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Summary: Sony Sound Forge 9 
    for Professional Audio Production (7/2007)

    by Douglas Dixon

Sound Forge version 9
Using Sound Forge
Sony Audio Software
References

While audio is sometimes a stepchild in our video-oriented world, it's an exciting time for enjoying and creating audio. Extending the excitement around iPod and portable players, now mobile phones are becoming full-fledged music players, and Bluetooth extends the music wirelessly, in full stereo. Meanwhile, the you-are-there surround sound experience is expanding from movies and music and games, with powerful PC-based sound systems and even surround headphones. And to hear the music better, especially on the road, noise reduction technology is being built into headphone lines to not only isolate you from the outside clatter, but also actively eliminate background noises.

Video editors tend to see audio as an adjunct to their video -- just clean up the soundtrack, punch in some effects, lay in some background music themes -- and you're done. And while video editing software like Adobe Premiere Pro and Sony Vegas already have good support for editing and enhancing audio tracks, sometimes it's worth stepping out to a dedicated audio tool to do more in cleaning and enhancing existing tracks, and creating, recording, and mixing new material.

So while video editing tools like Sony Vegas+DVD Production Suite and Adobe Premiere Pro have strong support for audio, dedicated audio editing tools like Sony Sound Forge 9 and Adobe Audition can do much more for cleaning and enhancing existing tracks, and creating, recording, and mixing new material.

Sony Sound Forge goes much farther as a professional digital audio production suite. It is designed for the entire audio workflow: record, analyze, and edit (www.sonycreativesoftware.com/productinfo.asp?product=soundforge).

You can drill down to the sample level, in high-fidelity 24-bit and 32-bit/64-bit float 192 kHz quality; work with stereo and multichannel surround sound; clean and enhance tracks with over 40 professional studio effects and processes; tune MIDI sample loops and loops for Sony ACID; model acoustic environments; design sound for multimedia; synchronize to video and export videos at HD; and master replication-ready CDs.

   

Key features include:
- Record multiple sources simultaneously, and surround sound
- Edit down to the sample level
- Work in high-fidelity 24-bit and 32-bit/64-bit float 192 kHz quality
- Edit from stereo to native multichannel surround sound
- Clean and enhance tracks with over 40 professional studio effects and processes
- Tune MIDI sample loops and loops for Sony ACID
- Model acoustic environments
- Design sound for multimedia
- Synchronize to video and export videos at HD
- Master replication-ready CDs.

Sound Forge is available from Sony Creative Software for Windows ($319 boxed, or $299 downloaded). Sony offers free trial downloads of many of its professional and consumer software, including Sound Forge 9.

Sound Forge version 9

Sony Sound Forge 9, released in April 2007, features end-to-end multichannel support, to record, edit, process, and export to multichannel Windows Media and Dolby Digital AC-3. It also includes workflow enhancements such as drag-and-drop editing between channels and new wet/dry mix and crossfade options for effects; plus audio analysis tools including phase scopes, mono compatibility meters, and multichannel spectrum analysis.

Version 9 also bundles three additional components now included with the product:

- Sony Noise Reduction 2 adds plug-ins for Noise Reduction, Audio Restoration, Click and Crackle Removal, and Clipped Peak Restoration. Fix common audio problems such as tape hiss, camera hum, clicks, and pops. Recondition old tracks and vinyl, problem recordings, and even damaged audio from LPs, cassettes, CDs, and MP3s (www.sonycreativesoftware.com/products/showproduct.asp?pid=14&spid=20).

- iZotope Mastering Effects Bundle adds four professional audio plug-ins: Mastering Reverb, Multiband-Band Compressor, IRC Limiter loudness maximizer, and Analog EQ parametric equalizer (www.izotope.com).

- Sony CD Architect adds professional mastering and layout for burning Red Book audio CDs with precise control over details such as pause times, fades, index markers, and time and track manipulation. Apply over 20 real-time DirectX effects (www.sonycreativesoftware.com/productinfo.asp?product=cdarchitect).

With its audio legacy from the acquisition of Sonic Foundry, Sony Creative Software also sells Sony ACID Pro 6, a professional DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) with loop creation, multitrack recording, and full MIDI sequencing for audio composing mixing, and arranging (from $374).

