What is a Sound Editor?

H. Bliss

A sound editor is a software program used in sound production to record sounds, modify and arrange recorded sounds and output the sounds to a playable format. These types of programs are most often used in music recording, radio, movies, and television. A sound editor may also be called an audio editor. Pro Tools® and Cubase® are common programs used to edit sound professionally. Audacity® and Wavosaur® are popular free audio editing programs that can be downloaded online.

Modern film makers use computer programs to create visual and audio effects on a section of video.
Modern film makers use computer programs to create visual and audio effects on a section of video.

Usually, sound editing programs are found on computers in audio studios where sound is edited or recorded, like in music recording studios, radio stations, television sound stages, or audio and video editing facilities. Usually, people who use sound editor programs are called sound engineers, audio engineers, or recording engineers, but some amateur audiophiles have professional audio editing programs on a home computer. Many colleges and universities offer access to computers with audio editing programs for students studying audio-related media.

Audacity is a free sound editor.
Audacity is a free sound editor.

Sound editors are used in many parts of the sound production process. When a sound engineer begins to create an audio recording, she either records sound into the sound editor or imports previously recorded sound into the editing program. If she has several sound sources she wants to combine, she will introduce other sounds into other tracks. Tracks are individual sounds within an audio project that can be played together but edited separately to organize the complete piece. Within the sound editor, the audio engineer performs sound mixing, which is the process of adjusting the individual sounds so they blend well within the piece.

In television, sound editing programs are used to arrange and adjust dialogue, often lining up the sound of the speaker with the video picture of the speaker that appears on television. A television sound editor may also make adjustments to dialogue volume and quality to make it easier to hear what is being said. Sound editing tools within the editing program, such as equalizers, compressors, and maximizers, help improve spoken sound.

Free audio editors tend to use fewer computer resources than professional sound editor programs, enabling them to be used on lower-powered home computer systems, but they are generally more limited, lacking the audio processing accessories available in professional audio suites. While Audacity® requires a bare minimum of 64 to 128 megabytes of random access memory (RAM), Pro Tools® requires almost a gigabyte of RAM just to run. To properly run Pro Tools®, it really needs at least two gigabytes or more of RAM to function smoothly. Professional sound editor programs run best on high-end computer systems with several gigabytes of RAM and multiple processors, like those used for gaming.

Sound editors can help a singer's voice sound polished in a studio.
Sound editors can help a singer's voice sound polished in a studio.

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