Product Review: Page (1) of 5 - 07/01/05 Email this story to a friend. email article Print this page (Article printing at page facebook

Apple's Soundtrack Pro

A powerful new application standing at the crossroads of audio and video By Frank Moldstad

Soundtrack Pro is an audio postproduction triple threat. Introduced at NAB, it's a robust environment for audio editing, analysis, and effects processing that offers seamless file exchange with Final Cut Pro and Apple's other professional applications. It's a powerful platform for loop-based arranging and mixing. And, it can be used as a standalone program for recording one mono or stereo track at a time.

Although Soundtrack Pro can import any Quicktime movie or MPEG-2 file (with QuickTime MPEG-2 Playback Component installed), it is a dramatic workflow enhancer with Final Cut Pro, Motion, and DVD Studio Pro. Apple's Final Cut Studio boxed set bundles all four applications together (MSRP $1,299), and Soundtrack Pro can also be purchased as a standalone program (MSRP $299).

Soundtrack Pro
Sending as Multitrack project
 Sending a file from Final Cut Pro to Soundtrack Pro is as easy as using a plugin. There are two ways to do this: as an Audio File project or a Multitrack project. Which one you choose depends on what you want to do. Sending the track as an Audio File opens it in Soundtrack Pro's Waveform editing window, for analysis, processing and editing. Sending it as a Multitrack project opens it in the Project window, where additional tracks can be added and blended with the original track. To send the file from Final Cut Pro, you right-click it and choose Audio File Project or Multitrack Project.

I tried both methods and they each worked perfectly. Audio File Project offers a smooth efficient path for video editors needing to clean up and process an audio track. Multitrack Project gives sound designers and composers an excellent way to bring a video project into a rich audio environment where they can layer and massage sounds across multiple tracks.

Audio File Project

Soundtrack Pro
Waveform editor
To add effects to a stereo video track in Final Cut Pro, I sent it as an Audio File Project. The track then opened in Soundtrack Pro's Waveform editor, and I opened the video track in a separate floating utility window for playback in sync with the audio. Soundtrack Pro includes more than 50 effects plugins -- professional reverbs, compressors, and EQs -- drawn from Apple's Logic Pro Audio DAW application. I opened the Effects tab on Soundtrack Pro's Browser pane and found two groups of plugins: Mac OS (Audio Units) and Soundtrack Pro. I went for the Soundtrack Pro collection, where the Logic plugins are.

The audio track in question was hard to hear in places, since it was shot outdoors. But there were several loud passages that redlined when I raised the overall level. Soundtrack Pro's Multipressor, a compressor that gives control over four frequency bands, did the job -- bringing up the overall audibility up while taming the loud passages. For good measure, while I had the file open in Soundtrack Pro, I added an AU High Pass EQ to the track to reduce some low level traffic rumbling below 100Hz.

Then I saved the file, closed Soundtrack Pro, and played the file in Final Cut Pro. The processed audio file was there, with greatly improved clarity. Needless to say, this is a big timesaver compared to exporting the file, importing it into a third-party audio application, editing it, then exporting the edited file from the audio application, and importing it back into the video application. 

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Related Keywords:Soundtrack Pro, audio postproduction, Final Cut Pro, loop-based, arranging, mixing, Apple Loops


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