Audio, Reviews

Sound Forge Pro Mac 3: new plugins and fabulous support for filmmakers

Sound Forge Pro Mac 3

When Magix Audio took over Sound Forge Pro Mac from Sony, the application was in need of an update at the very least. With macOS Sierra, Sound Forge Pro didn’t work all that well anymore. In addition, it became clear the app was in desperate need of some new features. Magix Audio’s first upgrade of the sound editor meets the most urgent needs and then some.

The most eye-catching new features of Sound Forge Pro Mac 3 are the upgrade to iZotope’s newest RX 6 Elements and Ozone 7 plug-ins. The most needed new feature is the ability to load the audio streams of video files. The best news is that you can load a great many video file formats, including MOV, MP4, XAVC, XDCAM, AVCHD and others. We haven’t tested them all, but the ones mentioned here worked great.

For audio streams to load in Sound Forge Pro Mac 3 you can drag the video file into the Sound Forge Pro window. While older versions were not very stable and would surely have crashed by doing that, this version is. However, it will take a while for some audio streams to finish loading. Once your file has fully loaded, you can save it to one of Sound Forge Pro’s many export formats after having it edited with one of the many plug-ins or tools.

With the vastly improved stability, Sound Forge Pro Mac 3 allows you to fully enjoy its event-based editing paradigm. You enter the event-based mode as soon as you drag part of the audio to another location. For example, if you have an interview shot with different takes to correct some parts in post-production, then cutting these parts from the retake to the main “master” file places you in event mode. That mode allows you to mix the audio, replace it, nudge it into place, etc.

It’s a mode few people seem to grasp, but once you do, it’s pretty powerful. Unfortunately, the previous version of the app would often crash when in event mode. The new version does what it’s supposed to do. Together with, for example, iZotope’s also included Nektar Elements, Sound Forge Pro Mac 3 has become a really good sound editor for video and film.

As part of the review, I decided to record a short monologue with a GoPro HERO5 connected to a Shogun Flame. With the HERO5 not recording, but only outputting its 4K data stream to the Shogun, I ended up a rather muffled sounding voice recording. I loaded the MP4 file into Sound Forge Pro, removed the noise with iZotope RX 6 Elements’ Voice Denoise set to learning mode and processed the — now noise-free — result with Nektar using the (slightly modified) preset for voice-overs. The end-result was a decent sounding voice recording that I exported to an AIFF file and added to the Final Cut Pro X timeline I had set up for this test. Turning off the original sound lane and using the edited file instead finished the job in well under ten minutes.

Of course, the new version of Sound Forge Pro Mac has more to offer and some of the new features are also interesting for Indie filmmakers who want to create and publish their own soundtracks on iTunes. To make this task easier, the app now has a “Mastered for iTunes” preview, which you can load in the app itself or in your local iTunes application. Furthermore, Sound Forge Pro Mac supports automatic loudness levelling and the creation of an archive when burning a master disc.

There’s a new Find/Repair tool, which has seven presets for the most common glitches in an audio file, including clipping and sound glitches. You can also play with the only two parameters — Level and Clip Length — in order to find/repair exactly what you need.

Finally, Magix Audio included a nice number of its own plug-ins in the new version. Included are Noise Gate, Chorus, Reverb, Simple Delay and Flange/Wah-Wah plug-ins.

At the end of a week’s playing with Sound Forge Pro Mac 3 there’s only one thing that I personally don’t feel like it matters, but of which I’m certain some Mac users will have their doubts about: the interface hasn’t changed. It’s flatter, but that’s where the update ends. As I said, I personally think the interface does a good job at making the app easy to use, but I know some Mac purists will hate it.

To them, I would say: try to see beyond the looks of the application. What it allows you to do is much more important than how it’s designed — in this case at least. Apple is probably never going to develop another sound editor and Sound Forge Pro Mac 3 is a great replacement for the editor that once was included with FCP 7 and earlier versions. It costs €299.