Product Review: Page (1) of 1 - 01/19/09 Email this story to a friend. email article Print this page (Article printing at page facebook

Adobe Soundbooth CS4

By Joshua Virata

With the release of Soundbooth CS4, Adobe has grounded its digital audio application with more features that pros and prosumers have desired. In this new edition of Soundbooth, Adobe has cleaned up the interface a bit and offered more advanced features in some of its tools. Soundbooth is targeted at people who don't have any experience with any other audio tools or applications.

Some improvements and additions include a new user interface that has found its way to other applications in the Creative Suite (particularly the ones in the production suite), Speech Transcription tools for transcribing the contents of an audio track (or selection), and a new non-destructive file format that also has support for Snapshots that can be used both as restore points but also as a way of saving different versions of edits to revert to.

Like its sibling applications in the Creative Suite, Soundbooth's user interface has taken on the new pull-down menus. This menu is used for switching among the various pre-configured workspaces. This menu is also where custom workspaces are stored for future use. Also like the other applications, Soundbooth has been contained into a single resizable window. Every Flash-based panel inside of the window is also resizable and customizable within itself.

Workspace panel

New to this version of Soundbooth is a Speech Transcription tool. Also found in Adobe Premiere Pro CS4, this tool translates spoken dialogue audio into text. Every word in the transcript is time coded, waveform coded, person coded, editable and completely searchable.  Now when I tested this tool I found it to be a bit problematic. I found that it didn't transcribe the conversations in home recorded video well at all (most of the time a +/-50% Confidence Level), though it did a better job on professionally recorded audio. Although it doesn't work perfectly it's still a useful tool for transcribing sections of audio in long projects. The additional installed languages allow for transcriptions in multiple languages, thus making the creation of subtitles easier. All of the translated speech is stored in embedded metadata and can be used as keywords for indexing and locating files.

Speech transcription

Adobe has also introduced the Adobe Sound Document or ASND (pronounced "a-sound") file format. The new format is non-destructive to original assets of a project and saves changes like effects, volume changes and other applied items into a separate file for later adjustment. The ASND format also provides support for project Snapshots. In a way like Snapshots in Photoshop, Snapshots in Soundbooth allow for multiple different versions of your edits to be saved. This way you can go back and forth between the versions. As a default, Soundbooth asks if you want to save the original asset in the ASND package so there is constant access to the unaltered asset. These ASND files can be imported into the CS4 applications, Flash, Premiere Pro, and After Effects, making these applications tightly knit together. Besides the ASND file format, Soundbooth allows saving into most other audio formats for compatibility across applications.

Edit score to video workspace

Other new features in the CS4 Soundbooth are Multitrack support, automatic volume matching, volume keyframing, MP3 compression preview, looping tool enhancements, new and additional Soundbooth scores, online access to Creative Pro Online Services, Adobe Resource Central, Adobe Bridge Home and community help.

Multitrack support in Soundbooth will make the application more appealing to more than just audio editors but video editors as well. Soundbooth's multitrack works a lot like the multitrack support found in other audio editors. Like in Apple's GarageBand (which is the first audio application I was exposed to) each track in Soundbooth has its own volume, pan, mute, and solo controls. Volume Keyframing comes into play here where by inserting a keyframe and adjusting its placement bends the volume curve of each track individually. Automatic Volume Matching is also another new tool found in the CS4 version of Soundbooth. The idea behind Volume Matching is to find multiple tracks that have radically different volumes within the same track. Matching makes them play at approximately the same volume, making audio delivery more effective and balanced. Of course if you don't like some of the corrections you can always freeform the waveform of the track and adjust it with the volume control.

Waveform selection

MP3 Compression Preview appears in the Save As and Export commands when saving projects as MP3 files. In the save/export window within the MP3 Compression Options box, you can preview the file before saving it. Simply choose the bitrate from the menu and click play to hear your tracks in the bitrate you choose. The MP3 preview also estimates the resulting file size according to your settings.

Soundbooth is available as a standalone application for both Windows and Macintosh computers (running Intel CPUs) for $199 for the full-version or $79 to upgrade. It can also be found bundled within various CS4 suites. This new release of Soundbooth maintains the application's ease-of-use interface, which makes Soundbooth appropriate for new content creators and editors looking for an audio editor, while having just the right amount of features to keep more advanced users satisfied. For more information, visit


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Joshua Virata is a 2008 graduate of Mater Dei High School in Santa Ana, CA. He has been using computers since the age of 2 and is proficient in the areas of home wired and wireless networking, music creation, secure computing, cell phone communication and GPS navigation. You can email him at
Related Keywords:audio editing, digital audio, audio sweetening, waveform audio

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