Audio Editing Software
Audio comes from the Latin root audire meaning “to hear,” and it means “sound.” Editing software is software designed to make various types of changes to media, text, etc. Audio editing software is editing software the focuses on the refinement and/or creation of digital sound files, and an audio editing software program may be referred to as an audio editor. There are a number of ways to categorize the different types of audio editing software.
Editing software is a bit of a catchall term that can be used to refer to a large array of products used to edit various types of media. In general, it tends to refer to computer programs that can be used to edit audio, video, photographic, and graphics files. Most editing software is specific in nature and deals with a particular type of media, though some programs will allow editing of similar file types depending on the nature of the work being edited. Editing software is used in a wide array of artistic and creative professional fields and is typically a major part of the creation of film, television, music, advertising, and magazines.
Audio editing software is typically used in recording, editing, and finalizing a piece of music, voice-over work, or other audio recordings. These types of programs usually allow an editor to work with audio information and manipulate it in a number of different ways. With music, this often entails cleaning up the audio quality of the music and making a more refined final product, while voice-over editing usually involves adding effects or putting different clips together to make a full audio project. Audio editing software can be freeware or paid software. Some audio editing software that is available for purchase has a free demo or trial version. Trial versions may be limited by the number of days they work or by the length of the recording that can be created/saved or by the number of sessions in which it can be used. Alternatively, paid software may have the ‘Save’ function disabled.
Another way audio editing software can be differentiated is by the file types it handles. Some audio editing software programs handle only one particular type of sound file, for example MP3. Others are equipped to work with a very large range of file types, including AIFF (Audio Interchange File Format), AVI (Audio Video Interleaved), MP2 and MP3 (Motion Picture Experts Group — MPEG — formats), OGG, VOX, WAV (Waveform Audio File Format, and WMA (Windows Media Audio). Some audio editing software can extract audio from a video file for the user to work with.
The existence and quality of help and support offerings is another distinction. Products differ in whether they provide written support in the form of FAQs, glossaries, a product manual, and tutorials. They may or may not also have technical support or forums to address user issues. And the software may or may not have regular updates.
Audio editing software is made for a variety of operating systems, including Windows® 2000, Windows® XP, Windows® 7, Vista®, Mac® OS X, and Linux. It may have only editing functions, or be capable of other tasks, like recording, converting, and burning. Audio editing software is often a standalone program, but audio editing features are sometimes included in software that also has video and image editing capabilities.
Some of the main formats of interest in digital audio are wave (.wav), MP3 (.mp3), MIDI (.mid), RealAudio (.ra), and Windows Media (.wma). Each format has its particular strengths and specific uses. Wave and MP3 files are the two kinds of files generally involved in creating custom CDs. When you convert analog sound to digital by recording music with your computer, the resulting file will be in wave (.wav) format.
Wave (.wav) Wave is the standard form for uncompressed audio on a PC. Since a wave file is uncompressed data - as close a copy to the original analog data as possible - it is therefore much larger than the same file would be in a compressed format such as mp3 or RealAudio. Audio CDs store their audio in, essentially, the wave format. Your audio will need to be in this format in order to be edited using a wave editor, or burned to an audio CD that will play in your home stereo.
MP3 (.mp3) is a popular compressed audio format widely used to transfer music over the internet. MP3s are created by taking wave audio data and processing it with a special algorithm. This alrgorithm removes parts of the audio that theoretically cannot be detected with the human ear; in actuality, there will be some degradation of quality, but this depends on the quality (bitrate) with which you choose to encode the file.
The net result is an MP3 file which is vastly smaller than the original wave file, but sounds very nearly as good. As an example of the huge size different between a wave file and an MP3, a three minute song will take up 30 Mb as a wave file, but only between 2 and 7 Mb as an MP3 (depending on the bitrate you choose). This explains why MP3 files are so popular for trading music on the internet.
RealAudio (.ra) is a streaming audio format often used by internet radio stations and for posting sound files on websites. RealAudio files are smaller even than MP3 files - around 500 Kb a song - but are of lower quality if compressed enough to play over a slow connection (such as a 56 kbps modem).
MIDI (.mid) is an entirely different sort of file. Unlike the previous two formats, it is not compressed audio. MIDI is a kind of ?language? that allows computers and certain musical instruments to communicate. This language consists of instructions telling the instrument (or the MIDI synthesizer in your sound card) which notes to play, with what instrument, and when. MIDI can be used entirely within a computer, with no external instruments. MIDI files have a synthesized sound, and are quite small, around 30-60 Kb for your average song. One fun feature of MIDI files is that you can add and synchronize song lyrics to create Karaoke files (.mid and .kar). MIDI and Karaoke files are widely available on the internet as well. Blaze Audio?s MIDIMaster Karaoke works great as a midi player as well as a karaoke player.
