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Software Review: Adobe Master Collection – Soundbooth CS5 from Adobe Systems

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This is the eighth of a series of reviews that will cover what is contained in the Adobe Creative Suite 5 (CS5) Master Collection. When Adobe released CS5 this year, they not only will release single version products, but also five separate suites of products. They are Design Premium, Design Standard, Web Premium, Production Premium, and Master Collection. You can go online to compare what is contained in each version. The goal of this series it to define what each product does and provide information of what the new version brings to the table.

Adobe Soundbooth is a digital audio editor from Adobe Systems. It is a program where video editors, web designers, and other creative professionals can have the tools to create and polish audio, customize music, and add sound effects within a familiar interface. It has a simple work flow that is very easy to use.

Soundbooth CS5

You also have the ability to move audio and soundtrack projects between Soundbooth and Adobe Premiere Pro CS5 or Adobe Flash Professional CS5 software using the nondestructive ASND file format—no exporting or conversion needed. Create improved SWF and FLV video experiences by exporting speech metadata in cue point XML files for ActionScript development.

So what can you do with Soundbooth CS5?
With Soundbooth you can create soundtracks easily for Adobe Premiere Pro and Flash Professional projects. Create your own soundtrack by dragging and dropping royalty-free Soundbooth Scores and sound effects directly onto multiple tracks from the expanded selection of scores and effects in a separate online service called Resource Central. Polish scores and sound effects with professional processing and mastering tools.

You can also get professional-sounding mixes even when handling large or complex multi-track projects inside Multitrack View. Size tracks to keep your entire project in view. Split clips or copy and drag clips to different tracks. Automate volume settings. Optimize your soundtrack for your delivery medium.

If you need to fix audio problems fast, Soundbooth makes it easy to detect automatically and fix common flaws such as hiss, hum, phase problems, crackling, and pops. Visually edit audio with familiar graphics editing tools in Spectral View. Match the volume of multiple clips of dialogue.

So what is new with Soundbooth CS5?
• Improved Multitrack editing – will take that high-impact visual media that depends on effective use of sound and music and make it easy to place sonic elements precisely to create the perfect blend of dialogue, voice-over, music, and sound effects. Now, with the improved workflow in multitrack edit mode, you can mix and edit multitrack projects faster and with more control. You can resize the tracks in Multitrack View to view entire multitrack projects at once or to zoom in on specific tracks. Split, move, and copy audio clips more easily with enhanced clip editing; these improvements let you align sound clips to specific points in a scene, duplicate clips within a track, or move clips between different tracks.

• Expanded library – of royalty-free Soundbooth Scores and sound effects that will help to kick-start your soundtrack with a dramatically expanded selection of royalty-free content. Add to that, Soundbooth CS5 now offers access to Resource Central panel, where you’ll find more than 10,000 sound effects.

• Soundbooth Scores – are extremely flexible and configurable. There are more than 130 customizable Soundbooth Scores available and all professionally composed. Each Score is a multipart instrumental performance or a mix of instrumental and ambient sounds. Each self-contained score has clearly marked sections such as intros, endings, and thematic variations. You can easily align start and end times of a score with the length of a scene simply by dragging the start and end points. Internal sections are automatically stretched or shortened to keep the integrity of the performance consistent. If you need to shorten a scene by a few seconds, just drag the end points to match the new length, and your soundtrack is automatically adjusted.

Soundbooth CS5

• Sound Effects – such as crashes, explosions, and tire screeches are great to have in a sound effects library; they can save you a lot of expense, not to mention threats to life and limb. But a good sound effects library offers much more than bangs and booms. Among the 10,000+ sound effects available through Soundbooth in Resource Central, you’ll find sounds that can not only punctuate a scene, but set it entirely. A wide variety of sound effects is easily accessible in Resource Central, organized in clearly labeled categories such as Sports, Transportation, Household, Human Elements, Liquids/Water, Weather, and others.

Overall, I like the direction that Adobe has been going with Soundbooth, but you have to see that there has not been a lot that has changed since CS4. It is still a good product and the addition of the Multitrack View and the additional resources are nice, but hardly worth the upgrade from CS4.

That said, if you are getting one of the suites that it is a part of then you are getting a really good product especially for those who have a limited audio editing background. If you are upgrading from CS3 or earlier, then too, this will make a worthy upgrade. If you are just starting out and want to have a high quality audio editing product, then I can highly recommend Soundbooth CS5.

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About T. Michael Testi

Photographer, writer, software engineer, educator, and maker of fine images.