Sony Sound Forge Pro Mac

SOUND FORGE WAS ALREADY POPULAR with audio professionals working on PCs years before Sony acquired it in 2003—and it remains the audio editor of choice for many.
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This screenshot shows one possible user interface configuration with the Media browser on the left, the Meters and plug-In Chooser/Chain on the right, the File properties below, and both editor panels.

SOUND FORGE WAS ALREADY POPULAR with audio professionals working on PCs years before Sony acquired it in 2003—and it remains the audio editor of choice for many. So, when a Mac version was introduced last year, the news was met with great enthusiasm. Sound Forge Pro Mac ($299 packaged /$269 download) is very different than the PC version, however, and as such is essentially a new product. Those hoping for a “ported over” version with all of the same features as the original may be disappointed, but those of us coming to SFPM fresh will find a lot to like—a few reservations notwithstanding. I tested the application on a six-core 3.33GHz Mac Pro with 20GB of RAM running Lion (SFPM requires Lion or Mountain Lion), and a Universal Audio Apollo Quad audio interface.

SFPM takes excellent advantage of the Mac OS X architecture, starting with the highly configurable and ergonomically friendly user interface. Among other things, there are two Editor Panels with their own discrete transport and other key controls, which may be used individually or arranged in various ways to accommodate different workflows. Another handy feature is the Plug-In Chain tool, which allows you to quickly organize and route your VST and Audio Units plug-ins, as well as the included iZotope-powered Mastering Effects and Restoration bundles— both of which are superb—and the excellent Zplane Élastique Pro time-stretching and pitch-shifting plug-in. (The iZotope and Zplane plugins alone are worth the price of SFPM.)

There are obviously far too many features to mention in this short overview, but here are a few key specs: SFPM can record and edit as many as 32 simultaneous channels of audio at up to 64-bit/192kHz resolution (iZotope processors handle sample rate conversion and dither), six time formats are supported, metering may be either Peak or VU/PPM, and most audio file formats may be opened and/ or saved (though not nearly as many as in the PC version, including the increasingly popular OGG and FLAC formats).

Of course, all of the basic editing and processing functions are available (including cutting, pasting, trimming, fades and crossfades, markers and regions, normalization, reverse, invert/flip, etc.), along with lots of fancier ones (such as Pencil Mode, Envelope Mode, Channel conversion, and Event-based editing). Conspicuously absent for now, however, are CD authoring and burning, batch processing, surround output, and video support.

When it comes to the full range of basic editing tasks and, say, creating and editing loops, SFPM excels. Once you familiarize yourself with the features with the aid of the clearly written and logically organized user manual, you can sail along at a good clip, and easily get fantastic sounding results. If, however, you have depended on the more specialized features in the PC version and want to transition seamlessly to Mac, you’ll have to wait until Sony brings the product fully up to speed—something it has unequivocally promised to do.