC Mega Reverb, TC Chorus/Delay and TC EQSat Plug-ins are accessible from inside your favorite VST-compatible recording application — but running on the card, not your CPU, according to TC Works. The company claims the PowerCore has so much processing power that one complete set of TC Tools Plug-ins (MegaReverb, Chorus/Delay and EQ) only requires one DSP to run, leaving three more DSPs available for other Hi-End FX.
And with the TC PowerCore, you don’t give up any of your VST features, according to TC Works. You just add the power of a DSP-based system to your native environment. You can use VST and PowerCore plug-ins at the same time, even in the same signal path. The card can also run more than just the TC Tools/96 plug-ins you get in the package. The other TC works high-end plug-ins will run on the card and are available as options
System requirements are a G3 or G4 Power Mac with PCI slots, 128MB of RAM, Mac OS 9, VST-compatible recording software, and an ASIO compatible sound system.