Editing audio files

I'll be walking through some features of Cool Edit 2000, which is included on this month's cover CD 1 under the Help Screen tab.

WORKING WITH AUDIO EDITORS There's a convention in editing an audio file that you'll need to become accustomed to: when you open a file (File-Open), a waveform is automatically drawn on your screen. The far left of the waveform represents the beginning of the file/sound/song, and the far right, the end. You can use the plus magnifying glass to zoom in or the minus magnifying glass to zoom out. The vertical x axis represents volume/amplitude and the horizontal y axis represents time.

You'll notice that the waveform is split into two sections. The top is the left channel (sounds for the left speaker) and the bottom is the right channel (sounds for the right speaker). You are able to select these individually by clicking on them and dragging the mouse. Changing file formats in fully functioning audio editors is usually a matter of opening a file and selecting Save as to save it as something different (i.e., opening a wave and saving it as an mp3).

COOL EDIT 2000 Open Cool Edit 2000 with evaluation options 5 and 6, then open a file you wish to edit (Cool Edit 2000 can even open mp3s directly). Dragging the mouse over both the left and right channels selects a portion of the waveform and allows you to perform actions that will apply only to that selection. If you hold shift and then drag on the waveform, you will extend the selected area in both the left and right directions. The left and right arrows also are useful for this.

Notice how your selected area is highlighted. The green bar at the top allows you to scroll through the waveform. By default, Cool Edit 2000 usually displays the entire waveform on the screen at one time. On some occasions this is not suitable, so the best way to resolve this is to double-click on the green bar at the top. A 'viewing range' dialogue will appear where you can select how many seconds/minutes of the file you would like to view on the screen at once. Try entering 0:00.000 in the From section and 2:00.000 in the To section - this will display two minutes of the waveform on the screen at one time, which makes for easier editing.

This is especially useful when "creating perfect-sounding loops. A loop is a small sound that repeats and, if done well, it's impossible to tell where the beginning or the ending is.

LOOPING - FIND BEATS The Find Beats function allows you to define a selected portion of a file based on the location of beats in a waveform, which is an excellent function for making music loops.

Place the play cursor (the line down the middle) just to the left of where you want your loop to start. Select Edit-Find Beats-Find Next Beat (Left) to find the beginning of the next beat. If it didn't find the right beat to start the loop from, press and [ - the cursor will jump to the next beat. When you're ready to find the end of the loop, press and ].

Now press the loop button towards the bottom right of the screen (it looks like a sideways figure 8). Your selected area will now loop infinitely, allowing you to keep pressing the and ] buttons to select the end of the loop properly.

Once selected, you can cut, edit or paste the loop. The selected area will paste from where you have positioned the cursor. If you make any mistakes, select Edit-Undo.

Cool Edit 2000 allows you to adjust volume (Transform-Amplitude-Amplify) or to normalise (even out volume levels by clicking Transform-Amplitude-Normalize). The program also provides reverb, delay, echo, flanger, distortion, envelope filters, noise generators and real-time preview for most transforms (sound editing functions). Play with it for a while to become familiar with the functions.

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