Elements of Fission can be found in other plug-ins, or rather, groups of plug-ins. But nothing really does what Structural Effects can do and the implications for future products are interesting to say the least. The simple fact of being able to non-destructively adjust the balance between the transient and the body of a sound is huge in and of itself. So rather than using a compressor to increase the level of the body at the cost of compromising the transient, with Fission, you can simply use the gain controls assigned to the transient and body sections to bring up the level of the body without altering the attack. Even after just a few minutes of toying with the gain levels on a drum loop, it became clear that Fission is a simpler and more effective dynamics shaper than any transient designer I've used.
The implications for maximising level with minimum damage to sound quality are considerable. I was surprised at how much attack I could remove without changing the perceived volume of a drum loop. If you're the sort of producer who is looking to use headroom as efficiently as possible, being able to gain an extra three or four decibels without squashing the transient of any given sound is an appealing prospect.
Fission presents a few ways of achieving this. Apart from simply changing the volume balance between transient and body, EQing the body separately from the attack can create sizeable tonal shifts, leading to greater apparent volume without adding additional decibels. For instance, you can remove a few decibels of bass from the body while pushing the mid-range and the high-end, drastically increasing a sound's presence. Or you can apply severe compression to the body and mix it back in with the transient for parallel-style processing. You can also solo the transient and tonal parts, meaning you can place multiple instances on busses and apply even more processing to each element.
Eventide has a sizeable clientele outside of electronic music and much has been made of Fission's appeal to engineers working with traditional instruments. Being able to repitch the body of, say, an acoustic drum kit without altering the attack would be hugely useful when producing bands. These sorts of engineering situations tend to demand far more corrective surgery than electronic production, and this is another realm in which Fission excels. Where making such corrections would normally mean balancing pros and cons, Fission often allows you to avoid compromise altogether. The Dynamics and Gate+EQ effects in the Transient Effects section can be useful for dealing with the unruly levels and unwanted noise associated with recordings of vocals and instruments, especially those made in less than optimal recording environments. As such, Fission could prove useful to those working with little or no budget.
A good proportion of the effects found in each section encourage experimentation. Just flicking through Richard Devine's presets reveals a world of robotic, glitching textures and a diverse range of synthetic spaces.
Fission is the sort of plug-in that can totally transform a sound, especially when automation is involved. The Structural Focus slider lets you blend between the transient and tonal parts—consider the possibilities of automating it and drifting between two flavours of self-oscillating delays on each part of the sound. Or automating the Trans Decay control (which sets the length of the transient) along with the Gate+EQ to create dynamic stuttering rhythms while the body is repitched into changing chords with the Pitch effect. The possibilities only increase when using multiple instances of Fission in groups and busses, which can quickly transform one idea into something completely different.
With such extensive creative and technical possibilities at such a reasonable price, Fission hardly seems worthy of criticism. But part of me couldn't help but wish for different types of effects. A gate in the Tonal Effects section would've been quite interesting, for instance. But Eventide are using the Structural Effects engine to create a whole suite of plug-ins, and the technology is still in its early stages. It might be hard to get excited by a plug-in these days, but if Fission is just the beginning of the Structural Effects story, Eventide could be changing the way we work with audio in software.
Ease of use: 4.5