Test Drive: Cool Edit 96 from Syntrillium Software

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The Cool Edit User’s Manual, like the software, is obtained by download from the Syntrillium site. It prints out to over 60 pages of info, but none of it is necessary to go to work. It serves more as a reference to assist you as questions arise. It’s a no-brainer to check levels and begin recording and editing. Pressing Record brings up the record dialog box where you can select sampling frequency, mono/stereo mode, and resolution (8-bit/16-bit) for the recording. When done, press Okay, and Cool Edit is recording. If selected in the Options menu, the waveform will scroll by as it's being recorded. The Space Bar on the keyboard becomes your friend as the start/stop button for recording and playback of audio.

Clicking on any point in the waveform puts the playback cursor at that point, making it very easy to navigate throughout an audio file. Areas at the top and bottom of the waveform window can be grabbed with the mouse to facilitate even faster navigation through large files.

Selecting an area of audio is done with the basic click-and-drag of the mouse. Once highlighted, the area is available for a surprisingly large number of editing and processing functions. Of course, you get the usual cut and paste functions, but Cool Edit gives you quite a bit more. A Mix Paste function lets you perform a variety of mix functions that combine clipboard audio with the selected audio. Options include Volume, Overlap, Modulate, Loop Paste, From Clipboard, and From File. The creative potential here is impressive and offers functions I certainly didn’t expect from a $50 editor.

There is no scrub function on Cool Edit, and at first this seemed to hinder editing. But I soon realized that visual editing is the way to go, and before long, I was performing edits with speed adequate for radio’s fast production pace. The F8 function key drops flags when pressed which are markers for the Cue List and Play List functions of Cool Edit. When editing, these markers can be used to mark start and end points for edits which is helpful when large amounts of audio are going to be edited out or processed. Smaller clips of audio, like a cough or a few words for instance, are more easily marked with a quick click and drag move.

Give the 266MHz CPU and SCSI drive some credit, but editing was a speedy process—no long waits for files to be written every time an edit was done. Granted, if you enable the Undo function, a backup file is written, but with files the size we deal with in radio production, the time spent writing the backup file was insignificant. I kept the Undo function active at all times without feeling I was being slowed down to any great degree.

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