Sonic Studio has premiered I.C.E., a signal processing plug-in for Mac and PC. I.C.E., which stands for In Case of Emergency, encapsulates some of the innovative techniques developed by engineer Billy Stull of Legendary Audio, and was programmed by Sonic Studio, creators of the audio restoration suite, NoNOISE.
Modern recording usually employs digital methods on minimal timeframes, often with less than ideal results. Distortion, especially in the digital domain, can be a significant problem. By the time the material arrives at the mixing or mastering stage, it is difficult to recover from any damage done during production. I.C.E is a different way of processing audio in the Digital Age. Although primarily designed and used to solve audio problems, it can be used to sculpt audio as well. It is very easy to get a warm microphone, a warm preamp, plug-in, mixing console, and other software. Warm translates to generally good distortion (like cholesterol, there is good and bad distortion), but by the time the audio gets to the mixing or mastering stage, it can be too warm (too much distortion). I.C.E can counter the distortion and clean it up by reducing or eliminating the distortion AFTER it has already been recorded and processed. This is just one of the important uses of I.C.E. It can be used to attack the aforementioned list of common audio problems
I.C.E is a different way of processing audio from commodity “restoration” software. Working in the 64 bit space without using EQ or resynthesis, it reduces unwanted components within a sound file after it has already been recorded and processed. Problems that can be addressed include: undesirable distortion, “hot spots” and harshness, over modulation and overloads, sibilance, resonances, and “digititis” from lesser quality converters, DAWs and DSP. Although I.C.E was primarily designed to solve audio problems, it can also be used to mold music without the downside and limitations that EQ often entails.
Archival restoration is one of the toughest jobs in all of pro audio, and Edward Abbott has been bringing lost music out of the vaults for over two decades. The indie veteran has access to every repair tool in the marketplace but lately, I.C.E. is what his is reportedly using for difficult assignments.
Billy Stull is also quite familiar with pro audio. Known for his bespoke mastering hardware, the Masterpiece Analog Mastering System designed in collaboration with and built by British designer Rupert Neve, Stull created I.C.E. to tackle problematic content that crosses his console. “Being able to clean up and sculpt whatever comes in, track by track in Pro Tools or any other DAW, opens a whole new world of recording,” Stull said. The list of issues that I.C.E. can improve is legion, and the simple interface makes for fast work. “Removing digital or analog distortion to taste, boosting deficient frequency bands, removing an unpleasant area in the vocalist’s tone, or taming resonant frequencies on bass, piano, or boomy acoustic guitar is amazingly quick.” Another example Stull mentioned, shaping a vocal track with I.C.E. so it sounds like a more expensive microphone was used, proves that the software can more than pay for itself. “Don’t forget the I.C.E.,” Stull quipped.
Sonic Studio’s I.C.E. is available now for $289. The unified installer includes Audio Units, VST 2 and AAX for Pro Tools 10 (32 bit) plus Pro Tools 11 and 12 (64 bit) for Mac OS. VST and AAX Windows support will roll out shortly in the version 1.1 maintenance release.