Adobe Audition CC 2019 Review

Adobe Audition is powerful, cross-platform audio editing software that’s in a category of its own. For example, Audition has specialized tools for cleaning up or restoring audio and offers precision, nondestructive editing for corporate and commercial video, as well as podcasts. It absolutely excels in post-production, unlike Audacity, which is admittedly a much simpler program. In a pinch, Audition also functions as a digital audio workstation (DAW), though it’s too limited and expensive for that market given its lack of music composition tools.

Adobe Audition Pros

Strong audio-restoration, sound-removal, and noise-reduction tools. Excellent stereo waveform editor. Useful visualization tools. Adheres to film and television broadcast standards for audio.

Adobe Auditions Cons

Lacks MIDI support. Only available via an expensive monthly subscription.

Adobe Audition Verdict

Audition is a comprehensive audio editor for video post-production, podcasts, and audio restoration. It’s expensive for what you get, though, and makes the most sense as a supplement to a video editor or as part of an existing CC subscription.

Pricing, System Requirements, and Setup

Audition began its life as a program called Cool Edit by Syntrillium Software. I remember it from its multitrack-enabled Cool Edit Pro days. Adobe bought the product from Syntrillium roughly 15 years ago, relaunched it soon after as Audition, and has developed it ever since.

As with other Adobe software, you “buy” Audition by subscribing to one of the company’s Creative Cloud (CC) plans. Audition by itself costs a rather high $20.99 per month on an annual plan, or $31.49 on a month-to-month plan. It’s also available as part of a package with all of Adobe’s professional products, including Photoshop, Illustrator, Lightroom, and more, for $52.99 per month as part of an annual plan or $79.49 month to month, although students and teachers can get it for as little as $19.99 a month. When you stop paying, Audition stops working and you keep nothing.

Whether any of these plans make sense to you depends on your needs. If you’re the type of audio engineer who buys a program once and uses it professionally until it’s no longer supported, years down the line, Audition will prove a much more expensive proposition than Logic Pro X (a flat $199.99 forever, with free upgrades). But if you tend to upgrade your audio workstation often, paying hundreds of dollars up front and then $99 or $149 every couple of years to get new versions, Audition makes more sense. Audition’s best value proposition is if you’re already working in Adobe Premiere and pay for a full CC subscription anyway, in which case Audition is already part of the package. Still, to put all of this in perspective, three years of working with Audition will cost you at least $755, and possibly more if you choose a different plan or go month-to-month. That’s a lot.

To install Audition, you need a PC or Mac with 4GB of RAM, 4GB of free disk space, and a 1080p resolution display or higher. For this review, I tested Audition CC 2018 on an Apple MacBook Pro 15-inch (2017) with 16GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD running macOS Sierra 10.12.6, with a Focusrite Scarlett 6i6 USB interface attached. Audition CC works with 64-bit versions of Windows 10, 8.1, and 7 with Service Pack 1, and macOS 10.11, 10.12, or 10.13. I ran into no bugs throughout the review period, which is nice to see (although increasingly common, even with Audition’s complex competitors).

There’s no hardware copy protection dongle required with Audition, as there is with Pro Tools or Steinberg’s Cubase Pro. You do need to run the Creative Cloud desktop app in the background, which you install as part of the setup process. By default, Audition CC collects usage data, and to stop it you have to manually opt out once the program is installed.

Audio Editing, Restoration, and Export

Audition offers two main modes: the Waveform view, for stereo editing, and the Multitrack view, for mixing together tracks on a timeline. It’s simple to flip between these two whenever you want. In the Waveform view, recording audio and adjusting its volume is simple, and an attractive spectral frequency editor lets you attack the recorded wave in different ways.

The Multitrack view is where Audition takes on the look of a normal digital audio workstation. Here you drop clips of audio on different tracks, such as a voiceover on top of music stems or ambient sounds, or mix together recorded interview segments to create a podcast. As you’d expect, the interface is fully drag-and-drop compatible, and you can cut or trim clips for seamless nondestructive edits. That’s unlike the Waveform editor, where edits are destructive.

The Mixer view looks a little cluttered, mainly thanks to overly thin sliders, but Audition’s metering and support for console effects are plenty strong. Using the Multitrack view, it’s easy to strip multiple audio channels from MXF and other types of video files. For example, if you record a scene for film or television using multiple microphones (or even in 5.1), the program lets you store each recorded file in its own channel in the file, and then configure the routing of the source channels to each corresponding clip channel.

Adobe also builds in an Essential Sound panel, which is targeted at beginners. To use it, you select a clip, and then choose a Mix Type, such as Dialogue. The program then shows you only a few crucial adjustments that are probably the most important for that task, like repairing a click or making it sound “clearer.” The program includes more than 50 audio effects in total.

