I got an invite to try out Sony Creative Software‘s new updates on their home studio products. Imagination Studio 4 holds four pieces of software for the home media creation enthusiast: Sound Forge Audio Studio 10, ACID Music Studio 9, Movie Studio Platinum 12 and DVD Architect Studio 5. These pieces of software are made for the home user. I knew I’d be able to sit in front of the computer and figure it out. But what about the average home user? Would they? That’s when I called my eleven year old daughter into my home office.
Let me tell you about my daughter, Eva: she’s eleven, in sixth grade, and likes to play with media. She has a small Kodak pocket camcorder she likes to play around with. She’s taking guitar lessons. She’s very bright – okay, I know a father’s going to say that. But she is. Really. She likes to read. She likes music. She’s already commandeered my Sgt. Pepper and White Album CDs.
So I proposed this to her – would she like to play and edit a small music video using Sony’s new software? She nodded enthusiastically. I made a stipulation – she would have very little help from Dad. I wanted to sit back and watch as she made this stuff herself, using her camera, playing and recording her guitar part, and editing her video.
So for the next few articles, we’ll go through each piece of software and I’ll tell you what I think of it, followed by how Eva did with it. Let’s jump in.
Sound Forge Audio Studio 10 is a sound recorder/editor for Windows machines. The program supports up to 24-bit/32-bit float, 192Khz files. Sound can be recorded from a variety of sources – tape players, turntables, microphones, cd players, etc. If you can plug it into your system, you can record from it. Sound can be saved into a variety of formats including MP3, WAV and AAC for when you want it on your iPod / iPad / iPhone / iDon’tKnowWhatsNext. You can also make CDs from the software.
There are over 30 built-in effects and signal processors to help clean up and alter your work. Working with video? You can attach video files to a project to watch as you work with the audio track from them. Recording old records? Sound Forge 10 comes with the Enhanced Vinyl Recoding and Restoration tool, which walks you through making the spinning record into a sound file. Want karaoke? There’s a plug-in to extract vocal tracks from recordings for remixing, isolating, or erasing. Sound Forge Audio Studio 10 supports VST plug-ins natively. There are also four step-by-step tutorial videos demonstrating making podcasts, audio mastering, making CDs, and audio restoration of vinyl. Sound can be measured in various units, from beats and measures to SMPTE drop-frame timecode – a welcome surprise for this video editor.
In other words, Sound Forge Audio Studio 10 has some very nice toys with it that could easily find their way into a professional setting.
But how did Eva do with it?
First things first. We sat down and installed the software. As with most software nowadays, I downloaded it and typed in a software key. I activated the software online the first time I started it up. Then we were ready to go.
I got up and let Eva sit in my comfy office chair. I took a stool and watched her read the tutorials. After she finished reading the basic tutorials, I asked her if she understood it. She said, with a little trepidation, she thought she did. She wasn’t sure, she said, about hooking up her guitar to the computer. She also didn’t quite understand the concept of a timeline. I explained a timeline as a visual representation of time – if you put a piece of sound here in the timeline, it will play here. Put it there, it will play there. She nodded and said, “Oh, okay. Got it.”
I got out my old electric, plugged it into a small amp, and plugged the output of the amp into the mic-input of the on-board sound card on my desktop. Then I got Eva set up and ready to go. She explained to me the recording process from what she had read, clicked for a new project, and set her new recording to be 16-bit, 48Khz, mono. I hit the record button on the toolbar. A record window popped up. She played a few notes to check the levels, which were too high. I adjusted the output from the amp. She played them again. All good. I gave her a five count, started the recording, and she played Beethoven’s Ode To Joy on electric guitar. She kept time to a metronome ticking softly behind her.
We played it back. She was satisfied. We saved it as a WAV file. We did it again, this time just playing the opening chord for each measure. Playback sounded just fine. We saved it as another WAV. She went back to my chair and sat down. She made a new project with the same settings except this one was stereo. I watched over her as she opened her WAV files, and cut and pasted them into the new project – chords on track one, notes on track two. I helped her identifiy the first note of each, and she selected the dead space before the note, deleting the silence. On playback, both tracks basically matched up. She was pleased with it. This being her project to do for fun, I backed off before going through it with a fine-tooth comb to exactly match every chord to every beat. Sometimes its hard to stay Dad and not turn into Editor. She saved the resulting soundfile as a WAV.
Total time spent, less than an hour. She was pleased. And so was Dad. I found the interface to be straight-forward. I didn’t have an awkward feeling while using it. Once she got the hang of moving along the timeline, she had no problems working with it. She seemed to enjoy the experience.
Sound Forge Audio Studio 10 comes in the Imagination Studio 4 from Sony Software, $174.95 for download, $179.95 for physical media. It’s also available separately at $64.95 for download, $69.95 for physical media. Sony Creative Software offers free trials of their software from their website. I suggest downloading any and all of them and giving them a spin.
Next time, Eva and I will look at Sony Creative Software’s ACID Music Studio 9. Until then, Eva says happy cutting.