Sony also offers the consumer-focused Sony Sound Forge Audio Studio, to record, edit, encode, and master audio, including vinyl recording and restoration and Vocal Eraser plug-in (from $59). And for consumer music creation, there's Sony ACID Music Studio for multitrack audio and MIDI recording, studio-quality mixing, and effects processing (from $59).

     Find Sony Sound Forge 9 on Amazon.com


Using Sound Forge

The Sound Forge interface elements can be extensively customized -- use the extensive Preferences dialog to select your own color schemes, and save window layouts with the View toolbar.

   
        Sound Forge 9 interface

You can start using Sound Forge for basic analysis and editing. Use the Media Explorer window to find and preview media files. Explore audio files on CD and use the Gracenote MusicID Media Recognition Service to tag tracks when they are extracted.

Open an audio file in the main wave editing window. Use the play controls to preview the file, and the Options menu to display channel meters, including phase scopes to look for stereo cancellation problems. Perform cut and paste editing and trimming with the Edit menu and tools.

Perform in-place organizing and non-destructive editing. Split files into marked regions, even automatically. Build a new sequence as a series of playlist / cutlist entries, without actually modifying the files.

   
                Sound Forge 9 wave editing with meters

Then manipulate and enhance your clips with the Process menu (EQ, Fade, Normalize, Resample, etc.), Effects menu (Delay, Dynamics, Pitch, etc.), and FX Favorites menu (other plug-ins, with imported DirectX or VST effects). Apply over 40 professional studio effects and processes. Link up to 32 plug-ins into a single processing chain.

Use the Tools menu to repair noise, clicks, and other transients in your audio. Use the specific operations for Noise Reduction and Click and Crackle Removal, as well as more general functions for Audio Restoration and Repair.

And create your own audio, with built-in recording, waveform synthesis, MIDI synchronization, and creating and editing MIDI samples and ACID loops.

Plus, there's lots more tools and effects, such as applying environmental coloration with the Acoustic Mirror, including your own impulse files for interesting effects.

Finally, export your work in one of the many supported audio formats. Or use the built-in tools and CD Architect software for deep control over mastering to CD.

   
                Sound Forge 9 editing video clip

Sound Forge also can open video files directly, edit the audio track in sync with the video, and save the result in a variety of video file formats. Sound Forge supports formats including AVI, WMV, MPEG-1, and MPEG-2.


Sony Audio Software

With its audio legacy from the acquisition of Sonic Foundry, Sony Creative Software develops a variety of products for audio and video editing, with product lines for both professionals and for consumers (the home Studio line, www.sonycreativesoftware.com/products/studiofamily.asp).

The Sony audio products include the Sound Forge family for digital audio editing (www.sonycreativesoftware.com/products/soundforgefamily.asp), and ACID family for music creation, including loops and multitrack audio and MIDI recording (www.sonycreativesoftware.com/products/acidfamily.asp).

 

Sony Sound Forge 9 is a professional digital audio production suite to create and edit stereo and multichannel audio files, analyze, record and edit audio, digitize and restore old recordings, model acoustic environments, design sound for multimedia, and master replication-ready CDs (from $299).

www.sonycreativesoftware.com/productinfo.asp?product=soundforge

Sony ACID Pro 6 is a professional DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) with loop creation, multitrack recording, and full MIDI sequencing for audio composing mixing, and arranging (from $374).

www.sonycreativesoftware.com/productinfo.asp?product=acidpro

 
Sony Sound Forge Audio Studio is a home audio editing tool for recording, editing, encoding, and mastering audio, including vinyl recording and restoration and Vocal Eraser plug-in (from $59).

/www.sonycreativesoftware.com/productinfo.asp?product=audiostudio

 
Sony ACID Music Studio is a home music creation tool for multitrack audio and MIDI recording, mixing, and effects processing (from $59).

www.sonycreativesoftware.com/productinfo.asp?product=musicstudio

 

References

Sony Vegas+DVD Production Suite -- Find on Amazon.com
   
www.sonycreativesoftware.com/products/vegasfamily.asp

Adobe Premiere Pro -- Find on Amazon.com
   
www.adobe.com/products/premiere

Sony Sound Forge 9 -- Find on Amazon.com
   
www.sonycreativesoftware.com/products/soundforgefamily.asp

Adobe Audition -- Find on Amazon.com
   
www.adobe.com/products/audition

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Portions originally published in Camcorder & Computer Video magazine, 23, 5, October 2007.