Sony Sound Forge 9 Saint John NB

Most music- and video-production software is non-destructive, with raw media files stored separately from project files that combine them on a timeline, complete with edits and effects. Sound Forge is primarily a destructive editor in that it makes permanent changes to the original files.

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Sony Sound Forge 9

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Most music- and video-production software is non-destructive, with raw media files stored separately from project files that combine them on a timeline, complete with edits and effects. Sound Forge is primarily a destructive editor in that it makes permanent changes to the original files. The increasing sophistication of non-destructive editors means that Sound Forge isn't the essential tool it once was, but there are still plenty of jobs for which its approach is preferable, such as creating sound effects and samples, audio restoration and preparing mixes for CD (known as mastering). It can also open video files and edit their audio component.

Sound Forge has always been extremely quick and precise, thanks to lightning-fast waveform redraws and straightforward tools for truncating, fading and pitch-shifting. Sony has made some alterations to the core editing tools in version 9, though. Selections are made by dragging across the waveform, but now it's possible to drag and drop selections to different parts of a file or to another file. At first we couldn't work out why it only worked some of the time, and at other times served only to create a new selection. We finally worked out that the dragging action must start with a vertical mouse movement. After this, the feature proved an effective timesaver, but it seems at odds with Sound Forge's otherwise straightforward operation. The rules for how to select and delete sections of a single channel have changed too, and again, it took us some time to fathom their intricacies.

Other new features are more welcome. Sound Forge finally supports surround sound, including quadraphonic (4.0), 5.1 and 7.1 formats, and can save 5.1 mixes in Dolby Digital format at a fixed 448Kbit/s. Support for up to eight audio channels per file also provides scope for basic multi-track audio editing, which is particularly welcome for sound design. When processing part of an audio file, it's now possible to define crossfade times between the effected and non-effected areas to give smooth transitions.

The best new feature is the Mastering Effects Bundle, a quartet of plug-ins from iZotope covering equalisation, multi-band compression, reverb and brick-wall limiting. The sound quality is far higher than that of the existing Sony plug-in collection or those included with Sound Forge's main competitor, Steinberg Wavelab. Along with the bundled copy of CD Architect, Sound Forge now includes everything you need to turn a collection of raw mixes into an audio CD that's ready for duplication.

We like some new features in version 9 more than others, but we suspect it won't take long for us to get used to the interface tweaks. At this price, Sound Forge's fast, precise editing tools can't be beaten, and the vastly improved plug-in bundle adds considerable value to the package.

System Specifications

Requires Windows 2000 SP4/XP/Vista, 900MHz processor, 256MB RAM, 150MB disk space

Author: Ben Pitt

Computer Shopper Online