On Friday, August 15, 2008 3:22 AM, Tom Fine wrote:

> No reason at all they shouldn't use Soundforge!  That's why I 
> recommend it.

In my opinion, the short list of commercial software on a PC 
should include:

Steinberg Wavelab
Adobe Audition
Sony Soundforge

They are all very competent, friendly, feature rich, reliable,
well-maintained and supported pieces of software.  You really
can't go wrong with any of these products.

We use Wavelab for a number of reasons, including its tightly 
integrated CD mastering (Sony requires separate software, and 
this adds more effort moving between two packages).  We also 
use the Cube-Tec Audiocube software which is based on Wavelab 
as its platform (it's a 64-bit version, with extra features).
Moving projects between the Audiocube and Wavelab is very easy, 
and there isn't any confusion since the menus are essentially 
the same.

Wavelab also has very good BWF metadata editing built into it.
The last time I checked Soundforge, BWF metadata was not 
supported.  BWF is an important preservation format and 
standard, and should be a consideration.

Our workflow also requires that we handle digital audio files 
larger than 2 GB.  Here again, Wavelab does a great job and
offers a variety of options.

Also, Wavelab provides lots of batch processing and other
automation - important when dealing with large projects when
efficiency becomes a bigger factor.

Wavelab was a clear choice for us based on our needs.

Adobe sends an engineer out to ARSC every year to learn more
about the needs of the preservation market and I think they
are sensitive to our market's needs.  Adobe Audition also has 
some excellent spectrum-based tools that are extremely powerful.

Everyone's circumstances are different, and someone may prefer 
one software over another for a variety of reasons.

> My experience with Audacity was that it's akin to the graphic 
> user interfaces floating around for Linux -- it's klunky and 
> primative and you're fooling yourself if you think it's in 
> the league of a real-deal, paid-professional program.

I concur with Tom on the above points.  However, Audacity can 
still do the job for someone on a shoestring budget or less.  
The digital files generated by Audacity, particularly raw 
transfers, are of the same quality as those generated by the 
commercial packages.

If only capture and no editing nor processing are needed, 
then Audacity is perfectly acceptable.

Audacity may be a bit painful to use and quirky to learn, and
support and documentation may not be as extensive as the
commercial packages.  But it works and gets the job done, just
not as efficiently or elegantly.  I've inexplicably crashed
Audacity a few times - perhaps a bug or maybe it was the
way I was using it...

Consider Audacity a form of preservation "sweat equity" when
you don't have the budget for better.

If I had truly limited dollars and had to choose between a 
better ADC or better software, I might choose the better ADC
or capture hardware first to get going, and upgrade my software 
later when I had more money.  Showing progress and results is
usually a good first step to finding more money.  Processing
and editing with better software can always be done later.

> If I were a professional trying to preserve an archive of 
> unique sound recordings, I'd scale up substantially and do 
> the job right so I didn't have to do it again and I could 
> leave a legacy of high-quality digital audio for the future.

I also concur with Tom on this point.  However, when weighing
time versus budget, sometimes you need to press forward with
the tools you have rather than risk the loss of deteriorating 
media while waiting to find more money.  There are fortunately
good tools and experts available for assessing collections and 
finding strategies to minimize these risks based on media
type and media condition.

It is also true that finding money to transfer material a 
second time using better methods is often difficult to justify
when other material that has never been transferred is waiting
to be saved.

Ideally, doing things right the first time and only once is the 
best way to proceed - and is often less costly in the long run
by avoiding the need to do work over.  Assuming you have the 
budget at all.

Outsourcing becomes increasingly attractive the smaller the 
project.  If you consider that the hardware, software, labor,
real-estate (space), equipment maintenance and training needed 
to do things right in house can easily run into six figures 
before you've even saved a single recording - outsourcing 
starts making a lot of financial sense (and not because we are 
a vendor).

Eric Jacobs

The Audio Archive, Inc.
Tel: 408.221.2128
Fax: 408.549.9867
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