Editing & Mastering

Wave editors, EQs, and other Mastering tools

Hokusai Audio Editor, App Review

Taking waveform editing to a new level.
Review based on Complete Pro Pack upgrade, version 1.0.1 on iPad 1
I have used many audio editors of excellent quality, design, and packed with useful tools. Hokusai Audio Editor with the Complete Pro Pack has just raised the bar. The amount of available tools and FX is loaded with an astonishing selection. Some might think $9.99 might be an expensive upgrade but I’m here to tell you after much use, experience, and detailed communications with the developer that it’s a fantastic bargain!

I’ll get to the details of these amazing tools and how it all works, but first I want to share some very useful and important information I have gathered from lead developer Canis, at Wooji Juice regarding audio clipping.
I saw some users complain about hearing some “clicks, pops, or crackles” while editing and then playing back their files in Hokusai. This was especially noticeable when applying FX, and normalizing. I also noticed the same concerns myself. So I emailed Wooji, and received some detailed info on what most likely was happening.

Canis from Wooji Juice said :
 “If you normalise to 100%, then apply reverb, and echo, then since the sound started at 100% and you’ve now applied (for example) 10% echo, the sound is at 110% and you’ll clip the limits of the iPad hardware.
However, unlike some editors, Hokusai itself doesn’t clip permanently: although the sound gets clipped as it plays back, the actual sound data is undamaged. This means that if you turn the volume back down (perhaps by normalising it again after applying the effects), you’ll get your unclipped sound back.”
After reading his reply I went back and played with Hokusai some more, but this time went on to copy the edited file, and then paste into my other app where I was mixing my project. No clipping was heard.
I wondered and asked again, “Why is that?”
Canis at Wooji kindly explains, “When you AudioCopy a slice of audio, Hokusai scans the slice to see if it clips. If (and only if) it does clip, then it re-normalises the audio slice to 100% as it AudioCopies it. This is because unlike Hokusai’s internal format, the AudioCopy file format clips permanently.”
A little side techie note on audio copy in general, it’s 16bit signed integer audio format, and Hokusai uses a much higher quality 32 bit floating point format.

Back on topic, Hokusai has a very uncluttered, pleasantly minimal design and work area. It might be so uncluttered compared to other editor apps, that it could be momentarily unsettling in that most menus, options, and tools are not in your face and obvious. They are however all there and easily accessible by touch. It won’t take long to really appreciate this design, and maybe become a little spoiled by it.

Having a multi track editor with (mostly) everything visible side by side on screen is a smooth and streamlined delight. It’s all manipulated by familiar touch gestures that are instinctive to most iPad users. Selecting the areas of the file to work with is just like copying text in emails or notepads. Touch with a long hold, and swipe back and forth to highlight the parts you want to edit. Tap the highlighted area once to see a pop up of your various options, including the suite (All found by touching the “More” button on the right of the pop up bar) of FX and various tools.
As you drag you finger over a waveform you can hear the sound under your fingertip. This live scrubbing is quite useful and helps with an audible cue of exactly where your finger is in relation to the waveform including a minutes and seconds timeline relating to where you are touching the file, and or what portion is highlighted for editing. I only wish the timeline would run during playback, without having to touch anything.
Cut, copy, paste, crop, slice etc, multiple tracks of files all on screen, and mix, match, and create whatever you can imagine. Bring in files from other apps with pasteboard support is easy, and always welcome.

You really cant fully appreciate this app with using just the free starter kit.
The tools available in the (via IAP) Complete Pro Pack are what makes this editor shine brightest. Hokusai has everything I want and need to edit, and apply high quality FX to my projects. There are too many to list here, but I’ll run down some of my most used and desired FX. There are 2 types of reverb to choose from, one is a basic Reverb, the other is more advanced with deeper adjustability. Chorus, Digital Echo (delay), Flanger, Bit Crusher, and Gramophone….the list goes on, check out the full Hokusai Audio Editor app description in iTunes.
Purchasing the upgrade also removes those pesky ads.

In my opinion Wooji Juice has really hit a home run with Hokusai Audio Editor. It’s quickly become an integral part of my iOS music studio on my iPad.

5 stars!!!

Reforge App Review: Wave Forms Dont Edit Themselves

Review based on experience using iPad 1

Reforge by Audioforge Labs Inc is described as the “Swiss army knife for audio files on iPad”. It really is. I find that Reforge has been nothing short of necessary for use in my music work when I need to do wave form editing. Everything is simple to use, or apply via the intuitive use of the touch interface.
Reforge does what it’s supposed to do without clutter. Trimming, cutting, slicing, cropping, copy paste within the file or even paste in from another file. It’s all here, just about everything needed to make audio wave form edits, and almost effortlessly.

