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Whether you’re making a movie, building a podcast, or just pasting two MP3s together, at some point you'll want to edit an audio file on your Mac. GarageBand can handle lots of audio-related tasks, but Fission, by revered Mac developer Rogue Amoeba, can handle fast edits and format conversions much more easily. It's simply packed with useful features.
First you'll load an audio file--you can’t load a video clip, so you'll have to extract a video's audio before dragging it to Fission. The main part of the interface displays the file’s audio waveform. You can then easily select parts to delete, split your recording into multiple segments (to create chapter markers for a podcast, for instance), normalize a part or the entirety of your recording, or even just crop the audio around a selected portion.
The audio waveform takes center stage to facilitate editing decisions.
You can of course zoom into your waveform using a slider or a keyboard shortcut to make precise alterations. The Inspector lets your add tags, notes, and general metadata to your file. And you can also drag additional sound files into your recording over any split point you’ve created.
Fission lets you export your files using a number of audio codecs, including MP3, AAC, Apple Lossless (ALAC), FLAC, and the venerable AIFF and WAV. Better still, you can setup batch file conversions. Just choose all the files you’d like to alter, select the codec you want to change them to, and let Fission do all the work. It also makes creating ringtones for your iPhone an absolute breeze, even adding them to iTunes automatically.
Useful though this app is, we have a few niggles. Once you’ve split your audio file or added additional ones, you can’t reorder those segments by dragging them around. You can cut and paste segments to new locations, but a drag and drop option would be even better. It’s also not possible to create an empty file and paste recordings onto it; you must start with an existing audio file. Nor can you record anything with the app—you have to rely on another app for that, such as GarageBand or Rogue Amoeba's Audio Hijack Pro ($32).
When you make a selection by dragging, Fission can play a half-second loop of the audio to the right of the cursor—this is supposed to make it easier to only select the part you want. And that works well, but we think it'd be better if the looped audio could focus on the sound within the selection, as this is what you’re trying to preserve or cut. Listening to what’s outside of the selection can be hit and miss. Interestingly, if you drag from right to left, you do hear a loop of the audio inside the selection, but you end up with the less-useful opposite when dragging from left to right.
The bottom line. There’s a lot to like about Fission: it lets you work with great precision in a clean and simple interface, it's great for creating podcasts and ringtones, and it comes with myriad handy tools. Just a few more features and options would make this the Swiss Army knife of audio editing.
OS X 10.6 or later
Very easy to use. Stable and fast. Many export features, including batch export. Can open multiple windows at once. Great for building podcasts. Perfect for creating ringtones.
Can't drag segments around, although you can copy and paste. Can't start work with an empty file. No ability to record audio from within the app.