Boson is an audio editor which enables you to record, edit and convert digital audio data without loss in quality.
This kind of software is pretty handy and has been around since the 1990s: You could for example open a voice recording, remove unwanted parts and export the edited audio as a MP3 file. Or you could connect a tape deck to your Mac and digitize your old tapes.
The first programs of this kind started to appear when personal computers become powerful enough to process digital audio signals. And with time as computers grew more powerful so were the programs updated to keep track of new developments.
And here lies the big dilemma: Most audio editors that are available today are based of those old first generation programs and thus have to carry around much historic baggage.
Concepts and optimizations that were introduced with computers in mind that had merely 8 MB of RAM can be still found in today’s audio editing software.
That’s why we decided to develop Boson completely from the ground up doing away with constraints that other audio editing software still has to live with. For example Boson has features like instantaneous unlimited undo/redo that persists its state over multiple editing sessions; You can quit Boson and when you re-open your document (provided you saved it in the boson workspace format) all undo and redo information is still there. Boson also offers editing down to a resolution of one sample. Yes, that’s right - you can manipulate separate samples with Boson. Try this with any other audio editing software that costs under $500.
Also Boson was developed with the assumption that many of you will run the app on battery powered mobile Macs. That’s why you can disable all unnecessary screen updates during recording to save battery power and keep recording for hours from one battery charge.
Our other concern was usability. We are Mac users and love beautiful and easy to use software. So we naturally wanted Boson to be like that. That’s why we put a lot of effort into the user interface conception and design to support many unique Mac OS X features. For example Boson understands multi touch gestures like pinch to zoom and supports inertial scrolling.
We hope you will be delighted using Boson!
This is where most of the action happens. Boson renders an audio signal’s graphical representation in this view. This simply is a representation of the signal’s volume at a given time. The higher the spike the louder the sound is.
Single-clicking on the Wave View will set the cursor position to the clicked location and deselect all active selections. Double clicking will select the currently visible portion of the document.
You can use your mouse’s scroll wheel to zoom in and out (by scrolling up/down) or to scroll through the document by holding shift and scrolling up/down.
If your Mac has a touchpad you can zoom by using the two finder scroll gesture or by using the pinch zoom gesture. To scroll with a touchpad just two-finger scroll to the left/right.
Selecting works as expected: Hold down the left mouse button and drag the mouse around.
The toolbar contains shortcuts to often used effects and functions like cut/copy/paste or amplify. To find out what each button stands for hover over it and wait till a tooltip will pop up.
The numbers correspond to time code locations in the edited document. In the screenshot above you can see that the cursor (4) is located at ~02:08 minutes.
The Cursor indicates the current playback/recording position within the document. You can move the cursor by left-clicking anywhere in the wave view. (This is disabled during recording for obvious reasons.)
Generators, pasting, playback, etc. always are applied to the cursor’s location. So if you place the cursor at 05:00 minutes and generate 10 seconds of silence those 10 seconds silence will be inserted at 05:00.
These are standard transport buttons you know from iTunes and co. Pressing the red circle ‘record’ button will start audio recording. Pressing the play button will start playback and with the prev/next buttons you can move the cursor around. (The cursor snaps then to the vertical grid lines in the wave view).
To the right and left of the transport area are VU bars. During recording these bars display the current input audio level and during playback the output level is shown.
The mini map always displays the whole document. The map is handy to orient yourself when the wave view is zoomed in as it highlights the range which is currently shown by the wave view and has its own cursor position indicator.
In the info display’s upper section you can see the current document’s file name. Right-clicking on it will pop up a menu where you can chose to display the document in Finder.
The numbers below the file name represent the current playback/recording position.
As you can see there are two wave forms displayed. This happens when you edit a stereo audio file. The upper wave form represents the left audio channel and the lower wave form represents the right audio channel.
You can limit selections to each channel by dragging near the outer edge of a channel. If you drag near the inner edge the selection will contain both channels.
The Info Label displays either the document’s total length or if there’s a selection it displays the selection’s parameters (location and length).
Right next to the label is an eye shaped button. Pressing this button results in the wave view zooming out/in to display the selected range.
Next to the eye button is a blue “info” button. You can click it do display general information about the document and also edit its metadata (title, artist, etc).
Device Selector (A)
Clicking this speaker shaped button will open a popup which allows to change the current input and output device.
