Eventide Physion by Diogo C
Formats: AAX/AU/VST Plug-in for Windows 7+ and Mac 10.7+
Price: $179 (US Dollars, MSRP)
Demo: Fully functional for 30 days
DRM: iLok (USB dongle not required)
The scope: Eventide is back to the effects game with Fission, a new plug-in which presents what is essentially a very simple concept: separate the transient from the tonal content and treat them separately with different effects. It’s so clever that it begs the question: why no one has done this before? Well, there are a few pieces of software out there that can act on the same principles and apply similar processes, but nothing close to what Eventide has done in terms of the presentation. Fission is really quite simple and the interface translates such simplicity. On the upper green section of the plug-in we have the transient section, where you can apply delay, tap delay, dynamics (compression/limiting), phaser, reverb and a combined gate/EQ effect. The bottom blue part houses the “tonal” component of the signal, this time delay, compressor, pitch shift, chorus, reverb, tremolo or an EQ are available for us to play with. At the center there is a waveform display that highlights the energy of both sections with their respective colours and most importantly, here we have the “structural split”, which allows for fine-tweaking the envelope to favour one part more than the other, rebalancing transient and tone accordingly. Structural split comes several “source types” to better suite the incoming audio, including individual drum parts, bass, guitar, piano, vocal, electronic beats and more. Both transient and tonal sections have their individual dry/wet and output level controls, on top those we also have a global dry/wet and a final output trim, which are located on the uppermost part of the interface along with the presets, an info button which opens the documentation and a “source lock” button which locks the source type from the structural split section when browsing through the presets. Once again Eventide offers a great number of presets, which are nicely organized either by author (including Richard Devine, Joe Chiccarelli and others), application (instruments, vocals, etc) or category (mixing, effects). Overall Fission is a very well conceived plug-in, which not only brings a clever concept but also a superb execution. If this is the first in the “Structural Effects” line I can hardly wait to see what comes next!
Signal Flow of Structural Effects Method (from eventideaudio.com)
Sound quality: Fission is a remarkable plug-in, capable of pulling out tricks that were otherwise very hard to achieve, heavily favouring creativity and experimentation. Needless to say that it does quite drastic things to the audio, so some artifacts are bound to appear when it’s pushed to more radical settings, but even then it manages to minimize in a good way the inevitable side-products of the process. Fission is also very versatile, working well on regular tasks like compression/gating, not-so-weird reverbs and “vanilla” time-based modulation effects like delays, chorus and flanging. It’s also great as a de-verb (to remove excessive reverberation) and a very effective envelope shaper overall.
Ease of use: This is quite a complex plug-in with many facets, but it’s also very well organized and mostly intuitive to use. The interface is clean, with no clutter or hidden menus, so it’s really easy to operate and to dial great sound settings. The included presets and documentation are also very helpful in that regard but I’d rather just start by freely tweaking it since it’s a rewarding to use plug-in in the sense that you can effortlessly achieve some unique sounding effects that would otherwise require many different processes and steps. The only complaint I have right now is that this Fission asks for a significant amount of computing power, with a single instance taking roughly 10% from my system resources. I’m aging i7 Ivy Bridge processor (model 3770), but that’s still a substantial load which is not negligible nonetheless - important to note that my tests were made on macOS Sierra with Cubase Pro 9 and Pro Tools 12, so you might have a better luck with a different combination of operational system and DAW. On the other hand, performance is something that can be improved with updates and Eventide’s development is one of the very best in this industry, with a proven track record, so there’s some good hopes for future patches and optimizations.
Features: Nothing to complain here, but I will nitpick a bit and ask for bigger level trim and dry/wet controls. Those controls are kind of small and located on an “isolated” part of the interface, so I’d rather have them placed on the right side next to the waveform display, which I believe would integrate them better to the plug-in, thus improving the workflow. Other than that I have nothing but praise for Fission’s feature set, it’s a very deep plug-in but also concise and very elegant in the way it presents all its features. It’s also worth of note the fact that this is arguably the first truly innovative plug-in from Eventide, as their past offers have been either recreations of their past/present hardware gear like the Harmonizers, Omnipressor or Blackhole, or just not really very that fresh - Ultraverb and T-Verb comes to mind, both very good plug-ins but not exactly what we can call “ground breaking”. I wouldn’t say Fission as revolutionary as the Harmonizers in their days, times are very different right now and it’s really hard for any piece of gear to revolutionize our work the way Eventide did in the 70s and 80s, but Fission definitely pushes the ball forward and (to my ears) it’s easily their best plug-in to date in all aspects.
Bang for buck: The retail price is just slightly above the average effect plug-in these days, but it’s worth every cent given how good and versatile it is. The fact that it’s very simple to use also adds a lot to its value, as great results can be achieved without hours spent on learning and tweaking. In case you’re rightfully on the fence given how many great plug-ins are out there I strongly recommend grabbing the demo and giving it a fair shot.
Recommended for: mixing engineers, producers and electronic musicians looking for fresh effects on a very versatile plug-in without overcomplicating things.
Straightforward to use
Great value for the money
A bit intensive on the CPU