Fission is the process of splitting into two or more parts. Here, Marc JB applauds as Eventide heralds a new era of transient and tonal separation with its original, innovative Fission plug-in…
Kit Fission plug-in
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Eventide is known for its legacy of high-end pro-studio processors. One of the most famous models is the H3000, widely regarded as the Holy Grail of studio effects. Before the days of Auto-Tune, Eventide processors were used to put lush micro-pitchshift- based chorus on vocals to disguise them in the mix. And with the new Fission plug-in, Eventide continues its quest to push the boundaries of sonic manipulation.
Fission is based around Eventide’s ‘Structual Effects’ technology, which splits sound into its transient (impact/unpredictable/jagged) and tonal (sustaining/stable/smooth) properties. This is not a conventional transient-shaping plug-in, however: Fission analyses the audio it’s given for changing waveform behaviour and makes intelligent decisions on where to split the sound.
As an example, take a snare sound; the smack of the stick hitting the drum head and the resulting ‘sizzle’ is the Transient component, and the resonant ringing is the Tonal component. In a vocal, the ‘p’losives, consonants and ‘husky’ components are Transient, and the sustained tonal components are Tonal.
Once Fission has split the sound into two separate streams along these Transient and Tonal lines, they can then be independently processed, mangled and manipulated, before being recombined to produce a new sound.
Fission’s interface is clear and ergonomically laid out. At the top is the Transient processing, at the bottom is the Tonal processing, and in the middle is the Structural Split – where you further control and manipulate the plug-in’s sound-splitting engine.
Crossing the streams
What is added from one split audio stream is taken away from the other, so the audio source is intact when reconstructed – Fission hardly alters the sound of the mix when engaged. ‘Source Type’ changes the internal algorithm parameters to suit the incoming audio for maximum splitting success; ‘Smoothing’ controls the speed of the decision-making process – useful for getting rid of unwanted transient ‘chips’ or smoothing out rough transitions.
‘Transient Decay’ thickens up the transient tails and makes the Tonal steam ‘auto-swell’. ‘Focus’ shifts the sonic energy towards the Transient or Tonal audio stream. The real-time display makes it easy to see how the audio is being split.
So once the audio is split using the tools above, we can start playing about with Fission’s superb effects. We have six different ones for manipulating the Transient audio stream:
Delay: Tempo-sync’ed delay with high/low cut. Use this to add a snappy delay to drums to cut through the mix. My favourite feature here is that feedback goes to 110% for infinite feedback. There must be a limiter in the processing, however, as the feedback never screams out of control. Play with the high and low cut for dub FX galore. Turn off Warp and change the delay time to create mind-bending, pitched FX mayhem.
Tap Delay: A multi-tap delay for rhythmic delays, wacky comb filtering, volume swells and weird slap-back FX.
Dynamics: A combined Compressor/Limiter and Expander/Gate – remove drum sizzle, or indeed, crush the hell out of it. Great for improving your more rhythmic sound sources.
Phaser: A multi-stage phaser effect. When set to Envelope mode, this works a treat on minimal drum patterns to create the iconic ‘Prince’ sound.
Reverb: A high-density room reverb. Perfect for adding fullness while still maintaining a clean-sounding mix.
Gate+EQ: A gate followed by a three-band overdrive-able EQ. Tighten up drum sounds, take out simmering snare tails and shape ‘granular’ textures within the sound.
With seven effects for the Tonal audio component, there’s plenty of scope to vitalise or mangle your sound further.
Delay: Use the modulation to get silky chorus-laden pads, or self-oscillate those guitars to make crazy textures. Compressor/Limiter: Useful for taming tonal rings on drums and getting rhythmic parts to sit in the mix without taking away their transient energy.
Tonal Pitch: A three-voice pitch-shifter (+/-1 octave per voice) – Eventide is, after all, the inventor of audio tuning, with its legendary 1970s rackmounted H910 processor. Retune drums, create harmonies or use Micropitch for chorusing and double-tracking, without transient slapback or smearing. You can get some pretty whacked-out sounds here.
Chorus: A deep chorus, with random modulation. As this is only affecting the Tonal components, it creates a deep and wide chorus, again without transient slap or smearing.
Reverb: A low-density reverb, ideal for dense pad-like reverberant tails.
Tremolo: The tremolo is driven by LFO and/or the envelope of the plug-in’s input. Turn up the stereo spread and you’ll be rewarded clear auto-pan like you’ve never heard before.
As you can see from the effects, there’s plenty to get stuck into. Fission’s presets are very creative and usable.
I particularly like the presentation of Eventide’s preset menu, too, which is clearly organised into instrument type and artist categories. There are plenty of ‘vibey’ patches to inspire your sound.
It’s fascinating to solo the different components of the sound, to hear the Transient ‘sizzle’ of the snare and the ‘growl’ of the vocal separate from their gentler Tonal components. In summary, Fission works great on drums, bass, guitar, synths, loops, vocals, kazoo… anything you throw at it.
There are really no alternatives to this product, as it’s breaking new territory with ‘structural’ effects. But if you were looking for other plug-ins to take your sounds to new dimensions, check out these: Eventide H3000 ($349); iZotope Stutter Edit ($249); Sugar Bytes Looperator (€119).
Or for transient manipulation: Steinberg Multiband Envelope Shaper (included with Cubase); iZotope Neutron Transient Shaper (as part of Neutron $249); Waves Trans-X ($49).
Eventide Fission key features
- Multi-FX plug-in using transient/tonal separation technology
- Structural Effects algorithm separates ‘transients’ and ‘tails’ of sounds into separate audio signals