Test Drive: Cool Edit 96 from Syntrillium Software

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The only drawback I found with the processing functions of Cool Edit is that there is no preview mode. So, you have to take a guess at what settings you want, execute the function, and then make adjustments if the result was not what was expected. But, this turned out not to be a major drawback. Cool Edit lets you name and save processing settings, so once you’ve found that just right EQ setting for adding crispness to a VO and save it, you’re just a double-click away from applying the same EQ to any other track. The same goes for the Noise Reduction function. I set up profiles for tape hiss, phone line noise, phone line noise with hum, even the noise in the studio caused by all the humming computers.

Other items under the Transform menu selections include Cool Edit’s Time Stretch and Pitch Shift functions. Apparently, the algorithms for these functions have developed well over the years. All the time stretch/pitch shift functions I’ve played with on various systems over the past few years have all performed very well. Cool Edit’s are no exception. And, as with the Filter section, there is a Gliding Stretch option that morphs parameter settings from Initial Settings to Final Settings—more neat effects! There’s also a Distortion generator to fuzz up your audio. And a nifty Music function lets you write music that uses the selected audio as the instrument. But perhaps the most unexpected Transform menu selection is the Brainwave Synchronizer. If the stresses of the day are getting to you, simply crank up Cool Edit and create your own meditation tape! Syntrillium is serious about this and offers several pages in the manual to put you on the right path towards using Cool Edit to create sounds that heighten brainwave activity—Delta, Theta, Alpha, Beta, Gamma, etc.. I was having too much fun with the rest of Cool Edit to park myself in Theta-land for a half-hour or so, but I’ll probably give it a try the next time I hear a Y2K disaster story on the news. (And this is on 2-track editing software! Maybe Syntrillium knows more about the stresses of radio production than we thought!)

Under the Generate pull-down menu, Cool Edit offers a Silence function which merely inserts a user-defined amount of silence into the selected point of a file, as opposed to replacing the audio with silence as the Silence command in the Edit menu does. You can generate DTMF signals--basic telephone tones. This is great for those spots/promos/IDs that have phone numbers in them. If you’re going to use touch-tones, why not use the actual tones for that number? Just type the number in and press Okay. The tones are written to the file. You can adjust tone duration and even set your own frequencies for each number's tone. The Noise Generator provides Brown, White, and Pink noise. The Tone Generator is an elaborate toy for generating a variety of tone-based sounds, and once again, Initial and Final settings permit morphing from one sound to another. There’s enough fun stuff in Cool Edit, you could store it on your computer desktop under “Games!”

But Wait, There’s More!

For the serious audiophile, Cool Edit offers Frequency Analysis and Statistics functions that display in-depth information about the selected waveform. The Frequency Analysis function shows the frequency content of audio which can help you determine how you might want to adjust the EQ of an audio file. The Statistics function shows a variety of stats including Minimum and Maximum Sample Values, Peak Amplitude, Possibly Clipped Samples, DC Offset, and Minimum, Maximum, and Average RMS Power.

Under the Options menu, you can select the Loop Mode for seamless loop playback of selected audio. Perform Script and Batch Processing, configure the Tool Bar with your most used functions, and access Cool Edit’s Settings pages for setting various system performance parameters, screen colors, and more.

Cool Edit does not let you open more than one file at a time in the same program. However, you can open any number of Instances of Cool Edit. In essence, if you want to work on more than one file at a time, you simply run several Cool Edit programs simultaneously with the ability to cut and paste between each program.

Cool Edit supports many file formats including Apple AIFF (.aif, .snd), Next/Sun (.au, .snd), DiamondWare Digitized (.dwd), RealAudio 3.0 (.ra), Samplevision (.smp), Soundblaster (.voc), Microsoft ADPCM (.wav), and Windows standard PCM (.wav) formats to name a few. Cue List and Play List functions permit sequenced playback of Wave files or selected portions of files. There’s even a built-in CD player interface for playing audio CDs in your CD drive.

Summary

If your boss says there’s no budget for a new digital editor in your studio, tell him you need to buy ten carts for commercials or a half dozen DATs. With that money, you can get one heck of a 2-track digital editor that is designed to do a lot more than cut and splice.

If your studio has a multi-purpose PC installed, Cool Edit is an ideal program to have running for all kinds of 2-track work. With the power of networking in today’s facilities as well as Internet e-mail capabilities, a friendly and powerful editor like Cool Edit is a real plus. There’s no need to tie up your multitrack workstation for simple 2-track work, and Cool Edit’s short learning curve can put it at the hands of any computer literate producer.

And Cool Edit is soooooo easy to get. You can get on the Internet right now and download the latest version. Use it for free, although not all functions will be available at the same time. Still, you get to choose which functions you want to use, so you can at least check them out. Then, when you decide to buy, you can do that on-line as well and receive the registration code that will free up your copy for unlimited use.

At the low price of $50, you don’t get live tech support. Tech support for Cool Edit 96 is only available via e-mail. Phone support is reserved for Syntrillium’s multi-track program, Cool Edit Pro.

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