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Making Waves With Adobe Audition

6/2/2004

EM Special Report

Making Waves with Adobe Audition 1.5

Great sound, ease of use, and distinctive features make this audio-editing program for Windows a standout.

Advertorial by Jon Rose

Anyone can learn to use Adobe Audition. It is simpler to use than many other editing programs, and its audio quality is excellent. Audition's ease of use sometimes obscures the fact that it can also perform very complex audio tasks. Let's take a quick look at Audition's various work areas and discuss some of the tools that can improve your workflow.

Audition uses disk-based, background premixing. As a result, with effects "locked" (essentially, they're premixed on disk), it can run on some underpowered computer systems without dropouts. Using a system that meets Adobe's recommendations of a 2 GHz or better processor and large, fast hard disks offers much better performance.

User Interface Basics

Three major working areas are provided: a single-waveform, destructive Edit view; a nondestructive Multitrack area for recording and mixing; and a new CD Burning area. These working areas are accessible via tabs (see Fig. 1). Windows within the program are movable and dockable, allowing you to create a comfortable, custom workspace within the application. I'd suggest spreading your workspace across dual monitors for maximum benefit.

Audition is and has always been an audio editor and provides no MIDI sequencing capabilities. However, its SMPTE/MTC functions are useful if you want to synchronize Audition to analog tape.

New in Version 1.5

Version 1.5 presents several new audio tools, while the user interface remains much the same as in previous versions. The Toolbars (see Fig. 1) aren't completely user-configurable; they are presented as small groups of buttons that you can choose to display or not. But with version 1.5, you can create a number of different Shortcut profiles, which help greatly when more than one user must share a DAW or when one engineer is doing several kinds of audio work. The new version retains the functions of its predecessor and adds some completely new ones.

FIG. 1: You can display or hide the groups of buttons in Audition's Toolbars. Workspace Tabs offer access to the Edit view, a Multitrack area, and new CD Burning area.  

Frequency Space Editing is a visually different way of doing things, employing a marquee tool in Audition's Spectral View to select frequency- and time-based areas for applying effects and restoration functions (see Fig. 2). I've had good results eliminating clicks with the Repair Transient function, and for adding a reverb or another effect to a specific frequency band, Frequency Space Editing is the ticket.

FIG. 2: Highlighting a click in the Frequency Space Editor.  

Fixing It In The Mix

While experimenting on a live recording, I successfully used the Zoom and Effect Preview functions to isolate and select an area. I easily dealt with some of the clicks and was able to tighten up the low end with a band-limited compressor, which was definitely a time saver.

The Center Channel Extractor receives honorable mention, because you really can use it to increase the vocal area by a couple of decibels in a mix (or reduce the bass, for another example) without having to go back and remix a piece. Let's face it, sometimes you're just stuck with mastering what you've been handed. However, the Center Channel Extractor tool offers many parameters that are worth experimenting with, and within reason, it can yield highly effective results when reducing or increasing levels of specific audio. The tool is also frequency-based, so it preserves stereo imaging.

Pitch Correction has also been added in version 1.5. You have to work at pitch correction with any audio-editing application, and some things just can't be fixed, but you can accomplish quite a bit using either the manual or automatic Pitch Correction. I was pleased to discover that Auto mode actually works for automatic pitch correction in known keys, as long as the singer or instrument isn't too fargone.

Still More Good Stuff

Audition does not support VSTi and DXi virtual instruments, but it does let you use VST and DX effects plug-ins without a "wrapper." In addition, Adobe has added support for ReWire technology, which allows you to run Audition as a master application and slave ReWire-aware programs like Propellerhead Reason to it in perfect sync (see Fig. 3). Many ReWire-capable host applications support virtual instruments, so you can feed their output into Audition. This will especially appeal to ReWire users who need an audio-editing solution.

FIG. 3: Version 1.5 adds support for ReWire technology, which allows digital audio to flow between applications. Here, Ableton Live is being mapped to Audition's inputs using ReWire.  

Audition boasts many more useful features, some of which open up entirely new ways of using the program. For example, audio for video work is now a much stronger possibility because version 1.5 can open a few more video formats than could previous versions, and it can display multiple video thumbnails in the Multitrack view.

The new version also includes a handy CD-Burning work area for one-off burns. You can drag-and-drop any type of supported audio file into the CD Burning track window, and Audition will automatically convert the file to 44.1 kHz, 16-bit stereo, so no separate conversion steps are necessary in order to burn a disc. It does take some time to perform these conversions, but when they are completed, the application can write the files to a Red Book audio CD.

Some time back, I began mixing in 5.1 surround. I admit I was reluctant to get into surround work, because it's really difficult to create good 5.1 mixes. Fortunately, Audition's Multichannel Encoder is effective and fairly intuitive (see Fig. 4), providing output as separate WAV, interleaved multichannel WAV, or Windows Media files. Surround mixing is still hard work, of course, but with Audition 1.5, I now have a surround tool I enjoy using.

FIG. 4: Although 5.1 mixing is usually a challenge, Audition's Multichannel Encoder makes the job easier.  

 

I only use looping occasionally, but thanks to Audition's extensive, performance-based loop-content, along with example sessions, looping has proven to be much more attractive. As a result, I use loops more often in my production work.

A Successful Audition

Audition scores especially well when it comes to general ease-of-use, great audio, quality effects, and distinctive editing capabilities. Adobe's obvious efforts to streamline the workflow make the program a great value for radio production, post-production, recording, mixing, mastering, and music creation. If you're a Windows user and are looking for a versatile audio editor, check out Audition 1.5.


Jon Rose uses Adobe Audition 1.5 for recording, mixing, and mastering audio in Northwest Oregon.

 

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