iZotope BreakTweaker: Edit Audio like a Mad Scientist [REVIEW]
After the success of Stutter Edit, it was inevitable that iZotope and BT would collaborate again on another innovative audio-manipulation plug-in. So, here we are…introducing BreakTweaker, a drum machine, beat sculptor and beat sequencer—all rolled into one.
BT (aka legendary musician/DJ/producer Brian Transeau) has always been a bit of a mad scientist when it comes to editing audio, and that aesthetic is alive and well in BreakTweaker. Users have the ability to rework beats, plus edit rhythms, pitch and texture with incredible detail.
While most EDM producers, DJs and remixers will most likely gravitate to BreakTweaker, producers and composers in other genres of music may find a use for it as well. And, with a $249 MSRP, it’s not a bank-breaker. There is also the option of buying (for $299) the expanded package, which includes BreakTweaker, plus three add-ons—Cinematic Textures, Vintage Machines, and Kicks and Snares by Beatport Sounds. The regular BreakTweaker package comes with a limited amount of Factory Sounds. But, fear not, because you can import your own sounds and get started that way.
What follows are BreakTweaker’s system requirements. Supported operating systems: For Windows, XP (32-bit Service Pack 3), 7, 8, and for Mac, OS X 10.6.8 or later (Intel only). Plug-in formats: AAX (Pro Tools 11), RTAS (Pro Tools 7.4-10), VST and VST 3, Audio Unit. Host compatibility: BreakTweaker works as a virtual instrument in popular hosts like Pro Tools, Cubase, Nuendo, SONAR, ACID, Ableton Live, and many more. Also note: The Discover feature requires an internet connection.
Getting Started: Installation was a breeze and, within minutes, I had a clean Studio One session open with BreakTweaker staring me in the face. The user interface is very streamlined, with the step sequencer front and center. Building sequences is as easy as pointing and clicking your mouse on the desired beat of the measure. There is a nice time-line overview right above the sequencer.
Track names, along with track solo and mute buttons reside on the left side. Pattern selection is available in the lower right-hand side of the user interface, and you have the ability to create 24 different patterns per sequence. Switching from one pattern to another is as simple as clicking the desired pattern number.
Micro-editing occurs by selecting a single step from the step sequencer, and I love how the mirco-editing window is built into the main user interface—so that you can look at your sequence while you edit. Several drop-down menus and parameter knobs make up the editing section, and you have the ability to preview your edits as you work.
iZotope’s MediaMined technology is built into BreakTweaker, which allows users to discover and display similar-sounding samples, while browsing for sounds. Editing samples occurs by clicking on the little sine-wave-type icon to the right of the track name. An editing window appears with a waveform display of your audio. Here is where you can edit the LFO, envelope, filter, and distortion settings, as well as choose the generator type from a drop-down menu located above the waveform.
You also have different playback speed settings, which can result in some very unique-sounding audio. BreakTweaker runs on its own internal clock or can sync to the host’s clock.
I am only scratching the surface on BreakTweaker’s features in this review, and for those of you out there who have worked with Stutter Edit, you know how passionate BT is when it comes to mangling audio. Now it’s your turn to dive in and start tweaking your sounds.
Hats off to iZotope and BT for creating a very well-thought-out tool for sound design and beat-making.
If you have any questions for Josh Harris or Making Tracks, please send them to firstname.lastname@example.org.