Review: Sony Sound Forge Pro for Mac

Sony have finally stepped up and introduced a completely new, native Mac OS X version of their popular audio editor, Sound Forge Pro. Sure, we hoped for it... but how does the Mac version measure up?  
The Mac OS has always has its fair share of industry-leading DAWs and music applications. Many consider it the platform for us audio types. However, until recently, it was missing one of the most highly acclaimed audio editors: Sound Forge. In truth, when I was first given a tour of Sony’s flagship audio editor back in the days of Windows XP, I was green with envy. As much as I enjoyed using Soundtrack Pro (now unavailable), and tinkering in BIAS Peak (also gone the way of the dodo), I recognized that Sony had created something special.

So, there was with much waving of arms and general cheering within the Mac community when Sony recently announced the arrival of Sound Forge Pro for Mac. I was initially tentative as many apps ported from Windows just don’t behave in the same way as native Mac apps. Fortunately, Sony has created Sound Forge for Mac from scratch, and not only does this give it an integrated Mac OS X GUI, the speed and feel of the app makes it a pleasure to use.

Installation & Interface

A simple and fairly speedy download was pretty much all that was required. The complete app weighs in at under 200 MB, and once downloaded you’re instructed to simply drop it into your Applications folder, and enter the serial number once you’ve launched it. All in all a painless process. 

Sound Forge Pro for Mac sports a clean and uncluttered interface.

Sound Forge Pro for Mac sports a clean and uncluttered interface.



The interface is clean, uncluttered and split into re-sizable panes, perfect for editing audio without extra distractions, or bells and whistles (yes, I’m pointing an accusing finger at a number of DAWs). Over on the left is the Media Browser which can be hidden away using the disclosure arrow. Of note is a favorites section. Simply right-click on an audio file and choose to add to your favorites to find it quickly in the future. The search field makes finding audio files a simple task... and of course you can preview any files in the browser by clicking on the play button next to its name. 

Effects & Info

The central area is taken up by the wave editor. This can be set up to display multiple editors either along the horizontal or vertical axis as desired. A nice touch! The right pane contains usefully colored level meters, plug-in chain and chooser, where you can choose from a number of effect plug-ins, including the included iZotope Mastering and Repair Suite. You can access all your own AUs and VSTs very easily too. Plug-in interfaces can be opened by clicking the gear icon, and you can also choose to view an envelope for each parameter of your plug-in. More on that later. 

Using effect plug-ins is very intuitive.

Using effect plug-ins is very intuitive.



The bottom central pane can be customized to display a host of info as well as a nice large recording level meter. It’s simple enough to select your input audio device from here too. The Transport and Tools selection areas are fairly self-explanatory for anyone who has used any audio application before. Don’t be fooled by the clean and tidy interface, as there are a number of useful panels and options neatly stored within a click or two, but hidden away to help you concentrate on the most important tasks, namely recording and editing!

Sound Forge for Mac comes with excellent plug-ins by iZotope!

Sound Forge for Mac comes with excellent plug-ins by iZotope!


Recording & Editing

When it gets down to the nitty gritty, Sound Forge Pro is a very capable editor. You can quickly record single or multiple tracks, and of course edit them quickly. I particularly enjoyed having quick access to sections of an audio file by inserting Regions by hitting “R” on the keyboard. This essentially creates two markers either side of a selection. Then clicking on the Region number in the Regions list will engage that selection. A great way of being able to quickly define and navigate to important sections of dialogue.

Sound Forge for PC users will likely be familiar with the Envelope mode. It’s straightforward to adjust plug-in parameters over time (e.g. lower gain) by selecting the parameter in the right-hand pane, enabling the envelope, and then drawing directly in the waveform editor. Each level of automation can also be bypassed with a single click in the same area. Very neat. Right-clicking on an envelope segment allows you to change the fade type, flip the automation envelope and more. It's also possible to cut, copy and paste envelopes too.

Try right-clicking on an envelope segment to choose alternative fade properties.

Try right-clicking on an envelope segment to choose alternative fade properties.


What’s Missing?

Considering that Sound Forge Pro has been completely re-written for Mac and is less expensive than its Windows counterpart, Sound Forge Pro 10, it may come as no surprise there are some differences. I was hoping to be able to assign custom keyboard shortcuts to menu commands, but as yet this is not possible. Importing video is not yet supported, and batch editing is also not possible, yet. The later is something I’d love to see Sony introduce soon. Being able to batch edit multiple files would surely be welcomed by many Mac-based musicians and audio editors. I also missed the “Repeat” command, which is very handy to repeat the last process via a shortcut key.

Of course, this is just the beginning for Sound Forge for Mac and, considering there have already been a couple of updates with bug fixes and new features added, I am quite confident that the above features will be added in future updates.

Conclusion

Sound Forge Pro is likely to comfortably fill the void of audio editing apps in the Mac community. That it is less expensive than its Windows cousin is an unusual bonus, and that there are some features not yet implemented might put off some users. But there’s plenty to like here. Overall, Sound Forge Pro is a very capable and quick multi-track audio editor. It’s complimented by a clean and easy to navigate interface which can be easily customised to suit whatever task you wish to perform. If you’re in the market for an audio editor Sony’s Sound Forge Pro for Mac deserves a closer look.


Rounik is the Executive Editor for Ask.Audio & macProVideo. He's built a crack team of professional musicians and writers to create one of the most visited online resources for news, review, tutorials and interviews for modern musician and producer. As an Apple Certified Trainer for Logic Pro Rounik has taught teachers, professional... Read More

Discussion

Dave DeLizza
Is the editing destructive? I've been checking out triumph on Mac, and it has some nice features but I'm not totally sold on it.
Rounik
Good thing is plug-ins can be applied offline or destructively in SF Pro for Mac :)
Lung
I wanted to love Sound Forge Pro for Mac but with other powerful options that does include batch processing, as well as most feature equivalents costing only a fraction of the price, I couldn't.

Regardless, this takes nothing away from the review. Good job.
Rounik
Thanks Lung!

Definitely, for many users Lack of batch processing means they'll need to use different tools...

I'm hoping to see SF Pro Mac 1.0 grow and grow over time with the features all pro audio editors will want to use.

Which other audio editor(s) are you using btw?

:)
Lung
Rounik, I'm currently using TwistedWave and I most recently bought Audiofile Engineering's Triumph to see what that's all about. I was previously using DSP-Quattro but it seemed a bit too bulky, for me, albeit immensely feature rich.

I was hoping and still do hope, that Soundforge Pro for Mac will end up closer to the Windows version, feature wise. If they add batch processing and a deeper feature set then the price would definitely be justified, to me, and likely the only editor I'd need. Right now though, the features don't reflect the price when compared to competition.

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