Buzz’s Blog: On Web 3.0 and the Semantic Web

Nov 22 2011   7:55PM GMT

VST and AU plugins: Making audio editors more powerful

Roger King Roger King Profile: Roger King

This blog is dedicated to advanced Web and media technology.  Most recently, we have been looking at editing audio.

Editing Sound.

See the previous postings on  cleaning audio, selecting an audio editor, and a couple of basic audio editing principles.  Then, we looked at the interface to a popular audio editor, Amadeus Pro, and at basic editing in Amadeus Pro. We then looked at a free audio editor, Audacity, and how one of its effects can be used to remove noise.

Plugins: extending an editor’s power.

Today, we look at audio plugins.  These are the way we can augment the basic capabilities of an audio editor.  It is important to choose an editor, in fact, that supports plugins.  If you don’t, you are buying an already-handicapped editor.

Two popular plugin formats.

There are two popular formats for plugins: VST and AU.  The first stands for Virtual Studio Technology and was developed by Steinberg, makers of a very powerful audio editor called Wavelab.  The second stands for Audio Unit and was developed by Apple.

Most audio editors support VST plugins (and sometimes derivatives of VST).  Some also support AU plugins.  Plugins can be used to clean audio, correct and change pitch in sound tracks, analyze the properties of a sound track, remove specific frequencies of sound, equalize sound volume levels across a track, and many other things.

The Peak editor.

Below is an audio editor sold by Bias.  It is called Peak.  It’s rather expensive, but they have a much cheaper “LE” edition that is moderately priced and has almost all the capabilities of the full version.  It comes with a powerful suite of plugins made by Bias (and using their proprietary format).  Peak also supports VST and AU plugins.

The image shows a stereo track along with Reveal, Bias’ powerful audio analysis plugin. Reveal is used heavily by editors who are mastering audio tracks. It can be used to monitor sound levels and panning (the movement of sound between the two stereo channels).  It can also perform spectral analysis, which can be used to remove short, loud noises such as a mouse clicking.

Peak LE is probably the best editor for the money.  It costs more than Amadeus Pro, but is far more powerful and comes with a suite of great plugins.  Another great choice is Steinberg’s Wavelab Elements.

More soon…

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