The included FX that can be automated are, volume, stereo balance, stereo widening, low pass and high pass filters. Pitch and time shift are available but not automated.

These features can all be used with the control markers to automate effect levels and at multiple positions, by just touching the screen at the desired place to apply the effect. When called for (such as cropping) touch and hold about half a second at the start point and drag to the end point area of the wave form to perform the edit. Adding multiple effect points (markers) by double tapping in the spot you wish to add to. I’m not going to write an instruction manual, this is to illustrate just how easy it is to get the job done, and there is a lot of room to be creative. Check Out http://www.reforge.info/Site/Reforge.html for detailed specs or developer info.

In portrait mode there is a very handy help screen to explain each function in detail. Just touch each button you want info on and it appears at the top of the screen. Nice touch. Landscape provides a larger view area to do your work.

Reforge supports several file sharing options such as, import from mp3, im4, aif, from email directly into Reforge. Audio Copy Paste between compatible apps with a 12 file history. iTunes file sharing to upload your files including .wav. The good old wifi to transfer files as well. Moving files can’t get any easier.

  Besides cutting & cropping etc, I have found I use this a lot for adding stereo depth to otherwise flat audio files. However I must point out that I’ve also experienced more than a few crashes especially when applying several features in one file. I have also heard artifacts (clicks or pops) during the work process, but they don’t usually make it into the actual saved file. These two problems obviously can be a nuisance, as it’s tough to be certain when a click was properly removed until I double check it pasted elsewhere and give it a listen. Crashing, well no one needs that explained as to why it’s a problem. I’m not going to suggest these are deal breakers though, and Audioforge Labs works hard to improve his apps. More often then not, I am able to complete my work in Reforge no problem. Updates are being worked on to correct these issues, and improve the app, including future universal app support.

Reforge gets a solid 4 stars. Great tool to have in any iOS musicians collection.

Twisted Wave App Review: Ride The Wave

Review based on use and experience with iPad.
Need to do some waveform editing? Twisted Wave Audio Editor has you covered.

UPDATED 5-15-13

Twisted Wave had been my most used audio editing app for a while. Now it supports Audiobus and multiple sample rates. The addition of Audiobus support is what I’ve been waiting for.
The design of Twisted Wave is tried and true so no need to really change much of my original review. It does the job, and does it very well. Its still the first app I recommend to folks for editing.

With all the necessary editing functions and more, there’s a lot you can do to twist up those audio files in a number of useful and fun ways.
Thanks to copy paste, iTunes File Share, importing from iPod, bringing in those files to edit is easy, and convenient. You can also record audio directly using your device mic, or if you have an external mic that works too.

Thanks to a clean and easy to navigate interface getting your work done will not be any hassle. The work area shows the loaded, complete waveform and responds nicely to the touch. Cut, crop, loop, and apply effects in real time. Make a mistake? No problem you can undo it. Or redo it too if you wish. There is the option to create a whole new document as well.

Twisted Wave has a nice selection of effects like fade in or out, delay, compressor/limiter, pitch shifting and time stretching, Dynamics Processor and more.  If your file is too quiet or too loud you can adjust the levels in great detail, or amplify or normalize it to a level you choose. The filter effect adjusts high or low frequencies for nice effect. Playing with all of these in various settings can produce some cool new sounds on your file if you wish to really twist things up.
It all works well, and I find these functions to be deep and useful especially in various combinations.

Spec listings aside, and you should check iTunes app store for the complete list, it’s all about quality and results. Both are present in Twisted Wave. My experience with this has led to producing some great audio to use in my music. Ive been able to improve things and change others altogether in ways I hadn’t really given a lot of thought to before. If you want or need to, you can chop up a file with parts that are reversed, inserted silence, Dynamics Processor adjustments, FX, etc and piece it all together again. Then when it’s all done open it in another compatible app.

 It’s a great tool to have, and I don’t know how I got by without it? Having always relied on built in waveform editors in various studio type apps I never thought I’d need a single dedicated waveform editor. Until now. I’m glad I got this, and I recommend it highly.

I must point out that while Twisted Wave is very good, it’s not without faults. Copy paste doesn’t work properly on my device with the latest iOS update. I learned a work around by just turning off WiFi on my device. Occasionally I have heard unwanted artifacts, but this again may have something to do with my version of iOS (4.3.3) installed on my iPad, and I have noticed the artifacts are not present in the actual file. Just listen carefully, adjust things as needed and have fun.

5 stars.