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IRCAM research taps commercial flow

FRANCE: Orleans-based plug-in developer Flux Sound & Picture Development has announced a unique collaboration with venerated audio R&D centre IRCAM in Paris, resulting in a completely new product range called IRCAM Tools, writes Phil Ward.

IRCAM Tools combines the skills of IRCAM and Flux in a series of products addressing two areas of audio technology dubbed ‘acoustic and cognitive spaces’ and ‘sound analysis and synthesis’. The former concentrates on room acoustics and the accurate reproduction of environmental sound characteristics; the latter takes signal analysis to new heights. All products are to be compatible with the main DAW platforms, including TDM, RTAS, AU and VST.

Flux was founded by former Merging Technologies contractor Gaël Martinet as a brand name to front his research company Gaël Martinet Son et Developpement. Specialising in “innovative software tools for the post-production and audio mastering industry”, Martinet has added IRCAM Tools to an established portfolio of signal processing plug-ins. Market director Felix Niklasson joined a year ago. “Three years ago Gaël began releasing plug-ins for native platforms under the brand name Flux,” he explains, “and this deal with IRCAM really adds kudos. It’s a new era.”

IRCAM is the Institute for Research & Coordination in Acoustics & Music, located at the Centre George Pompidou in Paris and operating under the auspices of the French Ministry of Culture. In music, audio and acoustics IRCAM is at the vanguard of scientific and technological understanding and is already responsible for new concepts in electronic music and audio processing. However, this is the first significant forage into commercial partnerships to be undertaken by the institute.

“I think it’s significant that it’s an all-French partnership,” suggests Niklasson, “plus it suits IRCAM to work with a small company rather than a large corporation. They’ve never done this before: they provide the technology and we’re responsible for creating products and marketing them. It’s a 50-50 partnership. I guess they’ve reached a point where they feel that so much great research should get to market.”

Two new products appear in the category Acoustic & Cognitive Spaces: ‘SPAT’, billed as a Multiformat Room Acoustic Simulation & Localization Processor; and IRCAM Verb, a Room Acoustic & Reverberation Processor. “SPAT is mainly aimed at people mixing in surround, as you can move different sources around. We were at Skywalker Ranch last month and they’re already testing an early beta version for us, and they love it. So we’re sure it will hit the whole surround mixing industry, including DVD and computer games.”

Three more products comprise the Sound Analysis & Synthesis portfolio: ‘TRAX’, a Real-time Voice & Sonic Modeling Processor; Cross Synthesis, described as a Spectral Domain Timbre Hybridization Processor; and Source Filter, a Spectral Envelope Morphing Processor. Quite a mouthful, but Niklasson insists that the plug-ins are as user friendly as the rest of the Flux range. “They may not be mass-market products,” he says, “but for discerning producers they open up the IRCAM library for commercial use. You can do some pretty cool stuff.”

With crucial German, Austrian and Swiss distribution just announced in the shape of Uwe Grundei’s Audiowerk Distribution & Logistics, IRCAM Tools is scheduled for release during Q2 and Q3 this year.