If you need a new way of adapting the feel of a loop, or you want decent pitch-shifting and time-stretching on a budget, Psoft's inexpensive utility might be for you.
From Japanese software house Psoft comes Chronostream 2, a stand-alone Windows application that's designed to alter the pitch, formant and length of audio in real time. It is operated from a simple, non-resizable window, which allows you to load in a mono or stereo WAV, WMA and MP3 file and set the amount of pitch-shift, formant correction and time-stretch to be applied. This can be done in various ways, most of which are fairly conventional: you can click in an X-Y graph of pitch versus time, you can enter percentage values, or by right-clicking, you can stretch to fit a certain number of frames, bars and beats or minutes and seconds. You can also shift the formant up and down. Nothing here is very remarkable, and Chronostream 2 doesn't analyse your source audio in any musical sense — if you want to do anything related to musical tempo, you will need to tell it how many beats the file contains. Nevertheless, Psoft's proprietary 'PHISYX technology' delivers pretty decent time-stretching and pitch-shifting. You can select one of three algorithms, designed for full mixes, solo instruments and rhythmic parts, and the results are usually acceptable over a musically useful range.
Chronostream 2 also has an interesting trick up its sleeve in the shape of the Groove functions. Groove Stretch provides quite an effective way of changing the 'feel' of a recorded drum loop. If you can tell CS2 the number of beats in the loop, and position the 'In Swing' slider to roughly match the amount of swing in the original loop, you can then use the 'Out Swing' slider to push or pull the degree of swing. This works pretty well over a reasonable range. Groove Pitch again relies on you being able to tell CS2 how many beats are in the audio file, whereupon it divides each beat into two, with the position of the divider within each beat depending on the Window parameter. You can then select a waveform using the Type slider and a pitch-shift amount from the Shift slider, and the result is weird but strangely intriguing tempo-sync'ed, LFO-based pitch modulation.
Chronostream 2 doesn't do anything that isn't possible with other software, and the quality of the results is good but not exceptional. It's also subject to a number of annoying limitations such as only being able to load one file at a time, not being integrated with other music software, and having no bypass button. Nevertheless, I found I actually rather liked it, perhaps because it is so simple. For the task of taking a short loop and changing the feel, it's quick, easy and effective; and the pitch-based modulation effects it comes up with are quite distinctive and unusual. The demo is only a 3MB download and is well worth trying out, and the scary Japanese Yen price works out at a rather more friendly £79.
- Decent pitch-shifting and time-stretching on a budget.
- Groove functions offer interesting creative possibilities.
- Very quick and easy to use.
- Doesn't integrate with other software.
- No bypass button.
- Won't detect pitch or beat information in the source audio.
If your main DAW is lacking in the pitch-shifting and time-stretching departments, Chronostream 2 is an inexpensive path to better quality.
16,800 Yen (approx £79).