Sound Studio 2.1, by Felt Tip Software
Posted: 8-Jul-2003

4 1/2 out of 5 Mice

Vendor: Felt Tip Type: COMMERCIAL

Reviewer: Bob Schumann Class: MULTIMEDIA

Introduction
I have been looking for a good replacement for my SoundEdit Pro application for years. I originally bought a Farallon MacRecorder for my Mac IIcx in the early 90s. The SoundEdit Pro software that came with it was perfect for my needs. It was easy to use with nice features, but not too feature laden. But the software no longer worked when I bought a new PowerPC Mac. Now, I think I have finally found the replacement that will run under OS X and I have new incentive to transfer some old LPs to the digital domain.

Sound Studio 2.1 is an audio recording, playback, and editing application. It supports stereo and monaural tracks in several file formats. Sounds can be recorded from various sources or existing sound files such as audio tracks from CDs may be edited and different effects can be applied. Sound Studio may be downloaded and used as a 14-day fully functional demo. After 14 days, the ability to save files is disabled. The license for the downloaded version is $49.99, or you can purchase the CD for $59.99.

This software was reviewed on a Power Macintosh G4 Quicksilver 867 MHz with 1.125 GB of RAM running Mac OS X 10.2.6 and Mac OS 9.2.2. A Griffin iMic was used for sound input.

Requirements

  • Mac OS 9.1 or higher (Mac OS X 10.2.4 or higher recommended)
  • QuickTime 4.1 or higher (QuickTime Pro 5 recommended)
  • 30 MB RAM available
  • Audio input interface


Features
The audio recording capabilities of Sound Studio are quite good with a few unexpected extras. By default, Sound Studio records at a CD-quality 44.1 kHz sample rate, 16-bit resolution, and stereo channels. The sample rate can be changed to several other rates, the resolution can be changed to 8-bit (version 2.1.1 will support 24-bit also), and the channel can be changed to monaural. This version does not support multiple tracks, however. You can record from any Sound Manager compatible input device (such as the USB iMic or iVoice II and Firewire DV devices). Recording is disk-based, which means your sound files are only limited by the size of the free space on your hard disk (up to 2GB). One of the features that I did not expect is auto start/stop recording. Recording can be set to start and stop at a specific time, for a specific length of time, or until the maximum file size has been reached. You can also set the options to record when the sound level reaches a certain point and pause or stop when the level goes below a certain point. These settings can be saved and used again as a preset. Another nice feature is Sound Studio supports AppleScript, and a few sample scripts are included to give you an idea of its functionality.

I found the audio editing capabilities to be extremely intuitive and easy to use. The waveform display window shows the complete waveform overview with a boxed area showing the relative position of the zoomed waveform below. The waveform can be zoomed down to the sample level. Markers can be inserted at any point you want and will be saved as an AIFF file. The markers make it handy to find certain parts of the waveform and to select between two markers for playback, filtering, or editing. Standard cut/copy/paste editing is supported with multiple undos to allow you to experiment and easily get back to a previous point. Mixing is also supported; you can mix together a sound clip into your current selection. The final levels of each sound clip can be adjusted so one can be the background and the other the main sound. If you want to discard all changes, you can use the Revert selection under the File menu to reopen the last saved version.

For the type of sound editing I want to do, Sound Studio has quite a complete selection of filters. Each filter dialog box has adjustable settings and you can click on the preview button to try out the effect before applying it. The Dynamics filters include a Compressor, an Expander, and a Noise Gate. For Equalization filtering, Sound Studio includes a Graphic Equalizer that can be 3, 10 or 30 bands. Low Pass and High Pass filtering is also available. Filters that manipulate delays include Chorus, Flanger, Echo, and Reverb. The Volume adjusting filters include Amplify, Fade In/Out, and Normalize. To repair sound files that have some curable flaws, the Repair filters include Interpolate, Silence, and Swap Channels. Clicks and pops can be repaired by silencing them or by interpolating the samples. Also, filters are provided to remove DC offsets and to fix inverted signals. If you wish to find the hidden messages in some songs, the Backwards filter can do the work for you.

The Insert menu has selections for inserting a Silence or you can insert a sound using the Tone, Noise, and FM Synthesis generators. The Audio menu allows you to Resample to different sample rates or adjust the pitch of the sound.

User Interface
Below are screenshots of the Sound Studio Waveform Display window and Input Levels window under OS X. The interface for the OS 9 version is basically identical. The interface is elegantly simple with all the basic controls and information readily available. I would like to see fast-forward and rewind buttons added. To start playing at a specific point, just click between the two waveforms to select the starting point. You can also just play the right or left channel by clicking on that waveform when the pointer cursor shows an R or L. To select a section of the waveforms, you can use the standard click and drag technique.


Sound Studio Waveform Display



Sound Studio Input Levels Window


Usability
The majority of use for this review was done under OS X, and I just briefly tried it under under Mac OS 9.2.2 to verify that the same features worked under Classic. Everything worked as expected and the application was extremely stable.

Compatibility
The following files formats are supported:

  • Apple AIFF with marker support
  • CD Audio Track (requires QuickTime)
  • Windows WAVE (.WAV)
  • System 7 Sound
  • Sound Designer II
  • Dual-mono import/export
  • QuickTime import/export (imports MP3s)
  • Export as tab-delimited text

Sound Studio does not export to MP3 files, so you will have to use iTunes or another utility to convert the AIFF file.

Support
The Sound Studio Users Guide PDF file is included with the downloaded application. It includes a Getting Started section, how-to tutorials, and a reference section. Also included is a FAQ.html file that includes quite a comprehensive selection of Sound Studio Frequently Asked Questions.

There is also a Help menu that will connect you to the Felt Tip's web site. There are two selections on the menu, but only the "Go to Sound Studio Web Page" selection works.

Summary
Sound Studio 2.1 is a joy to use and a professional quality application. The user interface is intuitive and uncluttered. Everything worked as expected, and the application comes with a nice set of features and filters. Digital audio enthusiasts should definitely give Sound Studio a serious look. I highly recommend it.

Pros

  • Works with Mac OS 9 and OS X
  • Easy to use, intuitive interface
  • Solid performance
  • Supports popular audio formats
  • Users Guide PDF file included

Cons

  • Cannot save directly to an MP3 file
  • Does no support multiple tracks
  • No fast forward or rewind controls


Overall Rating

4 1/2 out of 5 Mice