TECH REVIEW: SoundSoap

TechLinks_logoBy Christine Phipps

SoundSoap 4 is a sound-scrubbing program recommended to me by a local techie videographer friend. It’s a program that can be useful to court reporters and videographers alike.

SoundSoap, which works with Mac or Windows, also works with many editing applications, such as Final Cut Pro, Adobe Premiere CC, and others. It’s a great way to fix audio that was recorded too loud, and it does so automatically, even for people who aren’t audio engineers. It also fixes audio that was too quiet. It features an “advanced loudness maximize to intelligently boost the volume of your audio tracks … without introducing distortion.” “Intelligently boost” means technical skill is not required, which is always a great feature to a novice user of a new program.

SoundSoap can also help eliminate the noise from fans, air conditioners, traffic, and tape hiss. It can pinpoint the sounds you want removed without disrupting the rest of the audio. Another source of bad audio is an electrical hum. Recently one of my reporters had this issue in trial in a historic courthouse. Her computer plug came with just two prongs, without the third prong that provides a ground. Between the lack of grounding from the plug and the old wiring, there was a distinct hum throughout all her .wav files. She kept trying to run her computer on the battery, but it didn’t have a long life either. (This is a reason I recommend that reporters buy computers that have a battery life of more than five hours, so they can use it without a plug at all.)

Another great feature in SoundSoap is the ability to record in the program while simultaneously recording right inside CAT software. While the Eclipse program now records on multichannels and can make different files — one that feeds to a scopist in a smaller file size and a separate recording in a larger file size, in higher quality, that’s not being transferred — not all CAT software offer this. SoundSoap gives other CAT software this feature independently. This particularly helps when creating a .wav file through your realtime in less-than-ideal conditions, like large rooms with very high ceilings, noisy air conditioners, and all those troublesome things. Capturing a .wav file via SoundSoap is a good way to back up the one from your CAT system that could have an unintended crash, which unfortunately happens sometimes.

SoundSoap works with popular media formats and can be exported back to popular formats like M4V and AVI on Windows or M4V and MOV on Mac, which is important for converting some files that were recorded in other formats.

Christine Phipps, RPR, of West Palm Beach, Fla., is co-chair of NCRA’s Technology Committee. She can be reached at christine@phippsreporting.com.