Aimed at those who would like to edit the audio tracks of home movies, or polish demos of bands without a major-label budget, Sony has put together Audio Studio, a cut-down version of its more extensive Sony Sound Forge 8.0 program.

Audio Studio incorporates a tutorial system to guide you through the intimidating array of features. In essence, the software allows you to import audio, edit it and then export it to a variety of formats. The options at each stage, however, are considerable.

If you're feeling spontaneous, you can plug a microphone or instrument directly into your PC and create audio right away. Alternatively, you can open an existing file, create simple synthesised tunes, download material from a pay site or rip from a CD – but you must consider copyright restrictions.

Working from a CD is probably the hardest way to approach things, because the complexity of multilayered recordings makes it tricky to follow the shape of the music, as is apparent in the screenshot to the right.

Once you have the audio displayed in the window as a waveform, you can chop it up and reassemble the pieces to your heart's content. Or add effects, from wah-wah to distortion, and synchronise with video. These can be tricky at first, but you should find the system reasonably intuitive after a while.

Finishing options include exporting to MP3, WMA, QuickTime or RealMedia formats, creating a podcast or burning a CD using the built-in facilities.

Sony Sound Forge Audio Studio 8.0: Specs

  • 500MHz processor
  • Windows 2000/XP
  • 128MB RAM
  • 150MB hard disk space for program installation
  • Windows-compatible sound card
  • Microsoft DirectX 9.0c or later
  • Internet Explorer 5.1 or later (last two included on CD)
  • 500MHz processor
  • Windows 2000/XP
  • 128MB RAM
  • 150MB hard disk space for program installation
  • Windows-compatible sound card
  • Microsoft DirectX 9.0c or later
  • Internet Explorer 5.1 or later (last two included on CD)

OUR VERDICT

Thank heavens for the tutorial system, as Audio Studio is a tough program to get into, especially if you're one of the comparative novices at which it's aimed. But persevere and you'll see that this program has a strong feature set for the money.

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