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Adobe Audition for Mac Digital Audio Workstation

Audition goes Mac and our contributor likes the results. We bet you will, too.

In October 1990, I took my studio digital with DAT machines and a DOS-based AKG/Orban product called the DSE7000 ($46,500 list). A longstanding “Mac guy” now 21 years later, I have observed list-price decimals for DAWs shift several spots to the left; the new, full version of Adobe Audition CS5.5 for Mac (or PC, for that matter) costs $349. Upgrades from Adobe Audition 1.5 and SoundBooth CS3 forward are only $99. Though some users may ask, “Why even bother making a Mac version?” given the small percentage of Mac versus PC users, I’m glad that Adobe did.


Adobe doesn’t require proprietary hardware to use Audition CS5.5. In fact, I was even able to assign my Digi 002R I/O to Audition and later switch straight back to PT|LE. There were a few hiccups, and I had to restart the Mac, but it did settle down. Then, there were latency issues until I abandoned the 002R and went straight into the Mac’s analog input. After tracking, I found I was getting some dropped samples so I upped the buffer and everything worked fine.

Audition’s “faster-than-real-time rendering” is a big plus for my needs. I produce two half-hour weekly radio programs. Pro Tools requires real-time rendering. Audition takes about three minutes to render the entire half-hour show. Sure, I could bill for the time, but I’d rather have the machine free to do other things.

Because Audition evolved from both Syntrillium’s Cool Edit Pro and Adobe Soundbooth, it is a two-faced app; it combines the destructive features of CEP and the nondestructive features of Soundbooth. As a result, there are menu features such as Export File that apply to File Mode, but not Multitrack. I got used to it, but hopefully Adobe will integrate the two in future versions.

Audition doesn’t support MIDI. I don’t really care, as I use PT|LE for that. It doesn’t support CD burning. I don’t really care, but somebody needs to build a wellfeatured, Mac-based CD-burning program that creates masters that can be used for replication. None of the Roxio products except the Jam 6 — which Roxio has abandoned — do that.

Audio and video editing software seem to be steering toward more “consumer friendly” features. As they do, they are dropping basic conventions that professionals have been using for years. Adobe Audition for Mac is better than SoundTrack Pro, but I’d still like to see a gain reduction meter when I use a compressor or limiter. And why do I have to enable monitoring? Why isn’t monitoring the default position?

Adobe is very keen on making Audition and Premiere (Adobe’s video-editing software) compatible, ultimately allowing audio captured in Premiere to be exported to Audition for more intense audio work, then returned to Premiere. Final Cut Pro and SoundTrack Pro have been working this way for years, improving with each iteration. However, with FCP X, Apple says they are bringing the features of SoundTrack Pro into FCP, so you never have to leave. As an audio guy who edits video as well, I like that but I don’t want to be forced to buy video editing software to edit my audio.

In Use

I signed on for an Adobe Audition beta test almost a year ago. It took a while and several builds before Adobe felt it was market ready. If you are using metadata, Audition has one of the fullest implementations I’ve seen. The plug-ins I’ve tried all seem functional. I especially liked the Mastering plug-in that combines reverb, exciter, stereo widener, loudness and three-band EQ. Each of the five sections has more than enough parameters to get you into trouble and is a lot of fun to use.

In my use, rendering a multitrack production to a stereo master sometimes caused Audition to quit. The revision before last fixed that, and then everything worked very nicely for several months. Then it ultimately started dropping samples and glitching. Then the final version — CS5.5 — fixed that. I’ve been on CS5.5 for about a month, and though I am still getting some dropped samples, they aren’t audible. I bumped the buffer up a notch past 64 and that seemed to solve the problems.


I know not every feature made over from Audition’s original PC version to this Mac version [Check out the list of differences between Audition v.3 and Audition CS5.5 here — Ed.). As with many things, it’s all about the time and money thrown at the problems. Having no previous experience with Audition, I can’t say how important some of the features Adobe omitted from this release are. Some users will have to find new ways to get their work done. Mac users will welcome the rendering speed. The price is right. Just look closely to make sure the feature set meets your needs. I signed on to help the beta process not expecting to like Audition. Now I do.

Price: $349
Contact: Adobe |

Ty Ford is a Baltimore-based audio engineer and longstanding contributor to PAR.