Field Report: Adobe Audition 1

My friends consider me a tool geek. I suppose it's because I often carry a folding multi-tool on my belt and my woodworking habit always requires just one more power tool. I may be hooked on tools, but I've been in the trenches long enough to realize that the tools only exist to help get the job done. They are conduits for inspiration and creativity. A great way to self-expression with audio can be found in Adobe's multi-track and editing program: Audition.

If you are or have been a Cool Edit Pro user, you know Audition. Adobe Systems acquired the technology assets (Cool Edit Pro) of Syntrillium Software in May 2003. In August 2003, Adobe released the software with the name Audition.

I have not been a Cool Edit Pro user in the past, so Audition was a new audio amusement park for me to explore. While at times software loading can be troublesome, it was not the case this time. I had absolutely no problem loading it on to my 1.80GHz Dell with 384MB of RAM running Windows XP. We all know that the more horsepower we have, the smoother and speedier the program runs, so the recommended requirements to run this software to its maximum potential should be easy to achieve. The software's minimum requirements are a 400MHz processor, 64MB of RAM, 55MB of hard-disk space and Windows 98 Second Edition. But if you are working daily with audio, you already know you want the fastest horse you can afford to carry the load. The included manual was easy to follow and helpful in answering questions.

Getting started

There are two main work areas presented in Audition: Edit View and Multitrack View.

Performance at a glance
Computer friendly
Crisp graphics
Easy-to-learn commands
Editing and mixing versatility
Results in a high quality audio product
Music loop ready

The Edit View is used to view, record and edit high-resolution 32-bit files using any sample rate up to 10MHz. The program supports 24-bit/96kHz for DVD production, but I work in FM radio and I have 47-year-old ears, so I really don't pay much attention to the high-end numbers anymore. My biggest concerns are ease of use and how it sounds on the radio. Even though I routinely use a different editing program, Audition became easy to use after only a couple of days. I quickly learned what to click and double-click and was recording, extracting audio from CD/video and editing with ease.

The included effects provide lots of creative input, and there are presets to use as the deadline approaches. Included in the collection of effects are some good reverb settings, a great phase analysis view for those crazy about mono-compatibility and noise reduction, which includes a click and pop filter. We still see some vinyl recordings so I really appreciate this feature. Plug-ins are supported with ease. My Direct-X plug-ins worked like a charm. To add to this, Audio Processing Technology has released a plug-in that allows the software to read and write Apt-x audio files.

The two main screens for Audition, the Edit View and the Multitrack View.

The Multi-track View is just a click away from the Edit View. This allows the user to stack audio in tracks–128 of them–and create the mix. The sound files are called blocks and can be split and moved as required. Recording is as easy in this section as it is in the Edit View. Effects can be assigned, blocks of audio can be moved and to replace the tedium of virtual moving faders, Audition uses volume and pan envelopes. Simply grab the green line for volume or the blue line for panning and tug into place.

As with most programs, you have more than one choice for the commands. For instance, instead of clicking the play icon, the spacebar can be pressed to begin playing a sound file. The mouse can be used almost exclusively, or a combination of mouse and keyboard commands.

What appears on the screen and how it's arranged is entirely up to you. I don't have the opportunity to produce many commercials or hip imaging promos. If you do, you should know Audition can also compile music loops and includes a Loopology CD full of royalty-free, 32-bit music loops. My only complaint is that this loop thing is addictive. I spent a few hours pasting an elaborate music bed together and completely lost track of time. This could be a useful tool when you've run out of preproduced music beds or you need a certain sound you can't find anywhere else.

The only feature I found difficult to use was the zoom. When I would zoom in really tight there was a tendency for the view to drift off the cursor and force me to go looking for my edit spot. I think once I become more familiar with the program, this shortfall will disappear.

Adobe's Audition is filled with features too numerous to mention. There are more expensive programs on the market that might be faster and have more features. There are cheaper ones that will get you by. However, if you work with audio regularly, you will find this software worth the money. In addition, Adobe is offering a special upgrade price for Cool Edit Pro Pro users. Having Audition on your computer is like having a big toolbox with lots of extra tools tucked away in special compartments. On a daily basis you will find yourself using certain tools over and over. But if you need a special effect for a promo you've been working on, chances are you'll find it in Audition. Audition is an effective tool for audio production needs.


Ellis is production director of WGUC, Cincinnati.

Editor's note: Field Reports are an exclusive Radio magazine feature for radio broadcasters. Each report is prepared by well-qualified staff at a radio station, production facility or consulting company.

These reports are performed by the industry, for the industry. Manufacturer support is limited to providing loan equipment and to aiding the author if requested.

It is the responsibility of Radio magazine to publish the results of any device tested, positive or negative. No report should be considered an endorsement or disapproval by Radio magazine.

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