Developer Arboreal Audio (formerly Strix Audio) makes for an impressive offering with its PiMax multi-band enhancer and limiter plug-in. It’s a USD 25 tool that’s supposedly a viable competitor to the sophisticated, but also pricy and iLok-authorized Oxford Inflator. That’s the word on Gearspace, where any new product gets either immediate hype or hate, no in-between. PiMax is in the rare former category, which makes for a promising start.
Arboreal Audio PiMax
PiMax is marketed as an enhancement and saturation plug-in to be used on tracks, buses, and mixes. It offers two saturation modes: symmetric saturation for even-order harmonics, asymmetric for even- and odd-order harmonics, and three modifiers to shape the saturation response:
- Finite – generates gentle foldback distortion when overdriven, thereby warping the loudest signals, or transparent saturation at lower levels.
- Infinite – takes the foldback distortion further by letting the signal pass through zero, thus creating high-pitched resonances used for creative sound shaping.
- Clip – works like a traditional soft clipper (drives everything towards the ceiling while letting nothing past). This mode can help retain the energy of strong transients that would otherwise be attenuated by the other two modes.
PiMax also allows control over program-dependent saturation modes. Negative (blue) values introduce downward expansion to the quieter parts of the signal to exaggerate transients and add impact. At extreme settings, this can also introduce interesting artifacts for sound mangling. Likewise, Positive (green) values introduce more amplification and compression to really fatten up sounds.
PiMax’s multi-band operation divides sounds into up to four frequency bands. Each band comes with input and output gain controls, as well as a width control. Each bands can be soloed, muted, or bypassed to allow a degree of granular control over track groups and whole mixes.
There are also the essential parameters, such as:
- Stereo widening knob which doubles as a mono-to-stereo utility
- Dry/wet mix knob for parallel processing
- Linear phase mode for both linear phase multiband operation and linear phase oversampling filters. According to Arboreal, these are essential in Band Split mode or oversampling in conjunction with the Mix knob
- 4x Oversampling with the option to defer oversampling until rendering
- Fully resizable user interface
It looks like Arboreal Audio are really onto something here with such a full-featured release at a no-brainer price. All else aside, PiMax is an example of a creative limiter that I’m personally quite intrigued by.
Price and availability
PiMax is USD 25 and is available in 64-bit VST and AU plug-in formats for Windows 10 or macOS 10.11+. You can download a demo version from the website.
PiMax – Video
- Arboreal Audio PiMax GUI: Arboreal Audio