Test Drive: Cool Edit Pro Version 2.0 from Syntrillium Software

by Steve Cunningham

Syntrillium Software’s Cool Edit Pro has been around for more than a few years now. In fact, the last time this magazine reviewed the multitrack Cool Edit Pro product, Ms. Lewinsky and Ms. Tripp were still speaking to one another (May 1997). Since then Syntrillium have made improvements in their original Cool Edit shareware stereo editor — which became Cool Edit 2000 — and those improvements have been incorporated into version 2.0 of Cool Edit Pro, along with a host of other new features.

Cool Edit Pro 2.0 is a multitrack software editor for the PC platform that combines a full suite of recording and editing tools with 45 DSP effects, many of which work in real-time. Mixing in CEP2 takes the form of the familiar volume envelopes superimposed over the waveform. The program records up to 24-bit digital audio at sample rates up to 192kHz and higher, assuming your sound card supports those rates. And CEP2 can record and play through multiple sound cards using up to 32 simultaneous channels.

The most significant additions to version 2.0 are an increase in the track count from 64 to 128, real time EQ on every channel, and real-time effects with track bussing. Also new is a mixer window to show you where the master “channel faders” are positioned, loop creation and editing tools for those of you who like to generate your own beds from loops, and several new effects.

Cool Edit Pro’s minimum computer requirements are still modest, considering its capabilities: Windows 98, ME, 2000, or XP running on a 233 MHz processor, 64MB RAM, 55MB free hard drive space, a stereo sound card, and a CD-ROM drive. Syntrillium recommends a 700MHz processor and 128MB of RAM, and I’d suggest you have at least 256MB of RAM for best performance.

Cool Edit Pro 2.0 is still one of the only multitrack editors that will run a respectable track count on a slower PC, thanks to the program’s internal pre-mixing function. CEP2 pre-mixes all tracks that are destined for an output, internally and in the background. You probably won’t even notice this pre-mixing until your track count starts to get high, and even then it’s quick enough. It’s also one of the ways Syntrillium is able to get CEP2 to do 128 tracks on a moderate PC. Do keep in mind that you’ll need a faster CPU if you want to load up on real time effects, which burn through CPU cycles like nobody’s business.

In addition, you’ll want to have a CD burner for final output, and a large-ish monitor capable of at least 800x600 resolution. The bigger the monitor the better, since Cool Edit Pro packs a lot of information onto a single screen. You can resize any of the window’s elements to make things easier to see, but a 19" or 21" monitor with 1024x768 resolution will give you plenty of screen real estate without giving you eyestrain, especially if you’re a Fellow Old Guy.

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