Field Report: Adobe Audition CS5.5

November 1, 2011


Few things are more frustrating than a workflow that doesn't flow. Most of us have dealt with systems that either disrupt our projects, or fail to meet our needs completely. Since most of our daily tasks live on a PC or Mac, software purchasing choices will make or break our daily workflow capabilities.

Adobe Audition 5.5

Adobe Audition 5.5 will enhance your audio production creativity, increase workflow efficiency and fit into your budget. Audition is built on a legacy software design that has been a workhorse in radio audio production for more than a decade. With new cross-platform availability and a fresh look, Audition 5.5 brings efficiency for broadcast audio production to current users with Windows, and a host of new users with Macs.

Yes, with its 5.5 release, Audition is now available for Mac users. In addition to the Adobe Creative Suite 5.5, Audition offers competitive audio design software that will greatly enhance the creative experience while not destroying the budget.

All right there

This version of Audition has been engineered from the ground up. It is considered a "mature version" of Audition 3.0. While the DSP is the same, it's essentially new software. For radio professionals, the dockable effects pane in edit view is world changing. In edit mode, effects can be auditioned in real-time, as opposed to applying the process, or opening audio files in the multi-track editor. For example, if normalizing, hard limiting and touching up with a bit of EQ are standard user processes, that specific rack can be quickly opened and readily auditioned while editing. Audition 5.5 uses a multiple-core software design that lightens the load on a computer. As far as I/O connectivity goes, Audition will integrate with devices as simple as motherboard-mounted soundcards to extensive Firewire interfaces.

Performance at a glance
• Work on multiple multitrack sessions
• Multiple-core processing
• Cross-platform availability for Mac and P
• Integrates with Adobe Premiere
• Built-in iZotope Radius effects

A feature-rich line of effects courtesy of iZotope Radius make processes such as multi-band compression and tube-modeled processors very sweet. On the occasion when quick-fix processing is needed, added features like the speech volume leveler makes sound crafting easier. An endless supply of reverb, echo and delay effects can also be applied for even more creativity.

While not necessarily new to Audition 5.5, the mastering processor is a paramount difference between Audition and other audio editing packages. With retro, tape and tube exciter emulation, spatial widener, loudness maximizer, reverb and three-band EQ, the mastering processor provides an ultimate tool in creating powerful final mastering. Each effect setting also has many useful presets that can be augmented to create custom user presets.

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A new "look"

Spectral view editing is a great way to heal portions of the waveform and pinpoint frequency-specific problems. Audition 5.5 now allows the user to see the waveform view and spectral view simultaneously. Waveform view lends itself to a more visually familiar way to see the audio while healing the file is more diagnostic in spectral view. Using both at the same time is very effective.

Batch process files while editing and use real-time effects in edit and session views.

Batch process files while editing and use real-time effects in edit and session views.


The new Audition 5.5 design allows for docking and floating panes and windows throughout the workspace. This is one of the more important features in the increased workflow category. While dropdown menus and keystrokes are effective ways of accessing features, displaying them onscreen with the workspace is invaluable. The clean architecture of Audition 5.5 permits more economic use of space. As an example, the effects rack, diagnostics, properties, playlist, selection/view, time display, transport and workspace are all visible in a recent work session I was using. Additionally, that was only on one screen. Many more windows and panes could be docked and floated in a dual-screen work environment. Of the many dockable features, playlist and metadata windows are helpful for tagging and identifying audio clips for automation systems. EOMs can be established using the markers in the playlist window, and BWF, ID3, RIFF and XMP data can be added or edited in the metadata window. All of this is onscreen with the waveform.

In addition to real-time effects in edit view and the ability to dock and float countless panels, batch processing can be done while editing - a major time saver. Suppose several files in the currently opened session need 60Hz hum elimination and normalizing. They will also need format converting from wave to MP3. Those files can be dragged and dropped into the batch process pane. The processes are selected and the batch goes to work while the user continues editing. More than one session can be open at once as well. This is light-years ahead of other versions of Audition, where users spent a great deal of time saving, closing and re-opening different session all while working on the same project.

The HUD or "heads-up display" is a floating control that hovers over the waveform workspace. It quickly lets the user make amplitude changes to a selected portion of the audio. The HUD is effectively a volume knob that can be clicked and turned, as if on a virtual mixing board. The amplitude levels range from infinity (less than -100) to +15dB. The HUD can be pinned in one place or moved.

Whether a novice or well-seasoned audio editor, mistakes are inevitable. In more instances than I can count, I've made irreparable mistakes to audio files, many times after the talent has already left the building. Audition 5.5 features an "undo history" that allows for several layers of undos.

The session or multitrack editor in Audition 5.5 is similar to its 3.0 predecessor, which was in and of itself highly functional. Real-time effects and the same dockable panels are available onscreen however the user sees fit. Audition 5.5 added a "pre-render track" feature, clickable on each track in the session mixer view. Pre-rendering allows for improved performance in sessions where CPU usage is high. This feature also improves latency issues. All of the familiar routing, assign and effects bus options are available on the Audition 5.5 session mixer. A 5.1 audio track can be added to the session as well.

With the inclusion of Audition 5.5 in the Adobe Master Creative Suite and Production Premium, video editors can integrate Audition with Adobe Premiere. This brings a new realm of audio creativity options to video editors, especially with Audition's new ability to use 5.1 surround files in the multitrack sessions. Audition uses several SMPTE time sync standards including 24fps, 25fps, 29.97fps and 30fps.

Adobe
800-585-0774
www.adobe.com

Audition 5.5 continues in the tradition of smart, efficient and hard-working audio software. The onscreen look is impressive, but the performance is second to none. No compromise is apparent in the effects features Audition has to offer. And if the onboard effects aren't enough, VST and other plugins can be installed as well. All in all, audio and video folks are going to find Audition 5.5 an invaluable addition to their editing suite.


Wygal is the programmer and engineer for Victory FM at Liberty University, Lynchburg, VA.



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