Audio, Reviews

Sony upgrades Sound Forge Pro Mac to version 2 (review)

Sound Forge Pro Mac 2 responds nicely to what users most wanted: integration with SpectraLayers Pro 2.1 and FLAC support. Other new or improved features include an automatic trimming/cropping tool, a Volume plug-in, broadcast CALM-loudness compliant metering, event mode improvements and a new iZotope plug-in (Nectar Elements). Also brand new is the “Convrt” batch processing automation tool, which is a separate batch app.

The sound file Converter with support for exotic formats

One of the complaints I read on the web in the week before the upgrade was announced, was the lack of an OS X “look” to the interface of Sound Forge Pro Mac. Well, that “look” is still the same in version 2.1, but doesn’t focusing on the “look” often misses the point entirely? In the case of Sound Forge Pro Mac 2, I sincerely think so. This is a very powerful sound editor, which allows you to play with sound like nothing else that exists on the OS X platform. To my taste, it looks great too as well as offers me a flexible working environment.

When you buy Sound Forge Pro Mac 2, you’ll also get 100 great sounding BlastWave FX sound effects. When you buy the Audio Master Suite Mac (which includes SpectraLayers Pro 2) 25 fabulous Production Music tracks are yours to download from the Sony Creative Software site. They’re all high quality (now there’s a surprise from a company whose name is a synonym for the audio-visual industry at large) sound clips for use with cinematic and other video projects.

The Convrt batch tool is another example of the value for money that’s part of the Sound Forge Pro Mac 2 experience. It’s a separate app that converts most known sound file formats to anything else with a user-friendly interface that blows away the best “Pro” software on the Mac.

But the flagship app of the bundle is of course Sound Forge Pro Mac 2 itself. It still is the only sound editor that recognises my Duet’s four output channels and plays sound through all four of them without me having to switch or change any settings.

The interoperability with SpectraLayers Pro 2.1 is exemplary. You have two ways to edit a file or a region in SpectraLayers Pro 2: “Send to” and “Edit in”. The difference is subtle, but each method has its own merits. The advantage of sending or editing parts of a sound file to SpectraLayers Pro 2.1 is that it allows for faster processing. SpectraLayers Pro 2 is faster than its predecessor but with large files, it still is somewhat slow. If you start working in Sound Forge Pro Mac 2, however, and then send part of a file to SpectraLayers Pro 2.1 for processing, speed isn’t an issue. And as a bonus you can concentrate on exactly those parts of the file that need SpectraLayers’ magic.

CALM loudness metering

For broadcasting, CALM-targeted metering allows companies and producers to comply with the Commercial Advertisement Loudness Mitigation Act, which says it all. It also says Sound Forge Pro Mac 2 isn’t a prosumer tool; it’s “pro” alright.

FLAC file format support is a boon. There are two FLAC versions to choose from, which in my opinion, should be better labelled in the export dialogue window: one version has a number of bit-depth and frequency rate settings that stop at 24-bit and 192000 kHz respectively (Ed. note: Sony read this review and told me this is actually a bug — there should only be one FLAC export option with all bit-depths and resolutions in one menu). The other one extends the bitrate to 32-bit floating.

Export to Flac support

Auto-trimming/cropping and volume processing — you can apply the plug-in to selections — are great additions with customisable fading in/out. Useful if you have “difficult” sound files. My personal favourite is the iZotope Nectar Elements plug-in, though. That one allows you to optimise — or play with — vocal sounds with the well-known iZotope quality and ease-of-use.

Event Mode has been improved in that you can now easily convert regions to Events. It’s done by splitting them in Event mode after which you can work with them. The snap-to behaviour that you can turn on makes processing easier and faster with less retries. What’s even better is that you can lock markers, region markers and envelope points to events as well. So, if you are now in Event mode and you drag an Event to another location on the timeline, you can now drag all those markers and envelope points with it — which saves a lot of time and aggravation.

Sound Forge envelope to events lock

The final improvement that makes Sound Forge Pro Mac 2 a better app is its customisable toolbar. If you’re too lazy to learn keyboard shortcuts the toolbar can now have the most common commands neatly organised as icons.

Sound Forge Pro Mac 2 is in my opinion the best sound editor available for the Mac. It’s extremely powerful and has features that set it apart from all others. It costs approx. €222.00. The upgrade is about €111.00.

The screencasts:

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J.D. – Copywriter – Tech. Writer – Editor at Visuals Producer – Contributor at Photoshop User, Studio Daily – Sub-editor at RedShark News