Amadeus II 3.7.1, by Hairersoft
Posted: 15-May-2004

4 out of 5 Mice

Vendor: Hairersoft Type: SHAREWARE

Reviewer: Scott Bender Class: MULTIMEDIA
     
$10 New User Perspective Download

Overview
On their webpage, Heirersoft describes Amadeus II as "a very powerful sound editor for Macintosh... all the functions you would expect from a high-quality sound editor". It contains tools for reducing background noise and the generating precise sonograms and spectrum analyses. It includes many standard features, such as filters, echo, and speed and pitch control. Sounds can be synthesized from a standard library of waveforms, and it allows importation of raw data for synthesizing as well.

It supports direct-to-disk capabilities, multiple undo functionality, and multiple scraps. It also offers full MP3 support (using the LAME encoding engine), a function for joining several files, and crack-searching functions. Although it contains all of these advanced features, it is also quite user-friendly, so even a novice such as myself can find it useful as well.

Two supported versions of Amadeus II are available for the Mac: an OSX version (2.7 MB download) and a 9.x version (2.5 MB download). Heirersoft no longer supports their version for OS 8.x, though it can still be downloaded (1.4 meg). I tested Amadeus II version 3.7.1 on my 533Mhz G4 running OS 10.3.

Installation
Installation of Amadeus is a simple drag-and-drop of the application folder onto your hard drive.

In Use
My wife is an instructor at a local dance studio. Several years back, I volunteered to function as their music director, since the bulk of it was on either old, overplayed vinyl, or worn-out cassettes. This old music is full of hisses, pops, cracks, and blank spots. The first task at hand was digitizing the music. I had been importing the music directly into my G4 via a Griffin iMic using Sound Studio. I had also been using Sound Studio to edit songs for routines. A typical routine lasts roughly 3 minutes, while most of the music out today is in the 4 minute-or-so range. After importing, editing, etc., I had to import my edits into iTunes, then convert it to MP3 in order to save some disk space (AIFF's were averaging 25 MB per song - and I had LOTS of songs to work on). I also made sure to burn the AIFFs to disk, thus keeping the higher-quality data intact. . It worked pretty well with new music, but I never managed to remove the cracks and pops.

Removing hisses and pops was remarkably easy with Amadeus II. After opening a file (it accommodates AIFF, AIFC, Wave, Mp3, Ogg Vorbis, QuickTime, AVI, SoundDesigner II, and u-law formats), a digital representation of the sound is displayed. From here, you use basic cut and paste methods to edit and manipulate the sound.

A navigator tool panel also opens with basic play, reverse, pause, etc., buttons. One minor irritation is with the default spacebar function. By default, the spacebar toggles playback on and off, but playback always starts at the beginning of the document or selection rather than where the last play point was. However, there is a nice preference setting that lets you change the spacebar to toggle "play/pause" such that it behaves more like the spacebar in iTunes (i.e., playback is from where you left off).

Amadeus II sports many features and tools, and they are spread across multiple windows and menu pulldowns. Until you become familiar with the interface, finding features was not always easy. Often I had to scroll through several menus to find a feature I was looking for. Once you find what you need, the functions are intuitive. I only had to refer to the included soft-manual a couple times to make sure I was doing something correctly prior to doing it.

One feature I liked a lot was the addition of separate controls for speed and pitch. Oftentimes, my wife needs to be able to slow a song down, in order to be able to teach it. Likewise, she sometimes wants to bump the speed up in order to challenge her dancers a bit more. Back in the old days of vinyl, we would speed a song up by switching from 33-1/3 RPM to 45 RPM. It worked to change the tempo, but the result was a very fast rendition of the Chipmunks. The speed increased, but so did the pitch. Amadeus has separate pitch and speed controls, allowing me to adjust the speed while leaving the pitch in tact; thus, a faster song, but with vocals that are pretty close to the original. The ability to speed a song up without resulting in a rendition of "The Chipmunks" was extremely useful.

The feature that I used extensively was the ability to remove hisses and pops from input recordings. All I had to do was isolate a sound (a pop for instance) by highlighting it, then select a portion of the song where I know a pop exists, and then select "extract noise". Amadeus did a very good job of extracting the pop from the selection. I was able to clean up some very old, very noisy recordings. There's also a preset for removing that low, annoying AC hum from recordings as well.

I was able to merge several sound files together (medleys), as well as separate sections with ease. I could place markers in a track at any location I chose, then use the left and right arrows to fine-tune their locations. After which, I would use a Command-left or Command-right, highlight to the marker, and then "snip".

Once my editing was done, I could save as an AIFF, which retains the higher quality of the original (I always keep the original until the person I'm editing for has confirmed that the edit is what they want). In the past, I would import the AIFF into my iTunes library, then convert it to MP3. Amadeus II allows me to save as an MP3 on the fly (a 25 Megabyte AIFF compresses to a 3 or 4 megabyte MP3). I found though, that it took almost two minutes to convert one song to MP3. In iTunes, I could import the song, and convert it in just over a minute.

Summary
Amadeus II is an extremely useful and powerful tool for editing and manipulating audio. Hairersoft includes features that are not found in lower-level applications such as Sound Studio. It's extremely stable, and I had no problems using the software or enabling the controls. I especially liked the ability to save and export marked selections (multiple tracks), remove noise, and change speed and pitch. The ability to convert AIFF to MP3 on the fly is nice, although it seems to be slower doing the conversion than iTunes. There are some interface quarks, but overall this is a great tool for editing, cleaning and processing audio. If you have any need to perform music restoration, Amadeus II is the tool you want to use.

Pros

  • Noise reduction for restoration of music
  • Separate pitch and speed controls
  • Fairly intuitive controls
  • Saving directly to MP3


Cons

  • Spacebar playback not consistent with iTunes play and pause function
  • Slow to convert AIFF to MP3
  • Sometimes difficult to find desired feature


Overall Rating

4 out of 5 Mice