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Adobe Audition 3.0:
A Software Review by Read G. Burgan
Published In RADIO WORLD MAY 7, 2008:

Since acquiring Cool Edit and renaming it Audition, Adobe has consistently invested resources that have taken it from a modest digital audio editor to a first rate audio editing suite including both two track and multi-track capability. Adobe 3.0 continues that tradition.

One of the new features is the “On Clip Gain Control” that becomes visible when you select a portion of the WAV file in the edit mode. As you drag the on-screen volume control up or down, it raises or lowers the volume visually. Once the level is where you want it, releasing the gain control automatically re-scales the amplitude to the new level. This is a great time saver allowing you to compare the level of the selected area with the rest of the WAV file while adjusting the gain control.

As a bonus, you can use the tool as a compressor by raising the level of the maximum peaks beyond 0 dB. Because you can visually see how the WAV file is affected, it allows you to intuitively set the amount of dynamic range you want to maintain. Once you have set the level, use the normalize tool to insure that there is no clipping.

The “On-Clip Fade Controls” show up at the extreme ends of the Audition on-screen display. By dragging one of the controls with the mouse, you can fade the beginning or end of the WAV file. Depending on how you drag the fade control, you can have a linear, logarithmic or an S-curve fade. Again, this is a real time saver as it eliminates having to open up a fade menu and select various options.

Instead you simply click on one of the fade controls and start dragging it. As you do the on-screen display visually changes the WAV file to match the fade and also represents the type of fade with a yellow line.

When you are in the multi-track mode, you can use the same fade controls to overlap two audio clips on the same track. As you slide one of the audio clips over the other, the fade controls will automatically create a fade between the two audio clips. The characteristics of the fade can be adjusted by dragging either of the fade controls with the mouse. It is an easy and effective way to mix multiple audio clips.

Adaptive Noise Reduction

Audition 3.0 offers a new noise reduction tool for removing broadband noise: Adaptive Noise Reduction (ANR). While it is a VST effect, it is limited to Audition 3.0 and does not show up in any other audio editing hosts that may be installed on the same computer.

ANR follows the current trend to eliminate taking a noise sample. ANR does not even offer an option of creating a noise print.
Instead you adjust the on-screen sliders of the six parameters while previewing the result in real time. Once you are satisfied with the effect, click “OK” and ANR does the rest.

How effective is ANR at removing broadband noise? I tried it on several records and ET’s having varying degrees of noise problems from subtle to extreme. ANR performed well on both music and spoken word having moderately degraded sound. With severe noise degradation, ANR exhibited artifacts with a bubbly sort of sound.

Based on my tests, I would give ANR high marks on ease of use and its ability to remove up to a moderate amount of broadband noise. As with other adaptive types of noise reduction software that I have tested, I found that I could still get better results by using a noise reduction tool that uses a noise print. But when you can’t take a noise print, ANR provides an effective means for removing broadband noise.

Spectral Tools:

Beginning with Audition 1.5, Adobe has brought its unique experience with photo software to the original Cool Edit program. It has done this by adding a “spectral” view to the original edit view that has been the standard on virtually all digital audio editing software.

The standard editing view displays a WAV file’s amplitude over a period of time. For those of us in broadcasting, it is essentially what we are used to seeing when audio is displayed on an oscilloscope.

The spectral view displays the WAV file’s frequency over a period of time. The display shows the frequency of the signal on the y-axis and the amplitude with color. Dark blues are low amplitude and bright yellows are high.

At first glance this may seem like an insignificant change. But in my opinion it is one of the most revolutionary improvements since digital audio editing was first introduced.

It provides the means to remove the kinds of noise and disturbance that were impossible to remove in the past without affecting the rest of the sound. Noise like a person coughing, a door slamming or a coffee cup clattering to the floor can readily be removed from both music and speech.

The reason that the spectral view is so revolutionary is that you can now see a representation of the disturbance. To do so requires some time and experimentation with the spectral preferences including FFT resolution and range. But once you learn how to recognize the various kinds of noise, there is almost no limit to the kinds of noise that you can remove.

