Review of Sound Forge
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Review of Sound Forge 7 through 9

A Great Audio editor for the PC

by Tweak
Sony SoundForge Stereo Editing Software (Windows)
Sound Forge® software is an award-winning digital audio editor that includes a powerful set of audio processes, tools, and effects for recording and manipulating audio.
Sony Sound Forge Audio Studio (Windows)
Sound Forge software is the professional's choice for audio editing, recording, effects processing, streaming content creation, and more. Now, Sony Media Software introduces Sound Forge Audio Studio -- an easy-to-use home version of our professional program. If you want to record music, edit and restore audio, create streaming media, and burn songs to CD, Sound Forge Audio Studio software is all you need.

 

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.

Compare version 8 and 9

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. 

 

New in Version 8
  • Customizable keyboard mappings.
  • VST effect support.
  • ASIO audio driver support.
  • Data window scrubbing.
  • Application scripting with an integrated Script Editor window.
  • Batch processing and file-format conversion via the Batch Converter script.
  • Ability to save a project path in a rendered file and edit a rendered file's source project.
  • You can now choose the Ruler Format and Level Format for data displayed in the Statistics window.
  • You can copy the contents of the Statistics window to the clipboard for easy comparison of multiple files.
  • Integration with CD Architect software.
  • Macromedia Flash (.swf) format importing. (ActionScript, motion video, and audio are not supported.)
  • You can use the Display tab in the Preferences dialog to adjust the icon color saturation and icon tinting.
     
  • HDV™ project and rendering templates (AVI, MPEG-2, and Windows Media Video) have been added.

 

 

 

 

Version History of Sound Forge

Waves Native Platinum Bundle (Macintosh and Windows)
The Waves Platinum bundle includes 25 processors and is the most complete line of professional audio processors ever offered. Platinum combines the renowned Gold with new Masters and Renaissance Collection 2 bundles. Waves audio processor Plug-Ins are the quality standard for thousands of top audio professionals. This collection combines many of Waves most sophisticated technologies for sonic superiority.
Tweak:  Waves Platinum works great with Sound Forge
 
  • I've been using Sound Forge since version 3, and have happily updated the application at every opportunity.   SoundForge was already a great audio editor when I got on board.  It was one of the only PC editors that could send wav files to digital samplers over SCSI, and could edit whole productions with cut and paste ease.  Long before plugins hit the scene,  Forge had it's effects and processors ready to do their magic to your audio. 
  • Sound Forge 4 was a total overhaul of the interface, and allowed you to add on auxiliary features as options.  Back then, the Acoustics Modeler, Spectrum Analyzer, Noise Reduction were all options that had to be purchased separately.  (Today, all but the noise reduction plugin are standard features). 
  • With Sound Forge 5 the application let you use variable bit depths from 8 bit to 32 bit float and any sample rat from 2 to 192 kHz.  The Acoustic Mirror was added, which is similar to the new convolution reverbs we see today.  Track-at-once CD burning was added as was cd ripping.  A new Wave-Hammer compressor/limiter was added to SF's now DX-compatible effects. 
  • As Forge went to version 6 we were given the ability to define plugin chains, critical to mastering.  You could chain up your favorite mastering plugins, define parameters and save the whole chain as a preset.  What is cool here is that as you master more and more songs, you can try your old plugin chains from other songs to get instant results, re-tweak to taste, and you are done in half the time.  
  • As Sound Forge went to version 7 even more features were added. An explorer window was added for drag and drop support for loading, pasting and crossfading files.  The Spectrum Analysis window was dramatically improved, much faster and usable.   Effects, in addition to volume and pan,  could now be drawn in with envelopes, much like you can in Cubase and Logic.  Extensive record and playback meters were now included, with automatic clip detection.  The program is much faster and lighter feeling, compared to version 6, a joy to use. 
  • Perhaps the best feature was the added ability to make project files.  When saved as a project, the project could recall all the plugins used and would load the wave file and plugins exactly where you left them at save.  Improved undo history would now recall past the last save.  This is a huge benefit for those mastering their songs.  With many other audio editors you have to re-load the plugins 1 by 1 and reset them all by recalling presets.  

Version 7 Notes

Personally, I think Sound Forge is the best audio editor/mastering encoder on the planet.  Version 7 was robust.  If Forge ever crashes on you, you will find that crash recovery files were created.  Its editing functions are simple get powerful.  You can cut and paste audio snips from any file you have open with just the mouse.  Just highlight, click and drag it to a new window.  I love that when making acid loops.  You can add effects to even tiny audio regions, and with creative editing and effecting you can do some strong re-arranging of a song at the pre-mastering stage.  And when it comes time to do the Master, you have your plugin-chains waiting for you.  It's easy to get into a "way of working" with Forge that lets you drive from your unprocessed stereo mix to final master efficiently.  If you have a major plugin package like the Wave Native Gold or Platinum collection, you will find ways to organize them into meaningful lists so you can find them.  The more plugins you have, the more important this is. 

 

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. 

Soundforge 9

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.

large product image

Soundforge 9 Click the pic to enlarge

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