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.
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
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
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
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
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.
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!
-- The End --
Adobe Systems Incorporated
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
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