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Software Reviews
15,670 Reviews

First look: Adobe Soundbooth CS3 audio editor

£150 inc VAT

Manufacturer: Adobe

Our Rating: We rate this 3.5 out of 5

Among the many tools that make up Adobe CS3 is a new audio-editing addition - Adobe Soundbooth CS3. Unlike most audio editors, which are designed largely for audio professionals and enthusiasts, Adobe Soundbooth CS3 was created with video in mind.

Among the many tools that make up Adobe CS3 is a new audio-editing addition - Adobe Soundbooth CS3. Available in beta form since late October 2006, Adobe Soundbooth CS3 won't see official release until this summer. Unlike most audio editors, which are designed largely for audio professionals and enthusiasts, Adobe Soundbooth CS3 was created with video in mind.

Rather than offering countless ways to tweak audio waveforms or alter those waveforms with a dizzying array of effects, Adobe Soundbooth CS3 includes a focused set of tools for performing the kinds of tasks designers most need for their video projects - removing noise, performing basic cuts and fades, and automatically generating background music tracks.

Familiar face

Adobe's designers wanted an interface with which users of other Adobe products would feel at home. In Photoshop-style fashion they succeeded by offering a single window that contains a large central work area (the Editor panel) as well as a series of tabbed, docked panels that you can undock to create a custom workspace. You can then save these workspaces and call them up by choosing one from the Workspace pop-up menu in the upper right corner of the Adobe Soundbooth CS3 window.

In addition to the Editor panel, these panels include a Files panel, which lists open files; an Effects panel, where you add such effects as delay, chorus, reverb, and EQ; a Markers panel, which lists any markers you've placed in your file; a History panel similar to the same-named Photoshop panel; a Video panel, where your video is displayed (the audio for that video appears in the Editor panel); and a Tasks panel, which includes functions for auto-composing scores, changing pitch and timing, cleaning up audio, creating loops, and removing a sound.

A simple set of tools populates the top of the window - a Time Selection tool for selecting audio in the timeline, a Frequency Selection tool for selecting a large swatch of frequencies in the program's Spectral Frequency display (selecting high frequencies where noise might exist, for example), a Rectangular Marquee tool for selecting a portion of frequencies in the Spectral Frequency display, a Lasso tool for making freehand selections in the Spectral Frequency display, and Hand and Zoom tools for moving around the Editor panel.

Adobe Soundbooth CS3 Expert Verdict »

Pentium 4 processor or above (1.4GHz processor for DV
3.4GHz processor for HDV)
Windows XP SP2/Vista
512MB RAM (1GB for DV playback
2GB for HDV and HD playback)
10GB hard disk space
1,280x900 monitor resolution with 32bit video card and 16MB VRAM
Microsoft DirectX or ASIO-compatible sound card
DVD drive
QuickTime 7.0
  • Ease of Use: We give this item 7 of 10 for ease of use
  • Features: We give this item 8 of 10 for features
  • Value for Money: We give this item 6 of 10 for value for money
  • Overall: We give this item 7 of 10 overall

Though the beta is quite stable, Adobe Soundbooth CS3 remains a work in progress. Lack of support for multiple tracks will be a deal-killer for some. The inability to select separate channels within a stereo file seems a bizarre omission. The AutoCompose scores feature clearly need some work if users intend to create longer scores. Though cross-fading may seem like an advanced feature, it's the kind of capability that the intended audience would appreciate. Support for Mpeg4 and H.264 video- and AAC and MP3 audio files would be welcome. And, in my tests, the Convolution Reverb effect appeared to have no effect at all. My hope is that the final version will address some of these issues. Adobe has promised the release of Soundbooth in this year's third-quarter. Much to the distress of those with PowerPC-based Macs, Adobe Soundbooth CS3 will be available only as an Intel-native application.

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