Windows Media (.wma) is a format similar to MP3. This is essentially a competing format created by Microsoft and used primarily in Windows Media Player and other compatible programs. Microsoft claims that Windows Media files are even better than MP3 files, but MP3 files are still much more prevalent on the internet.
Audio Editing Software Terms and Definitions
All programs should include play, record, cut, copy, paste and so on; this rating goes beyond the basic editing tools to include tools such as equalizers, processors, mixers, preset effects, filters as well as analyzing tools like the waveform or spectrogram.
The best products have the ability to "record" sounds saved on the computer from a file, the sound card or from downloaded CDs as well as from outside sources such as a line-in from a stereo or a microphone.
It is also nice if the product includes burning software so that users can use their CD or DVD burner to save their edited audio files.
To be the most compatible, the product must be able to work with and convert many file formats, like the various WAV file types, OGG Vorbis or MPEG as well as Windows Media Audio (WMA).
Ease of Use
All major features of the product should be easy to find and use. It is helpful if the product contains preset effects and filters placed in the drop down menus, mouse zooms, right click edits and unlimited undos. Quick recorders that look for sound cards or streaming audio, without manually having to set the source is also a nice feature.
Help and Support
Audio editing software can be hard for inexperienced audio editors and non-professional mixers to master. Comprehensive help and support offered through FAQs, direct contact to technical support, user forums, help pages or other documentation makes learning to use editing software a snap.
Batch Processing/ Conversions
This command or tool is used to convert a set of files from one format to another and/or to apply effects to a set of files.
Used to swap, mix, invert, or combine left and right channels.
Used to mark and describe or hold information pertaining to a specific position of an audio track. For example, a cue point can hold information about a singer or artist or can mark and hold looping points.
Effect Chain Editor
This tool enables the editor to chain a number of effects together to process at one time.
Before saving a new edit, this preview will play and display the changes before implementation.
A device or computer algorithm that increases/decreases the volume of specific bands of frequencies in an audio signal.
Many programs have the ability to convert file formats, for example from a WAV PCM signed 16 bit stereo file to a MPEG Audio (mp3) Layer-3 ACM 44100Hz 128 kbps joint stereo file.
Similar to an equalizer or a parametric equalizer, it is used to adjust frequencies.
Labels and Regional Markers
May also be referred to as a bookmark, it can mark or label a specific time location in an editor window.
Meta Information Editor
Enables editors to enter or edit artist, title, album, year, genre or other information of the selected file.
A device or algorithm, which enhances or directs audio signals to other destinations, singly or together. May also be used to combine selections, for example a techno music file with an audio voice file to create a new techno mix.
Mouse Scroll Zoom
A handy feature that allows users to select a section of the waveform and use the mouse scroll to zoom in and out.
An electronic filter that adjusts frequency, attenuation, amplification and bandwidth on each parametric channel, which can all be used simultaneously or individually bypassed.
A device used to alter the dynamic properties of the recording.
The process of re-recording sections of a previously recorded track, starting a punch may be called "punching in" and ending a punch "punching out."
Right Click Edits
Features accessible through the right click button of a mouse, that may include such functions as play, copy, paste or zoom.
Signal Analysis Tools
Tools used to analyze audio signals as they travel through audio cables, equipment or other system.
Many programs have the ability to separate the tracks into left and right channels, whereas others, depending on the file type, have the ability to break apart multi tracks.
Increases or decreases the playback speed.
Changes volume or loudness.
An effect in which multiple copies of a signal are played together slightly off time from each other.
Reduces the dynamic range of a signal, making loud sounds quieter and the quiet sounds louder.
Fades out one sound while fading in another.
An effect in which a copy of a signal is played back later than the original.
Dynamically changes a pitch.
Volume changes in audio.
A delay-based effect where copies of a signal are introduced then trail off to silence.
Reduces the level of a signal when it falls below a set threshold in order to overemphasize its dynamic range.
Changes level over time increasing/decreasing in amplitude from/to silence.
Delayed repeated signal that produces multiples of the original signal. Or, a loud squeal created when a channel is receiving its own output.
Generates a swirling sound by adding a slightly delayed copy of a signal in which the delay time fluctuates.
Can add odd and even multiples of a fundamental frequency to provide a characteristic (or timbre) to give each instrument or voice a unique sound.
Changes positive offset to negative and vice versa.
Smoothes out the waveform between start and finish markers, often used to remove a pop or click.
Adds a robotic or mechanical characteristic.
An electronic process, in which one source modifies the characteristics of another signal source.
Adds a noise to a selected location, often a Gaussian or White noise.
