The competition for Spark comes from BIAS Peak and Prosoniq SonicWorx. Peak has been updated for OS X, but runs on OS 8 or 9. SonicWorx Studio offers extremely powerful processing and metering, and has an excellent user-interface design – but doesn’t offer TDM support or OS X compatibility. Spark scores highly with its versatile FX Machine and highly-respected TC processing plug-ins, not to mention the useful Cut Editor and Metergraph windows.
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Spark XL 2.5
Spark XL 2.5 is a stereo file editor that works with Pro Tools MIX hardware – giving access to the wide range of TDM plug-ins out there. Spark also lets you transfer audio files to and from popular samplers, and prepare audio files for burning to CD. The software features an attractive user-interface, with a Browser View containing the list of files you’ve opened into the project; a Playlist showing the order of the files selected for playback; and a waveform editor and overview. A second window, the Master view, contains the Master faders and the FX Machine Matrix. The Browser View is divided into three sections: the File View, listing files you have imported; the Wave Editor; and the Playlist. In the Wave editor, you can cut-&-paste regions within audio files and apply all the usual processes, such as Normalize, Reverse and Fades. The Playlist lists tracks ready-to-burn to CDs – or simply compiles and checks them prior to sending to a mastering facility. As with BIAS Peak, you have to transfer to Roxio Toast or Jam to actually burn a CD. There is an excellent selection of plug-ins bundled with Spark, including the powerful Native Compressor/Limiter and Native Reverb. The Master View has a powerful routing matrix that can work with up to four parallel streams of audio. Each stream can have up to five plug-ins that can process audio in real-time. These streams can be split and merged to create the most complex routings you’ll ever need. Interestingly, Spark’s Master View can be used as a plug-in itself, which works with Steinberg VST- or MotU Audio System-compatible software. So Spark’s FX Machine can also be used as a plug-in within Logic Audio, Cubase VST or Digital Performer. Spark XL also features a second Master window that can use Pro Tools TDM plug-ins.