Time to Audition

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It feels like Adobe is fairly new to the audio editing game. While they're the kings of photo editing, they're not the first company you may think of when it comes to professional audio editing. However, they've been at it longer than you might think. With Audition 3, the latest version of their pro-level recording and editing software, Adobe puts themselves right at the front of the line for comprehensive features and ease of use.

Originally known as Cool Edit Pro, the software was purchased by Adobe in 2003 and developed into a complete professional tool. Audition offers recording, non-destructive editing and mixing features, and a wealth of other options.

Being a ProTools-using Mac guy, I hadn't used this software since its Cool Edit Pro days. I have to admit, I was pleasantly surprised by how easy it was to use. Unlike ProTools, Audition does not require any special hardware to be connected to your computer in order to operate. I plugged in my Blue Snowflake USB mic and was up and running right away without having to change any settings. Those already familiar with ProTools or any other similar audio software will have no trouble jumping right into Audition, which is what I did.

The multitrack interface is quite intuitive, and offers a standard layout for arming your recording, selecting the solo function, muting, etc. The waveform view is easy to read, and each track can have its own input source, allowing you to connect mics, turntables, cassette decks, and other audio sources without having to reconfigure a patch bay. To go along with all of these input devices, Audition also offers a batch processing tool to convert various file types to a single format, allowing you to quickly bring in a variety of pre-existing audio files.

The Multitrack View
The Multitrack View

In addition to the multitrack view, the software also offers a single-track view, where you can get up close and personal with your audio. Not only can you work in waveform view to slice and dice your files, but you can also use the very cool spectral display to seek out and destroy unwanted noises. A lasso tool, healing brush, and other tools within the spectral display let you select and wipe out particular frequencies, leaving the audio you want to keep sounding untouched and natural.

Spectral View of a Track
Spectral View of a Track

If sound design and music creation are your forte, Audition has you covered as well. The included Loopology music tracks let you make soundtracks and music beds quickly and easily, while a number of preconfigured presets let you create movie-quality sound effects.

When it comes time to export your audio, Audition offers practically every file type you may desire. I particularly liked the ability to convert to MP3 files, which took mere seconds. Anyone who's had to edit and mix some lengthy audio programs, only to have to wait for a real-time bounce to WAV, and then having to use a piece of add-on software to convert to MP3 will certainly appreciate the ability to send files off as MP3s right from the Audition file menu.

Audition isn't just designed for musicians and broadcast engineers. It also packs in video tools for use in video broadcast pre-production, or for video post-production. Audition works with Adobe Premiere Pro CS4, allowing you to open an audio track from a video that you're working on in Premiere Pro, master it in Audition, and have your changes automatically saved within Premiere Pro. Audition supports AVI, QuickTime, and WMV video formats and can sync audio and video with SMPTE time code. The Loopology music software that I mentioned earlier also has video-specific advantages, such as being able to synchronize a loop to hit a precise video moment, or to shrink the overall audio bed to match the length of a video without having to re-edit.

Audition's Mixing Engine
Audition's Mixing Engine

One caveat of the software is that it's Windows-only. However, it is designed to take advantage of the 64-bit technology in Windows Vista, and I found it to work smoothly and quickly. I was able to borrow a 17" Toshiba Satellite laptop in order to test the software. Installation was quick and easy, and I was up and running in no time.

If you're already operating a Windows system, and especially if you're using any of the other programs in the Adobe CS4 suite, then Audition is certainly a great choice to meet your editing needs. Whether you're an aspiring voiceover artist or musician who's working with a simple mic setup in a home studio, or a professional broadcast engineer working in a high-tech studio, Audition has the tools you need to record, edit, mix, and master all of your audio files. For me, the standard and intuitive layout, ability to work with a variety of audio sources right out of the box, and built-in MP3 export capabilities are worth the price of admission alone.