If you want to separate mixed audio, this is the best game in town.
When Hit’n’Mix launched their Infinity software a couple of years ago, it looked like an exciting technical breakthrough. Not only could it ‘unmix’ recorded music, extracting individual vocal and instrumental stems from a bounced stereo file, but it also allowed these elements to be manipulated in an open‑ended way, courtesy of user‑definable RipScripts.
However, the initial release perhaps fell short of fully realising its potential. The user interface was opaque, and the program itself apparently undecided as to whether it was a consumer application or a product for professionals. Beyond extracting stems for remixing, Infinity’s showcase features sometimes came across as novelties rather than genuinely useful tools. It was undeniably impressive that you could open up a mixed stereo file and replace the lead vocal with a bassoon, but in the real world, who would actually want to do that?
It seems I wasn’t the only one who felt that way, as Hit’n’Mix have now re‑branded Infinity and re‑launched it as two separate products. The more affordable RipX DeepRemix is targeted at DJ’ing and ‘fun’ applications, with a streamlined feature set focuses on separating mixed audio into stems and processing or effecting them. RipX DeepAudio, by contrast, is intended for the pro audio market, and offers new features intended for music production.
One such concerns integration with other music programs. In a music production context, Infinity sometimes felt like a solution in search of a problem, because the things it allowed you to do were better achieved by returning to the original multitrack. For example, if you noticed that the lead vocal was out of tune in a finished mix, you could in theory open up that mix in Infinity and tune it. In practice, though, it was quicker and more effective to return to the DAW and correct the vocal there.
RipX DeepAudio can still accept mixed stereo files, dragged and dropped from the Mac OS Finder or Windows Explorer. However, it can also be brought into a DAW‑based environment. In hosts that have ARA support, audio can be edited with RipX directly within the arrange page. In Logic and Ableton Live, RipX can be specified as the external sample editor. In Pro Tools, a simple AudioSuite plug‑in allows chunks of audio to be transferred, processed and then rendered in place. All of this is designed to hammer home the message that RipX DeepAudio isn’t only for working with mixed audio: it is useful on individual tracks too.
Whatever method you choose for getting audio into RipX, the first thing that happens is that it gets ‘ripped’. Superficially, this process seems similar to other source separation algorithms, but there are some key differences. For one thing, unlike most source separation software, the processing is carried out on the host computer rather than in the cloud, meaning that you don’t need a fast Internet connection to use it. For another, RipX doesn’t just separate the source into two or three stems: it attempts to reconstruct every significant instrument as a separate stem. But most importantly, it doesn’t just split one audio file into several. A ‘rip’ is not an audio file at all, but a musical representation of the song, with notes detected and represented as ‘blobs’ that can be selected, processed and edited. RipX also extracts tempo information and places bar lines automatically.
In other words, ‘ripping’ a file doesn’t just separate it into stems, but makes the contents of each stem editable. This, of course, is why RipX is now being presented as a useful tool for working on single sources. And compared with some other programs that can manipulate polyphonic audio, it has the big advantage that the ripping process itself does not change the sound of a track in any way; you’ll only...