Back in 2002 I was introduced to audio editing software, when the AM station broadcasting my weekly radio show finally went digital and got rid of its reel-to-reel tapes.
It was the end of a romantic era, and I was not enamoured of the change. (Can anyone say "buggy whip"?) But I eventually realized it had ushered in an exciting new era of its own.
The things I could do now! No more razor blades, guesswork, or scrubbing tapes. No more recording shows onto cassette — they could now be archived on a microchip! And on a website for listeners who missed the radio broadcast. (This was before the term "podcast" was invented.)
Best of all, I could record in my own home studio. No more traffic!
I was well aware that as time marched along, my software was becoming dated. Still, it was comfortably familiar. I had become reasonably competent with it, and I hated learning new software on my own. It was hard enough with help!
When the time came to upgrade my computer, however, upgrading my audio software was no longer optional. I discovered to my horror that it was not compatible with Windows7.
One day while in an office supply store in Bellingham, WA I found myself in their software section. A nice-looking box labelled Audio Essentials by NCH Software caught my eye.
The description sounded good and the price was way less than an upgrade for my existing program. And, I recognized the name WavePad as one that a colleague has for years been ranting and raving about, and bugging me to try. So I bought it and once it was installed, it was pretty much love at first sight.
I don’t usually go crazy over software but WavePad cut my production time in half just on my first try. So what’s not to go crazy about?
Working with my old program involved selecting and arranging regions, then doing a mix-down to a Wave file. This resulted in a studio mix that, after all my finicky editing, was considerably more slick than what I had produced on reel-to-reel. And gradually I forgot how much I enjoyed the "performance high" from recording "live to tape" in my pre-digital days.
WavePad has rekindled that excitement while providing more efficient tools for the studio work.
Probably the most useful is "Insert file" (under Edit menu). I can add ready-to-air files (commercials, interviews, etc.), rip tracks off CDs in seconds and copy them in, as well as record my intros and extros right into the file. No mixing down and converting … just save file as an mp3 and I’m done.
Now the fun is back again!
I love the click-saving icons for basics like adjusting volume (Amplify), fading and cross-fading, mixing and pasting files, noise reduction, etc. I especially love how you can zoom in and out with the scroll of a mouse wheel!
WavePad has handy time markers along the bottom of the page and an indicator showing the length of the entire file and selections. That keeps me on track so I have less editing and adjusting to do later.
I still like to work in WAV because it’s uncompressed. The Batch Converter allows me to convert the show and several components to mp3s in a flash, to post on my program website. Skookum!
WavePad has to be one of the most user-friendly programs I’ve ever encountered. The interface is uber-easy and user-friendly. The brief video tutorials are helpful, and the manual is excellent. The support staff are prompt, friendly and helpful. Definitely real people!
Now I’m starting to experiment with MixPad and am finding it a similarly pleasant experience. It’s almost a surprise how fast and easy it is! I’m looking forward to using the other NCH products that came in the package.
My only regret is waiting so long to make the switch!
Author bio: Paulette MacQuarrie lives on Vancouver Island, Canada where she produces and hosts a syndicated one-hour weekly variety show called Nash Holos Ukrainian Roots Radio in (mostly) English. More details at the show’s website www.nashholos.com and blog nashholos.blogspot.com