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CD Architect Is Back, Improved:
A Software Review by Read G. Burgan
Published In RADIO WORLD May 21, 2003:


CD Architect 5.0
By
Read G. Burgan

When Sonic Foundry first introduced CD Architect in the late 1990ís, it quickly became the software of choice for those of us who needed to burn audio CD-Rs. It was easy to use and powerful.

In 2000, Sonic Foundry quietly announced that it would no longer support CD Architect. While those of us who had come to rely on it could continue to use it, the program would not support new CD burners.

For the better part of two years Sonic Foundry tried to put a good face on its decision by suggesting that CD Architect users could get the same features in its Vegas software. As good as Vegas is, it is not CD Architect and many of us held on to our old copies of CD Architect and the host application Sound Forge 4.5 while using Vegas to import the CD Architect files so we could burn them on newer CD burners.

It was all fairly clumsy and anything but satisfying. Many of us felt betrayed by Sonic Foundry whose product we had embraced into our work lives.

All that changed a few months ago with the introduction of CD Architect 5.0. Aside from the support of current CD drives, what has changed? Thatís like asking whatís the difference between a model-T Ford and a 2003 Lincoln Continental?

First, unlike the previous versions, CDA 5.0 is a stand-alone application. While the general screen appearance is similar to the earlier versions, all kinds of new features have been added.

Since I donít have room here to highlight all of them, let me mention my personal favorites and those that have particular applications for those of us in the broadcasting industry.

Like its predecessor, CDA 5.0 has all of the tools that you need for importing WAV files from your favorite audio editor or audio CDs. And you can import cdp files made by previous versions.. CDA 5.0 provides several ways to produce the requisite tracks including the ability to change or eliminate the gaps between tracks.

If you burn commercials or news actualities to CDs, youíre going to love the time-stretch feature. With time-stretch, you just hold down your keyboard control button and use your mouse to drag the end of an event to either stretch or compress its timing while leaving the original pitch intact. Nothing could be easier to use and it works great.

CDA 5.0 has added a trimmer window that allows you to do editing on individual events before you place them in the CD track list. This letís you do the kind of editing that would have required opening a separate audio editor in the past. Itís convenient, and it saves time.

You can also audition multiple takes in a single track position. Did you record three cuts of a particular commercial but youíre not sure which one you like best? You can stack them all in a single track position and then compare them until you decide which one you like.

One of my favorite new features is the ability to individually normalize each of the events in the track list. All you do is check the normalize box for each event and the tracks are immediately normalized. Talk about a time saver!

Perhaps the single most powerful feature of CDA 5.0 is the ability to apply virtually any DirectXplug-in effect either individually to any track or globally to all the tracks. Each event has its own event editor that allows you to chain as many DirectX compatible plug-ins as you want. So you can add individual reverb, compression, noise reduction -- whatever you want to each of the tracks.

Then you can do the same to the entire CD by applying another set of DirectX plug-in effects to all of the tracks. This makes CDA 5.0 one of the most powerful CD burning programs that I know.

There is a price to pay for this kind of flexibility. Once you begin to ask the software to perform a multitude of tasks, you are requiring the kind of processor overhead that cannot be applied in a ďstraightĒ burn. To compensate for this, CDA 5.0 has two features.

If you have set the software to perform number of complex processes, then you almost certainly need to save the project as a CD Architect Image File. This is essentially a WAV file in which all of the operations that you have chosen are already performed.

If the number of processes to be performed on the WAV files are small to moderate, than you can take the faster route of checking the Render To Temporary Image Before Burning. In either case, expect the time necessary for burning the first CD to be longer than you would normally expect at the requisite burn speed. But that is a small price to pay for the ability to perform almost endless operations on your CD files.

I have given you only the highlights of CDA 5.0. There are many other features. So many, that I recommend that you print out the 100 plus page manual and keep it by you as you work your way through the program.
 

Expect a fairly significant learning curve to master all of the many new features. If you have used previous versions of CDA, you should be able to perform your former tasks in a matter of minutes.

CD Architect 5.0 is a worthy successor to the earlier versions and should be a welcome software tool for anyone who needs to burn audio CDs. I have used it for several months and canít imagine my work life without it.

-- The End --

Minimum System Requirements:
400 MHz processor
Windows-compatible sound card
128 MB RAM
Microsoft Windows 98SE,Me,2000, or XP
Microsoft Direct X 8 or later
Internet Explorer 5.0 or later
http://www.sonicfoundry.com 800-577-6642 customerservice@sonicfoundry.com
Sonic Foundry, Inc. 1617 Sherman Avenue Madison, WI 53704

THUMBS UP:
Backwards compatible with previous version(s)
Stand-Alone-Application
Time-Stretch feature lets you expand or compress time without altering pitch
Trimmer Window permits editing of individual events
The ability to automatically normalize individual tracks
Multiple takes can be previewed in the same track position
DirectX-PlugIns can be applied to individual tracks and globally

THUMBS DOWN:
Processor overhead requirements for complex operations requires pre-rendering of file before burning.
Significant learning curve to master all of the new features

Read Burgan is a free lance writer and a former public radio station manager who can be reached at (906) 296-0652 or through e-mail at rgb@chartermi.net