Test Drive: Fast EdDit from Minnetonka Software

Fast EdDit-ing

Once a recording is made or a file is loaded into Fast EdDit, the main editing screen appears. This is essentially the only screen in the program and the only one you need to learn. The bells and whistles department has been kept to a minimum, so getting up to speed on Fast EdDit is a fast task. The screen is divided horizontally into two windows. The bottom window is the Read Only window. The top window is where all editing is done and is called the Modify window. After a file is recorded or a saved file loaded, the file appears in the bottom Read Only window. To work on a file, the entire file or sections of it are copied from the bottom window to the top window where the work is done. The original file stays intact until you decide to overwrite it with the modified file in the Modify window. Or, you can save the modified version with a different filename to preserve the original.

The screen is uncluttered, which will appeal to anyone intimidated by complex looking screens. At the top are eight Windows pull-down menus: File, Edit, Play, Tools, Marker, Display, Options, and Help. Title bars at the top of both the Modify and Read Only windows display the filename and path of the current file(s). At the bottom of both windows, a toolbar provides + and – icons for zoom functions, a Copy icon, a scroll-bar for scrolling through a waveform, and a time display. The toolbar on the Modify window adds icons for access to five clipboards, a Paste icon, the “S” select icon, the "L" Loop-Play icon, and the “X” crossfade icon.

There are several ways to select audio for editing. The fastest way is with a combination of the left and right mouse buttons, but the various options let you  find your favorite method. Once a region of audio is selected, there are several editing functions available under the Edit pull-down menu. Most of these have keyboard shortcuts, and as with most programs with them, once you learn them, editing can be done very quickly.

The Copy function copies the selected audio into the clipboard for later pasting. The Cut function removes the selected audio and brings the two ends of the remaining audio together—your basic cut and splice. The cut audio is placed in the clipboard where the Paste function can be used to place the clipboard audio at any point in the Modify window. Fast EdDit’s Copy-Paste command is not found on too many editors. This command copies the selected audio in the Read Only window and inserts it at the cursor in the Modify window with one click of the mouse or the press of the “w” key. This is a nice feature and really steps up the pace of editing when building an audio file from bits and pieces of other files. The Delete function is the same as the Cut function except the deleted audio is not placed into the clipboard. The Replace function takes whatever audio is in the clipboard and places it at the cursor in the Modify window, overwriting or replacing whatever audio is there. The Mute command is a typical erase function that replaces the selected audio with silence. An Insert Silence command emulates leader tape of the analog world. The Move command is another special function that actually combines several functions. Selected audio can be moved anywhere in the Modify window with a simple click and drag of the mouse. The audio at the destination point is replaced with the moved audio, and the original location of the moved audio is replaced with silence. This function performs edits without changing the original length of the file. All editing in the Modify window is non-destructive.

As with most digital editors, there’s an undo function available. Fast EdDit’s is on the Edit pull-down menu or on the keyboard at Ctrl-Z or F10. And Fast EdDit goes a step further to provide an Edit History window, which displays a description of the last ten edits performed. Any one of them can be selected to return to that point in the editing of the file. This basically provides ten levels of undo. Next Splice and Previous Splice selections instantly move the cursor to previous edit points on the waveform.

Another nice feature of Fast EdDit is that it has five clipboards as mentioned earlier. Four of these are exclusive to Fast EdDit and are accessed with the 1-4 icons on the toolbar below the Modify window, but the fifth one, noted with a “W” icon, is a Windows clipboard which enables sharing audio with other applications. These clipboards act as great storage places for audio when assembling music beds or multiple voice tracks.

When you’ve done a bunch of editing to a file and want to save it with a different name in order to preserve the original file, Fast EdDit makes a whole new audio file for your new version. This can consume disk space rapidly if you regularly save your original files. Another way to save your edits without writing a whole new audio file to the drive is to save the edited version as an editlist using the Save Editlist command under the File pull-down menu. Saving a file this way saves only pointers to the original audio file so that when you play the edited version, it’s actually playing the audio from the original file, but getting the edit information from the editlist file. Fast EdDit lets you know if files belong to an existing editlist before you delete them.

Play Me

The Play pull-down menu offers a variety of playback options. Again, there are keyboard shortcuts for almost all play functions. Choosing Play from the menu or pressing F4 or “p” will play the audio in the active window or selected audio, if any. The Play Window command plays the audio displayed in the active window (Modify or Read Only). Play File plays the entire file. Play From Cursor speaks for itself. Play Audition plays audio a user-defined set of time on either side of the cursor. Play Clipboard plays the audio in the currently selected clipboard. When Loop Play is selected, seamless loop playback can be applied to an entire file, the audio in the window, or selected audio.

Fast EdDit’s scrub function is available under the Play menu or by pressing F2. Scrubbing is performed by moving the mouse with the right button pressed. On our P200, response was rather nice, but it’s still tough to beat zooming in and editing a waveform visually. The scrub works fine to locate to the general area, but the eyes work best for the tight edits.

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