Let’s get this out of the way right at the beginning: dedicated audio editors are important. For sound design, for tweaking audio assets, and for just getting close to your sounds, editing waveforms in a DAW often doesn’t cut it.

That’s made a lot of Mac users unhappy, because it’s one of the few areas where the Mac platform lags seriously behind Windows in available choice. Windows users have been spoiled by choices like Sound Forge (now Sony), Adobe Audition, and Steinberg WaveLab, all three excellent editors that are functional and fast to work with. The Mac, meanwhile, has been all about BIAS Peak. And Peak has been divisive: some users love it, but others want an alternative. Possible choices like Adobe Soundbooth and Apple Soundtrack Pro, while useful in their own workflows, haven’t caught on with audio editors. (One notable “underground” choice is the favorite of many CDM readers – Audiofile Engineering’s Wave Editor – a smaller name, but I doubt WaveLab will shake the loyalty of its devoted users.) Clarification: okay, it depends on who you ask. See comments for some intelligent debate of my thesis here – yes, there are many options, including DSP Quattro and some lightweight choices like Amadeus. So, perhaps the real issue is Windows users migrating to the Mac (or cross-platform users with favored Windows editors) who don’t find something with which they’re comfortable. And yes, whether you really need a dedicated editor is all about how you work with assets – see comments.

Steinberg bringing WaveLab to the Mac is already turning a few heads, particularly among recent PC-to-Mac converts. (Even on Windows, with Adobe Audition having fallen behind, WaveLab may gain some ground.)

Don’t think it’s big news? Have a look at recent Facebook and Twitter activity and other chatter over the announcement. Amongst the elite sound design lovers, WaveLab is the news of the week. That’s a small group of people (as any of the developers of these apps will readily tell you), but they also have a big impact on the sound of media today.

The reworked interface still has a last-generation feel, but on the other hand, it’s functionality over form that defines this category. I’m still waiting to see some more material details, but Steinberg at least has a preview of what’s new in 7. Wading through their PR materials, I translate that to include:

WaveLab’s new multi-window, dockable interface and toolbar – though, uh, naturally I expect you wouldn’t open all these windows at once. (I can only imagine what would happen if Steinberg submitted this screenshot to my editor at Macworld.
  • A new workspace UI built around dockable, scalable multiple windows and customizable toolbar. (I hate toolbars, so I may customize it by … turning it off. To each their own, though.)
  • “Ground-up” re-engineering effort to support cross-platform Mac and Windows code (based on past experience, that may benefit the engineering on the Windows side, too)
  • New VST3 restoration tools developed by Sonnox, including DeNoizer, DeBuzzer, DeClicker, and plug-ins gathered from Steinberg’s pro audio line, including the Nuendo Post Filter.
  • New CD and DVD-A burning engine.

The inclusion of mastering and burning materials really puts this right opposite Peak – and for those of you who didn’t even bother with Peak, could fill in some key gaps in suites like Logic Studio (in case you aren’t a fan of Apple’s editor and burning tools).

I’m not a WaveLab user, though it’s always been a program I respected from a distance. So if you are an old-hat WaveLab lover, do get in touch; we may need to you to review the new release when it ships.

WaveLab 7 preview at Steinberg

  • http://www.nineinchnails.it cloddo

    This is a GREAT news! I always used WaveLab for mastering when I was on Windows and never liked Peak on OSX.

    (WaveBurner from Logic suite is a great tool too, but lacks of editing functionalities)

  • Kirkwood West

    You missed one amazing editor Peter…

    Wave Editor is extremely capable and affordable!
    http://www.audiofile-engineering.com/waveeditor/

  • http://www.createdigitalmusic.com Peter Kirn

    @Kirkwood: actually, I had very much intended to include AE Wave Editor in there. WaveLab will appeal to fans of the program on Windows moving to the Mac, but I don't think WaveLab will cause so much as a head turn from the Wave Editor crowd. ;)

  • Jonathan

    I don't doubt that thia is big news to some, but I question your reasons why it's big news.

    <q cite="Peter Kirn">[E]diting waveforms in a DAW often doesn’t cut it.</q>

    Less and less true nowadays, as DAWs add more and more audio editing capabilities. For example, consider the significant difference between Logic 7 and Logic 9. Dedicated editors still have the advantage, but I think where you say "often" I'd now say "occasionally, or if you have special requirements". For the average home studio, the latest version of your DAW may be all the audio editor you need.

