Price When Reviewed: 139 . 65 . 1409 . 1969
Pros: Multi-track editing; speech transcription; simple workflow maintained; volume-matching tool.
Cons: Single-track editing for most tasks; some features poorly implemented.
Like its predecessor, Adobe’s audio-editing application Soundbooth CS4 is a compromise. Although it includes more advanced features than the original Soundbooth, it eschews features commonly found in less expensive but more comprehensive audio editors in favour of ease of use.
Adobe has a clear idea of Soundbooth’s audience: the CS4 user who specializes in film, video, and rich media – someone without a lot of audio experience who needs greater control over sound than Premiere Pro provides. It’s set up to make it easy to remove noise, add music and effects, and adjust volumes between speakers – and it’s a solid audio tool for the intended audience.
Soundbooth’s interface design remains largely unchanged: its multi-paned interface will feel familiar to CS4 users.
Multi-track editing is an important and welcome new feature. Assembling a multi-track editing environment is simple enough. As when working with movies and digital audio files in a program like Apple’s GarageBand, you can drag a movie and audio files directly into Soundbooth’s Editor panel to add them to a multi-track project.
To do much more than add fades, adjust volume, cut and paste entire audio tracks, and reposition tracks in the timeline, you must open the track in a separate edit panel. Once this panel is open, you can add markers and effects to the track, cut and paste portions of an audio track, and ask Soundbooth to transcribe audio to text (as in Premiere Pro). However, many users will find the inability to perform these kinds of tasks while simultaneously viewing all other tracks frustrating.
Soundbooth CS4 also introduces speech transcription, volume matching, non-destructive editing, and MP3 compression preview.
Some features work better than others, and we do have concerns about the implementation of some new features – the inability to do much with your audio outside the edit view, the lack of named markers in multi-track edit view, and the time it takes to save some files, to name a few.
On the whole, though, we believe that Soundbooth CS4 mostly addresses the needs of its intended audience. It contains the features these users most need and is presented in a way that will be familiar to those working with other CS4 applications.