WAV files are the basic sound recording unit in Windows. Much larger than MP3s and similar portable digital audio formats, WAVs are also easier to edit, thanks to tools like WavePad Sound Editor from NCH, which specializes in audio and multimedia software. It's a compact but powerful and flexible tool for analyzing and editing WAVs or just about any kind of digital audio file. It's especially useful for cleaning up and editing transcribed LP records and other digitized analog audio recordings, but you can also add effects, analyze the sound, and more.
WavePad's interface is essentially a media player with a spectral display, time indicators, and specialized controls for manipulating the audio signal. We browsed to a folder of CD tracks we'd ripped as WAVs and selected one. WavePad displayed the file's audio spectrum in two zoom-capable views, a smaller overview of the entire track above a larger, more detailed graphical display. Playback controls, a timer with hundredths of seconds, and sliders for altering the view, zooming, and other functions ring the main view, while a toolbar gives access to noise reduction tools; speed and pitch settings; echo, reverb, and other effects; plug-ins; and other tools. Clicking the Play button played our audio track, with a moving red line tracking the output on the spectral graph. This made it ultra-simple not only to divide tracks manually but also to identify and remove artifacts like clicks and pops, copy specific passages, and remove lead-in and lead-out tracks. The zoom feature let us expand any section of the spectra for pinpoint editing, such as removing the all-too-audible "pop" and "thunk" as the stylus hits the record groove and the turntable's dust cover comes down at the beginning of a session converting analog LPs to digital music files. WavePad has some interesting and useful extras, too, such as a tone generator, batch converter, and text-to-speech tool.
We've converted many LPs to WAVs, and we've always found that a good WAV editor is just as important as a good recording tool. WavePad proved both easy to use and perfectly competent, even when handling megabyte-size WAV files many times larger than itself.
Editors' note: This is a review of the full version of WavePad Sound Editor 4.52. The trial version is limited to 14 days.
WavePad is a full featured professional audio editor for Windows. Create and edit music, voice and other audio recordings. When editing audio files you can cut, copy, and paste parts of recordings and, if required, add effects like echo, amplification, and noise reduction and more. WavePad is a freeware WAV or MP3 editor but it also supports a number of other file formats including VOX, GSM, RA, AU, AIF, FLAC, and OGG in the Master's Edition.