All you really need to know, sound design lovers: cross-synthesis.

“Peak” is a long-standing name in audio editing on the Mac. I recently got to review its latest iteration, Peak Pro 6, for Macworld and

Macworld Review: Peak Pro 6
Sample editor and audio suite tweaked for pros, sound designers, and podcasters

I still believe audio editors are valuable tools, especially for anyone who spends a significant amount of their time on sound design – whether that’s sound effects or building the perfect drum kit. Peak is an unusual tool, in a way, in that it remains a stereo waveform editor only, whereas most of its competitors have added multitrack compatibility. On the other hand, Peak also bundles an unusually rich set of tools in the box, which explains the higher price of the full-blown Pro versions.

Here’s my breakdown for Macworld:

Attractive bundle; seamless podcast export; powerful playlist assembly and export; envelopes; deep plug-in routing; fantastic cross-synthesis sonic powers.

Multi-window UI can be clunky to use; still no real multi-channel or surround support; lacks more full-featured, non-destructive editing; no spectrum view.

I do want to call particular attention to a couple of points:

You can get Peak cheaply if you want a deal. Unbundled, more basic versions run under a hundred bucks, and as noted in comments, you may even snag a deal on an upgrade.

Peak Pro is fundamentally a bundle. The full-blown version may indeed cause some sticker shock, but it’s really about the bundled software – if you want that software, it could be well worth it.

Vbox and cross-synthesis really rock. This is the feature that makes me really, really glad I got to stick Peak Pro on my MacBook. As pictured at top, the combination allows you to route plug-ins in interesting ways and then create routings that are impossible in most other hosts. (Add batch processing, and this gets very interesting, indeed. I’m going to try it on a stack of audio files – I’ll post samples soon.)

All products involve tradeoffs, so as always I try to do my best to characterize the tradeoffs I see. (“This is the perfect tool for everything” is the job of the marketing department.) I’m still particularly fond of the Windows-only Sound Forge (now made by Sony), but Peak remains a strong entry on the Mac. It’s also worth checking out Peak’s nearest rival, Audiofile Engineering’s Wave Editor, which has been developing by leaps and bounds. The Peak / Wave Editor competition could be an interesting one; they take very different approaches to the problem.

As always, I’m happy to hear what readers and users think.

Bias Inc.