SmartSound SonicFire Pro 3 test

Self Help | The Magazine | Downloads | Links | Tips & Advice | Help! I'm new | Contact Us | Subscribe | Home  

Inside the magazine
Self-help message board
Article reprints
How to contact us
Web links directory
Software downloads
Tips and advice
Fire-wire campaign
Subscribe today
Help Me, I'm new!
Fair pricing petition

In Software Downloads:
Adobe Premiere 6 (trial)
Paint Shop Pro 7 (trial)

Tips and Advice:
How to get started with computer video editing

Fire-wire Campaign:
Join our ongoing campaign

SmartSound Sonicfire Pro 3

When we looked at V2 of Sonic Desktop's SonicFire Pro (review, February 02, p68) we were impressed. Version 2 made it easy to build a suitable soundtrack for a video production using SmartSound Audio CDs - themed collections of royalty-free library music created to work with the company's range of music-track creation programs.

Sonic Desktop - which has renamed itself SmartSound - has released V3 and, given that creating music tracks in V2 was only marginally more difficult than falling off a log, we initially wondered how the company could have made the process any easier. However, that is what it claims for V3, along with a few other notable improvements.

SmartSound basics
SmartSound software technology has been around for a good while and will be familiar to many readers who found it came in-pack with their video editing software. Versions are bundled with Pinnacle's Studio 7 and 8, and with a number of recent versions of Premiere - for Windows and for Mac - though it is absent from the latest iteration of Premiere, Premiere Pro.

All SmartSound-based applications do essentially the same job - offering an intelligent and rapid music-track-creation tool using a simple wizard to generate a suitable music cue for each scene from the company's dedicated library of music CDs. The company calls these SmartSound Audio Palettes, and there are many of them - see the New CD releases text box for details of recent titles. There is also a range of six sound-effects CDs available under the Sound Palette name.

As the range-leader, SonicFire Pro offers the most functionality. Perhaps the key difference between Pro and its cheaper stable-mates is the inclusion of a video window - allowing musical cues to be created and auditioned alongside the video footage, with obvious advantages.

Each audio CD contains a collection of themed musical pieces several minutes in length. The clever bit is that each piece is divided into a number of shorter audio sections known as Segment Blocks, and SonicFire Pro will assemble these Segment Blocks in different ways depending upon the length of musical cue required. The program picks Segment Blocks suitable for intros and endings, and can assemble Segment Blocks in a number of pre-determined ways to provide further variation.

Once completed, the finished soundtrack can be exported as a standard audio file (such as WAV or AIFF) for use in another application or exported complete with the video. All this is very simple and, at this broad level, the new release offers the same core features as version 2. But what new features does version 3 offer to persuade new users to take the plunge and existing users to upgrade?

Like its predecessor, SonicFire Pro 3 is capable of excellent results when used with SmartSound CD audio tracks. While no dramatic additions have been made to the core functionality, SmartSound has streamlined the interface and made the program even easier to use. The ability to preview individual tracks via the company's website is also useful - taking the uncertainty out of purchasing additional CDs and adding the ability to buy and download individual tracks.

While only the keen home video enthusiast with deep pockets is likely to opt for the program, its appeal will be considerably greater in the world of low-budget corporate or special events, including weddings. Anyone currently dependent on standard library/production music sources should give SonicFire Pro a close look. It's not cheap, but the experienced video producer will easily be able to calculate how the price of the program and CDs compares to the current outlay on library tracks. If the SmartSound musical styles fit your needs, then soundtrack production does not get any easier than this.

John Walden


» aDVanced PAL/NTSC Converter
» Apple DVD Studio Pro 2
» Epson Stylus Photo 900
» Matrox RT.X100 Xtreme
» Pioneer DVR-106
» SonicFoundry Vegas 4

Read the full feature in January 2004's Computer Video magazine.


Recent features...
View The Archive

Reviewed in this issue:

SonicFoundry SonicFire Pro 3
Adobe Encore DVD
Canopus DVRaptor RT2

In the news:

Sony VX2000 replacement
LaCie 320GByte HDDs
The Mac OS we've been waiting for?
Low-cost eMacs
Avid Xpress Pro
Canopus Premiere Pro support
Roxio Easy CD & DVD 6.2 updater

Contact Us | Subscribe | Home (c) WVIP. Maintained by Mark Newman.