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From BitHeadz software comes Phrazer – the Mac’s answer to ACID for the PC. Like ACID, Phrazer is a loop-based composition tool.
You can use your own loops, third-party loops, or the factory loops that come with Phrazer. Loops or phrases are automatically tempo-mapped and pitch-stretched – so even though the loops may be of different tempos or in different keys, Phrazer sorts all this out for you. You can record and edit your own samples within Phrazer, and MIDI or computer keyboard triggers can be used to mute and unmute tracks. This allows Phrazer to be played in real time. You can even trigger one-shot samples in real-time, and MIDI can also be used for real-time track volume and pan changes. Phrazer will work with your favourite MIDI+ Audio sequencer, feeding the audio output from Phrazer directly into the software using Sound Manager, ASIO, DirectIO, DirectConnect, ReWire, or MAS.
The track data view at the right hand side of the main window is where you arrange audio samples. The editor at the bottom of the main window displays the five editors one at time – depending on which is selected in the Edit Menu. Here you can edit the samples in the tracks and in the effects parameters. There are tools to edit the sample data graphically, and you can also use the popup “munge” dialogs to do all the usual stuff – such as fade, loop, reverse and so forth.
The effects are one of the neatest things to play with, and you can change these while the sequence is running – swapping chorus effects for reverb, for example, on-the-fly. Each track can incorporate several different effects which can be applied individually to different sections, or you can use global effects if you want an effect on all the time.
Once you’ve finished your masterpiece in Phrazer, it can record this to disk using the Render command – which plays back a song and creates a new AIFF file on the hard disk. As the song is playing, you can turn tracks on and off – alter effects and the changes will be recorded into a new AIFF file.
Phrazer is a bit clunky, but it’s definitely fun. It’s not quite as advanced as ACID in terms of zooming in, for example, but it has MIDI control and allows plenty of sample manipulation. If you want to really get serious though, you should probably wait for the next version which should really boogie.