Sony Sound Forge Audio Studio 9.0 is the lite version of Sony's industry-standard two-channel audio-editing program for Windows, with some useful extras thrown in.
Sound Forge from Sonic Foundry has been an industry-standard two-channel audio editing program for Windows, with a 'lite' version available as Sound Forge LE.
In 2003, Sony added consumer PC audio software to its portfolio when it bought the desktop division of Sound Foundry, and with it, Sound Forge. With the lite version renamed as Audio Studio, we now have Sony Sound Forge Audio Studio 9.0 - with some useful revisions.
In contrast to audio-only programs, Sony Sound Forge Audio Studio 9.0 can also import video files, allowing you to edit the soundtrack by scrubbing, as if you had a jog/shuttle control, using the JKL keys.
Yet, even the pared down version of Sony Sound Forge can be intimidating for someone new to audio editing software, and here Sony has assisted by adding a ‘Show Me How' help system which graphically assists some common tasks.
Also new in Sony Sound Forge Audio Studio 9.0, and handy when archiving vinyl recordings to their best, is version 9.0's support for higher quality digital audio, in this case up to 24-bit/96kHz. Even if vinyl is to be mastered down to CD quality or below, there is a good case for acquiring at a higher bit depth and sample frequency, especially if it is to be edited or cleaned up with noise reduction processing.
For final downsampling, use Sony Sound Forge Audio Studio 9.0's dither function to preserve the greater bit-depth resolution.
Whereas the full Sound Forge includes Noise Reduction 2.0, Sony Sound Forge Audio Studio 9.0 includes Sony ExpressFX, which like similar programs available, attempts to reduce clicks and pops and unwanted hiss. The amount of cleaning is user adjustable, and when used judiciously we found this to work relatively well. It doesn't beat playing a record with a good turntable in the first place to mitigate against noise, but at least it doesn't add too many audible artefacts.
Less successful was the Vocal Eraser plug-in from iZotope, which tries to remove the lead vocal from the mix to make a karaoke version of a song. In our tests it could drop the vocal level only slightly, in the process leaving a processed feel to the sound.
Other core tasks such as cutting and pasting, fades and mark-in/out all worked well, as we would expect from a professionally derived program.
In general operation, Sony Sound Forge Audio Studio 9.0 is a polished product, giving more fine control over two-channel audio than the popular open-source Audacity program. Figure in its elementary video integration and it fully justifies its competitive price.