Field Report: Adobe Audition 3.0

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The old adage "you get what you pay for," is for the most part true. However, this saying is de-bunked by Adobe Audition 3, released in November 2007. Without a doubt, the new software suite gives five-figure production results at a three-figure price (less than $400). Plus, it doesn't require an over-achieving audiophile!

A little history

Most folks in the radio industry know something about Cool Edit Pro. Cool Edit was originally developed by Syntrillium in the 1990s, offering affordable and flexible desktop audio editing. In 2003, Adobe acquired Syntrillium and replaced Cool Edit Pro with Audition 1.5, essentially adding the spectral display. Later, Audition 2.0 gave users an overhauled mixing engine with the added features of sends and buses, putting studio routing techniques on-screen. Now, Audition 3 includes a MIDI sequencer, added editing efficiencies and spectral tools that are a bigger part of the audio crafting arsenal.

What it looks like

Audition 3 is primarily divided into three views: waveform editing, CD and multitrack. Waveform edit view uses a destructive method when editing files. For example, if reverb effects are applied and saved, the file is permanently changed. Waveform edit view is handy when recording a simple voice-over clip. Multitrack view on the other hand, displays multiple tracks and file changes are non-destructive, allowing for increased flexibility. Multitrack view is used to include music beds and sound effects, for example, with a voice track. Sends and buses route effects and other processes in real-time using VST (Virtual Studio Technology) and familiar multitracking techniques like punching in are available. Audition 3's dockable panels, such as the time display, transport buttons and zoom controls make all user-defined displays available on screen. Both edit view and multitrack view have their own dockable panels, depending on which features the user wishes to have open. CD View provides a handy interface for assembling and burning CDs.

A major accomplishment of Audition 3 is the simulation of familiar studio recording techniques. Most sound engineers are accustomed to patching and recording equipment. Audition 3 puts the entire studio on the screens (a dual-monitor configuration is highly suggested). In conjunction with the VST effects, sends, buses and channel strips are loaded onto the mixer panel in multitrack view. The channel strip is similar to a channel strip on a standard mixing console.

Making it easier

New users to Audition 3 will notice a very intuitive layout. The goal in Audition 3's development was to achieve a more efficient workflow. For example, since most envelope editing only creates fades and crossfades, Audition 3 has introduced dedicated fade handles in addition to the traditional volume envelopes, to quickly apply a fade to a single track, or automatically crossfade between two clips in multitrack view. Top/Tail view, (in the waveform edit view) only displays the first and last 10 seconds of a clip. This is useful when working on intros and outros.

Adobe Audition 3 has a very intuitive layout.

Adobe Audition 3 has a very intuitive layout.

The Save All Audio As function allows the user to save multiple files into the same destination folder, using the same naming template and file format in one step. This feature is perfect at the end of a session when several unsaved files need to be collected, using a specific naming strategy, into one common folder. Audition 3 also makes extracting or ripping audio from CDs a snap, eliminating the need to real-time CD material. ID3 v.1 tagging is supported when creating CDs, so metadata such as artist, album, year and genre will appear on other media players.

Compression and acoustic effects are popular processes in radio production. After working with non-linear software for an extended period of time, the engineer picks his favorite processes and docking preferences. The Favorites tab allows the user to insert his most commonly used tasks, and then give the tasks a friendly name. Also, currently open files, favorites and Audition's onslaught of effects are examples of the tabs found in a dockable panel next to the audio file timeline workspace. In the workspace menu, several pre-defined options allow the user to optimize his desktop, specific to his task.

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