If you’re into music making, you probably spotted the zillions of CDs – from companies such as Time & Space – containing sound samples. When working with loops, it can be awkward to match the tempo and pitch of different sources. Phrazer makes this easy.
Phrazer includes more than a gigabyte of samples – with everything from drumkits to solo instruments to ambient textures. Phrazer tempo-maps and pitch-stretches the loops so that everything stays locked up automatically. The idea is that you load up several tracks with different samples of drums, bass, keyboards, ambient or other likely loopable material, and play these tracks back at the same time to build-up more ambitious combinations of looped sounds. You can hit keys on a computer keyboard, or use MIDI to turn the various tracks on and off. Then record the results to disk in real-time live, or from a sequencer. The Control section lets you set the tempo, volumes, balance, sends, and key for the entire song – and Phrazer automatically maps the different samples to the correct tempo and key. The Track Info section shows the track enable, name, trigger parameters, sample colour, volume, pan, send levels, and amplitude. Two send effects are available on each track, and two global effects are also provided. Effect types include all the usual suspects, such as EQs, delays, chorus, reverb, and distortion. The Track Data view is where you arrange track events – dragging these around with the mouse or using cut, copy, paste, and clear. The various samples and all the effects that can be applied to these are regarded as separate events. A separate Mixer window is provided that duplicates the volume controls as faders.
Phrazer runs on any Mac OS from 8.6 all the way to 10.2, and works with all the major sequencers and sound cards – either stand-alone or with your choice of sequencer via Sound Manager, ASIO, DirectIO, DirectConnect, ReWire, or MAS 2.1. Phrazer uses 32-bit internal processing and can work with sample rates up to 96kHz. It can read WAVE, AIFF and Sound Designer files, and can import CD-audio, MP3 and Unity files. You can also record and edit your own samples within Phrazer’s sample editor, using the Munge menu’s powerful editing commands to loop samples and add effects.
Phrazer is a useful-enough tool for working on loops – but still not a match for Acid on the PC. Much improved since version 1.0, it makes sense for existing users to upgrade – especially if moving to OS X. However, the OS X version was prone to erratic behaviour compared to the OS 9 version.