    <q>[I]t’s one of the few areas where the Mac platform lags seriously behind Windows in available choice.</q>

    Actually, we have different choices, but plenty of them. DSP Quattro, Audiofile Engineering's Wave Editor, PreMaster CD, Soundblade, Peak, and Amadeus. There's a wide variety of price points and feature sets to suit just about any niche.

    I'm sure WaveLab will be a welcome addition, and step up the competition, but it's not as if they're bringing a glass of water to a dying man in the desert. We weren't that thirsty.

    <q>Steinberg bringing WaveLab to the Mac is already turning a few heads, particularly among recent PC-to-Mac converts.</q>

    This is the real reason it's news. In audio editing, a consistent and familiar workflow makes it easy to get things done. It's the recent converts who miss that familiar workflow they already know who are cheering for WaveLab.

    I wonder, though…if any of these Mac options other than Peak had better marketing strategies, maybe there'd be a lot fewer people missing WaveLab after the switch.

    Peak isn't the only option, but it does often seem to be the only one people are aware of.

  • http://youshootiscore.com Ned Bouhalassa

    One more option on the Mac that was not mentioned in the post is DSP Quattro:

    http://www.i3net.it/dspquattro/asp/homepage.asp

  • Korhan

    Amadeus Pro is a pretty decent, budget audio editor for Mac OSX. Highly recommended.

  • Adam

    Good news for the Mac platform although Wavelab is not the most user-friendly of apps. Hopefully the interface upgrade will bring some much-needed improvements in that department. In any case I think it's a good move for Steinberg. Wavelab is already has a large following on the PC.

  • Chris Thorpe

    I second or thrid the comments about DSP Quattro. Very capable. I still miss Alberto Ricci's SoundEffects though, with Mike Norris's SoundMagic plug-ins. Some unique effects still not available elsewhere. And come to think of it, whatever happened to CellSynth?

  • Brandon Murphy

    Really good news! The more options the better. Now if Adobe will just port Audition over to os x…

  • bb

    I'm going to also disagree a bit with the article. I had DSP Quattro for a while but haven't upgraded. Mostly because I couldn't figure out why I needed a dedicated editor. Pro Tools and Digital Performer (what I mostly use) do all the editing I need, Logic and Live maybe not as much. I also have Amadeus Pro for occasional use.

    I've been a professional music editor on the Mac for over 10 years and own all the programs I've listed and many more, but I have never used Peak, I'm not sure I've even seen it. I will probably never see WaveLab, even though I check out pretty much every piece of audio software I can find. It's just not anything I can think of a use for. And this is coming from someone who spent the last couple days playing with Renoise (which is kind of awesome).

    I think your impressions may be a little off.

    bb

  • http://www.createdigitalmusic.com Peter Kirn

    See edit above.

    Two issues with my above theories, I'll concede:

    "1. You need a dedicated audio editor."

    Yes, of course, this depends on your workflow, the things you need to do, personal preference, etc., etc. I'll say it's important enough, in that there are a fair number of people who still use them. And I'm likewise happy to see better editing capabilities built into DAWs – no argument. Let's put it this way: there were enough people who responded to this news before I wrote this post that it matters to someone.

    "2. The Mac doesn't have enough audio choices."

    Okay, I'll concede, this is a bit of a mystery. See my edit above. It is a commonly heard complaint (this is one of the first audio editing posts where someone didn't bring up the long, long-lost ghost of "SoundEdit"). I think it has a lot to do with people growing accustomed to Sound Forge, Audition, and WaveLab on PC. All three are unique tools and don't necessarily have a 1:1 equivalent on the Mac. Conversely, I suppose if you were a big Peak or AE Wave Editor fan and tried to switch to Windows, you might miss those. (And you probably simply *wouldn't switch* off the Mac to find out.)

  • Kewl

    I'll just add TwistedWave:
    http://twistedwave.com/

  • http://www.createdigitalmusic.com Peter Kirn

    Actually, maybe a follow-up post on "choices for audio editing on the Mac" is in order here. ;)

    Care to comment on why each of these selections is cool?

  • s ford

    Cheers for the article Mr Kirn!

