Version 3.0 adds long-awaited features to the program, including real-time mixing capability, extensive control over NEXTSTEP's ATC (Audio Transform Coding) sound compression, and a revamped Effects panel. You can now import sounds from (and export to) other platforms, including Macintosh, Windows, Amiga, and SGI, with automatic conversion as sounds are opened. The company reported that support for Intel-based sound cards was in beta testing at press time.
SoundWorks uses a familiar tape-recorder metaphor, complete with transport controls and VU meters for setting levels. Most of the action takes place in the Edit window, where portions of the waveform can be selected, played, copied, pasted, or removed entirely.
Extensive options are provided for scaling the waveform. Using Marks, you can label passages for quick identification, providing functionality similar to a bookmark. The Paste Special command allows for real-time mixing on the fly and also lets you paste a selection repeatedly at a given interval while fading it in and out, a timesaving feature when looping sounds.
The Mixer allows you to combine sounds by positioning their waveforms along a horizontal time scale. Amplitude can be adjusted by dragging handles along a representation of the envelope positioned at the top of the waveform. Additional drag points can be added simply by clicking on the envelope. You can hear a trial mix in memory before committing your decisions to disk. Mixing information, including cross-fades, levels, and envelope settings, can be saved to disk independently of the sounds themselves.
The Effects panel has been completely revised to good effect. Available digital effects include envelope and pitch adjustment, reverb, echo, and delay, each with its own inspector for adjusting parameters. By combining effects, you can create new ones that can be saved to disk and reused. A plug-in architecture for effects, similar to that seen in image-processing software, will allow you to add new effects modules as they become available from Metaresearch and third parties.
For CD-quality direct-to-disk recording, you'll need a sound card that supports that function or an external digitizer; supported products are currently limited to those from Metaresearch, Ariel, and Singular Solutions. But the plug-in architecture ensures that new device modules can be added in the future, as NEXTSTEP moves on to different hardware platforms.
Now its third generation, SoundWorks is one of the most powerful sound-editing systems for any platform, and it's far easier to use than most. It's an essential purchase for anyone who wants to turn a mere computer into a digital audio workstation.
by Lee Sherman
SoundWorks 3.0 is a powerful, yet accessible, tool kit for recording, editing, and mixing CD-quality sound under NEXT-STEP. The 3.0 version takes extensive ad-vantage of the Sound Kit, providing real- time mixing capability and unprecedented control over ATC compression.
Metaresearch, 516 S.E. Morrison, Ste. M-1, Portland, OR 97214.