One of Audition’s most powerful features is its Favorites, which let you set up macros that perform a series of common operations on wave after wave, such as normalizing or converting to stereo. The History panel lets you undo or redo previous actions. In tandem with Favorites is Batch Processing, which lets you perform tricks like matching up an entire group of clips to broadcast regulation standards, or analyze the frequency and even phase of recordings—this would have saved me a ton of time on some older video game sound design projects I worked on years ago.

For audio restoration, Audition offers several powerful tools in the box. Probably the most important here is Noise Reduction, which does what it says on the tin. It’s not as simple as selecting it and pressing a button, but that makes it all the more powerful. Say you’ve got a narration clip; by clicking on it and bringing up the Spectral Frequency panel, you can use it to find and capture a noise print (typically way up in the treble range) that it can pick up in between spoken words or phrases, or even “room tone” that’s a signature of the room you’ve recorded in. Then, before applying noise reduction, Audition lets you preview the amount of noise reduction, adjusting it with a slider as you go as well as tweaking some other parameters to reduce any unwanted artifacts for the best possible sound quality.

A common trick here is to do several light passes, rather than one heavy-handed one, just like with applying compressor plug-ins to recorded music tracks. The Sound Remover tool is another winner; you can get transparent results using it to remove an errant bump, paper shuffling, or even a car alarm from an otherwise perfect take.

For “topping off” your audio clips and getting them to sit just right in a final video project or podcast, as well as ducking music when appropriate to spotlight voiceovers, Audition truly excels. The program also makes it easy to export broadcast-ready audio in a variety of formats to comply with loudness standards in film, television, commercials, and radio around the world.

Scoring and Music Production

Audition comes bundled with several thousand royalty-free loops and over 10,000 sound effects to get you started with post-production. Audition also offers a Remix tool for music that attempts to automate cutting new versions of a song without having to send it to an actual remixer or mix engineer for changes. It lets you adjust a song’s target duration to get exactly the right cut. Say you shorten the song by 30 seconds; the Remix tool will literally go in and adjust the segments of the song and transition them in a way that resembles splicing tape, and that’s pretty much seamless to the listener assuming it’s not a song most people recognize. You can customize the splices by telling it to favor shorter segments with longer transitions or vice versa. More importantly, the program can be configured to favor rhythm (timbre) elements so that the beat always stays locked when necessary, or favor harmonic structure when it’s a group of vocalists or stringed instruments playing that don’t have an easily discernable beat attached.

All told, I find the Remix tool great for library tracks you’re not super-particular about or custom music composed for a particular project. But having worked on the other side of this as a composer for years, I’d still say just ask the composer for their opinion and possibly an extra cut of the song at a different length, if it’s possible within the parameters of your contract with them.

It’s the rest of the music support tools that give me pause in recommending Audition as a do-it-all audio editor. If you’re coming from Avid’s Pro Tools or another DAW, note that Adobe doesn’t bundle any software instrument libraries with Audition. There’s no score editor, and not even internal MIDI support, aside from a basic ReWire hookup to external apps like Ableton Live or Propellerhead Reason.

A decade ago, this would have made some sense, as many people hooked together Avid Pro Tools and Logic, Reason and Digital Performer, or other combinations of environments that excelled at different tasks. The idea would be that you’d run virtual instruments in one program and use the more robust recording or mixing facilities in the other.

Now that every major DAW offers comprehensive audio and MIDI recording features, I wouldn’t recommend paying this much for an audio workstation without any music-related facilities included. You could argue that this isn’t part of Audition’s intended mission, but at its price level, the omissions are harder to forgive given its other scoring and post-production facilities. Audition can help score video, but, aside from the aforementioned Remix tool, it generally assumes the music is done already.

That said, if you’ve already got Audition for other reasons and want to use it to record a band, you certainly can. You can even pitch-correct vocals and master the track with the included multi-band compressor and limiter. But I wouldn’t recommend buying Audition if composing music or recording your next album is the goal. You’d be better served by our Editors’ Choices Apple Logic Pro X$199.99 at iTunes Store or Pro Tools. And there are always third-party add-ons like Izotope Rx for restoring audio in another DAW, should you need similar tools to what Audition offers for other kinds of projects.

A Focused Audio Editor

Adobe bills Audition as “designed to accelerate video production workflows and audio finishing,” and that’s really its key market. If you’re a podcaster or video editor looking for a complementary product to beef up the audio in your projects, or especially if you work with (and are already paying for) other top-level Adobe software like Premiere or Photoshop, Audition is a natural fit. It even sends audio between Audition and Premiere, instead of forcing you to do cumbersome bounces each time; workflow enhancements like this amp up the value of the full CC subscription. In my tests, I also found Audition to be the ideal step up from Audacity or GarageBand when recording podcasts as well.

Adobe Audition is a 4-star product for those who are working in post or who already have an Adobe subscription for more of the company’s products and a 3-star utility for everyone else.