Test Drive: VoxPro PC from Audion Labs

by Steve Cunningham

The venerable VoxPro editor has been around for several years now. Heck, it pre-dates consolidation, and the last time it was reviewed in these pages most DJs still worked live shifts. Much has changed since that review in June 1998 — and it’s all good — but the newest incarnation of VoxPro still maintains its streamlined interface and lightning speed.

VoxPro PC is a fast, no-frills software stereo editor for the Windows PC. It’s available with an optional Control Panel that connects to your computer via USB. Originally created for the Macintosh by former Seattle morning jock Charlie Brown, VoxPro has always been about speed instead of bells and whistles. Brown designed the program to help him edit phone bits for immediate use on-air. That meant it had to be ready to record at all times, and it had to edit quickly and directly ‘cause you might only have one three-minute song to get a phone call ready to broadcast.

It does all that, and does it well. And Audion’s tech support is nothing short of excellent, as we shall see.

SYSTEM REQUIREMENTS

The basic system requirements for VoxPro PC are modest by today’s standards. It requires a Pentium III or higher, 128 MB of RAM, an RS-232 port, and an SVGA monitor that will display at 800x600 or better. Audion Labs prefers that you use a fast PC with 256 MB of RAM, a big hard disk (ATA 7200 RPM, please) for storing lots of audio, Windows 2000 and a NIC card for networking, and USB for the optional Control Panel. If you add the network plug-in, then multiple VoxPro’s can share files and folders over NT, Novell, or a peer-to-peer network.

In any case, you’ll probably want to dedicate a separate PC to VoxPro in order to get the most from it. Please don’t dredge up some old clunk that Finance is giving away because it won’t run the double-entry software — put it on a strong PC. Audion’s spec sheet says it will run on most any Pentium III, and it certainly will run on a 233 MHz machine, but the program really shrieks on a 700+ MHz Pentium III or IV. The faster the CPU, the more VoxPro feels like editing tape. Really, it does, so use a properly manly PC and you’ll be well pleased with the performance.

VoxPro PC uses your existing sound card, provided that the card’s driver is natively DirectX ver. 8 compatible and not emulated. It also uses the standard Windows mixer panel to control input and output levels.

INSTALLATION

Installation of VoxPro PC is a straightforward process, with a little preparation. The first step is to check your computer for its version of DirectX by running dxdiag.exe from your Windows Run menu. This will also tell you if your sound card’s driver is native or emulated. If your sound card runs in emulated mode then you’ll need to use a different one. Soundblaster, Turtle Beach, and Lynx One are examples of cards that are non-emulated under DirectX and will work just fine. If you don’t have version 8 or 8.1 of the DirectX software you can copy it off the VoxPro CD, or download it directly from Microsoft’s web site.

The second step is to install the latest version of Windows Media, which is also included on the CD. Finally, plug in the USB Control Panel if you have it, and run the VoxPro Setup program.

When you boot VoxPro PC for the first time, you’re presented with three choices: Demo, Register, and Exit. Selecting Demo will let you get a good feel for the program, since you get all the features of the full version save the Admin functions, and you’re limited to 50 recordings. If you bought the program, you’ll choose Register and then enter the serial number from your CD. That process generates a number, and when you call or email Audion Labs with that number, you’ll get the registration key. Enter that and log in to VoxPro PC as the Administrator.

All VoxPro PC users must log in with a password. If you haven’t set up an account, you can log in as a Guest, but for a single station like mine, there’s no reason not to use the Admin login. Doing so allows you to change all the preferences and set up folders on any other drive to store your recordings.

My installation experience with VoxPro PC was not without its bumps, although all of them resulted from stuff in my PC that didn’t meet the published requirements. That, and the fact that I have a bad habit of not reading manuals or instructions until something goes south. Audion Labs documents the daylights out of everything, and I’d have done better if I’d RTFM (Read The #$*%^(% Manual, yes?).

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