Audio editing program for Mac OS X (with older versions available for OS9) published by Felt Tip Software.

I've been looking for a sound editing program for OS X that allows me to view and edit waveforms for quite awhile; Most of the sound editors I've looked at were either badly designed, buggy or lacking in critical (or timesaving) features. Sound Studio is no exception, though it's (marginally) better than the rest in that it actually works. The truly annoying thing about the program is that its one major flaw required zero work to fix - for what it is, the program is amazingly overpriced.

Sound Studio seems to be marketed as the Swiss Army Knife of audio. First, the basics: (from "Sound Studio is a Mac OS X application (an older version is available for Mac OS 9.1 through 9.2.2) for working with digital audio. Digitize vinyl records and tapes, record live performances, create your own mixes with crossfades, tweak the levels and EQ, apply digital effects, and save in several file formats with Sound Studio." (Emphasis mine)

The thing about a Swiss Army Knife is that, while it's a handy thing to have around, its individual components are some of the shoddiest available. They are sold on the basis of how many widgets are crammed into such a little case, not at how well engineered and precision-honed the corkscrew is.

All those features are available, it's true, but how easy they are to use is another point entirely. Saying the program can "digitize vinyl records and tapes" is a tiny bit of marketing - in reality the program will record any audio pumped into your Mac regardless of what it is, and setting up your audio rig to export clean, well-balanced, volume adjusted output is a nontrivial affair. It's not like you can just plug a turntable into your mac and hit record; you'll need mixers, amplifiers and some kind of interface to get the sound into your computer in the first place. Again, not a big deal, but not easy as they make it sound for the guy who wanted to preserve his Chubby Checker records and knows nothing about this stuff. Same thing with recording "Live Performances" - possible, but extremely difficult to do well without more powerful software and an expensive amount of hardware.

Sound Studio's sound filtering features work well, from crossfades to flangers, reverbs, fades and all that. Quite well done.

Importing and exporting are a sticky point, however. Apparently you can import a few different raw audio formats as well as anything that QuicktimePRO can import. That adds another 30 bucks to the price if you want to import .AAC, MP3 or what-have-you without reencoding them as pure sound first.

If you want to use Sound Studio to encode these files BACK to mp3 when you're done with them, however, it looks like you're out of luck. You can't do it through Sound Studio, because "the free iTunes software from Apple will let you convert AIFF files to MP3. Adding such capability to Sound Studio would require licensing the MP3 technology and adding to the cost of a Sound Studio license."(

Ok, but here's the thing: licensing this program will cost you US$50. I consider fifty bucks to be the price of commercial software, and for that kind of money I want a manual, I want a CD (which you can get for an extra $10, bringing the price up to $60) I want customer support and I want basic features. I want to be able to save a file as an mp3 without having to boot up iTunes. Audacity saves mp3s, and you know what? IT'S FREE!

There are other, minor things. I want an interface that doesn't hurt to use, with windows that remember where they were when I closed them so that, when they pop up again, they're not directly in front of what I was editing. I'd like the program's focus to not change to that same window to remind me that I've got 45 seconds left in a paste job while I'm doing something else. I'd like detailed and specific preference panes about all aspects of the interface (like mouse-button mapping, pointer behavior during playback and how I get notification or errors and problems). I'd like all this stuff, which I think would be pretty standard in commercial software, or I want a shareware-like price.

This software isn't bad, but it's loaded with features from the professional market that the professionals have their own tools for and that hobbyists shouldn't have to pay for. It's underpowered, clunky and (the worst part) horrendously overpriced. If ProTools Free came to Mac OS X, I'd be in heaven. As it is, it looks like I'm stuck dual booting for my audio work.

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