More than just an audio editor, the 2.0 version of Cool Edit Pro enters the loop-based music composition space, supports simple MIDI operations and can be used to score a video soundtrack as well. Cool Edit Pro’s popularity is justified: In terms of quality, ease of use and value, it is hard to beat the $69 price tag of Cool Edit Pro 2000, which is a feature-limited version of the comprehensive Cool Edit Pro 2.0 ($249) reviewed here.
The audio editing tools by themselves are a powerful argument for considering adding Cool Edit to your editing suite. The simple copying, cutting, pasting and trimming tools are more accurate (down to the sample) and easier to use than the audio tools commonly found in most video-centric editors. The audio analysis tools are especially strong and we found an immediate real-world use for the Phase Analysis tool.
The 45 audio effects and filters range from subtle to garish, and are all applied in real time, thanks to today’s fast processors. The quality of the effects was excellent. We examined, in some detail, the more common dynamics (e.g. compression) and delay effects (e.g. reverb) that videographers need and found them to be easy to use, with many helpful presets to get the beginner started. We particularly liked the well-executed Parametric EQ filter.
With the click of a button, the interface changes from the familiar audio editor to a full multi-track loop-based recording and composition studio. The interface is quite customizable. We liked that the track controls could instantly be expanded (with a right-click) to reveal more advanced tools and options.
Along the bottom of the interface is a project output level audio meter that identifies clipping problems. It does not have a numeric indication of how much over peak the sound is bouncing, which makes lowering the level a bit of a guessing game. The mixer window is analogous to a real-world mixer board with each (stereo) track represented by a single slider.
Recording into a track is about as easy as clicking the Record button, although Windows and your audio card’s mixers can often make the initial configuration a bit of a headache. Once you have recorded your audio into a track, a quick double-click on the track immediately and seamlessly switches back to the edit view. This is just one example of the integrated behavior that really makes Cool Edit Pro a joy to use. Effects can be applied to audio files in the audio editor and permanently saved or you can work non-destructively with effects at the track level back in the multi-track window, at your discretion.
While the loop creation tools are excellent, the loop-based composition aspects of Cool Edit are competent, but not spectacular. All of the standard features you’d expect are here, such as beat and key matching, and loops are easy enough to lay down and move about. We did find that timeline playback was occasionally sluggish, with fractional delays between when we hit the spacebar and when playback commenced, on a 900MHz/128MB test machine that easily met the minimum system requirements. Another limitation we ran into was that we were unable to preview effects while adjusting them in the Multitrack View until we hit the Apply button.
Although you can add video to your Cool Edit Pro projects, we discovered that you need a very fast machine for this to be usable. When we imported a video file into the program, it needed to undergo quite a lot of processing before we could get to work. All together, this processing took about 40 seconds for every minute of DV source video (in comparison, ACID 4.0 needs about three seconds to load the same file). So while it is definitely possible to use Cool Edit Pro to score a video, this is not one of the application’s strengths. This of course, does not prevent you from using it to create a soundtrack, just that the video preview features are not ideal.
There’s still more to this app, including fine noise reduction tools that videographers will appreciate and excellent online resources (including loopology.com, which you should check out even if you are not a Cool Edit Pro enthusiast). While the video aspects could be better, Cool Edit Pro’s core strength is audio editing and we can strongly recommend this product for that purpose. The flexibility of the interface and the integration of the various tools guarantee that you’ll soon be dependant on Cool Edit Pro for all of your audio needs.
Operating System Windows 98, ME, 2000 or XP
Hard Disk 55MB
Manual 380 pages (electronic PDF)
(printed manual included
with boxed version ($279))
Demo Version 21 days, fully functional
Bit Depth 32bit (also 24/192)
- Flexible and customizable interface
- Highly integrated tools
- Great FX presets
- Video processing is cumbersome
- Can bog down on older machines
Cool Edit Pro 2.0 integrates a host of multimedia features into an already awesome audio editing application.
P.O. Box 62255
Scottsdale, AZ 85082