Rogue Amoeba’s Fission is a great, simple audio editor (review)

I expected Fission to be much like Apple’s Soundtrack Pro, but it’s simpler, more elegant, and it has brilliant support for editing podcasts.

I know Rogue Amoeba from their Audio Hijack Pro recording software. Audio Hijack Pro is a highly capable app. It can record from multiple applications and hooked-up hardware. It supports 96kHz sample rates and is a must-have for anyone who ever records audio on a Mac. Fission is more for sound enthusiasts who have recorded audio with a different app (e.g. Audio Hijack Pro).

IT Enquirer rating

9.5/10

URL: www.rogueamoeba.com

Pros
  • Ease-of-use
  • Transcoding
  • FLAC and WAV support
  • Cue sheets
  • Batch converter
  • SoundCloud support
Cons
  • None
Price (approx.): &eur;25.00

Podcasters must have this editor to create Enhanced Podcasts. And if you want to transcode sound files from one format into another, Fission can do it with no quality loss and even in batch. Fission has FLAC support, can export to SoundCloud, and create iPhone ringtones.

It’s not your average audio editor.

The Fission audio editor main window

Fission’s user interface is nothing short of gorgeous. It’s simple, easy to use and you have button-click access to all functionality you need. As a regular audio editor of AIFF and WAV files, Fission can be used to split up files, remove parts of it, add silence, and tamper with sound volumes. It’s when you open AAC and Apple Lossless files Fission’s full power becomes apparent.

AAC files are what you’ll need to create podcasts that can be uploaded to iTunes. Other editors have the capabilities to chapterize the file and add some metadata to it, but I’ve yet to see an app that does it so easily. Cutting up a recording into separate chapters is a matter of clicking the Split button. After which you’ll see a split indicator appear that is so darn simple to use, it makes other audio editors’ interface look ridiculously complicated.

Settings for the Fission audio editor

Remove and Split: same thing. Cropping audio follows the same simplicity. Adding fades: another click and the option to set the time length in the Preferences. Normalize sound is yet another button. If you want to change volume of only a piece of sound, just select it and manipulate the Gain Adjustment slider.

In short, the edits that require you to do something manually are implemented with an extreme user-friendliness.

Which is not to say there’s no automation possible.

Podcasters need Fission audio editor

Smart Splits, for example. The Smart Split tool lets you find split points in a file, based on where there are silences. And yes, you can set what “silence” should mean to the tool, including analogue or digital.

Podcasters can of course add art, URLs and URL titles. It becomes even more interesting: podcasters can save an audio file with a Cue Sheet. The Cue Sheet contains the times where the file splits and the format of the file in a specific format that Fission can read. It can be opened with a text editor like BBEdit, so you can peek inside. It belongs to the file with which it was exported but you can apply it to any other file.

The only requirement to apply a cue sheet to another file than the one it belongs to, is that it is long enough to hold the “cues”.

Selecting sound with Fission audio editor

Transcoding files can be done from one format to another. Fission supports AAC, WAV, AIFF, MP3, and FLAC.

Finally, you can share files with others on SoundCloud. You’ll need a SoundCloud account. In Fission, you’ll enter your SoundCloud account details and choose to keep the audio private or not.

Updated

Early November, Rogue Amoeba released Fission 2.1, with a large number of improvements. Of course, bugs were squashed too.

Fission 2.1 is fully Retina-ready, which is nice, but I was more impressed with its improved sound functionality. Here’s the list:

MP3 export now supports both constant bit rate (CBR) and variable bit rate (VBR). This is great news for people who want the highest quality audio in the smallest possible package.

AAC export now supports High Efficiency encoding (HE-AAC). High-Efficiency Advanced Audio Coding (HE-AAC) is a lossy data compression scheme for digital audio defined as a MPEG-4 Audio profile in ISO/IEC 14496-3. It is an extension of Low Complexity AAC (AAC LC) optimized for low-bitrate applications such as streaming audio. HE-AAC version 1 profile (HE-AAC v1) uses spectral band replication (SBR) to enhance the compression efficiency in the frequency domain. HE-AAC version 2 profile (HE-AAC v2) couples SBR with Parametric Stereo (PS) to enhance the compression efficiency of stereo signals. It is a standardized and improved version of the AACplus codec. There, now you know. [Courtesy Wikipedia]

Files can now be dragged from iTunes into Fission’s Start window. I haven’t tried that one yet, but surely will.

Fission can now import audio from .mov, .wma, .avi, .mp4 files, and more. This makes Fission 2.1 a viable choice for video editors who separately edit sound. Fission is no match for Sony’s Sound Forge, but then again it’s less expensive and a million times more user=friendly.

Fission now writes iTunes-style tags to AIFF files, non-standard though they may be. Nice for real audiophiles.

Any file can now use the “Save As Chapterized AAC” option, regardless of its current file format or number of clips present. Good for podcasters.

Best of all, Fission 2.1 adds support for several additional sample rates (88.2, 96, 176.4, 192 and 352.8 kHz) when exporting to ALAC, FLAC, AIFF, and WAV.

Fission 2.1 supports the TLEN ID3 tag. Again, good for podcasters.

Fission now better handles malformed FLAC files, and supports more tag types in FLAC. Good for audiophiles.

Finally, Fission 2.1 can read AAC 3GPP files.

These improvements merit half a point extra in the rating as far as I’m concerned.

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