In 2003, Adobe snapped up Syntrillium, the company behind the forward-thinking, feature-filled audio editor Cool Edit, relaunching it as Audition.
Its strengths are detailed editing, restoration and sound design, and it has many advanced features and effects. It also supports VST/AU plug-ins and offers multitrack recording/editing/mixing that, while not being comparable to a full DAW, has proved a big hit with those assembling audio for post-production, radio, etc.
While Audition has gained much traction in these sectors, we're looking at it here from the perspective of the computer musician.
Audition CS5.5's headline feature is that it's now for Mac as well as PC. This has involved an extensive code rewrite, and Adobe claims swifter operation due to a new audio engine.
Opening files is now lightning fast (it used to take a while to scan them) and processing is measurably quicker. For example, a heavyweight effects rack applied to a 4-minute file in Audition 3 took 288 seconds to render compared to just 105 seconds in CS5.5.
Processes can now be applied in the background, so you can get on with editing other files in the meantime. Very impressive, and a real boon if time is money to you. And the Mac version works great, by the way.
When we looked at Audition 3, we reckoned the app might benefit from features found in other Adobe products, such as a History panel for easy undo/redo - Audition now has this.
The GUI has been pleasingly smartened up in general and has some useful new tricks, like simultaneous waveform/spectral view. The new Resource Central panel lets you audition and download royalty-free samples from Adobe.
It offers all the musical loops and beds of Audition 3's Loopology DVD as well as a huge array of superb FX. It's as fast as you could hope for from an online system, though there's no mass download option, and you can only see ten search results per page.
There are some new effects for CS5.5. The DeEsser is functional but does the job. The DeHummer is decent, though the (now absent) Notch Filters did much the same thing, and sometimes the other noise reduction options work better.
The new Speech Leveler is spot on, transparently levelling inconsistent audio. There are some decidedly professional new features, such as 5.1 surround support (including a Surround Reverb), greater integration with Adobe Premiere Pro and OMF support.
…And they taketh away
Unfortunately, Audition CS5.5's code rewrite has left some features by the wayside.
Adobe gives a list on its site of the main ones, and they're also taking user suggestions on which to bring over in future updates.
Some absentees we noticed include the spectral phase/pan views, revert/reopen option, tone/noise generation, the Scrub tool (the new scrubbing system sounds poor and grainy), auditioning (oh, the irony!) in the File dialog, and single-sample adjustment. The latter was ideal for fixing digital glitches.
We were also unable to add to a spectral selection, which we hope is a bug as it makes spectral editing awkward. The (rather weak) MIDI features introduced in v3 are gone, as is CD burning.
Many effects are absent. Some were outdated and won't be missed, but we miss Pan/Expand, Pitch Correction, Scientific Filters, and Click/Pop Eliminator, which is superseded by the less effective DeClicker.
Most worryingly, it doesn't open SES files from previous versions - the workaround is to resave them in Audition 3 as XML files… but then you lose all your effects settings.
This is really quite poor for a professional product and will be a genuine dealbreaker for some users.
If you're new to Audition, you can judge it as it stands: a powerful cross-platform audio editor that's perfect for everything from basic waveform-style editing up to spectral sound design and hardcore restoration.
As an update, it's a mixed bag. The improved performance is very attractive, but the missing features may nullify that or make it a total no-go for some users.
Still, we commend Adobe for taking the plunge and setting Audition up for what we hope is a bright cross-platform future.
Now listen to a speech recording tidy up using Audition CS5.5 in our audio demos:
Denoised with Adaptive Noise Reduction
Deessed and Denoised