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Adobe Soundbooth CS3
Intuitive Sound Editing for the Audio Novice
by Robert Morton

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Even though many of today's high-end audio production software packages offer integrated video support; they often prove intimidating for users who don't spend a majority of their days hunched over A/V mixing consoles. These professional applications may be the ticket for complex multi-track music production, but for video editors and web designers looking to do simple audio editing & sweetening for their video or Flash projects, they're often perceived (rightfully or otherwise) as being overly complex and/or downright intimidating.

If you're a member of the latter group, or even a seasoned pro looking for a fresh face for a familiar toolbox, Soundbooth CS3 for Intel-based Macs & Windows (available late June, $198.95) is designed to address the real-world demands of motion graphics professionals and serious amateurs alike. It will be available as a stand-alone software package or bundled in place of Audition as the audio component in Adobe's complete post-production solution, Adobe Production Studio.

Soundbooth has a user-friendly interface with visual tools for composing, recording, editing, and cleaning up audio tracks. But the real plus for creative professionals is Soundbooth's seamless integration with Adobe Premiere Pro (available late June, $798.95), Adobe After Effects (also available late June, $998.95), and Adobe Flash ($698.95), assuring a smooth workflow between the different stages of your project.

Familiarity Breeds Use

Soundbooth CS3's easy-to-navigate GUI is made up of a collection of familiar panels, which provide a host of powerful tools and functions designed to help audio novices get the job done quickly.

Soundbooth CS3 puts all of the most commonly used editing tools including Trim, Fade, & Normalize directly into the "Editor" panel where they're easy to access. Many of the controls overlay the waveform display, which makes applying a fade or trimming a file as intuitive as clicking and dragging on the waveform itself.

(A) Simply click and drag the "Fade In" control to apply a fade (B) Click and drag the "Trim" handle to trim a waveform (C) You can quickly change the volume of a selection by clicking and dragging on the underlined blue text.

Taking the Noise out of the Noise

Removing ambient noise and unwanted sound elements from your audio flies is one of the most common tasks in post-production audio sweetening. Soundbooth's "Cleanup Audio task" lets you quickly reduce or remove noise, pops, and rumble. Its unique "Remove A Sound" task is another useful tool for removing unwanted sounds from an audio file. After visually isolating a noise or artifact, you can then either lower the volume of the selection to remove it, or apply the one-click "Auto Heal" to blend the offending noise out (think of the "Healing Brush Tool" in Photoshop).

Music School minus the Classroom

If the thought of sitting in yet another fluorescent lit classroom makes you cringe, have a look at Soundbooth's "AutoComposer", which allows you to create professional sounding royalty-free music beds with very little effort or no musical expertise. Starting with a Soundbooth score, Autocomposer allows you to set the duration of the score, as well as customize the intensity of the music melody, and harmony by using a series of slider controls. You might say AutoComposer includes everything but a degree to hang on the wall.

Once the Basic Tracks are Down...What Should We Do Next?

Soundbooth CS3 comes with an excellent collection of real-time effects and filters each of which includes a handy set of useful Presets including EQ, compression, reverb, echo, chorus, distortion, and time & pitch stretching. You can combine up to five effects using the "Effects Rack" and apply them to an entire audio clip or just a portion of the clip.

Wait...Gimme a Minute. I know It's Here Somewhere...

Location markers are an essential tool when you are doing sound for picture. They make it easy to navigate an audio waveform, perform edits and cue up sound effects and dialog to video. Adding markers in the Soundbooth CS3 timeline is easy, just click the "Add Marker" button in the Markers panel or use the quick keyboard shortcuts. The markers appear in the time ruler in the Editor panel as small icons, and can be quickly adjusted by clicking and dragging them to a new location. The markers in Soundbooth can be exported to "Flash Cue Points", a great example of the tight integration between Adobe's professional applications.

Soundbooth CS3 is an easy-to-use, cross-platform audio tool that focuses on the most common needs of video and motion graphics designers. It provides direct integration from within Adobe Premiere Pro, and gives users intuitive tools for creating, editing, and cleaning up their audio files. If you are looking to do more advanced audio production work, Adobe will continue to offer Adobe Audition (Windows only) as their standalone, professional audio package. Whether used as a standalone application, or as a part of the integrated Adobe Production Studio, Adobe Soundbooth CS3 gives creative professionals a powerful software tool for audio production that doesn't require an advanced degree in audio engineering to use.
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