    This was one of the great releases for Mac users in a long time. Yeah sure there are some other fantastic wave editing software packages out there. Wave Editor of the ones I have tried was one of the better ones out there, but for a PC user who only recently made the switch (well just over a year, feels like nothing though!) Wavelab is a welcome addition.

    One of the great things about Wavelab is that it comes in several editions too, from basic ones to all out singing and dancing packages. Yeah sure it's no Sound Forge (a joke..) but Wavelab is a very welcome addition.

  • amnesia

    I use Sound Forge on XP via Parallels. Nothing is a s good as Sound Forge!

  • Dano

    Oh yes! This is such great news. I can't wait.

    There are some options on Mac, but none of them as good as SoundForge or WaveLab. Peak comes closest I suppose, but it's just so… hmmm.

  • Seamus

    Oh freakin' SWEET! I've never been much of a Cubase fan, but Wavelab is IMO Steinberg's best app, and could never before get it for my Mac. Good show! In my opinion, Wavelab is still the best choice for mastering, as doing all the boring but essential things such as meta-normalizing and ISRC code embedding is really easy in Wavelab.

    Will be picking this up for sure :)

  • epiphanius

    Amnesia –

    I was using Audigy to grab a short sample last night, and found I missed Sound Forge. I wondered if it would work in a vm, and now I'll give it a try (in virtualbox).

    Thanks for the encouragement to do so.

  • michiel

    @epiphanius

    Before you do, you might like to try running SF in Wine. Check out this Wine build, which is especially packaged for the mac. You do need X11 installed as well.

    I find running windows apps under Wine much faster and more convenient than in a VM, because you don't have to start up windows each time. And actually SF runs pretty fine under Wine.

  • Chris

    @Peter

    How about a list of dedicated audio editing applications on all platforms.

    I still find an offline sample editor the best way to process recordings. But I've had some issues with wavosaur and audacity on the PC. I'm looking for something in the price range of ae Wave Editor for pc, thats not cripple-ware. Do I have to bite the bullet and buy Sound Forge? Surely there's something good under 200$

  • http://stanzaproductions.com Stan9FOS

    Being the cheapskate/brokeass musician that I am, I have always been content with using the version of Wavelab Lite that came bundled with my old Cubase I bought years ago, and the occasional foray into the old Sound Forge Express. But these days, hey, Audacity is free, and I use it all day at work, so it has become my default.

    I will be interested to see if there is a "Wavelab Essential 7" version released, because if they include the right mastering options, it may be time to actually spend a little money on something for a change!

  • http://www.loebmusic.com Paul

    What about Audacity? It works on Windows, Mac, and Linux!

  • http://www.loebmusic.com Paul

    oh and Audacity is FREE!

  • Seamus

    Audacity is IMO awful. Especially on Mac.

  • Lee Faulkner

    Hooray!

    My neglected (since dropping Windows forever) Wavelab 6 dongle is ready for the upgrade!

    While CD Burning isn't a huge deal anymore Wavelab is unbeatable for Audio Only productions for Radio, Audio Books, Spoken Word Content, pure sound design… and when Podcasters taste it, they are going to be floored!

    I always thought it could be a great platform for audio to video … but I guess Steinberg don't want to usurp Nuendo.

    Apple come close to the workflow with Soundtrack Pro … but if the Mac WL is as solid on the Mac as on Win, then it'll be my go to application from day 1!

    Lee

  • http://turntablepoetry.com/blog dj professor ben

    Surprised nobody's mentioned Sound Studio 3. Pretty basic and simple, for sure, but it's a great no-nonsense OS X sound editor that suits most purposes.

  • simon

    Didn't you forget Audacity?

  • A Different Jonathan

    Well, I can comment on the ones I think are cool.

    Amadeus Pro: At $40, the cheapest option I'd recommend. Yes, Audacity is free, but the UI is very ill-conceived. Amadeus is the no-frills concept of Audacity, in a usable package.

