Hands-On Review:Sony Sound Forge 8
Sound Forge 8
Still taking on all contenders in stereo sampling and processing
By Jim Calhoun
Sound Forge has enjoyed a lengthy reign as the heavyweight champion of stereo sound-editing program. The new 8 version has just been released by Sony, and it brings a lot to the table for those involved with recording and editing stereo sound. A quick glance at the new features reveals the addition of CD Architect 5.2 with CD text support, VST plug-in support, application scripting, audio scrubbing, real-time field editing, and a whole lot more. We’ll go one-on-one with the newest incarnation of this sound-editing powerhouse and see what all the new features will mean for you and computer-based productions.
Recording done right
Sound Forge enables in-depth editing of individual sounds and individual or stereo tracks. It’s the perfect companion for recording programs like Vegas or Acid Pro software that allow you to create complex multitrack compositions, Sound Forge supports 24-bit/32-bit 192kHz resolution for pristine audio clarity. Only 24-bit fidelity is sufficient for capturing all the nuances and subtleties of instruments, vocals, and effects settings. Graphical VU meters give precise feedback of levels during recording and playback, making for easier mastering.
With each revision Sound Forge has reinvented itself in response to changing demands and technological developments. When paired with a multitrack program like Vegas or Acid Pro software, the resulting synergy provides the comprehensive package for dealing with stereo and multitrack digital audio.
Audio threshold triggering mode starts recording when a preset audio threshold is exceeded. Automated Time-Based Recording starts and stops recording based on times and dates you set in your computer system’s clock. A pre-record buffer keeps you from missing audio, giving you a bit of lead time before recording starts.
Substance over style
The interface for Sound Forge 8 is straightforward and logically laid out with an almost austere appearance. There is none of the excessive clutter and extraneous eye candy one sees in less well thought-out interfaces. This rather plain-looking front end is the gateway to an extremely powerful, full-featured sound editor of lightning speed, efficiency, and economy. The accent here is clearly on functionality, clarity, and efficiency.
The Media Explorer window lets you quickly find, preview, and open media files for processing, with the ability to drag and drop files from CD-ROM or your computer into Sound Forge.
You can cut, paste, mix, and crop audio quickly and precisely. Editing is in real time so you instantly hear the results of your changes. Multiple levels of undo mean you’re free to experiment with the ability to back out of your changes if you don’t like the result. Graphic, parametric, and paragraphic EQs allow for quick and easy adjustment of the dynamics of your mix. I appreciated having the ability to process a file in the background while working on another file in the foreground, a real productivity enhancement. You can perform smooth and almost effortless fade-ins, fade-outs, and crossfades, choosing from a variety of available preset curves. Waveform volume and pan envelopes let you modify them visually to make mix changes to your audio file. The new Audio Scrub tool lets you scroll through your files and hear the audio in real time in the traditional manner of pro studios.
Over 40 professional studio effects are available, including 200 customizable presets available. Available processing includes volume, delay, compression, distortion, chorus, reverbs, fade-in/out, reverse, and much more. Compression Bit conversion allows for easy changing of the audio resolution. The Acoustic Mirror plug-in allows you to "place" your audio event in different environments including churches, concert halls, rooms, and more. The reverse effect is perfect for adding psychedelic Beatles- and Hendrix-style riffs to your music. There are also modeling effects to give your sound the character of being recorded with various modern and vintage microphones. The Wave Hammer is a programmable compressor/limiter that’s excellent for giving MP3 tracks more presence. And now Sound Forge is VST plug-in compatible, meaning you have access to a practically infinite selection of effects.
The ACID Test
Sound Forge lets you create your own music loops for use in ACID, the revolutionary loop-based recording software. An ACID properties window opens from the toolbar to let you display and edit ACID .wav file parameters, including tempo and root note. Audio clips can be tweaked down to the finest details, and selected parts can be moved around freely.
You can export files from Sound Forge directly into the included CD Architect 5.2 for easy disc-at-once CD burning. Sound Forge regions are automatically imported as CD tracks, making for efficient and easy CD burning. This new version also supports CD Text and has updated drive support.
Audio restoration 101
Restoring old audio and vinyl recordings has never been easier. Sound Forge 8 automatically scans sections of your files and tags sample peaks that are clipping for easy repairs. The Express Vinyl Restoration noise-reduction tool easily removes clicks, pops, and other distracting noises from your recordings.
Write your own script
Application scripting is now available to automate repetitive tasks and to implement customized features. This new capability features a script editor window and toolbar. Also included are pre-made scripts of commonly used tasks. Sound Forge supports C#, Jscript, and VBScript.
Converting files from one format to another can be quite tedious. The new multiple file format encoding and a batch-processing interface streamline this process and save time. Applying effects and converting files into different formats such as MP3 have never been easier.
Sound Forge is adept at working with digital video, displaying audio alongside the video track on a frame-by-frame basis making precise editing very easy. Most 24 fps DV files are supported, including AVI, WMV, MPEG-1, and M-PEG2 templates.
Still the champ
As a musician, producer, or sound designer, you need audio-editing software that you can trust. Sound Forge has proven itself with a combination of dependability and innovative features that have made it number-one in the industry for a decade. Sound Forge 8 has all the right stuff to keep it at the front of the pack for a long time to come.
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