Product Review: Page (1) of 1 - 09/04/09 Email this story to a friend. email article Print this page (Article printing at page facebook

Apple's Soundtrack Pro 3

By Kevin McAuliffe

Soundtrack Pro 2 was a great application. You could harness its power for not only Final Cut Pro timelines, but for any editing application that could export an OMF file. What Apple had essentially given us was a professional, production-ready application to take any audio project to the next level. But, I had one concern. Where would it go from there? Well, with the release of the new Final Cut Studio, Apple has given us a few, much needed new features, as well, they have fixed some things that didn't quite work properly. Let's see what's under the hood of Soundtrack Pro 3 (STP3).

Much like Motion 4, STP3 can be installed with the rest of the suite, or on its own, depending on your needs. The main thing to keep in mind is that STP3 has the largest of all the extra content that comes with Final Cut Studio. Apple Loops, Sound Effects and all the other extras comes spread across three DVD's, and requires a staggering 23GB of space on your hard drive, but remember, you only have to install the extra's if you want to. Also, keep in mind that FCS is supported on Intel Macs only running 10.5.6 of Leopard, and there is no downloadable demo of the software.


Voice Level Match
The painful process of going through your timeline and adjusting your audio levels one-by-one (of your talent, for example), is over with the new Voice-Level match.

This much needed, and easily executed new feature will take hours off of your workload. Simply select the lift tool, click on "Lift Voice Level", and select the clip you want as your level reference. You will see it appear in the heads up display. Now, simply click on the clip(s) you want to match the audio to, and press "Stamp." And yes, it's that easy!

Noise Reduction Enhancements
I'll be honest with you. I never really liked the noise reduction features of STP2. I never thought they worked very well, and I always found myself using a third-party plug-in or another application to remove any noise I had from my audio clips. Well thankfully, Apple has done a little work on its noise reduction features in STP3, by improving the broadband noise reduction feature, and adding the Power Line Hum parameter. More tools to remove noise is always a good thing, and now it's an even better thing, by not having to switch programs to get rid of that pesky ambiance!

Time Stretch
Final Cut Pro editors have had the capability to quickly change the speed of an audio clip for a while now, so it just makes sense that we have the same capability in STP3. The best part is that you can do it by simply double clicking on a clip to bring it up in the File Editor, select the "Audio Stretch" tool (shortcut "t"), select the area of a clip you want to adjust, and then drag the start or end of the clip to the desired length. If you are unsure, you can simply navigate to PROCESS>TIME STRETCH, and then you can adjust your clip by any one of seven different parameters.

Better overall functionality and ease of use
I decided to group a few new features together, as they all fall into the "works much better now" category, such as STP3 has a completely redesigned architecture, which for you means faster performance. You can now use shortcuts to speed up your overall workflow for commands such as adding fades, extending clips, and trimming. R, T, and Y have become the "J,K,L" of STP3. R, T and Y are now shortcuts for Record, Mute and Solo respectively. Finally, you can also now control click on any clip in your timeline to bring up a list of related clips, so you can quickly call up different takes of a specific clip.

Now again, I have just listed the best (in my opinion) features of STP3. For the complete list, head over to .

I do want to point something out with STP3, and Final Cut Studio in general, and this is something I touched on in my review of Motion 4, and that is that for us video editors, there really aren't many "ground-shaking" new features that can be added to an application like STP, as we already have a smooth workflow between FCP and STP3, we have the capability to import OMF files from other editing applications (to steal work away from those Protools engineers out there), and we have the capability to mix in surround sound, and export from STP to output from FCP, or to add to a DVD in DVD Studio Pro. I was already EXTREMELY happy with STP2, and with the new workflow updates for version three, my life is just becoming easier and easier.

Value for your dollar
Whether you use STP a lot or not, with all the new features in FCS across the board, the $299 upgrade cost is minimal. And something important to keep in mind that most editing bundles (Adobe Master Collection CS4, Media Composer, Vegas, Media 100), don't have a dedicated surround sound mixing application for you to do you mixes in. That's why, if you have been indecisive about what editing package to pick up, FCS is the one ($999 from the Apple Store). You have editing (FCP7), Graphics (Motion 4), Audio Mixing (STP3), File Conversion (Compressor 3.5), Color Grading (Color 1.5), and DVD Creation (DVD Studio Pro 4). The whole package is ready to take your project from start to finish, so what are you waiting for?

In the end, all of the new features across the board make FCS a must upgrade/buy, and with the feature enhancements to STP3, you will be mixing like a pro in no time!

Apple Soundtrack Pro 3
$299 uprgade
$999 Final Cut Studio


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Kevin P McAuliffe is currently a Senior Video Editor working in HD post production in Toronto, Canada. He has been in the television industry for 12 years, and spends his days onlining on a Final Cut Pro HD. Kevin's high definition onlining credit list includes concerts for Coldplay, Sarah McLachlan, Barenaked Ladies, Snow Patrol, Sum41, Paul Anka, Il Divo and Pussycat Dolls, to name a few. Also, Kevin is an instructor of Advanced Final Cut Studio 2 at the Toronto Film College. If you have any questions or comments, you can drop him a line at

Related Keywords:digital audio editing, DAW,

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