    Wave Editor: Innovative Photoshop-inspired layers. At $79, best bang for the buck, considering you get iZotope's sample-rate conversion and MBIT+ dithering technology, plus the ability to both master to DDP format and do DDP loadback. It's the cheapest option on either platform that does that. (For the uninitiated, DDP is a truly-lossless format increasingly preferred by pressing plants for disc masters)

    DSP Quattro: At $200 (or $100 if you crossgrade from another editor), still a much nicer price than Peak. A more traditional UI workflow than Wave Editor. Includes batch-processing capabilities in the box, whereas with Wave Editor you have to spend another $79 on the companion app Sample Manager to get batch processing. This app made a lot more sense when Wave Editor cost $249 and was a lot less feature complete. Now, I'd only recommend it if you hate Wave Editor's new-fangled ways of doing things.

    Soundblade: Complete hardware-and-software solutions for professional mastering engineers. Designed to enable seamless integration of outboard hardware processors into the digital mastering workflow. Very expensive, but the full-time MEs I know who use Macs don't use Peak or any of the above – they use Soundblade.

    Bottom line:

    If you're cheap… Amadeus will serve you well enough

    If you're cheap, but love a bargain… Wave Editor

    If you don't like Wave Editor's UI/workflow… DSP Quattro

    If you master 3 or more CDs per week… Soundblade

  • http://murderatsea.com Will

    What wavelab brings is pretty incredible mastering capabilities. Sure, you can make a cd with loads of stuff but compositing+master effects makes a good time of it all. A lot of the same stuff you do in your saw of choice…but you can burn redbook from the timeline. Wavelab is a welcome addition to osx.

  • http://audiovoid.net Lindsey-G

    I have found that Cockos REAPER is the program that I have been able to setup and closely replicate Sound Forges usability on the Os x platform. By default Reaper heavily borrows common commands from Sound Forge and Acid and with a little bit of custom key command and macro mapping I am able to almost mimic sound forges functionality.

    The one thing that is missing is the 'Destructive" part. Everything still always has to be Bounced "daw style" not destructively written over as most real Editors do.

    But then again. If you've ever used Audacity you'll realize that it infact Isn't a real Destructive audio editor either (and its riddled with bugs) so if you're you're using IT then I highly recommend trying out reaper as an alternative. And since it is infact a DAW then you obviously get even more bells and whistles than in any other Audio Editor.

    I do audio post production and editing for work and have since switched from Pro Tools LE to just using Reaper because it's about 20 times lighter and faster.

  • marco

    I hope there will not be any issues with Waves plug-ins, since Wavelab 6 became fully compatible just a few months ago. Let's hope this new version of Wavelab might be as stable as version 6 is. I love this program.

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  • http://www.abandontheship.com AbandonShip

    I have worked with Bias Peak Pro, Sonic's PMCD, Sonic Soundblade, Wavelab, SoundForge and I keep going back to Wavelab time after time. The only problem with Wavelab I've had in the past is trouble with CD Burning (which the process was not written by Wavelab team) and some problems with interfacing outboard gear. Sonic's two choices are what some "bigger" MEs use, but I feel that when using those programs, I am still beta-testing someone's product. They jumped from v1 to v3 in less than a year! I want a product that works like the marketing says, and not have to send error reports every session to see what went wrong. Also, if you ever had a hard time "figuring out" Wavelab, seriously take a look at the manual. It really goes little step by little step to describe how to do common tasks such as master, sequence and burn a master audio cd.

  • http://www.facebook.com/ES.NOELB,www.myspace.com/esnoelmusic Yardman

    For all the things i miss since i switch over to MAC for last 10 years was wavelab i could not wait to to see this release i started using wavelab for over a decade now and it has great functions and plugins that I love, of course sound forge is a great program but i love to work in wavelab,

    it is the only program i know has a real time sample rate converter except for logic pro , you can play audio with any sample rate on any sound card or audio interface without having to do a actual conversion. also working in audio montage is great for mastering

    you can add real time effects to any section of your audio track or clip.

    For mastering it a ease to match the levels of the all tracks in the project and a host of other functions and plugins are there to explore.

    This realease will be a great addition to mac for us wavelab fans.

    Steinberg did it again, WAVELAB one of the leading software for mastering and editing.

  • Kay Muller

    I have Wave lab 7 on O.S.X.10.6.8 and my Gear burn engine driver seems to be broken. I can not find this driver for OSX at all? Any one had the problem of The speed window populates and shows a medium in the drive yet when you go to burn it says it can not find a disk ready. Keep in mind I am following the recommendations as to not haveing a disk in the unit untill after wave lab is in control.