Although Forge Pro 11 is not a multitrack editor, its recording workflow has been improved, and it is now a simple process to record up to 32 tracks simultaneously from any active window via the aforementioned modeless recording window with its dedicated Arm and Record buttons. Available sampling frequencies range from 8 to 192 kHz, and the existing range of 8- to 32-bit word lengths now includes 64-bit floating-point as well. Forge Pro 11 is still not a full-on multitrack editor since there is no on-board mixing console with track-by-track EQ and dynamics, but you can capture multi-channel audio or transfer multitrack recordings to Forge Pro 11 for restoration. You’ll also find improvements in the record and playback routing of connected audio interfaces under Preferences.
Useful improvements in event editing will be attractive to long time Sound Forge users. Included are a new ability to split an event at a region boundary, and the ability to lock event markers, region markers and envelope points to specific events. Successive downstream events are now automatically ripple edited, moving them forward in time while editing. In Forge Pro 11, a region is a marked area of time inside an event, and an event is created whenever either audio data is cut, copied, pasted, inserted or mixed into a window, or a selected section inside an event is processed.
Also new is a Waveform Overview Bar, which not only shows what portion of a file you are viewing, but also lets you audition looping segments by click-dragging in the upper display. Double-clicking in the bar centers the cursor in the time range defined by the waveform display. When displaying multiple audio clips in the main window, Forge Pro 11 now provides convenient close buttons for each window tab, as well as the ability to reorder and resize the data windows.
GILDING THE LILY
A nice touch when loading files is that you can have an automatic preview of the audio in that file. Once you’ve recorded a file or imported one, editing in Forge Pro 11 is a quick and easy as it ever was. Splitting a file into separate events and marking regions inside these is the work of seconds, no matter how many channels are involved. Duplicating part of a file is as simple as highlighting a selection in the active window and dragging it onto the workspace, where a new data window containing the duplicated data is created automatically.
Forge Pro 11 continues to do what it’s always done well. In addition to chopping and moving audio, Forge Pro 11 also allows audio to be processed in several ways. To give you a few examples, you can change bit depth, convert mono to stereo or vice versa, reverse it, resample it at a different frequency, time-stretch it whilst also changing pitch and formants to reduce the ‘chipmunk’ effect and, of course, modify the volume level either directly or by normalization.
Once you’ve got the audio edited up as you want it, you can then move on to adding effects. A range of Sony’s own time-domain and dynamics effects can be accessed directly, and these, together with third-party VST and DirectX plug-ins, are also supported through the Plug-in Chain, where up to 32 effects can be chained together and combinations saved. Among my favorite Sony effects included with Forge Pro have always been the Acoustic Mirror convolution reverb, and the Wave Hammer compressor/volume maximizer. The range of indoor and outdoor space impulses (with a picture of the sampled space) available in Acoustic Mirror should satisfy almost every requirement. There’s even a binaural HRTF selection for working with multi-mic’ed stereo performances. Should you happen to have the perfect bathroom next door, you can also use the included test tones to create your own impulses. Wave Hammer is a fine stereo look-ahead compressor/peak limiter that does exactly what it says without fuss. For most editing tasks, I found the Sony effects were more than good enough, but the ability to bring in third-party DirectX/VST effects when that little something extra is needed is a bonus.
SPECTRALAYERS 2 AND SOUND FORGE PRO MAC 2.0
Finally, alongside its ability to interface with many other software editors as their mono or stereo surgical editor, there’s Forge Pro 11’s seamless file exchange with SpectraLayers 2.0, which is Sony’s wide and deep frequency spectrum editor. SpectraLayers 2 is aimed squarely at applications like sound design and noise reduction, and Forge Pro 11 transfers files to and from this editor directly and seamlessly. More on SpectraLayers at a later date.
While we’re talking about new functions and features, there’s also a new version of Sound Forge for the Macintosh -- version 2.0 is now available. This new version addresses many of the complaints I had with version 1, and is worth a second look for those disappointed by the first version.
The number of changes in version 2 is not large, but they are significant in their depth. The primary addition, one that the Mac community will be happy to receive, is Sony’s Convrt stand-alone batch processing automation tool. It’s a freestanding utility for mass file format conversion, as well as for batch processing using various signal and effects processing tools. With the demise of Bias and its Peak editor, I don’t believe there is a competent batch processor for the Mac left on the market today (although I could be mistaken), so this is good news for the Mac community. Sony has also improved the configurability of SFP for the Mac with a customizable toolbar, and has provided the same improvements to Event Mode editing, CALM-targeted metering, and integration with SpectraLayers as it has to Forge Pro 11.
Other improvements include support for the FLAC file format, a “strip silence” tool, and a volume processor plug-in, as well as the same support for iZotope’s Nectar Elements, which is included with the upgraded version of Sound Forge Pro for the Mac.
When it comes to upgrading software, the questions always comes down to whether or not the upgrade gives good value for the cost of upgrading. In the case of upgrading to Sound Forge Pro 11, Sony has obviously seen the writing on the wall, and had dropped the price to upgrade from any version of Sound Forge to $199.95 (not long ago it was $239.95). The modeless record window actually makes more of a difference than one might imagine in my workflow, the ability to put plugs on the input bus rocks, and if one doesn’t have a copy of Nectar then one might want to upgrade. If one is on version 10, it’s a very tough call, and I think I’d wait. For version 9 or earlier, there are enough good reasons in the aggregate to just do it. On the Mac side it’s simple. If you need a good batch processor, then upgrade.