Field Report: Sony Creative Software Sound Forge Pro 10

March 1, 2012


Sony Creative Software Sound Forge Pro 10

I learned at an early age that having the right tools will decide the success and quality of a job. Some products get us through, while others stand out and make us look like heroes. This is true of Sony Sound Forge Pro 10. It's a veritable "Swiss Army Knife" for audio recording, restoration and mastering.

The basics

Sound Forge Pro 10 is built on previous versions of the software. Current Sound Forge users will find it refreshingly familiar. Upon launching, the user finds a typical waveform workspace where recognizable editing tasks like recording, cutting and pasting are available. Standard transport buttons are located in the transport bar. Other toolbars are fully customizable to aid in quickly locating commonly used features. Additionally, nearly every task in Sound Forge 10 has an associated keystroke.

The software can edit multichannel tasks using project files - a new feature for this version. Templates for project files allow common settings and tasks to be stored for later and repeated use, without having to recreate projects from scratch. Projects can be saved as Windows Media files for Web use, as well as BWF files and numerous other popular audio file formats. As far as waveform editing, common volume and pan envelopes are a click away. Sony improved on Sound Forge Pro 10's workflow by creating custom window layouts, floating window docks and metadata windows. Tabbed browsing puts collapsed windows in plain sight in the workspace. Batch jobs speed up tasks that are applied to multiple files.

Included with the software is an impressive list of tools for restoring audio. Clipping detection, click and crackle removal, clipped peak restoration, audio (general) restoration, and Noise Reduction 2.0i all have multiple presets and capture ability to sample and remove unwanted noise from audio. NR 2.0i is a plugin from Sony that captures the noise print from a selected piece of poor audio. Then, the user adjusts a few parameters to negotiate removal of noise vs. artifacting. The results are impressive. I pulled out a popular 1950s rock n' roll recording and cleaned it up markedly without introducing artifacts. Tape hiss was gone with no degradation to the original material. In addition to the plugin, general audio restoration settings could be invaluable to stations that air older material from LPs or noisy tapes.

Get it on disc

Performance at a glance
◊ Multichannel editing
◊ iZotope Mastering Effects Bundle 2 plugin
◊ Dockable floating windows for increased workflow
◊ Plugin chainer for effect rack-type monitoring
◊ Phase, spectrum and mono compatibility scopes

CD Architect 5.2 is a CD burning software packaged with Sound Forge. It is easy to use, but the best part is the Red Book standard it forces on the CD production process (depending on user preferences). Computer-burned discs can sometimes fail to play in various CD players. However, with Red Book standards enforced, the disc is cut with the standards of any major production house. CD Architect is invaluable if CD production quality is critical,

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Sound Forge Pro 10 boasts a hefty line of effects, divided into four areas.
◊ Processes offer common tasks like normalizing, panning, fading, equalization, dc offset correction, resampling and many others.
◊ Effects is home to numerous reverb and delay settings.
◊ Tools is where the more intricate features live, including noise reduction, clipped peak restoration, batch converter and other repair tools.
◊ FX Favorites however, is where the software changes things considerably. Sony provides a powerful Xpress Effects bank in addition to an endless list of dynamic processing, noise reduction, filtering, time stretch and restoration settings. The real sweet spot however is found in the iZotope Mastering Effects Bundle 2 plugin. EQ, exciter, imager, limiter, reverb and compression - they all do exactly what they say with accuracy and clarity. Proper implementation of the iZotope package can be the difference in sound between a locally produced radio spot and a national ad. The six iZotope effects can be patched together and monitored in real time using the plugin chainer. The mastering exciter, as an example, uses retro, warm, tape and tube emulation to add punch to final mastering processing. Each process comes with more than 20 presets with clever names to aid in getting started. As with any processing, tons of experimenting is necessary, and the results using iZotope are extraordinary. As stated before, proper final mastering sets production pieces a step above basic mixdowns. iZotope makes it simple.

Icing on the cake

Sound Forge Pro 10 screen

There are a number of Sound Forge Pro 10 features that add to its functionality and utility. Pitch bend and pitch shift effects are very accurate. Many times, changing pitch on an audio file will degrade audio and introduce unwanted artifacts and distortion. The software uses intelligent algorithms to accurately perform pitch corrections or changes. Additionally, the dockable real-time spectrum and phase analysis scopes and mono compatibility meter are perfect tools for critically correcting phase and EQ characteristics that could be problematic on the air. Familiar X-Y, rotated, linear and circular phase scopes are available. Sound Forge 10 also makes three VU and four PPM meters available with adjustable integration times, aiding in accurate metering of audio levels in nearly every production environment. Finally, disc-at-once CD burning can be used to master a CD quickly, without closing the program and opening additional software.

Sony Creative Software
◊ 800-577-6642
www.sonymediasoftware.com

While we barely scratched the surface concerning the tools included in Sound Forge Pro 10, it is more than sufficient to say that the software has plenty to offer a serious production house. Whether competitive audio production is in order, or you need to restore audio to its original pristine condition, it can handle the task. Adding this software to the audio production toolbox is certainly a plus.


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



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