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Sound Forge 6 & Acid Pro 4
Foundry has recently updated both of its flagship audio products. We
look at Sound Forge 6 and Acid Pro 4 to see what the new versions have
Sound Forge 5 and Acid Pro 3 earned high marks when we last looked at
them. Sound Forge reinforced its reputation as one of the best audio
editor programs for Windows, and Acid Pro 3 was confirmed as a first-rate
music production environment. Both supported video playback and rendering,
making them particularly useful for Windows-based video editors. A little
over a year later, it's time to check out Sound Forge 6 and Acid Pro
Both programs installed on our test system without a hitch. It then
took just a few seconds via the internet to register the programs with
Sonic Foundry. Top of the list of enhancements to Sound Forge is non-destructive
audio editing. Previous versions allowed edits to be undone, but in
V6, edits are only written back to the original file when it is saved.
As a result, most editing processes are faster than before. Also helping
the workflow is support for background rendering - while one file is
being rendered to disk, it's possible to continue to work on another.
Also on the list are improved management of effects plug-ins, enhanced
zoom ratios (for sample-accurate editing) and full 32-bit audio support.
There are also further improvements in video handling. A number of new
rendering options are available, including fast video resizing and video
stretching, and these trade-off video quality against rendering speed
- useful while a project is in the early stages of development (Acid
Pro 4 also includes these options). In addition, providing the host
OS (and disk drives) has support, Sound Forge will work with files larger
than 4GByte. And, video can be previewed on an external monitor running
from a DV camcorder attached to an OHCI-compliant FireWire port. Another
nice touch - the LE (limited edition) version of Sonic Foundry's highly-respected
video editing program, Vegas Video 3.0 is included with Sound Forge,
and it's far from being a shabby cut-down of the full product.
The additions to Acid Pro are somewhat more dramatic. There's support
for VST Instruments (VSTi) - so Acid can now act as a host for VST-based
software synthesizers, samplers or effects. Two other new features make
use of VSTi practical. First, ASIO drivers are now supported. With the
right sound card/driver combination, these can give the low audio latency
(for example, less than 20ms) that means software synthesisers can be
played in real-time without there being a noticeable delay between pressing
the Midi keyboard and hearing the synth produce a sound. Second, Midi
editing has been dramatically improved (answering a criticism we made
in reviewing V3), making Acid a respectable (if not yet fully featured)
Midi sequencing environment. Another major addition is support for 5.1
Surround Sound mixing - clearly aimed at those with an interest in DVD
production. Among the other many improvements are automation of some
effects plug-ins, and the addition of alternate time signatures and
the same new video rendering options found in Sound Forge.
The upgrade to Sound Forge brings some welcome new features and, in
use, probably the most noticeable is the considerable improvements in
workflow, brought about by the introduction of non-destructive editing.
This is audio editing of a high standard - very slick and very professional.
However, it is in Acid where the more obvious enhancements have been
made, with ASIO/VSTi support, 5.1 surround sound mixing and much better
Midi editing topping the list. All these new features are well implemented
and there is a host of smaller improvements, too.
Acid still doesnít compare with a full-blown Midi sequencer,
but its Midi functionality is now good enough to be taken seriously.
For those musicians who work predominately with audio loops, but need
access to Midi for some tasks, Acid is probably now good enough to avoid
having to run a sequencer as well.
Many musicians are now moving from hardware samplers to software samplers
and, providing a VST-compatible software sampler instrument is used,
such as Steinberg Halion, Acid now provides a suitable VST host. While
Cakewalk's Sonar is an obvious competitor, Acid - the daddy of loop-based
audio sequencing - is still up to the mark. It also happens to be a
lot of fun to use. For existing users, the upgrade to version 4 is a
no-brainer. Potential purchasers who download the demo will see how
easy computer-based music making can be.
Reviewed in March's issue:
DVanced PAL/NTSC Converter
Sonic Desktop Movie Maestro
Sonic Foundry Sound Forge/Acid Pro
Combustion slashed to under £900
Matrox FX exchange web site
Avid DV editing freebie
DVD X Copy
MS WM9 hits the net
Video Forum 2003