Adobe Soundbooth CS3 audio editor

First look: Adobe Soundbooth CS3 audio editor

Among the many tools that make up Adobe CS3 is a new audio-editing addition - Adobe Soundbooth CS3. Unlike most audio editors, which are designed largely for audio professionals and enthusiasts, Adobe Soundbooth CS3 was created with video in mind.

Rather than offering countless ways to tweak audio waveforms or alter those waveforms with a dizzying array of effects, Adobe Soundbooth CS3 includes a focused set of tools for performing the kinds of tasks designers most need for their video projects - removing noise, performing basic cuts and fades, and automatically generating background music tracks.

Familiar face
Adobe's designers wanted an interface with which users of other Adobe products would feel at home. In Photoshop-style fashion they succeeded by offering a single window that contains a large central work area (the Editor panel) as well as a series of tabbed, docked panels that you can undock to create a custom workspace. You can then save these workspaces and call them up by choosing one from the Workspace pop-up menu in the upper right corner of the Adobe Soundbooth CS3 window.

In addition to the Editor panel, these panels include a Files panel, which lists open files; an Effects panel, where you add such effects as delay, chorus, reverb, and EQ; a Markers panel, which lists any markers you've placed in your file; a History panel similar to the same-named Photoshop panel; a Video panel, where your video is displayed (the audio for that video appears in the Editor panel); and a Tasks panel, which includes functions for auto-composing scores, changing pitch and timing, cleaning up audio, creating loops, and removing a sound.

A simple set of tools populates the top of the window - a Time Selection tool for selecting audio in the timeline, a Frequency Selection tool for selecting a large swatch of frequencies in the program's Spectral Frequency display (selecting high frequencies where noise might exist, for example), a Rectangular Marquee tool for selecting a portion of frequencies in the Spectral Frequency display, a Lasso tool for making freehand selections in the Spectral Frequency display, and Hand and Zoom tools for moving around the Editor panel.

At the bottom of the Adobe Soundbooth CS3 window are typical Play controls - Rewind, Fast-forward, Stop, Play, Loop, and Record - along with a time counter, buttons for adding fades, a control for changing volume numerically (by increasing or decreasing decibels), and a Louder button for increasing the volume by +3dB with each press of the button. Within the Editor panel you see your audio waveforms and, optionally, the Spectral Frequency display, which represents frequencies and content as bands of colour. At the very top of the Editor panel is a broad overview of the entire waveform with a blue box surrounding the portion of the waveforms currently displayed in the larger waveform view below. You can navigate through this view by dragging the blue box from side to side. You can also expand or contract the larger waveform view by placing your cursor within it and using a mouse's scroll wheel - scrolling down to contract the view and scrolling up to expand it.

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Christopher Breen

PC Advisor (UK)
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