Hands-On Review:Adobe Audition 1.5
Adobe Audition 1.5
Does it pass the audition?
By John Foster
As the musical director for one of the leading regional theaters in the country, I’m responsible for at least a half-dozen theatrical soundtracks annually, ranging from simple solo instrumentals to dense works utilizing a large mob of musicians recorded live. At some point in time I’ve used most of the music software out there. Most have their good and bad points, and I’ve been searching for the audio environment that feels right and will handle the extensive recording, mixing, editing, and effects processing functions that I need. When Musician's Friend asked me to review Audition 1.5 from Adobe, it seemed at first glance that it might be just the ticket I’d been searching for. However, I knew that software programs could be like the musicians I work with on a daily basis - some seem quite dazzling at first, but then reveal troubling and/or fatal flaws down the road. Would Audition pass the audition? I decided to check it out under real-world circumstances for composing a piece of music I’d been working on for a production. Hey, if it wasn’t happening, I could always fall back on my trusty old platform. I made some strong black coffee, rolled up my sleeves, and fired up Audition 1.5. It turned out to be a great ride, thanks to this exceptionally powerful and well-integrated program.
Can we all get along?
I started by porting over files that I had started on Ableton’s Live program, a process made painless by Audition’s ReWire compatibility. ReWire makes it simple to stream files between Audition and other popular platforms like Live, Propellerhead’s Reason, and the many other ReWire compatible applications.
I laid down a series of long ambient pads for the opening sequence of the production. The Multitrack View lays out all the information for the tracks clearly and logically. The top menu bar bristles with a lot of function buttons that seem a bit daunting at first. They represent most of the major functions that are needed for recording and editing. You can customize the screen’s interface the way you like it as the controls are dockable, so you can position the various buttons and windows anywhere on the screen and snapshot it so it remains as customized the next time you power it up. Very cool!
As I progressed in working with the tracks, I switched to the Edit view, which includes all the info for the individual clip you’re working on. The waveform is displayed for editing and cut-and-paste operations. You can toggle back and forth easily between the Multitrack view and Edit view screens, giving you nice flexibility when working with complex layered compositions. This is an extremely useful feature that’s unique to Audition. The program supports up to 128 32-bit tracks, surely enough for the most dense and labyrinthine compositions. It accepts up to 64 stereo devices (128 inputs), with drivers available for most of the popular digital audio interfaces.
In the loop
In recent years I’ve gotten into using loops pretty extensively, and Audition checks in with a full bag of handy tools for loop doctors. For one act of the play I’ve been scoring, I created a heavy percussion track using some of the well-done loops that come with the program. The loops are played by real musicians so they have a nice organic and musical feel, not stiff and mechanical-sounding like many loops on the market. (The program includes over 5,000 royalty free-loops on the loopology content disk.)
The time-stretching and trimming capabilities allow you to fit a given audio clip or loop into a specified duration. This is particularly handy in my field where performers enter, exit, and move to precisely timed cues.
One night I recorded a 20-member choir. The session went very well-at least until right at the end, where my soprano got a bit "pitchy," coming off flat by about a quarter tone. I thought the take was probably bound for the recycling bin until I tried the auto-pitch correction function that’s new to version 1.5. I simply specified the frequency that I needed to move the vocal in question to and effortlessly it was made harmonically perfect. Another flaw in the track surfaced when it became apparent that there was an annoying hum coming from one of the mics. Using the Frequency Space Editing Function (another Audition 1.5 exclusive), I was able to visually isolate the offending noise, encircle it with the marquee tool, and remove the glitch. These very advanced sonic tools were huge time-savers and great to have at late-night recording sessions when my concentration was flagging.
The drag-and-drop editing made the workflow quite smooth, especially as I’m quite a visually oriented person for one who does so much audio engineering. To add spaciousness to a vocal track, I simply dragged the studio reverb over the section of cut I wanted to effect, and the task was done. The Studio Reverb patch is first class, as good as I’ve gotten with many dedicated processors. The effect selection includes a broad palette of other reverbs, delays, choruses, phasers, and more. In case I should desire more, Audition is now compatible with VST and Direct X plug-ins, which means I have access to a whole world of the most contemporary cutting-edge signal processing.
To CD or not CD
The CD-burning tool is a great help. It allowed me to quickly make reference CDs for the musicians after rehearsals and sessions. With the vocal extraction tool I was able to drop out the vocals we recorded by isolating them on the center channel and erasing them, thus creating an original "music-minus-one" for my singer to practice with. Pretty nifty! And there are sophisticated mastering and analysis mastering tools to bring to bear on your project when your aim is turning out a completely professional-sounding finished project for commercial distribution.
Audition’s capabilities have been valuable to me on the home front as a hobbyist as well as on the job. I have a record collection that spans decades, with hundreds of titles, and lately I’ve been transferring a lot of music from vinyl to CD. The automated noise reduction makes it a piece of cake to remove the pops and scratches from my treasured albums. This function would be quite useful as well for cleaning up tracks recorded with hand-held mics, video cameras, etc.
The verdict, your honor …
This is one heck of an audio powerhouse. I briefly tried some of the video applications in an educational short film project I’m working on, and what I saw was impressive. Embedded video displays multiple thumbnails throughout the clip, making it a breeze to keep your audio track in sync with the video. Audition 1.5 integrates seamlessly with Adobe’s Premiere Pro, After Effects, and Encore DVD. I’m hoping that Musician's Friend conveniently forgets they gave me this copy of Audition 1.5 to review as I’d love to keep it working for me. If not, I’ll be whipping out the plastic to get my very own Audition 1.5. It’s the best friend a studiophile like me could have.
Features & Specs:
Audition 1.5 NEW features
|ReWire support||VST plug-in support|
|Frequency space editing||Integrated CD burning|
|Pitch correction||Enhanced support for video|
|Clip time stretching||Automatic click/pop elimination|
|New sample sessions||Vocal/instrumental extraction|
Audition standard features
|Complete audio studio||Audio effects and DSP tools|
|Multitrack mixing||Wave editing view|
|Loop-based music creation||Mastering tools|
|Flexible file format support|