Review: Freeverse Sound Studio 3

Edit almost any sound file easily./ (September 29th, 2009)

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Product Manufacturer: Freeverse and Felt Tip Software

Price: $79.95 US

The Good

  • Easy to learn.
    Most tools and controls are intuitive.
    Unlimited undo capability.

The Bad

  • PDF Help file with limited search.
    No metronome function.
    No WMA support.

Freeverse's Sound Studio 3 records, edits, and adds digital effects to audio files in a number of formats. It's compatible with QuickTime 7, and has support for ID3 tags and iTunes metadata information, including a nifty drag and drop album artwork interface. Developed by Felt Tip Software, the new 3.6 update, available free to all Sound Studio 3.0 owners, adds more Core Audio formats, and IMA 4:1 for iPhone development, plus some interface and performance enhancements.

Power + Ease

Sound Studio may not match the raw power of the most complex sound editing software out there, but its interface melds an easy-to-learn, easy-to-use combination of tools and effects. As a whole, Sound Studio packs more than enough punch to keep amateurs, weekend warriors, and professional game designers entertained and, better yet, productive.

Sound Studio Interface


Main Window


While the controls may not be immediately intuitive to the rank beginner, the straightforward Help menu is an ample reference. After just a few minutes of fiddling, you'll mentally divide the interface into three parts: The track display, the control buttons, and the Filter menu. The track display functions like a graphical cut and paste display, while the control buttons sport familiar labels like play, record, rewind, stop, and pause. The Filter menu includes additional tools and effects.

 Filter Menu


Filter Menu


Sound Studio lives up to its billing as simple to use but powerful enough to make professional-sounding game effects and soundtracks. Within minutes of booting it up and paging through the PDF Help, I was layering multiple tracks of my own voice to sing inane rounds together. I added reverb, fades, and echoes to my favorite MP3 files, and plotted how to convince a concert pianist into letting me produce a recording for her. This program may not produce full studio quality recordings, you really need a studio for that, but it's about as close as the average user can get. It also smoothly edited out the bumps, pops and clicks I intentionally added to a few sound files.

The pitch and tempo controllers add an unexpected side-benefit, and can be manipulated independently or linked together.

 Filter Menu


The ability to add markers to and otherwise manipulate sound files, make it the perfect transcription tool also. More traditional uses include creating podcasts, spoken word recordings, audio blogs, and soundtracks for digital presentations. Sound Studio is more than capable, and powerful, enough to produce all of these.

 Filter Menu


Add Markers to Sound File


My one major disappointment: The pile of WMA files I want to edit will have to wait a while longer. This seems to be the one significant audio format that Sound Studio doesn't support, so editing them requires a third-party converter tool.

System Requirements

Sound Studio runs on PowerPC and Intel processors with 500 MHz or faster and requires Mac OS X 10.4 or later and QuickTime 6.5.2 or later. Its system requirements are modest in all areas except for one: Expect to give up about 1 GB of free hard disk space for each hour of recorded and edited audio, using standard settings. The program stores every change made on disk until the sound file is closed or you quit the Sound Studio program. This gives you the opportunity to undo changes made all the way back to the beginning. If you do a lot of recording and editing on a consistent basis, you should seriously consider using an external hard drive as your scratch disk. You can designate a scratch disk location through the Sound Studio Preferences menu.

 Filter Menu


Sound Studio Preferences


Another surmountable catch, which is pointlessly frustrating: Sound Studio 3 can read MP3 files automatically, but in order to save the MP3 format you need to install the "LAME Ain't An MP3" Encoder framework, an open source project supposedly linked from the Sound Studio website. I couldn't find the link for the life of me, but if you look under Sound Studio FAQ and "Why can't I save as mp3 format?" you'll find another link that gets you where you need to go. In addition, a web location file is included in the Extras folder in the DMG file.

Extras

One of Sound Studio's flagship perks is a selection of included Monbots, automation plug-ins that also can be snagged from the Sound Studio website under the Goodies tab. My favorite, hands down, is the automated Clean & Convert, perfect for removing background noise and artifacts from your recordings.

 Filter Menu


Other options include a full-fledged Mastering Console and the Bookend Audio Monbot, which allows you to add intos and outros to a recording or group of recordings. Sound Studio makes much of its ability to handle sound files in batches, and these automated tools, with their drag-and-drop interfaces, make true on that promise.

Conclusion

Aside from a few minor quirks, such as the extra step of downloading the LAME framework and a Tap for BPM button that requires you to click it repeatedly in time with the music if you want to measure its beats per minute (BPM), Sound Studio works exactly as advertised. The intuitive interface lets you pick it up almost immediately; mixing beats, matching tracks, and speeding them up to chipmunk speed. The modest price tag makes it accessible to a wide variety of users that can put this kind of power to good use for amateur, semi-professional, and professional projects.

There is one, and only one, really glaring lack in this product: It doesn't have a metronome function, and that's enough to bump it out of contention for 5 out of 5 stars. Given the price tag, the ample editing functions, and how quickly the interface can be learned, I'm willing to go out and buy my own metronome.

You can download a fully featured version, limited to ten launches, from the site. After two or three launches, you should feel like an expert.

Edited by Ilene Hoffman, Reviews Editor

by Lisa M. Maloney


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