Hardware greatly eclipsed software among music tech announcements and last week’s NAMM trade show. But the one software release that has been generating buzz amongst producers may be iZotope’s Stutter Edit.

BT told me in an interview some years ago about how he was using software in beta that he said would change the world, as he claimed credit for the stuttering, sliced editing style that has since become so popular. Now, in a release from iZotope, BT’s Stutter Edit is available as a finished, polished product. Note: The conversation made an impression on me, personally, but I’m recalling something that happened some time ago. The video interview here is likely your best bet for getting his current take, direct from the source.

The idea is this: take the style of sliced-up, digitally mangled, stuttering micro-edits, and turn it into an instrument. Ableton’s Beat Repeat and Audio Damage’s superb Replicant, among others, do something like that. But Stutter Edit is more of a multi-effects stuttering effect, packed with different processors and rigged for life performance. It does repeats of different musical lengths, but also pitched effects, buffer position, bit reduction and digital distortion, delay, gate, pan, and filters. All of these settings are cleverly mapped to performance controls so you can play the resulting effects. The results may be closer to what some people have done with Reaktor patches and the like than a previous product. It’s far deeper than I would have imagined in its combined modules, and while I’m not sure it’ll shake me from some other tools, I’m impressed with the combination of tools.

In the intervening years it’s taken to release Stutter Edit, though, we’ve heard a lot of these sorts of effects in live performance. Since only BT had this software, users often took tools like the fairly simplistic Ableton Beat Repeat (or others) and combined them in more sophisticated chains. Sometimes, that leads to obvious and uninteresting results, but with some skilled laptop performers, it has also created some unique, personalized beat slicing contraptions. For all the breadth of tools here, any one effect on its own isn’t new – certainly not in the year 2011, though I think it was probably more unique when BT first started using early builds.

My first reaction to Stutter Edit was that it would be a sort of instant BT machine. I think that’d be grossly unfair – if anything, Stutter Edit may face the opposite challenge. There’s so much in this one plug-in that some users may stick with building their own solutions in modular environments or continuing to use chains of other tools. But if you want all of this combined into a semi-modular suite, Stutter Edit’s promo price of US$149 should be a steal. (The price goes up to US$249 after Valentine’s Day.)

One significant innovation is that, in addition to modules and presets, Stutter Edit uses what it calls “gestures,” pre-programmed combinations of effects with which you can easily perform. It’s a smart idea, and the tool not only processes audio, but provides “generators” that produce sweeps and rushes of noise from scratch, on the fly.

Also, while BT’s stamp is clearly on the tool, Richard Devine, for one, also contributed heavily to presets and gestures.

The deeper question may be whether this kind of audio slicing and stuttering and digital effects itself is where artists most want to go with laptop performance. That I can’t answer, but laptop artists will.

http://www.izotope.com/products/audio/stutteredit/

A demo is available. Windows, Mac support, VST, AU, RTAS. You need a host that can route MIDI input to the plug-in, like FL Studio, Cubase, Reaper, Live, SONAR, etc.

Richard Devine shows off some of the gestures he built. Via the ever-vigilant Synthtopia.

  • http://mbytz.com Myroslaw

    Izotope does Glitch VST.  I'm down.

  • cdbsn

    my first thought was, "wow, and ONLY 3 years later" Then i watched the video, kinda impressive, and well… Richard Devine uses it so it must be awesome. ;)

    I'll be demoing this soon, looks more useful than the finger (the last one of these things i bought)

  • http://www.warriorbob.com Warrior Bob

    I got to watch BT's demo at the iZotope booth at NAMM.  I was really impressed by it, not as an effect, but as a clever live performance tool.  BT made a big deal about he used to spend "hundreds of hours in the studio" doing some of these effects by hand, but I don't thing production is going to be Stutter Edit's strength.  I hope not, because then it'll be like the autotune of drumloops.  Rather, I think it's going to be at home in a live performance situation.  Because it looks, more than anything else, fun as hell.

