X Apps: Powerful Audio Processing on the Cheap

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Date: Wednesday, June 26th, 2002, 02:38
Category: Archive

“What’s the best audio editing application for OS X?” It’s a question I get a lot. After all, basic editing is something everyone from beginners to pros has to do, from journalists editing recordings of interviews to musicians wanting to edit MP3s. Peak from BIAS has long been a favorite choice, and their low-end app Peak LE is just US$99, or US$69 educational. But if you’re on a really tight budget, the latest offerings from TC Works are even more appealing, and from US$/EUR49.95 to free, the price is right for all OS X users, even audio newcomers! Click ‘read more’ for the full story.


“What’s the best audio editing application for OS X?” It’s a question I get a lot. After all, basic editing is something everyone from beginners to pros has to do, from journalists editing recordings of interviews to musicians wanting to edit MP3s. Peak from BIAS has long been a favorite choice, and their low-end app Peak LE is just US$99, or US$69 educational. But if you’re on a really tight budget, the latest offerings from TC Works are even more appealing, and from US$/EUR49.95 to free, the price is right for all OS X users, even audio newcomers!

TC Works, which upgraded its insanely powerful audio editing and processing app Spark this spring for OS X, this month upgraded that program’s smaller siblings to version 2.5: SparkME (free), SparkLE (US$/EUR19.95), and SparkLE Plus (US$/EUR49.95), with many of the same features. The software has a browser view and project database for managing multiple audio files, wave editor, and playlist. SparkME lets you easily edit files and includes a simple EQ plug-in as well as VST support (though you’ll need VST plug-ins that have been updated for OS X). LE adds a mastering quality “Maximizer” and Tempo Delay plug-ins, plus the ability to chain up to 4 VST plug-ins, while LE Plus adds full QuickTime support and the Native PerformanceVerb reverb plug-in and MP3 encoding. All the versions offer full file format support, and sample rates of up to 192 kHz and bit rates up to 32bit, exceeding the DVD specs. OS 9 users, take note: with the exception of SparkME, all the Spark products also support OS 9. Spark has a unique project-based, effects-intensive approach (hence the term “audio processor” and not just editor), differentiating it from its competitor Peak. TC Works’ legendary plug-ins are enough reason to purchase. (And those OS X VST plug-ins will work in OS X Apps like Live!) Pro studios will probably want a copy of both Peak and Spark XL, even for the plug-ins alone.

If you just want a simple app to record audio, for ripping MP3s from old vinyl and recording the occasional audio file from a mic, or for quick-and-dirty editing, you can’t go wrong with the US$49.95 shareware app Sound Studio 2 by Felt Tip software. The software, created by former PowerPage staffer Lucius Kwok, is ideal for beginners with its accessible interface, and even with Peak and Spark, I often reach for it to create a quick fade-in or anything where I want fast results with no mess.

I hope to offer a full review of Peak and Spark’s bigger siblings on OS X this summer, with tips on using the two apps, so stay tuned!

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