software: Pyramix Native from Merging Technologies

Steve Bull from Grove Studio in the UK has a look at Pyramix Native, the entry-level version of Pyramix, Digital Audio Workstation software for Windows.

The review copy of "Pyramix Native" arrived at the studio in a relatively bland looking DVD case which in my mind does not do the contents any justice at all. Opening the case reveals a single DVD and a USB dongle, the DVD contains the software and the dongle contains the registration and activation codes. Merging technologies (the developers of pyramix) obviously don't want this software cracked as there is a different code for every single main function of the program (all 45 of them!!!). These codes can all be imported from the dongle simultaneously or they can be manually entered one by one in the validation security software included on the DVD.

Once the installation process is over, the real fun starts. When opening "pyramix native" for the first time a typical demo track is in the arrangement window with a few of the other function windows (mixer etc) being showcased over the top of it.

This can be avoided in the future by setting up a custom default to open when the software is started, or you can choose one from the long list of standard presets. As the name suggest the software is designed to run with any on-board audio engine or ASIO compatible audio card I was using the MOTU 2408MKII with no problems at all but apparently the software has already been tested and found to work with the following interfaces as well.

 Brand          Model          Host Interfacing format
  Yellowtec       PUC            USB 1.1
  Echo            Indigo          Cardbus
  Motu            828              1394- Firewire
  Tascam          FW-1884         1394-Firewire 

Merging Technologies have really hit the nail on the head with their formats. Both the native version and the full Pyramix virtual studio can open pretty much all formats from most DAW's which is something a lot of other companies have simply not bothered with, this locks in perfectly with the fact that Pyramix native is more of a mixing and editing program than a piece of "recording" software. On that note the mixing and editing functions in the Native version are of a very high standard, as Merging have now added in some of the core plug-ins from the full version (virtual studio). As well as the added plug-ins the Standard Native system has also grown from 2 to 4 inputs and outputs and the more advanced Native Media Bundle grows to 8 inputs and outputs. Both versions have increased from 8 to 24 track editing, mixing and processing. In addition, Native and Media Bundle now contains all the increased functionality of the Pyramix Virtual Studio V5.0 software with the option of 96kHz sample rate.

Another great feature of the native version is the multiple station install, i.e you can install native on 2 or more computers and just swap the usb dongle between them, depending on which computer you are using, you could therefore have a main computer running Native in the studio and a laptop running the same on the move and effectively mix and edit from anywhere in the world. With the cross format system you could also for instance be running a full Pyramix virtual studio system in the studio with all of the dsp hardware etc and just transfer the files to a laptop and mix and edit them in native. During my review period I installed the software on both a top of the range Carillon pc with 4 gig ram and a relatively low spec Dell Inspiron laptop with 1gig ram. With both of these machines on a network and backed up to IBM servers I was incredibly surprised at how easy it was to work on projects on different stations by purely grabbing the dongle out of one and popping it in the other. This proved invaluable when it came to having to be on the road but having some dead-time with a laptop.

The software is easier to use than it looks and the results are quite outstanding for the price. All of the arrangement and mixing windows really look the part and sound as good as they look, if not better, visually and sonically this software is brilliant (now that my review copy has expired I am seriously considering buying a copy for the studio).

Throughout the review period I have used this software for most things, from mixing to mastering to editing and have found that it utterly excels in its market, the functions are easy but professional and the sound is crisp and clear and has a quality reigning over Protools and Logic that I thought impossible with a Native program before I heard it for myself.

My conclusion for the review is that Pyramix Native is ideal to meet the needs of today's studios and mastering houses that require professional, but lower cost laptop or desktop audio tools for their recording, editing and preproduction mixing needs. The software is a very cost-effective solution for any multi-system requirement with prices starting at around O550 for the standard configuration.

Steve Bull is the owner of Grove Studio in Tring, Herts, UK.

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