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Review: Zynaptiq Pitchmap 1.5

June 30, 2014
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Keep polyphonic pitch correction fully under control

Zynaptiq Pitchmap 1.5 is unique in that it offers realtime polyphonic pitch processing under MIDI control, even on full mixes.
The transfixing, hypnotic, and downright most flexible pitch-correction plug-in is back for a significant update. In case you didn’t already know, Zynaptiq Pitchmap 1.5 is pretty much a must-have plug-in for creative sound designers and remixers, as well as an impeccable tool for composers and producers of any ilk.

Polyphony is where Pitchmap 1.5 stands out. It can transpose and correct pitches within fully mixed, polyphonic audio signals in real time (and under MIDI control). The plug-in visually spreads out the audio material coming from a host DAW track into separate notes, each note having a Pitch Mapping Slider, which you can manually drag to a new note using the keyboard on the right-hand side as a reference. It’s important to point out that Pitchmap 1.5 cannot separate discrete instruments and voices that are playing the same note in the same octave at the same time. However, it is extremely effective at the realtime manipulation of polyphonic (or monophonic) pitch material.

Throwing the First Pitch The update adds important improvements to Pitchmap’s algorithms and automation system, but the most noticeable and important enhancement comes in the form of the preset manager and included factory presets. Click the arrow in the upper left-hand corner, and you can quickly name and save your current settings as a preset, or access one of the dozens of factory presets. Just want to perform basic pitch correction to a mix? There’s a preset for that. Need to remove entire notes that were played incorrectly? There’s a preset to get you started. Want to input notes through MIDI? There are several presets for you.

Of course, Pitchmap 1.5 is far from a set-it-and-forget-it tool. The aforementioned Pitch Mapping Sliders have several modes of behavior, such as whether they round up or down an octave to the target note. There are lots of options for varying the nuance of the pitch correction, like using algorithm modes with different sound-isolating characteristics, toggling Strict correction mode, or adjusting resolution sliders. You can set the pitch correction to any key/scale available, limit the range of notes you want to correct, and fully bypass or mute any unwanted notes.

Another helpful feature lets you take up to eight Snapshots of settings and then use automation to determine when they apply. That works well if you need different types of settings for certain segments of a song.

Five sound-shaping parameters make up the Process section. Threshold determines how off of the pitch a note has to be in order to be processed. Set the Feel control high to retain variations such as vibrato or Low for a more synthetic sound. Purify reduces or amplifies noisy components in the sound, while Glide adjusts the portamento between notes. And Electrify introduces a sort of synthesizer coloration to sounds. Combinations of the latter four controls can go a long way in determining whether Pitchmap 1.5’s corrections retain a more authentic sound or introduce some surreal, other-worldly timbres.

MIDI Map Mode Because Pitchmap 1.5 is so good at isolating individual notes and parts of a mixed audio signal, it is a game-changer for mash-up artists or remixers working without a track’s stems or multitrack DAW session. However, Pitchmap 1.5’s MIDI input takes the plug-in to another level. Whether you use a pre-existing MIDI file or play live through a MIDI interface, you can re-play the input audio’s melodies and harmonies in real time.

Take all the liberties you want with the source audio; create a new arrangement or simply use it as the sample oscillator for your own original compositions. This capability makes Pitchmap 1.5 not only a top-notch pitch corrector, but also a new type of virtual instrument.

Markkus Rovito drums, DJs, and contributes frequently to DJ Tech Tools and Charged Electric Vehicles.

SUMMARY

Strengths Realtime pitch correction of polyphonic, mixed audio material. Doesn’t require drums to be separated from mix. Automatic and manual control. Accepts realtime MIDI input. New presets and preset manager.
Limitations Not compatible with 96kHz audio. Does not work on single monophonic tracks.
$399 MSRP, $369 street
zynaptiq.com

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