Adobe Soundbooth CS3 audio editor

First look: Adobe Soundbooth CS3 audio editor

Everyone's effects
Adobe Soundbooth CS3 is not a full-featured audio editor. You won't find commands for reversing audio or creating cross-fades (seamlessly fading one portion of adjacent audio into the next), for example. There's no multitrack support - you're limited to working with only a stereo track. You can't import AAC or MP3 audio files nor Mpeg4 (including H.264) video files. You can't even select individual channels in a stereo file (useful when you want to apply an effect or volume change to just one side of a stereo file). Instead you have to export the stereo file as two mono files, which is inconvenient. What Adobe Soundbooth CS3 does offer are tools for performing the kind of audio tasks routinely needed by video producers.

For example, producers often need to create audio that exactly fits a video's length. Adobe Soundbooth CS3's Change Pitch and Timing task can do just that by stretching or compressing the sound to fit a time you've designated, all without changing pitch. (You can also stretch time by percentage - from 12.5 percent of the original to 800 percent.) Within this same Pitch and Timing task you can shift pitch - making the sound higher or lower - in up to 72 increments.

Adobe Soundbooth CS3 includes a Clean Up Audio task, which you use to remove noise, clicks and pops, and rumble. Like some professional audio editors, Adobe Soundbooth CS3 lets you sample and example of a file's noise - say the sound of an air conditioner operating in the background - and can then intelligently filter out that constants noise.

Adobe Soundbooth CS3 also includes a Heal function, which is the audio equivalent to Photoshop's Healing brush. Select a portion of sound you want to fix (a spike or pop, for example) and click the Auto Heal button within the Tasks panel's Remove a Sound tab. The unwanted sound will disappear and the surrounding audio will be blended to create a seamless edit.

To deal with portions of audio that are too quiet, Adobe includes a simple Louder button that, when pressed, increases the volume of the selected audio by 3dB. Other audio editors refer to this kind of function as 'normalize'. If you'd like finer control over volume, you can select a waveform and, click within Adobe Soundbooth CS3's Volume pop-up bubble (a small control that hovers over the waveform) and drag left or right to decrease of increase the volume in .1 increments from -96dB to +12dB. You use a similar control at the bottom of the window to change the file's overall volume.

You can fade audio in and out by choosing a Fade button and one of three included fades - linear, exponential, or logarithmic fades. Once you've applied a fade you can change its length by dragging the Fade handle to the right or left and change its ramp by dragging it up or down. You can also easily trim the beginning and end of an audio file by dragging trim handles at either side of the Editor panel.

Keeping with its theme to do without (or hide) features likely to confuse the audio-unaware, Soundbooth includes a limited set of common effects - including Analog Delay, Chorus/Flanger, Compressor, Convolution Reverb, Distortion, Dynamics, EQ: Graphic, EQ: Parametric, Mastering, Phaser, and Vocal Enhancer. Choose an effect and you're presented with a small dialog box from which you can select from a number of presets - for example, in the Convolution Reverb effect you can choose Small Club or Smokey Bar. You can also choose how much effect to apply with an Amount slider. An Advanced command in the Effects menu lets you dig into the parameters of each effect. For instance choose Advanced, Mastering and you'll find controls for adjusting highpass and lowpass filters, reverb (with a wet/dry slider), widener (for audio 3D effect), exciter, and limiter. Shooting and scoring

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Christopher Breen

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