Audition 1.5 provided just one tool: the “Marquee Selection Tool.” It allowed you to mark an area of noise with a rectangular box. You could then delete the area inside the box, or you could cut and paste that area to substitute good audio for bad. It was primitive but a quantum leap over previous methods of manually eliminating noise.

Audition 2.0 added the “Lasso Tool” which allows you to manually draw a figure to precisely match noise that could been seen in the spectral mode. This increased the precision that could be applied to the removal of disturbances.

Audition 3.0 has added two new tools to the spectral view. For me, the crown jewel is the “Spot Healing Brush.” If you have a need to regularly remove disturbances like coughs and doors slamming, this feature alone is worth the price of the software. And if you have used any of the Adobe PhotoShop/Elements software, you already know how it works.

The symbol for the Spot Healing Brush in the tool menu is a band-aid. While in the spectral view, you locate a disturbance that you want to eliminate. Select the Spot Healing Brush. Adjust its width so that the tool will be slightly wider than the disturbance. Then drag the tool over the disturbance using your mouse. After you release the mouse button, the Spot Healing Brush will remove the disturbance leaving the music and/or speech unaffected.

I have used this tool on a daily basis for over two months and I continue to be amazed at the wide variety of noise that it can remove. This is the kind of tool that those of us who regularly work in digital audio restoration have dreamed about but never expected to actually see. Adobe deserves high praise for bringing this feature to Audition 3.0.

Also new in the spectral toolbox is the “Effects Paintbrush.” Again, like its counterpart in the Adobe PhotoShop series, it allows you to “brush” over an area in the spectral view and then control the degree to which an effect is applied by adjusting the opacity setting or increasing the number of brush strokes over the area. What it does is add still more options to the spectral view.

In addition, Adobe has added an option that lets you hear just the sound that has been selected in the spectral view. In the past, if you selected an area in the spectral view and hit the play button, you heard all of the sound in the area, not just the frequency dependent spot you had selected. Now by right clicking on the circled play button, you can set it up so that it will play just the area that you have selected in the spectral view.

Multi-Core Tweaking:

Adobe says that “Audition is now fully multi-core compatible, splitting up processing among any number of cores.” However, I am running Audition on an Intel quad processor and in at least some instances I am finding that the time to process a particular effect has actually increased over Adobe 2.0. In answer to my query about this phenomenon, the Adobe product manager admitted, “While we do have multi-core support to enhance performance in Audition 3, it doesn't apply to everything in our application.”

The packaged version of Audition 3.0 contains a Loopology disc with lots of music loops that could be used to create sound beds for spots, newscast themes, etc. The material is royalty free for regular broadcast use but there are some restrictions for other uses that might affect Internet streaming. The packaged version also contains a Video Workshop DVD with information on other Adobe products.

To learn about other features and enhancements in Audition 3.0 and the minimum system requirements, check out the Adobe web site (adobe.com).

Taking Audition 3.0 as a whole, my conclusion is that Adobe has done an admirable job of adding features that are easier to use and appreciably increase productivity. It will continue to play a major role in my digital audio work. Thanks Adobe!

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Adobe Systems Incorporated
Audition 3.0
Digital Audio Editing Software
Packaged or Downloaded: $349
Upgrade From 1.0, 1.5, 2.0 or Adobe Production Studio Premium: $99


On-Clip Gain Control provides visual display as volume is changed
On-Clip Fade Controls provide fast and easy means of fading in and out
Adaptive Noise Reduction effect removes noise without using a noise print
Spot Healing Brush quickly removes unwanted noise
Effects Paint Brush enables subtle changes to select areas
Audition is compatible with multi-core processors for faster processing


Adaptive Noise Reduction not as effective as noise print based noise reduction
Some processes may actually take longer than with Audition 2.0

Adobe Systems Incorporated, 345 Park Avenue, San Jose, CA 95110-2704 adobe.com 1-800-833-6687. Read Burgan is a free lance writer and a former public radio station manager specializing in digital audio restoration who can be reached at (906) 296-0652 or through e-mail at