I often get asked which audio software is the best to use in the archive.  Again, no easy answer as to which is “best.” Most basic packages will allow you to digitize and do basic edits and then save as a major filetype.  In terms of workflow, they are all, conceptually, the same.  That said, there are major variations in terms of user interface and dynamics processing capabilities (equalizer, limiter, noise reduction, etc…).   Here is a glimpse of some of my favorites and the pros and cons of each:

Sony’s Sound Forge Pro

http://www.sonycreativesoftware.com/soundforgesoftware Cost: $299-399
Cost: $299-$399
Platform: Mac/PC
Channels: 2-channel (Stereo Editor)
User Interface: Extremely easy to use
Bells and Whistles: You get a lot for your money with this software, including fantastic mastering and restoration plug-ins.
Rating:  ****  (4 out of 5)
Pros: I have used Sound Forge for over 10 years.  They recently came out with a Mac version that is not quite as intuitive as the PC version but still, very easy to use.  You get a lot for you money.  Recent upgrades now provides better support for Broadcast Wave
Cons: Even though you get a lot for your money, this can be costly for some archives. I do think it is worth the cost.  Retains the 2 gigabyte file size limitations with .wav files. In accordance with Sony tradition, leans toward proprietary formats.

Steinberg’s WaveLab 

http://www.steinberg.net/en/products/wavelab.html
Cost: $499.99
Platform: Mac/PC
Channels: 2-channel (Stereo Editor)
User Interface: Complex interface
Bells and Whistles:
Rating:  ***** (5 out of 5)
Pros:  WavLab is incredibly powerful, customizable.  Excellent for working with Broadcast Wave with regard to metadata.  Allows the creation of default metadata settings for the Broadcast Wave.  Supports the RF64 extension to the Broadcast Wave (specified by the European Broadcast Union) allowing the .wave format to excced 4 gigabyte file size limit.  If you work with Broadcast Wave and large files, great professional solution.  Wide range of format input/output.
Cons: Interface complex.  There is a learning curve on the user interface.

Adobe’s Audition (Formerly Cool Edit Pro)

http://www.adobe.com/products/audition.html
Cost: Part of Adobe’s Creative Suite  Cloud so anywhere from $19.99 / month on up
Platform: Mac/PC
Channels: Multi-track
User Interface: simple, intuitive
Bells and Whistles:
Rating:  **** (4 out of 5)
Pros:  With the purchase of Cool Edit Pro, Adobe acquired one of the best user experiences for a simple multitrack audio editor.  This is a very powerful tool that has tremendous, professional capability.
Cons: Expensive, tied to Adobe’s Creative Suite.

Audacity

http://audacity.sourceforge.net
Cost: Open Source, Free
Platform: Mac/PC/Linux
Channels: 2-channel (Stereo)
User Interface: Simple but a little clunky
Bells and Whistles: Has the basics in terms of dynamic processing options, but not many bells and whistles.
Rating: *** (3 out of 5)
Pros: Free, easy to use, open source.  I use it when I am in a pinch (say on a laptop in a hotel room) and need to do some basic audio editing for clips or conversion of something to mp3.
Cons: Overall limited, gets the job done though.

 

 

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Douglas A. Boyd

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