Process by which the gain of digital audio is increased to its maximum volume.
Adjusts or removes a dc offset in a selection by shifting the waveform up or down.
Adjusts the left/right positioning of a signal within a stereo mix.
An effect, which is a modified flange that adds a swirling sound to a signal.
Changes the frequency of the selected part of an audio file, increases or decreases timbre
May reduce vocals from certain stereo recording by subtracting the left and right channels or by using a bandstop filter.
Takes a single parameter "sample rate" and recalculates existing audio data using the new sample rate.
An effect in which the ambience of a physical space is simulated, this is achieved by copying a signal many times and repeating it at decreasing levels at intervals so close together that they are heard like one sound.
Plays the audio backwards.
Can insert silence at a selected portion of the audio.
Changes the frequency, duration and pitch of a selected part of the audio
Time Warp (stretch)
Changes the playback speed or stretches/compresses the length of the selection
Removes sounds outside of the selected part of audio.
A rhythmic fluctuation in pitch.
Allows only the band of frequencies surrounding the cutoff frequency to pass through.
Does the opposite of Band Pass filters, blocks all frequencies within a specified range.
Only allows the frequencies higher than the cutoff frequency.
High Shelf Pass
Filters frequencies above a selected frequency.
Permits all frequencies lower than the cutoff frequency through.
Low Shelf Pass
A type of filter in which all frequencies below a selected frequency are affected.
Reduces unwanted noises within a sound, such as a background hisses, hums or interference, cannot however be used to separate or remove vocals or voices.
Often referred to as a "band reject filter", attenuates frequencies closest to the center frequency of a filter setting, used to minimize hum or acoustic feedback.
Eliminates abrupt changes in a sound, often used in restoration.
Deletes silence from a selected part of an audio file
Reduces hiss and crackle, often used when restoring old recordings or LPs.
Applies Fast Fourier Transform (FFT) filter to a selected part of an audio file, smoothes amplitude transitions at various frequencies, points above zero amplify and filter, points below zero attenuate and filter.
A graphical representation of an audio file that is a mathematical representation of a wave, obtained by plotting a characteristic of the wave against time.
Visual display of a frequency graph, the horizontal axis is frequency in Hertz (Hz) and the vertical axis is magnitude in decibels (dB).
Displays the peak volume of the waveform.
Displays frequency information over time, the horizontal axis is time in seconds (s), the vertical axis is frequency in Hertz (Hz), and the color represents the frequency's magnitude (dB). Often used to analyze amplitude versus frequency.
Has the ability to record from a line-in such as a microphone, stereo or other device.
Can record sound from the internet, such as an internet radio station or other streaming audio.
Has the ability to either record from a downloaded CD or can rip directly from a CD.
Can pull audio from a video file.
Can record from Musical Instrument Digital Interface (MIDI) files, such as those created from a keyboard.
Has the ability to record what is playing on the sound card, which means that nearly anything can be recorded.
Has the software component needed to "burn" CDs.
Includes the software module needed to "burn" DVDs.
Audio Editing Programmes
Pro Tools is the industry standard when it comes to audio editing. The great thing about that is you know this program is powerful and reliable. The downfall is that for simple projects, ProTools is going to be way too powerful and will just complicate what could be an easy edit. If you’re serious with audio editing, you can’t get much better than Pro Tools. If you’re just looking for a program to quickly edit together some music or sound effects, don’t waste all your money on this one quite yet.
Audacity is simple, free and easy to install. Even many professional audio engineers say you cannot find much better programs out there, especially for the price. It does not have as many bells and whistles as Pro Tools, but often that may prove to be a good thing. If you’re looking to do simple audio editing with multiple tracks, Audacity is the best way to go and will not even leave a mark in your wallet!
Sony is a trustworthy name when it comes to audio equipment, and their editing software is no different. There are two different versions of Sony Acid available; Acid Music Studio and Acid Pro. Acid Music Studio is the less complex and less expensive version of Acid Pro and is targeted at the “pro-sumer”, or semi-professional audio editor. With both versions of the program you need to know some basics of audio editing for it to prove useful (or at least, for it to prove more useful than Audacity). Acid is a great program to have if you’re working alongside with Sony Vegas Pro as their work flow transfers nicely. The biggest downfall of this program in my opinion is that it is only available for PCs.
Adobe bought out a former power house in video editing, Cool Edit Pro, and turned it into their own product called Audition. If you’re an Adobe lover, this is a great program for you since it looks and feels very much like other Adobe programs in the Creative Suite. Many argue that Audition is not a great program for recording audio, and is stronger as purely a multi-track editor. As you would expect, this program works seamlessly with the rest of Adobe’s products, making it ideal if you are jumping between projects in Premiere and After Effects.