Digital Audio tools are based on Analog tools and principals, but most people know only the Digital.  Most people know only the Digital capabilities and not the Analog background.  For what most people do this is not a disadvantage.  Those that want to work at a deeper level in terms of either capabilities or working with natural sound will benefit from learning about the Analog background, but for what most people do, simple Digital tools are fine.

Common Digital Audio Manipulation includes:

  • Cut / Copy / Paste
  • Squeezing or Changing the Volume (or Normalizing)
  • Changing the Tone using an EQ
  • Adding Fade-Ins, Fade-Outs, or Cross-Fades between sounds
  • Removing Noise
  • Adding an Effect

Some Digital Audio Manipulation programs will process single Mono sounds, some will process Stereo sounds (that have both Left and Right sounds connected in a single file).  Some will work with multiple sounds at the same time, combining them into a single sound output using a TIMELINE as is found in video editing software.  For example, it is possible to play a very long sound of ocean waves crashing against the shore, and then add individual sounds of boats, seagulls, people speaking, or passing radios.  Each element can be at the appropriate relative volume or placement for a realistic effect. The final output would combine all the elements into a single sound of a busy day at the beach.

With drag and drop capabilities, Digital Audio is convenient and easy.  In the beach sound example you can drag seagull sounds to where you want them, even matching the timing to a video or film clip.  This is significantly easier than doing the same thing using Analog tools, and some video programs actually have this capability built in.

Digital Audio Manipulation has many advantages over Analog:

  • Drag and Drop
  • Waveforms (graphic views of sound)
  • Automation Improvements (ability to record and playback settings changes)
  • Non-Destructive Editing (changes based on references rather than physical changes)
  • Undo...did I mention UNDO?
  • Cheap, Convenient, Easy, based on other programs (easy to learn)
  • Presets for reasonable quality without understanding how or why the Presets work

Analog Audio Manipulation has advantages over Digital, some of which are debated:

  • Simpler setup of complex systems ((once you have more than a few digital devices talking to each other, they need to be synchronized where analog devices just work due to simple electronic principles)
  • More accurate, musical, and natural sound reproduction and manipulation.  Many people disagree, but others feel so strongly about this that they are willing to sacrifice all the advantages of Digital for this one single factor.