There was a time when Macintosh owners had all the cool software. Not a fun time for PC owners. But all that has changed, and now Mac audio addicts envy those who live in the Windows world thanks to an incredible suite of products from a company called Sonic Foundry. Keep in mind that we're going to be covering a lot of products here, so we can't even begin to list all their features. Your best bet, as always, is to contact your Sweetwater Sales Engineer for more detailed information.
The software that started it all, Sound Forge, is now at Version 4.5 ($499 list). Sound Forge is high end sound editing software for Windows that includes an extensive set of audio processes, tools, and effects for manipulating audio to your heart's content. You can combine Sound Forge with any Windows-compatible sound card to create, record, edit, and refine audio files. Its clean, friendly interface and familiar Windows environment make editing fast and easy.
Version 4.5 includes Sonic Foundry's Batch Converter and Spectrum Analysis Plug-ins. Batch Converter saves time and alleviates the monotony (and splitting headaches) of converting and processing numerous audio files. Thousands of files can be processed in a single batch. Any process, effect or tool in Sound Forge, or any DirectX plug-in, can be batch processed. Spectrum Analysis performs precise FFT analysis and displays the resulting data in two graphical formats. If you're into Multimedia and Internet Development, Sound Forge supports a wide range of cross platform files and audio/video compression formats including Internet encoders: NetShow 3.0, RealAudio/Video 5.0 and JAVA AU files. It also allows the user to edit sound to image with frame accuracy by supporting Video for Window (AVI) files.
Recording and editing music? Sound Forge is loaded with system-defined presets and will also allow you to create and save your own. All processes and effects dialogs give you the ability to preview changes, as well as a bypass option for before and after comparisons. The Undo/Redo History can quickly restore your files to any previously edited stage (this can be a real sanity saver!). In Sound Forge you can create and give unique names to markers, loops, and regions. Drag any region to a playlist for non-destructive editing and arrangement within a sound file. Create, edit, or change sustain and release loops for samples in the realtime loop-tuning window. Transfer samples to an internal or external sampler via SCSI/SMDI or MIDI Sample Dump.
ACID ($399 list) is a break-through loop-based music production tool from Sonic Foundry. With loop-arranging and editing, ACID gives musicians unprecedented creative flexibility. Just imagine working with hundreds of cutting-edge loops or bringing in your own audio samples to create custom music in minutes. ACID allows you to preview any loop before adding it to your mix, automatically matching the tempo and key in real time (this program is actually smarter than we are!).
Click-and-drag to easily add or delete loops. ACID allows realtime changes to pitch and tempo to unlimited tracks (based on system RAM). Control the volume, pan, and effect envelopes for each track to create a perfect mix between loops. To add the finishing touches, you can apply multiple real-time effects with DirectX Audio Plug-Ins. To further edit loops, ACID provides quick access to Sound Forge or even other audio editors. Processed audio can be directly output as .WAV files or exported as digital audio tracks. ACID is also compatible with Sonic Foundry's CD Architect and direct-to-digital audio CD programs. Finally, ACID includes a library with hundreds of loops in many different musical styles: Techno, Rock, Rave, Break Beat, Funk, Country, Hip-hop, Disco, Alternative, House, Industrial, Guitar, Ambient and more. ACID rated thumbs up from our own Dave Schmid (Sweetwater's ace Webmaster), so you know this is very cool software.
Loops for ACID ($59.95 list) are high quality sound files that have been specially prepared for use with Sonic Foundry's ACID. The loops store special data that optimizes ACID's time stretching/compressing and pitch change features. Of course, Loops for ACID are standard .WAV or .AIF sound files with just a little extra data tacked on, so they can be used for all your audio content needs. Very potent material here that you are gonna want!
What I want is the Acoustics Modeler Plug-In ($249 list), which is a digital signal-processing tool that adds the acoustic coloration of real environments and sound altering devices to existing recordings. Unlike some artificial-sounding reverb units, Acoustics Modeler actually incorporates the acoustical responses of a specific environment into a sound file: from large concert halls and live rooms, even to the vintage sound of old tube microphones. Besides achieving ultra realistic imaging, the impulses can also be used to generate entirely new and unique effects which you have to hear to appreciate. The Acoustics Modeler includes an extensive library of high-quality acoustics signatures and impulse responses.
If you're like me, you probably have some wonderful old recordings laying around that you wish you could clean up. So here's great news: the Sonic Foundry Noise Reduction DirectX Plug-In ($349 list) analyzes and reduces low-level background noise such as tape hiss, electrical hum, and machinery rumble from recordings, all with minimal unwanted effects and nasty digital artifacts. To do this, audio is separated into its frequency components to distinguish distracting noise from the desired signal.
The Noise Reduction DirectX Plug-In also includes Click Removal and Vinyl Restoration Tools. Click Removal, as you'd expect from the name, enables click and pop removal automatically or manually. The Vinyl Restoration Tool reduces clicks and pops along with surface noise in a single pass. Noise Reduction Plug-In will run on any DirectX compatible host application in real time!
Also available from Sonic Foundry are three sets of DirectX plug-ins collectively dubbed XFX ($149 list each). XFX 1 includes 6 discrete plug-ins: Reverb (19 types), Time Compress/Expand, Multi-Tap Delay, Chorus, Pitch Shift, and Simple Delay/Echo. XFX 2 includes Noise Gate, Graphic Dynamics, Multi-Band Dynamics, Paragraphic EQ, Parametric EQ, and Graphic EQ. XFX 3 includes Amplitude Modulation, Gapper/Snipper, Flange/Wah-wah, Vibrato, Distortion, and Smooth/Enhance. XFX plug-ins work in any program that fully supports DirectX Audio plug-ins.
When you're finally ready to take all the great material you've created with your Sonic Foundry software and burn professional audio CDs to Red Book specs, you'll want Sonic Foundry's new CD Architect ($395 list). Tracks in the PQ List can be assembled with regions from single or multiple sound files. Full PQ code editing allows even the most sophisticated mixes and crossfades between tracks. The software can be used as either a stand-alone editor or as a Sound Forge 4.5 plug-in. CD Architect is ideal for building audio CDs on Windows and Windows systems, and it now also supports IDE/ATAPI CD-R drives.
My only question at this point is why you're still reading this? Go pick up that phone and talk to your Sweetwater Sales Engineer about all these remarkable tools from Sonic Foundry. It's advice you'll want to thank me for, but hey, I'm just doing my job. Call 'em now! Michael Rief