Adobe Soundbooth CS4 review

£176
Price when reviewed

When Adobe removed Audition from its CS3 editing suite, the official reason was that the application was overkill for the occasional video-oriented user. Its replacement was Soundbooth CS3, which still included useful tools such as noise removal. But though it was a worthy workhorse, it lacked important features previously available through Audition.

With CS4, Soundbooth is in its second incarnation, and where Audition has gone upmarket to become more of a digital audio workstation tool, Soundbooth is taking on some of the features it has left behind.

In particular, Soundbooth now supports multiple tracks of audio and video, making it a much more useful tool for matching audio from different sources. To go with these new multi-track projects, a new Adobe Sound Document (ASND) file format has been created. This format can be imported into Premiere Pro CS4, After Effects CS4, and Flash CS4 Professional. With the help of roundtrip editing, you can now do the sound mixing within Soundbooth as well, rather than having to switch to it to treat each track, then back to the main host app for the mix.

In a similar vein, the Edit in Soundbooth command has been extended to audio tracks in After Effects CS4 and Flash CS4 Professional, as well as Premiere Pro. And Dynamic Link can also be used to import After Effects compositions and Premiere Pro sequences into Soundbooth. This makes Soundbooth a much more powerful tool than before. And the Dynamic Link ability, which neatly sidesteps the need to render out a rough edit to mix music against, means it outstrips Audition for soundtrack creation too.

Creating a musical background within Soundbooth has been enhanced by the multi-track facility, allowing you to mix between different musical themes across your soundtrack. And additional Soundbooth Scores can be downloaded from Resource Central. This provides online access to royalty-free assets, including scores and sound effects, although there weren’t any scores listed at the time of writing.

Core improvements

A number of core features have been added to make tight mixing easier, and chief amongst these are volume keyframes, which function in exactly the same way as the volume (and opacity) rubber bands which have been part of Premiere’s arsenal for a decade or more. Clicking on the volume line using the Move tool adds a keyframe, and dragging on it alters the volume. This can be performed both in multi-track and clip editing views.

Volume Correction is an entirely new tool. This is similar to normalisation, except it can also work across multiple files. Simply drag the files you want to have a uniform volume into the list. You then press the Match Volume button and their levels will be unified. Alternatively, the Equalize Volume tab works like traditional normalisation, keeping the loudness at the same level across a single file.

Loop creation has been greatly enhanced by automatic beat detection. With a single audio file open, you can toggle the Beats view to see the rhythm as spectral lines. This makes the selection of in and out points for a loop much more precise. And one of the more intriguing new features is the Speech Search, which is also available in Premiere Pro CS4 (see pXX).

it_photo_6216This transcribes speech to text, and stores it in XML form which is then directly associated with the audio file. Highlight a portion of the audio waveform, and the associated text will be highlighted to match. Conversely, click on a word in the speech transcript and the corresponding wave peaks will be selected.

Details

Software subcategory Video editing software

Requirements

Processor requirement 3.4GHz Pentium 4

Operating system support

Operating system Windows Vista supported? yes
Operating system Windows XP supported? yes
Operating system Linux supported? no
Operating system Mac OS X supported? no

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