A refresh for an old friend. Click through for full-sized image.

MetaSynth has long been something special, a rare tool beloved by sound designers and fans of unusual software for music. The creation of software designer Eric Wenger, creator of the 3D modeling tool Bryce, expressed his unique vision of how computer design could work for sound with interfaces to make synthesis, filtering, and effects more graphical. At the same time, you’d be forgiven for forgetting MetaSynth, as the independently-developed, Mac-only application has been out of the headlines a long time. Imagine my surprise to see Edward Spiegel’s announcement today of a new version.

Superficially, MetaSynth 5 looks the previous version, and I’m sure some people will balk at its US$599 price. But there’s plenty here that sounds truly promising, so I’m eager to give it a test drive in the coming days and weeks. And for MetaSynth loyalists, finally getting proper Intel processor support is a welcome, if long-overdue, development.

In MetaSynth 5:

  • Universal Binary, multi-processor enabled — good news, as fancier effects do get CPU-intensive.
  • New synthesis Phase distortion, Pulse Width Modulation among eleven new synthesis modes for the instrument framework. Parameters can now be controlled with envelopes and velocity, as well.
  • Improved Image Synth: 14 new drawing tools and real-time swapping of instruments, tunings, and samples as you play back, plus batch rendering, which should make previewing and rendering much less of a chore.
  • Convolution in the Effects Room: Hmmm… that sounds racy, at least for those of us with a sound design fetish.
  • Spectrum manipulation: The Spectrum Synth now lets you select pitch range and adds – whatever this means, I’m stoked – “Time and Pitch Blur.”
  • Big files: Render arbitrarily long files, and handle bigger files in the Sample Room.
  • Mixing, file support: Mix 24 stereo tracks in the Montage Room, which works with their VTrack video montage editor. There’s also now “native support of .wav, .caf, .aiff and SoundDesigner audio files at resolutions up to 32-bit floating point and 96 kHz.”

As ever, MetaSynth isn’t going to be for everyone, and it’ll be interesting to see how it’s aging. But as one of the cabinet of secret sauce of computer sound tools, you can bet some folks will be taking notice of this new release. [click the MetaSynth 5 tab for the most relevant new information]