A new audio plugin from zplane allows you to remove frequencies in the stereo image by just drawing a box around them.
I'm a big fan of Claudio Passavant AKA Dr Mix and his videos on YouTube where he experiments with new technology or recreates synth tracks of popular or older tunes.
Sometimes he will just set up his studio and jam, sometimes he'll do a test of a new piece of hardware or software and post the results. Whatever he does, he's a very talented (and entertaining) guy.
His recent video about the new audio plugin from zplane called Peel really got me thinking. Peel is an EQ (equalising) plugin that allows the user to remove certain parts of audio based on the frequency and stereo image. All the user has to do is look at the visualiser and then move a graphic box so it goes around the element you wish to remove.
There are other spectral visualisations and EQ tools out there, Adobe Audition has a few and iZotope as well, but they don't offer the one click removal that Peel allows. It's also competitively priced at under $50.
I'll include Claudio's video below, which I urge you to watch first as it he 'deconstructs' Come Together by the Beatles. This track is a good example as the instruments and voices are spread out in frequency and stereo image.
Of course, I wanted to find out if this plugin worked in Final Cut Pro! As Logic Pro is included on the list of compatible DAWs, it showed up immediately in the FCP audio effects browser after installation. There is a free trial that quits after 5 minutes which is handy to try it out and you'll also need to be running macOS 10.7 or higher. We think this won't be a problem as we had to Google that to realise it was Lion!
First of all, I tried Peel with an interview. Just drop the effect from the audio effects browser on to the audio component you wish to analyse and then EQ. Clicking on the plugin in the Inspector opens up the analysis window.
As this plugin displays the audio spectrum on the Y axis and the stereo image on the X axis, you can see the man's audio is right down the middle as you would expect from a mono source. Possibly you might be able to isolate a troublesome aircon or low hum/rumble this way.
(Click for larger image, click again for pixel to pixel)
Time for some music and a colleague's custom track really shows where Peel works with the stereo spread.
This is where I can see myself using the plugin, lassoing the area around the frequencies in the middle of the stereo spread that would clash with a voice. I like a 'hot mix' when it comes to balancing voice against music, there's nothing worse than just hearing a dribble of music behind a voiceover. This can be exacerbated by listening on the aurally limited speakers of a flatscreen TV.
When mixing, you can run into problems when the music track contains the same frequencies as the voice, electric guitars can be a culprit. So I tend to pull frequencies of music tracks down slightly using the graphic equaliser that is accessible in the inspector for each audio component.
I can do the same with Peel, but limit this to the centre where the voice would sit. By cutting a hole in the audio, the voice shouldn't clash with the music. Clever.
The tests that I have done work, but is it worth $50 just to do this? I would recommend you install the free trial and have an experiment yourself.
A couple of things to note. The selection box does have width limits, but you can get a much smaller selection by using the slider controls in the Inspector. You'll also find an invert and bypass button.
I understand this is designed for DAW use, but I'd also like a slider that controls the amount of EQ applied from 0 to 100% as you might not want to take out ALL the frequencies in the box.
So the conclusion overall is that it's possibly more useful if you're a musician or remixer, but also a tool that just might get you out of a hole (literally) one day.