Review: Hit’n’Mix Infinity
The new audio-mangling package from London’s Hit’n’Mix opens up infinite – and infinitely inspiring – editing possibilities.
Music software has come a long way in the past 20 years. So much so, that you’d be forgiven for becoming blasé about the powerful, flexible and all-round impressive sample-manipulation technology we use every day. We take it for granted. These days, our jaws don’t drop quite so readily as they did in the past, when in retrospect the possibilities seemed so limited.
There is an upside to such stoicism and snobbery though. We may be more difficult to impress but, when we are confronted by products that are truly innovative, it hits us all the harder. London’s Hit’n’Mix certainly hit hard with Infinity. Described as the world’s first ‘Atomic Audio Editor’, this smart software comes from the team behind the incredibly clever PhotoScore and AudioScore packages, and is the culmination of more than 15 years of research.
Infinity’s GUI should feel familiar to most users. There’s a piano keyboard on the left and a toolbox and associated menus at the top. The empty space in the central working area is yours to fill with music, via a drag-and-drop method christened Ripping, which instigates audio loading. This occurs via the Ripper app, which runs in the background, analysing your audio. This process can take a while depending on the length and complexity of your audio but Infinity also allows you to specify timings, so you can load sections of audio rather than entire tracks.
On a top-flight Intel i9 six-core Apple MacBook Pro, at least, the ripping process takes a few minutes for one minute of actual audio. This seems to be reduced with less complex audio. But we’re interested in how Infinity reacts to a full mix. We load one up and, once ripped, see that the profile can be saved and recalled without having to be ripped again. The profiles are displayed in the Rip List to the right of the main window.
The first track we dissect has been chosen for its jazz-like qualities and individual instrument voicings from its horn section. The timing element of the track is displayed against a bar ruler at the top of the main window, with notes displayed as long bars and length reflected by the duration of the note. When we play back the audio, we can clearly see where notes align with the piano keyboard on the left, all of which should be pleasantly familiar to anyone used to DAW-based editing.
Things ramp up a notch with Infinity’s intelligent note colouration. Our chosen track features a five-piece saxophone section and Infinity is able to differentiate between the voicings despite their similarities in colour, and displays each individual note of the chord, plus voice leading. When unison notes are in play, Infinity merges the displayed notes before separating them again at the next sign of harmony. It’s undeniably impressive, and not just conceptually: the level of accuracy when detailing specific parts or voice leading is staggering.
Editing requires nothing more than clicking and dragging to alter pitch and timing. The default arrow tool allows for all the usual commands associated with drag-and-drop actions. The Audioshop toolbox, summoned via a right click, gives access to more detailed editing. The Audioshop description is apt. Hit’n’Mix has gone to great lengths to incorporate a wealth of audio touch-up possibilities here, which can be applied with all the smoothness of onscreen photo editing. You can massage everything from tonal inflection to the noise amount, either in the foreground or the background. The ability to draw pitch is fascinating too – using existing notes as starting points, you can extend their pitch by way of a glissando. We have to wonder why there aren’t more artefacts being created here, given how decimated the audio gets. It’s all clean, concise, and a cut above similar instances of audio editing we’ve seen elsewhere.
Ripping up the script
Ripping can create scripts too, which allows users to heighten the potential and effectiveness of the ripping process to suit their imported audio. You might want to clean up a noisy track, for example, in which case you’d select an appropriate script to strengthen the effect. There are many scripts available upon installation and further scripts can be found on the Hit’n’Mix website. You can also create scripts, though you’ll need some knowledge of programming language Python 3 for that. Thanks to the flexible working environment though, you can always leave the brainbox stuff behind and concentrate solely on the audio.
On a more musical level, you can draw in notes via Infinity, by way of a cloned duplicate or much like you would via an audio/MIDI instrument in a DAW. The sounds here are totally believable. There’s a drop-down primary palette that offers nine instruments, from bass to lead lines. If exposed, these can sound a tad out of place. But Infinity also allows you to clone notes while maintaining the harmonic integrity of your track, and then change the harmonies and lines.
Master of all trades
While trying to describe exactly what Infinity offers musicians and producers, it’s best to begin with its extraordinary audio processing and analysis abilities, which extend to a near-molecular level. Where you go from here, however, is entirely down to you, and might see you uncover and employ strategies and methods that, just a few years ago, were still the stuff of fiction.
With its ability to adapt and duplicate musical fundamentals, you might compare the alarmingly sophisticated technology of Infinity to Dolly the cloned sheep. The software’s audio-twisting potential will prove a boon to those working in the field of sound design, while most DAW users will benefit from the ability to link Infinity to their host package, automatically mangling audio from outside their host before reimporting it back into their projects. It can handle everything from basic subtle vocal retunes to large alterations, all with impressive purity. Inexplicably, this thing can tackle each and every facet of audio manipulation with extraordinary coherence. It’s the best kind of music technology: impressively clever and useful in a vast range of situations. Consider our jaws on the floor.
Do I really need this?
Infinity will appeal to a great many users working across all manner of music and audio fields. It can analyse, adapt, edit and alter music at the most fundamental level, and can do so in a musical way that’s easy to get to grips with. The ability to alter the overall harmonic make-up of a full mix in such a convincing manner is exceptional.
Anyone working within areas of audio such as sound design or audio enhancement will be impressed by Infinity’s capabilities. It could become one of those indispensable packages for producers and remixers searching for new and interesting ways to create audio content. And it does all the above while remaining intuitive thanks to its impressive interface.
- Audio remix, repair and redesign
- Note editing, even in full mixes
- Note and sound replacement and cloning
- Beautiful user interface with colour-coded notes
- Audioshop tools for retouching audio
- Noise clean-up
- Operates as a standalone product or as Audiosuite Plug-in (via InfinityLink)
- Requires Mac OS 10.10+ or Windows 7/8/10 (64-bit)
It’s available in various packages but the top-of-the-range Melodyne 5 Studio bundle operates in both standalone and plug-in modes.
A considerable package employed by many professionals for post-production and audio enhancement, RX 7 can help you clean up your audio, remove reverb, match ambience and vary time and pitch.