WaveLab 5 Audio Editing and Mastering Suite
Steinberg has a great reputation in the professional audio industry for their products and have recently introduced WaveLab 5, their all-in-one solution for two-channel or multi-channel audio editing and mastering. WaveLab 5 is a powerful software package that can be a bit intimidating for novice users, but once users familiarize themselves with the features, they will quickly realize the benefits WaveLab has to offer. Up to eight channels are supported with this latest version, including nondestructive fades and cross-fades. High resolution audio files (up to 24-bit/192 Khz) can be imported for editing with a variety of DSP functions available including equalization and compression. The comprehensive 748 page operation manual included with the software is fairly easy to follow and covers all the aspects of the WaveLab software. WaveLab 5 is more than just a high quality mastering tool. It is a complete solution for recording, editing, processing and mastering for the creation of CD and DVD-Audio discs with superb audio quality.
WaveLab 5 includes a complete Red Book CD mastering toolset with support for CD text, track-sheet and CD cover layout tools. Audio tracks can be adjusted using signal processing, accurate PQ editing and error detection and correction. DVD-Audio authoring can utilize play-list editing, on-screen video menu design, picture slide shows and DVD-Text. Extended CD burning, including audio, ISO data, and mixed-mode formats is also part of WaveLab 5's tool set. WaveLab 5 even allows users to store projects and data onto CD or DVD media. We backed up large amounts of data on DVD rewritable discs for future reference.
The software also includes a set of eight-channel surround plug-ins (OctoComp, OctoX, OctoMaxx, and OctoVerb) including an LFE splitter and combiner for active bass management support. Audio clips and track-based effects can be processed with a number of virtual effects cascaded in series. Volume and panning can also be automated for each clip. An interesting feature provides intelligent overlapping and positioning of the audio tracks to avoid phase cancellation between channels. This is something that can easily occur and cause problems with the final playback. WaveLab also includes the powerful DeNoiser and DeClicker plug-ins designed to help restore old analog recordings.
The Effects pane displays the effects currently being applied to the audio signal. WaveLab allows the user to insert up to eight effects plug-ins in series in addition to a post-master fader plug-in. There are three supported plug-in formats, one of which is the WaveLab specific plug-in included with the program. VST plug-ins (available from Steinberg and other manufacturers) as well as DirectX or DX plug-ins are supported.
The Master Level pane contains the fader controls defined in the channel configuration menu. Six channels (5.1) are shown here in the example. The Link/Unlink button allows the individual faders to be linked together. The Mono button sums two channels and automatically reduces the output by 6 dB to prevent clipping of the signal.
The Dithering pane allows users to add dithering to a signal before it is sent to the audio hardware or saved to disc. Several dithering options exist including WaveLab's own dithering algorithm, Apogee's UV22HR algorithm or an external dithering plug-in. Dithering helps remove the graininess often heard in low level recordings where a limited number of bits are available to quantize the data. This commonly occurs with 16-bit data when levels are low and result in audible quantization errors. Applying the dithering to the signal adds a very small amount of noise that minimizes these errors.
The Pan meter displays the peak level difference between two channels. This applies to any left/right pair such as front channels or surround channels. The upper portion of the Pan meter displays the peak difference between the left and right channels. This two-sided meter can move from side to side depending on which channel is the loudest. The lower portion of the Pan meter shows the average difference in loudness between the channels. This provides the user with a visual indication of the balance between the two channels.
Monitoring levels is a powerful capability with a variety of meter options using the meter toolbox. Up to five meter presets can be saved and recalled with ease. Users are given the flexibility to change the range, resolution and color.
The Bit Meter indicates the resolution of the audio being monitored by displaying the number of bits of a recording. Intuitively one might expect this to alway be the same (i.e. 16, 20, 24, et.). However, due to high precision processing of the audio data, much higher resolution (32-bit floating point) may result from processing the audio. The Bit Meter can help users decide on whether dithering is necessary.
The Phase Scope is a tool that is handy in determining the content of a real-time stereo signal. The vertical direction is drawn when both the left and right channels are in phase and contain the same information. If both signals are identical, a vertical line would be drawn. Deviation from this vertical occurs when the left and right channels are different from each other. A horizontal line would be drawn if the left and right signals are identical and out of phase with one another. A well-balanced stereo signal will be shown as a roundish pattern. If the pattern leans too much to the right or left, then it is an indication that the signal is not well balanced. If the pattern results in a diagonal line then one of the channels is probably muted. The Phase Scope gives users a quick and easy visual assessment of the audio content.
The Spectrum Analyzer uses FFT (Fast Fourier Transforms) and displays real-time detailed frequency analysis. The default colors show the current data in red with peak values indicated in purple. Clicking on the camera icon takes a snapshot of the current data, which superimposes the data on the current peak spectrum graph in white. As with virtually all of the graphs, colors can be changed in the settings menu. The user can also zoom in and out of a given area to see more specific frequency detail.
- Kevin Nakano
Optoma - H77 High
Definition HD2+ DLP Projector
|Review - At a Glance|
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