|Jim Harvey reviews PC Audio Editing: Broadcast, Desktop & CD Audio Production|
|A Creative COW "Real World" Book Review|
New York, USA
© 2002 Jim Harvey and CreativeCOW.net. All rights are reserved.
Jim Harvey takes a look at PC Audio Editing: Broadcast, Desktop & CD Audio Production by Roger Derry. ~ This book is published by Focal Press. Read why Jim gives this book 4 1/2 COWs and says, "This book really belongs on your shelf if you are starting out with audio editing, and if you are already fairly comfortable with audio it is an excellent reference work.''
|One of the most frustrating things for me has been to find a good book on audio editing. Some of the books that I've read were so sparse and simplistic that there was virtually nothing of value to be had in them. Others were so technical that even though there was a tremendous amount of information, none of it was pertinent to my needs.
The manuals that come with much of the audio editing software available today are similar. Either no useful information, or information that is either presented haphazardly or presented in a way that doesn't truly reflect what I want to do.
When I first opened PC Audio Editing: Broadcast, Desktop & CD Audio Production by Roger Derry. I did the obligatory quick scan. It seems a standard convention to begin all books on audio with the same information. Give the history, give the arcane examples and derivations of modern day recording practices and not much else. While some might disagree, none of this makes my audio editing software more useful. Going further into the book, however, within 5 minutes I had changed my mind.
I sat down to scan the book, realizing that I didn't really have the time to get into it. I had a lot of work that was sitting waiting for me to attend to. Well, after I read the opening chapters (which DO go into some depth about sound levels, hearing safety (imagine that!) The required Analog and Digital audio (which was finally presented in a way that didn't make me want to take some warm milk and a cookie and go to sleep) and time-code. I found that there was something about THIS book that was different. ... It was READABLE!
The first 3 chapters concern themselves with the mundane aspects of audio, the type of hardware that is necessary (without making any particular recommendation as to brand). All this has been done before, but for some reason, in this book it's not as boring as other works as Derry seems to be speaking directly to you.
Well pretty soon I found myself unable to put the book down. Although Derry claims that the book isn't aimed at any particular program, he DOES use Cool Edit Pro as his demonstration platform. He's obviously partial to Cool Edit and that's just fine with me. I've used Cool Edit Pro and find for the most part to be far more than I ordinarily need. The main problem was that I never really took the time to understand the program fully. There is far more to it than just being able to assemble tracks and make basic edits. I remember searching around in Borders and other mainstream bookstores to find something that would help to unlock some of the features of Cool Edit Pro in a more "user friendly" manner than the standard manual does, to no avail. Like many people, I read the manual just perfunctorily and dove head first into the program. I knew that I was missing many of the features that were available to me, but what the heck, I was making my WAV's and no one was complaining. With Derry's book. Cool Edit has been demystifyed enough that it is now far more productive a tool than it was prior to reading this book. I can feel confident when I apply an effect or a pre-set that I actually KNOW what I'm doing.
There are some minor errors, however, one glaring ( to me at least) error is his confusion between the ALT and CTRL keys. In his chapter on Multi-track he refers to the undo key as "ALT/Z" when in reality is it "CTRL/Z" that undoes an error or change. Additionally, he refers to the Shift key to dual select while it is the control key again that allows multiple track selection. Maybe UK software is configured differently, but that's how my system works. It's a minor point and not something that really gave me any problems (I KNEW already that CTRL/Z is the undo key) Some newcomers might have a bit of confusion there.
The book is split up into chapters naturally, and the chapter on Production is interesting in that Derry gives little guidelines as to how each type of production might be recorded. Drama, Magazine Programs, Illustrated Talks are covered with an eye to keeping things interesting and some hints as to how to set things up to achieve the desired results. The next chapter on Post-Production is a little thin, but manages to touch on a number of subjects in a clear and easily understood manner.
The part of this book that I truly enjoyed was the chapter on Audio Design. Derry devotes the bulk of the book (65 pages) to this subject and describes and explains virtually every pre-set and function available in Cool Edit. From normalization, reverb presets, noise reduction and how to fake stereo from a mono input to clear explanations of the track controls and the audio mixer, this is just a pleasure to read.
The last part of the book concerns itself with some basic tips on reviewing your material after it's edited to ensure that you have a good edit. Making your master, how to make a test file and CD burning with Cool Edit. Derry also touches on hardware and some tweaks that can make your editing more pleasant and faster.
The entire book is full of clear and well explained diagrams and illustrations that certainly can be applied to other audio programs. It was refreshing to have a book that was so clearly written for the average person and not for a degreed audio engineer.
I used to use Photoshop simply to resize pictures. It took me several years to fully understand the scope and power of that program, and several years more to become proficient with it. With Roger Derry's book, thankfully that won't be the case with Cool Edit Pro. This one is definitely worth a close look. It really belongs on your shelf if you are starting out with audio editing, and if you are already fairly comfortable with audio it is an excellent reference work.
If you found this page from a direct link, please visit our forums or read other articles at CreativeCOW.net