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Review: Adobe Audition 1.0
Posted Jan 2, 2004 Print Version     « previous Page 2of 2

Tracking Audition
There's a whole lot you can do in Audition, from straightforward stuff like capturing, converting, and de-clicking analog audio to more studied restorations. You can also apply all manner of filters, effects, and fades via well-populated pull-downs and two inviting GUIs (multitrack and edit view). Video pros will find themselves right at home viewing their projects from both these angles, since that's just how they edit their DV clips, and I'm sure Adobe's pleased as punch about that, given their grand plan for the Cool Edit/Audition technology. Adobe's ambition for Audition, of course, is to help users optimize the audio component of their video projects. To be true to their aim, we'll focus our testing on precisely that, bringing some seriously sub-par audio up to the standard of the delightful video it accompanies.

The plan I've devised is as follows: I have in my possession a VCD containing the most important 3 minutes and 21 seconds of film ever shot. What I'm going to do is copy the video from the MPEGAV folder on the disc, change its extension to .mpg, then convert it to an AVI file. We'll then let Audition do its stuff. (For the moment, it appears what Audition likes best is AVI files. Though it recognizes no less than 19 types of WAV files, it's only fitting, given that Adobe is positioning it as the "audio for video" tool in the Premiere-AfterEffects-Encore continuum, that it would gravitate toward AVI, the lingua franca interchange format of the A/V universe.)

When you work with video in Audition, the program, by necessity, runs you on over to the multitrack view where it splits in two: your video (you can't do much with the video itself using Audition-Adobe leaves that for Premiere, which is designed for effective interchange with Audition) and your audio. Clearly, this audio needs a little tidying up; there's nothing to speak of in the right channel, and, sadly I say, this young man has no bass accompaniment.

Easy enough to fix. It's simply a matter of moving the audio track over to the wave editor and working on it there. It remains lodged within the multitrack editor as you operate on your audio, and thus far, working with it, I haven't experienced any synch problems.

Yup, it's a pretty standard looking wave editor, in terms of channels, levels, that sort of thing. Comparatively, though, the GUI's awful pretty: don't get me wrong, I love almost every single standalone digital audio editor out there-especially since nearly all of them have made infinite room for DirectX effects, even from competing companies—but Audition (like Cool Edit Pro) clearly stands out in terms of pulchritude.

Looks like all we need to do here is pump up the right channel, or maybe just replace it with a copy of the left channel, maybe bring the gain down a bit, and have a run at it with the equalizer (I can't tell just by looking—although I suppose there are some people who can—but the audio track is bass-bereft). Simple procedures, all, so I'll leave those to your know-how.

One other thing I would like to point out is the spectacular Graphic EQ. It's arranged such that you begin high with 10 bands of frequency response, then 20 to hone it further, then 30 bands for razor-fine tuning.

Something we might see Adobified—or at least benefit from the accrued wisdom of a company that's virtually defined prosumer video editing on the PC—is one default (like opening to the Multitrack Editor) that you'll probably want to change for most of your work. Interestingly, Audition defaults to a "live update" feature, which draws up your waveform on-the-fly. It's impressive, and helpful in accurately representing your output while you're still working on it, in much the way that "full-quality preview" operates in a video editing tool. But as in video editing, this on-the-fly rendering takes time and saps precious processor resources. If you're working in multiple applications simultaneously, as Adobe surely imagines you are, it's sure to slow you down. Adobe knows how to conserve processor resources as well as anyone, and knows when and how things like this can get in the way; odds are they'll see the analogy and get it out of the way—at least as a default—in future versions. In the meantime, to remove it, go to Options, select Settings, look under the General tab, and remove the check next to "Live update during recording."

On the other hand, Audition offers great time-savers and efficiency enhancers like edit cue lists and batch processing that will be functionally familiar to experienced video editors. You'll naturally want to make the most of the batch feature if you're working with quite a bit of material and want to get it all cleaned up before returning to Premiere or your video editing tool of choice. One caveat to follow when working with Audition, as in any audio editing tool, is that old East-side adage, "Do nothing extra." There's almost no end to what you can do here, in terms of assessing and increasing amplitude, adjusting time and pitch, reducing hiss, isolating and eliminating clicks and pops, and applying reverb, and imposing effects like convolution, distoration, and Envelope Follower (best-known for its early application in Peter Townshend's guitar solo on "Goin' Mobile").

For the most part, Audition puts all these capabilities at your fingertips, and makes it wonderfully easy to sample, navigate, and zoom in on the visual representation of your sound file and apply effects and enhancements with authority and precision. But that doesn't mean every project demands it. Try to do as little as possible to what you record, digitally speaking, so as to retain the essence of the original signal. And forget analogies to video editing tools and the like—heck, those are words to live by.

Future Auditions
So, that's Audition. It's lost none of its estimable power, but it has lost a little of its fun. It'll be interesting to see what becomes of Audition; two or three decisions and alterations have already been made, most notably the fact it's still, in the grand scheme of things, Cool Edit 2.1. My thought here is, if it ain't broke, don't fix it. A new GUI wouldn't kill Audition, but if I'm Adobe, I'm going to add features rather than subtract them, or even move the old ones around. Time will tell.

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