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Review of Sound Forge 7 through 9
A Great Audio editor for the PC
What Forge is: There are two products that bear the name Sound Forge made by Sony. There is Sound Forge 9, which is the current full version as of this writing, and Sony Sound Forge Audio Studio, which is an inexpensive stripped down version of the real thing. Sony gives us a handy comparision chart. If you are new and on a budget and simply want to edit audio files, make acid loops and beats, rip material from cds, burn songs to cd track at a time add basic effects then screenblast is a fine way to go.
If you are into mastering your audio material with 3rd party DX plugins, making samples for digital samplers that support SCSI, want the Acoustic Mirror, WaveHammer and Specrtum Analysis tools, you need the full version. Both will import and save MP3, add audio to video files. This is a review of the full version of Sound Forge 7 and 8.
The basic layout of Sound Forge is user customizable. Nearly every window is a docking window and you can snap together the interface in many ways. Below is a shrunk down version of an 1152 x 864 screen on my second monitor. You can stretch the screen to cover two monitors which is ideal if you want to see everything. Forge has always been a robust PC program and you'll find all the latest Microsoft OS features implemented splendidly, like right click contest menus, docking toolbars, menu items where you expect them and fast and speedy file and windowing operations.
A screen shot of Forge 7 with a 3rd party Vintage Warmer Plugin
Note that you can add Sound Forge to Sonar's menu and use it directly from Sonar to edit Sonar's audio tracks. This is a very cool feature.
What is new in Version 8?
There are two critical features added to Forge 8 that users have long been wanting. 1. Asio driver support 2. VST effect support and 3. Full CD burning. With Asio support you can use the drivers on low latency soundcards and audio interfaces that use asio. This makes the application a bit more snappy. However, it in no way affects the sound. As Forge is not a multi-track recording application like a sequencer, it does not matter if the audio is a half second late, other than you have to wait that half second after hitting the "play" button. But still, it makes doing /B comparisons a bit faster, so this is a good thing.
2. VST support is a big deal. This basically lets you use a lot more plugins with Forge.
3. CD architect 5.2 is now bundled with Forge. This allows full CD mastering, with full sub code editing. Its nice that you can go back and forth between the applications with ease as you assemble your CD.
What is new in Version 9?
Soundforge 9 now offers multichannel editing and recording. This is going to be a great feature for those who like to master and finalize in forge. It will allow the addition of a few tracks for accents and extended processing, something glitch artists should like quite a bit. It also includes the mastering effects bundle by iZotope. Sony also bundled in its Noise Reduction 2.0 plugin and its 5.1 AC-3 dolby digital export. All this stuff used to cost you extra! (I know because I paid for them all). There is also a new multichannel Spectrum Analysis tool. The version of CD Architect has not changed. The Price is excellent for what you get.
Version History of Sound Forge
Version 7 Notes
Example of Sound Forge's Plugin Manager (my compressors folder)
The most obvious competition is Steinberg's Wavelab. If you have Cubase are into VSTs this may be the way to go. It also offers full CD Mastering, while Forge requires it's CD Architect application to do this. However, if you are using Sonar and using audio clips and acid loops, Sound Forge fits right in. There is nothing on the Mac platform that can rival Sound Forge. Peak 4 probably comes the closest, but in Peak there is no way to save songs as a project, making mastering more of a chore. (Peak is, to be fair and balanced, perhaps the fastest audio editor ever made). If you are doing video/audio/surround work in Vegas 4 or 5 you will find Forge can be called up from any track to do detailed editing and processing. If you are into making samples for your hardware sampler (Emu, Akai, Kurzweil formats are included as presets), you'll be thrilled seeing samples pipe back and forth over SCSI to the sampler and back.
My experience with Version 8
I find that only a few of my plugin chains developed in Forge 7 work in Forge 8. Its too bad. 7 was rock solid, but didn't have asio, which is practically required if using an emu sound card (whose wdm drivers are not as robust). Overall, I find the application less stable than it needs to be. Forge used to be known for practically "bulletproof" PC execution. I am sorry to say my experience is to the contrary. In May of this year they released Version 8a with over 20 bug fixes. They need to keep those coming. The problem does not affect newly created plugin chains. So my advice is don't throw away version 7 if you need 8 if you have lots of material mastered with plugin chains. If you are a new user, this won't matter.
I don't have V9 yet. Since I already have all the new features (from buying them separately) except multi-channel recording, I'll probably pass this time. But you should know Version 9 offers a tremendous value. CD Architect alone is worth the price of admission Soundforge 9 now offers multichannel editing and recording. This is going to be a great feature for those who like to master and finalize in forge. It will allow the addition of a few tracks for accents and extended processing, something glitch artists should like quite a bit.
Soundforge 9 Click the pic to enlarge
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