With the increased popularity of podcasting, audio-editing software is finding its way into the mainstream. And with that same increased popularity, a new generation of easy-to-use audio editors has arisen—including Apple’s GarageBand, Rogue Amoeba’s $32 Fission, Ambrosia Software’s $69 WireTap Studio, and Adobe’s $199 SoundBooth —that attempts to hide many of the arcane elements of waveform editing from the user.
While these types of editors may be less confusing for audio newbies, they can sacrifice power for ease of use. And, for some, there are times when you need to be able to muck with audio at the sample level; open and edit less-popular audio formats; remove an offending click or pop; invert the phase of a stereo file to create a karaoke-like track; or convert multiple files to another format in one fell swoop. For those times you need a tool like HairerSoft’s Amadeus Pro 1.2 ( ; $40).
Amadeus Pro plays it old-school, offering an interface reminiscent of the Mac’s original audio-editing application, SoundEdit. By default you’ll see your audio track—stereo or mono—represented by a waveform spread out over a timeline; above that is an overview of the entire track. Play and Record buttons can be found at the top of the window along with buttons for adding, deleting, and splitting tracks. You can edit the volume envelope of a track (the “shape” of the volume; for example, rising from quiet to loud and then fading back to quiet) by adding and moving control points in the volume-control line that sits at the top of each track’s waveform.
Just as with other traditional sound editors, you select sections of audio by dragging a selection cursor over the waveform; you can then apply a variety of filters and effects to the selected sound. For example, Amadeus’ Effects menu gives you quick access to Echo, Amplify, Equalizers, VST Effects, Stereo Utilities (including Balance, Invert Phase, and Swap Channels), Audio Units, Change Pitch and Speed, Normalize, Fading (Fade In and Out, as well as crossfade), and Reverse options.
The Effects menu also includes tools for reducing or eliminating noise, including Interpolate—a command that attempts to smooth over tiny clicks and blips by removing the most-offensive characteristics of the sound—as well as a Denoising command, which lets you remove common types of noise or noise based on a sample of that noise you provide. These noise-suppression features aren’t as capable as those provided by Bias’ $129 SoundSoap noise-reduction plug-in, but they can adequately remove the most-common kinds of noise you find in audio files—hum and rumble, for example.
Amadeus Pro allows you to insert markers manually, as well as generate markers based on time (for example, a marker every five minutes) or periods of silence. You can then split the audio file into separate files based on those markers. This is extremely helpful when you’re converting cassettes and LPs to a digital format and want to easily split the resulting audio file into individual tracks. Regrettably, the ability to generate markers based on silence was broken with the program’s 1.2 update. However, HairerSoft has posted a beta of version 1.2.1 that fixes the problem; the official 1.2.1 update should ship soon.
Amadeus Pro also includes audio-analysis tools that work with both audio files and sound coming into your Mac from an audio source such as the Mac’s built-in microphone or Line-In port. For existing sound files, you’ll find Spectrum and Sonogram displays that provide visual feedback about the spectral content of an audio file (the density of the highs and lows, for example). Real-time analysis tools display the frequency characteristics of audio coming into the Mac.
Amadeus Pro excels in its support of a multitude of audio formats. In addition to dealing with the usual suspects (including AAC, AIFF, Apple Lossless, MP3, MPEG-4, and WAV), the program can open, play, and convert Ogg Vorbis and FLAC files—audio formats that, by default, can’t be played by QuickTime or iTunes.
One of Amadeus Pro’s best features is its batch-processing capabilities. You can drag a folder full of audio files into the program’s batch processor window and direct the program to change the file format of every file. You can choose to apply a number of actions to the files, as well, including Convert to Mono, Normalize, and Fade In and Out. You can even apply VST and Audio Units effects to the files as they’re processed, as well as tags such as title, album, genre, and comments.
Those familiar with other traditional audio editors such as Felt Tip Software’s Sound Studio 3 ($80) and Bias’ Peak LE ($129) may wonder what sets Amadeus Pro apart from these likewise-capable applications. While Amadeus’ batch processing and support for a wide variety of audio formats are unique—Sound Studio supports Ogg Vorbis but not FLAC—much of Amadeus Pro’s attraction boils down to price: It costs a measly $40, and for those forty smackers you get a remarkably-complete audio-editing solution. Supporters of the free Audacity may claim that their choice of audio editors is an even a greater bargain, but I find Audacity’s interface convoluted and the program occasionally unstable.
Quirks? A couple. For example, the program supports multiple tracks yet there’s no easy way to crossfade between one set of stereo tracks and the next. And some of the commands could be more intuitive. For example, most traditional audio editors offer a Silence command for reducing the current selection to silence; you can accomplish this with Amadeus Pro, but it takes a few moments to figure out that you must choose Silence Generator from the Effects menu, enable the Duration of Selection option, and then click OK. The online documentation provides no help with this. And speaking of documentation, while nearly all the features are covered, their explanations could be clearer.
But, frankly, I’m willing to forgive these few quirks given the program’s price. If you’re looking for a compelling and feature-rich audio editor and don’t have a lot of money to spend, I think you’ll be won over, too.
Amadeus Pro requires Mac OS X 10.4 or later.