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Seventh Heaven

Steinberg’s WaveLab 7 sets tongues wagging in the studio world

Steinberg first released WaveLab in 1995, and since then it has been at the forefront of audio editing and mastering software. It has been a long time between updated versions of WaveLab; nearly five years have passed since version 6, and WaveLab 7 has introduced some major changes as well as some minor updates. But has it been worth the wait?

The first major change in version 7 of WaveLab is cross-platform compatibility. Mac users are no longer left out in the cold, and as long as they are running Snow Leopard, can finally see what their PC cousins have been fussing about for all these years.

Another major change, this time affecting PC users, is that WaveLab only supports Windows 7, and this is going to be the same for all of Steinberg’s music software as new versions are released. It looks as though PC-based studios are finally going to have to brace themselves and go through the operating system upgrade nightmare so many musicians have been putting off for years now. While it’s probably long overdue for software companies to stop supporting Windows XP, being forced to upgrade their operating system before upgrading to the latest versions of Steinberg’s products is going to make a lot of people think twice before running out and purchasing them.

16 years of product development spent not only on WaveLab but also all of Steinberg’s other software means that a lot of improvements have been made over the years, as well as features from other software titles making their way into WaveLab. One of the most obvious examples of this cross-pollination is the 30 or so VST3 plug-ins that are included with WaveLab, with plug-ins like the RoomWorks reverb making its way over from Cubase and PostFilter from Nuendo: all very tasty, welcome additions.
Another mouth-watering inclusion in WaveLab 7 is the Sonnox Restoration Tools Suite, a collection of three plug-ins; Denoiser, DeClicker and DeBuzzer. Sonnox make some of the best plug-ins known to man, and having these tools included is going to make a lot of people very happy, even if they are slightly cut-down versions of the ones found in the full-blown Sonnox Restore package. For mastering houses or anyone else dealing with CD plants on a regular basis the inclusion of DDP support is going to be an eyebrow raiser, especially as the cost of adding this function to WaveLab 6 was in the big bucks territory.

WaveLab 7 has a brand-new look and feel, as well as an improved workflow. While it’s not as visually appealing and slick as some of the other software packages around, it’s a massive improvement over WaveLab 6 and when it comes to getting the job done, it really comes into a class of its own. There are now four dedicated workspaces and the introduction of tabs. In addition to the usual floating windows, these workspaces can be loaded from handy presets and then customised to suit individual needs or specific tasks. The brand-new WaveLab Control Section is there to hold any of the analysis tools that are useful for the job at hand — such as the spectroscope, VU metering, oscilloscope or waveform display — and these groups of tools can be saved and recalled at any time, adding yet more convenience to sessions.

The way WaveLab handles multiple processing has had an overhaul and the results are pretty impressive indeed. Large numbers of audio files can be manipulated using VST plug-ins or conversion settings like sample rate, format and bit rates whilst all being left to run in the background, without the user having to do it manually. A clever new feature is the ability to set how much of the computer’s processing power is being dedicated to batch processing, so working on an audio file while converting masses of other audio files is now possible without your computer being taxed too much.
A brand new burning engine has been written for this latest version of WaveLab which means more stable and reliable CD and DVD burning, as well as the ability to create DDP images, as previously mentioned. Another new inclusion is a time-stretching and pitch-shifting algorithm with the rather catchy name of DIRAC 2.2, which basically means better quality and faster time-stretching and pitch-shifting, especially on vocals and recorded instruments.

This latest version of WaveLab has built on a product that was already a market leader in the PC world. Packed full of goodies, Steinberg has not only added a huge amount of new tools, but dramatically improved the workflow and speed of day-to-day audio editing and mastering. WaveLab 7 really does have everything anyone could need in an audio editing or mastering situation in one package, and with the new improvements, may just tempt Mac users into dumping Bias’s Peak and taking a look. 

Price   £454.00
Build Quality
Ease of Use   8.0
Features   9.0
Value for Money   9.0
Sound Quality   9.0
Hype   Now available for both PC and Mac, this package has everything covered for audio editing and mastering

For PC users, the only operating system supported is Windows 7.

Conclusion   One of the oldest and most respected audio editing and mastering programmes gets an overhaul that takes it directly to the front of the pack. Huge amounts of new features and a new workflow mean the best just got better.
Overall Score   8.5/10