Review: Phoenix Pro Guitar Plugin Turns Hacks into Shredders

Sneak Peek for Guitarists! Phoenix Digital Audio Teknologies & macProVideo.com have created Phoenix Pro, a DSP plugin to "raise any performanc from the ashes". Toby Pitman tests this amazing plugin.  

When Phoenix Digital Audio Teknologies product specialist Klaus Borrman invited me to try out a beta of Phoenix Pro I have to say I was a bit skeptical, and apprehensive. The company (based in Cologne) have made some pretty bold claims regarding their flagship plugin and the technology that drives it. 

The beautiful Phoenix Pro plugin interface.

The beautiful Phoenix Pro plugin interface.

 

 

Phoenix Pro is billed as a ‘Dynamic Phrase Modeler’ and is aimed squarely at the guitar market. Using a type of granular synthesis and enhanced spectral analysis, Phoenix Pro can correct pitch and timing issues on the fly (with only 4ms latency) to a DI’ed guitar signal. This however is just the tip of the iceberg.

MPT

At the heart of Phoenix Pro is the proprietary Morphic Phrase Technology which will analyze the incoming signal and ‘rephrase’ the performance by accessing a database of predefined musical phrases in a variety of styles. You can throw literally anything at this plugin and it will come out the other side sounding good! 

It works by first detecting and modeling the pickup of the guitar signal based on the impedance and phase correlation of the signal. (So far there are 47 recognized pickups from popular pickup manufacturers). This is then broken into grains and reassembled by the Phrase Modeler with little to no artifacts. 

You’ll have to set up the Threshold and Tolerance (probability) for the incoming signal as well as the level of the player and intonation of the signal.

 

The input area.

The input controls.

 

 

In the beta each ‘Phrase Style’ is accompanied by relevant predefined Amp and Effects simulation (I’ve been informed the production release will be fully editable) and there are options to transpose the key and select one of twelve popular predefined scales for the phrases.

Phrases are randomly selected from the database and you can choose from the following parameters on the characteristics of the phrase: 

 

  • Dexterity: The amount of techniques (slides, pinched harmonics, whammy bar) included and also the harmonic range of the phrase.
  • Varience: The size of the phrase pool that the plugin draws from.
  • Complexity: Higher settings result in more ‘shred’ factor!
  • Groove: The amount of quantization for the phrase.

 

 

Phoenix Pro's output area.

Phoenix Pro's output controls.

 

 

You then use the Amount control to blend the effect.

The included ‘phrase’ database is the result of five years of R&D in which the company painstakingly analyzed over 10,000 songs by popular guitarist and bands to build one of the most comprehensive libraries of guitar phrases ever. This led to to development of the side-chain analysis feature.

 

MSAT

The Morphic Sidechain Analysis Technology is mind-boggling to say the least. Basically the plugin can recognize any analyzed song in the database which is fed into the side-chain. Although the beta only shipped with a few hundred, the production version will boast over the 5,000 mark with add-on packs available from the site.

Combined with the ‘Artist’ presets the plugin can reasonably impersonate the player of choice. To get this to work simply feed in the track to the side-chain.

 

Phoenix Pro's sidechain in action.

Phoenix Pro's side-chain in action.

 

 

Select the relevant Artist preset.

 

Choose an Artist preset.

Choose an Artist preset.

Enable the Merge switch. 

 

Enable the merge switch to turn any performance into a stellar one.

Enable the merge switch to turn any performance into a stellar one.

Phoenix Pro will set up a predefined patch for you based on the song. Again the beta had limited control over this although I’ve been told you’ll possibly be able to merge artists eventually!

Conclusion

As a guitar player I’m very wary of technology like this as it negates the need for both talent and the hours of hard work and practice that goes into learning how to actually play the guitar properly.

Then again singers have been getting away with this sort of thing for years. Saying that the results were very impressive which is ultimately quite depressing!!

You can see a quick video demo of Phoenix Pro in action below, courtesy of Klaus Borrman:

Phoenix Pro is due for release Spring 2013 (more info in the video above) at around the $129 mark or higher (or perhaps lower) from www.macProVideo.com.

 

 

For the past 20 years Toby has worked as a professional guitarist, programmer and producer. Clients include Sir Paul McCartney, George Michael, Shirley Bassey, Yusuf Islam, Giles Martin as well as the London 2012 Olympic Ceremonies. He has also worked extensively in TV, Advertising and Film. As well as composing himself he has also ... Read More

Discussion

BenB
Wow, that looks amazing. It could be fun to play with. Is there any way to get a beta copy, or do we really have to wait until next year to have this?
Rounik
hee hee... you might have to wait longer than one year... (check today's date ;)
vinos
Well done MPV! This may even top Mr.Horlick's logic update last year!
adam8
Hey, I know Klaus Borrman! I recognized that voice right away.He was going to make an app for me to help my students learn guitar. Seems he's flown a little too close to the sun with this one.

And Toby, Klaus is lucky you've given his plug-in such a great review. After all, he's omitted your name from the 'Artist Preset' list!
Digital Droo
I want it on my mix bus so I can make this crap garage band sound like Dream Theater...or Count Basie Orchestra.
keyframe
Damn, all those years of practice gone to waste!
steamfunk
great joke guys, laughing out REALLY loud!
JJaudio
I've been had!
This is the second time on the april fools
MacPro Video has got me.........
No...No it's Ok! Really I'm ok. Ok?
I'll get over it!
jimi
Can you say APRIL FOOLS.

Hahahahahaha.
airforceguitar
Wooo!, You guys had me REALLY scared for just a minute! Great Spoof!
Berra
Is there a reverse mode too?
Larry Carlton coming out sounding like me?

/B
dreams in the high desert
I love the musical humor. You had me shocked and amazed and then I realized....too funny
Thank you! This is a fantastic plug in, truly german engineered. Still looking for the lyrics generator.
Having this line: "I love you so much, do you love me..." And here I´m stuck. Hoping for some help very soon. Thanks!
edgy!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
well if this isn't apart of that foolish, ridiculous tradition of fooling someone then this product is A1. ultimately a great product.
robjohn
BRILLIANTLY done - I was initially (admittedly) fooled!
- D.D. Jackson
Just like last year it took me a few .. minutes before I realized the joke ;-) good job...very funny. ;-D
Just like last year it took me a few .. minutes before I realized the joke ;-) good job...very funny. ;-D
sir joe
Since you tricked me with the Logic update last year, I
was veeeeeery suspicious on this one ... and it looks like I had a good reason to be :-)
Nice try, though ... hihi
pkbr24237
You naughty boys!!! Now what day is it ? Oh yes April 1st. April fool yourself
Gary Hiebner
A lyric generator would be excellent, add on top of that a plugin that helps your bass playing groove, slap and pop more!
Martin
A lyric generator is child's-play compared to what we're working on in the lab ... we've got a plugin that hooks up to electrodes on your head to print the music you're thinking about into tracks in Logic & Pro Tools.

The only problem is we can only make it work on April 1st ... we're working on that ... :)

Special thanks to Toby Pitman, Rounik, & Steve H. for planning the awesome Phoenix Pro!
AudioGateProductions
Will there be a VST version of it? I have many guitarists who play like this coming to my studio:)

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