  • http://celebritymurderparty.co.uk jez

    From what i've seen so far i'm not blown away – it seems like DBGlitch VST or Sugabytes Artillery or even Devine Machine's Lucifer repackaged. Even those effects are a little old hat now.

  • adamduke

    unfortunately, I take everything BT says about live performance with a grain of salt. I stood behind him about 5 years ago an d watched him play "live" which consisted of him having mapped his whole songs to individual keys in Ableton. A lot of waving of the hands as a smokescreen. Definitely one of the most shameful performances I have witnessed EVER.

    That being said, I'm all about these kinds of VSTs and I'm gonna go d/l the demo now.

  • http://www.dexixer.com Plauto Camargo

    In my opinion Stutter Edit is the best plugin of its kind, because it enables the handling and firing of transient musical (slices). Tim Exile offered little to the users of "The Finger" only effects…

    I think that developers should focus on creating something new, there is much repetition in the market, many similar products. The great thing would be to develop a product truly capable of rearranging musical segments in real time, creating new rhythmic forms, this opens new avenues in the world of music production and how to mix.

    In the 80's, Hens Zimmerman has created an application called "Hz37 editor, which should be seen as a source of inspiration in creating something innovative.

    Sorry for english.

  • dood

    I hate to sound like a broken record, but why are vst's so expensive?

  • http://www.edisonsdemo.tumblr.com edison

    demo'd last night…

    soooo sick…

    its actually ALOT like the finger…

    but quality is like 10 fold…

    effects are extremely usable… and REALLY unique….

    i was fucking with 1 drum loop the entire time… never got bored…

  • http://www.soundbase.nl Renger

    Bought it the minute I got the mail from Izotope and played with it for 2 days now. Stunning. FANTASTIC!

  • anechoic

    @WarriorBob said: 'BT made a big deal about he used to spend “hundreds of hours in the studio” doing some of these effects by hand…'

    just think of how fast it will be now to produce tracks that sound like stuff that was cool 5+ years ago! ;)

  • dood

    i wish i was aphex twin , now our wish is their command. LOL

  • http://www.pro-modular.com Stephen

    "Audio Damage’s superb Replicant…" Superb? REALLY? I would say Sugar Bytes Artillery is SUPERB compared to Replicant. Artillery has been doing this exact thing for years. It was the first thing (that I can recall) Mac users had that compared to Glitch VST (and their non-MIDI effect, Effectrix) that had real controllability. With Logic's new Flex and Ableton clip triggering, you can still do it the old fashioned way – manually.

  • Peter Kirn

    @Stephen: Yeah, that was an off-the-top-of-my-head list, hardly a comprehensive list. What I find superb about Replicant is its UI design, which I think is quite clever. There have been many approaches to this, which is why – having waited some years, all the more so – Stutter Edit to me seems late to the party. And that'd be the end of the story were it not for two things: one, SE is really comprehensive in one it does, and two, I don't recall *any* of these other instruments focusing this much on live performance gestures. Combined, those really save Stutter Edit and make it worth a look.

  • http://twitter.com/dirtRAID Brand B

    "BT told me in an interview some years ago about how he was using software in beta that he said would change the world, as he claimed credit for the stuttering, sliced editing style that has since become so popular."

    And P. Diddy invented the remix.

  • Sequenzer

    Mac users have had Major Malfunction for quite some time… http://defectiverecords.com/majormalfunction

  • Sequenzer

    And for $25 too…(not $150 or $250!!)

  • mr. quoth

    Unfortunately, I'm having issues after installing Stutter. For my VST Host sequencer, I'm using Live v7.0.18.

    The shitty thing is that Live crashes after scanning the VST folder :(

    Is anyone else having problems getting the host running properly after install?

  • http://www.soundcloud/donfuan donfuan

    hmm – how much does ni's reaktor cost again? ;) too late i guess

  • bb

    Re: stuttering etc-

    popularized perhaps, but not quite "invented"? It seems to me that stuff like this often just evolves you know? From all the strangest of origins it seems. Now I am not claiming to know THE source for something such as this, but here is perhaps another of many-

    May I introduce you to the rather unusual Akai s612 sampler from 1985-

    http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/2/2

    Take a look at the above linked picture of the s612. Next to the LED display on the bottom unit (it was a two unit thing) you will see two *sliders* -one is "Start/Splice" the other below is "End".

    This nifty little aspect of the very anemic s612 was its sliver lining. The s612 could do forward/loop/forwardback loop/reverse with its samples, so one could set the "scanning" to manual mode and while the sample was playing you could twiddle these two sliders much in the same way a DJ does with an A-B slider. They set the points directly in memory from where the sample would be played, all in real time.

    You can dive into the details a little more by going to pg. 12 of the manual-
    http://synthdiy.com/files/2007/s612manual.pdf

    Abusing this feature while triggering samples would shift everything all over the place producing the unholiest of stuttering racket :)

    And yes, those are "Quick Discs" in the upper rack mount drive for the s612. An abomination if there ever was one.

    Even with its limited sampling abilities, my friend kept and used his s612 for years just because of this one "feature" that I don't think was ever duplicated on another sampler?

  • http://www.evanarnett.com Evan Arnett

    Actually, there is something brand new in this plug that (to my knowledge) has never been done before in a vst:

    The ability to have your edits speed up or slow down between specific rhythmic values over a user definable period of time. You have have 16th note stutters speed up to 128th note stutters over the length of a quarter note.

    Can somebody prove me wrong? Is there any easy way to do this in another plug? Obviously you could make something in max/msp or maybe reaktor but I sure haven't seen it.

  • Peter Kirn

    @Evan: No, I think you're exactly right. The enveloping of those speeds is very much a BT signature and unique in the way it's implemented in software here.

    I didn't want to directly quote BT here, but I think it's safe to say he thinks he's had a role in the popularization of these techniques, and so long as we consider popularization, I think he's probably right. Now, "invent" is another matter altogether. Anyway, the implication of this product is that you can reinvent a whole set of techniques and make them fresh again, and it'll be up to potential customers to decide whether they invest in the tool and then, assuming they do, to determine how they use them.

  • dante

    kinda pricey. looks similar to buffeater by twistedtools and effectrix.

  • http://www.warriorbob.com Warrior Bob

    I think whether BT "invented" these effects or not is irrelevant.  He's definitely associated with them, and this plugin makes those kinds of things pretty easy to do.

    The linear movement between different speeds of buffer stuttering is done very well in this plugin, and I think the idea of programming a bunch of "gestures" that move between different positions in response to a keypress is more clever than most people are giving him credit for.  Hell, I love Ableton Live, mostly because it makes doing things like that really intuitive.  A clever performance interface is worthy of praise on its own, whether or not the ideas behind it are new or not.

    I don't really care if it's revolutionary, I just think it's cool and a great new tool/toy to have :)

  • Kim

    So i bought it. My first impression of it is that it will be enormously useful. I think it is late to the party but for what it does it works magnificently with little cpu overhead. I have manually done similar edits and indeed it made a 20 minute edit instantaneous with a result that is equal to what I could have created by hand.

  • http://www.realness.biz SWAMP SHITTER '

    Absolutely disgusting bourgie drivel, original DSP mentalists will have you scumbags up against the wall for this.

    eternal IDM solidarity

    If you need a tool to do micro edits then you don't need to do micro edits.

    BE WISE, UNIONIZE, MANUAL DSP LABOR IN FULL EFFECT

    RECOGNIZE REALNESS

    PENCILNECK TERROR SQUAD SPLITS EVERY WIG, ANNIHILATES THE OPPRESSORS

    '96 CREW, AUDIOGALAXY CREW, SLSK CREW, BREAKCORE.PDF CREW, MU CREW, SOUNDBOY KILLAS COMIN AT YOU

    savor your last breath

  • http://www.realness.biz SWAMP SHITTER '

    hey devine here's a pretty slick gesture for you

    ,,i,, x___x ,,i,,

  • http://www.google.com responder

    Pay no mind to swamp, he's a vegan.

  • Joseph

    Isn't this about 10 years too late?

    To me the fact that you can achieve these type of edits and effects with one button kind of defeats the point? It has surely been done to death by now anyway..?

    Wondering how Aphex / Squarepusher et al did it first time round was what made it so enthralling, having not heard anything like it before..

    Technically it is obviously a great product and looks like great fun but still feels a bit too much like a bandwagon product to use credibly.

  • http://myspace.com/plurgid plurgid

    I was a bit skeptical about it too … another mangler/glitcher/beat repeater, yadda yadda.

    But I downloaded it and played with it for a few evenings … it's hard to explain until you use it.

    Its instantly musical. Put on a loop and start pressing keys, and you're going to just discover all kinds of cool shit. And you CAN actually PLAY it … like an instrument, in real time.

    I hooked it up on my mainstage rig. Instant fun.

    Also it's deep. After a week, I still haven't discovered maybe half of what it can really do.

    Change the world? Probably not. Make you sound like BT without a lot of effort? Actually … yeah, it is BT in a box pretty much. But for $150 … hellz yeah.

  • Endorse Me!

    Is there anything, and I mean ANYTHING, that Richard Devine *DOESN'T* endorse ?

    jesus H christ.

  • Gloko

    And P. Diddy invented the remix…..

    heheh I smell some bitchyassness…:)

    P.didit !!!

  • Gloko

    his music

  • Zoopy

    INSTANCIATION 

  • Rupert Lally

    I downloaded this today too – I have a whole bunch of glitch fx stuff – this trumps all of them, it's what "The Finger" should have been, but wasn't – it's very intuitive and you can lose hours playing around on it…to answer the question about whether the stutter effect itself is now passé; I think this vst is broad enough that you could come up with a whole new set of crazy processing ideas, once you get deeper into this thing…

  • Andy

    "Absolutely disgusting bourgie drivel, original DSP mentalists will have you scumbags up against the wall for this.

    savor your last breath"

    Sorry, I'm not a native English speaker, but can somebody explain to me what this guy (SWAMP) tried to say???

  • Peter Kirn

    @Andy: Sometimes people say things in comments that transcend language.

    No one knows what he was saying but him. But it sounds brilliant.

  • strunkdts

    "Richard Devine uses it so it must be awesome" – dude has a monopoly on this shit.

  • strunkdts

    and this effect is old hat. Arent we all sick of th th th th tht ht thth aaa tttt t t tt t t aa a a a tt tt t ss sound yet?

  • Adam

    Tried the demo: it's pretty cool, but I think it's priced too high (even with the discount) and will not be buying it for that reason.

    The gesture system is great though. I will be borrowing this idea for use in my Max for Live devices :)

  • http://zeroreference.blogspot.com zeroreference

    @Swamp

    BEST. EVER.

    "BE WISE, UNIONIZE, MANUAL DSP LABOR IN FULL EFFECT"

    fuck yeah men were meant to sweat over DAWs not machines they'll make a robot to replace your finger on the monome I want my DAW work made with American hands.

     Buy local software! Luddites 2.0! Smash the VST's support original authentic hand-drawn DAW automation!

  • John

    The Finger can perform 'gestures' in the form of midi clips/events.

    While the Finger seems to be able to yield more exotic results, I think Stutter Edit is easier to program with a better workflow.

  • http://www.prospectmusic.com Jonathan

    It's nice to see this finally coming together. He's been mentioning creating this plug in in interviews since 2003!

  • Normannobdirt

    I can't take him seriously, he still looks like a hairdresser.

    Although this plug in looks great if you're another 'I'DM clone.

  • Adam

    His hairdresser only has one arm.