There’s also a volume slider which changes the playback volume. (This slider has no influence on actual document data but only affects the playback volume. To change the document’s levels use “Edit” -> “Amplify”!)
Audio editors conceptually work similar to text editors. The cursor is regarded as the insertion point. Operations like record or paste always take place at the cursor location. Other operations like effects, delete or copy are applied to selected ranges.
To move the cursor just click inside the wave view. You can also specify the location more accurately by going to the “Transport” menu and choosing “Go to Custom Location”.
Selecting a certain range again is similar to a text editor: Click and drag inside the wave view to select a range. The selected range will be highlighted. There’s also a “Select Custom Range” command in the “Edit” menu for more accurate selection.
Boson has some advanced selection features: For example you’re not limited to having just one selection at a time. You can have multiple selections. To add a selection just press the CMD key while you drag inside the wave view. You then can apply effects to those selections at once. For example you could select from 05:00 to 05:10 and from 06:00 to 06:15 and apply the ‘reverse’ effect. This would result in only the selected ranges being reversed and the rest of the document would stay unchanged.
Please note that copy and paste works only with one active selection. You can’t copy multiple selections. (Though this is supposed to change in a future update).
Contrary to other audio editors selections in Boson are not limited to always selecting all channels at once. You can select just the left channel or just the right one. To achieve this just drag at the outer edge of the channel area you want to select. If you drag on the inner edge both channels will be selected.
Existing selections can be altered. If you hover over a selection’s left or right edge you can click and drag to resize the selection. (The mouse will change to a resize cursor to notify you of this option). Also pressing the shift key while left-clicking inside the wave view will extend the active selection.
Of course there’s the possibility to undo and redo any changes you perform. So feel free to experiment. (Don’t forget: There’s no right or wrong - if it sounds good it is good.)
Creating a new empty document possibly is the easiest part of Boson. Simply select “New” from the “File” menu and you’re ready to go. Boson will create a new empty document with the format specified in the Boson settings panel.
If you need a specific document format select “File” -> “New with parameters” and enter the desired sample rate, bit depth and channel layout.
Opening an audio file with Boson is straight forward. Either drag and drop the file onto Boson’s icon in the dock, use the Finder’s “Open With…” function or in Boson select “File” -> “Open”.
If you’re pleased with your work you’re going to want to save it. Luckily saving is pretty simple, too. Select “Save” from the “File” menu and Boson will save the changes you made to the original document. If you don’t want to change the original file but save your changes to a new file select “Save As…” from the “File” menu and chose a new location to save the document to.
You should also use “Save As…” whenever you want to change the file’s format. For example if you want to save a OGG file as a MP3 file select “Save As…” and chose the MP3 format from the file format dropdown in the save as dialog.
Please be very careful when you use “Save” as the original file will be overwritten. And once you close the document in Boson there will be no way to undo this!
You can also open multiple files in one Boson document. Just use the “File” -> “Import” menu item and the file you select for opening will be inserted at the cursor’s location in the current document. You can use this method to stich multiple single audio files together.
Boson is not just an audio editor but also a full blown audio recorder. You can record from any audio device that is recognized by OS X.
Most Macs come with a built in microphone. Usually this mic is used for Facetime or Skype. But it can also be used to create recordings in Boson.
Usually the built in mic is pre-selected as the system’s default audio input device. So all you have to do is to press the red “Record” button in Boson’s transport area. Boson will start and keep recording until you press either the Pause, Stop or Record button to stop recording.
During recording the blue VU bars at the bottom of Boson’s editor window display the incoming audio level. You should try to keep it at mostly –3 db. (You can adjust the microphone’s sensitive in the System Preference’s “Sound” panel).
If the VU bars don’t move even though you’re speaking into the mic possibly a different audio device has been selected for input. In this case just click the speaker icon in the top right corner of Boson’s editor window (not to be confused with the OS X speaker icon in the menu bar!) and select “Built-In Microphone” under “Input Devices”.
Everything should work now. If not visit the System Settings and adjust the microphone’s input sensitivity.
While the built in microphone is great for quick voice memos its recording quality usually isn’t good enough for more “professional” applications like recording podcasts or singing or recording an instrument.
For that the market offers a plethora of inexpensive external USB audio devices. From “sound cards” that offer 3.5mm jacks to USB microphones like the Yeti Blue to more expensive professional mixing devices there’s a tool for every imaginable purpose.
The home user can achieve great results with inexpensive USB sound cards and USB microphones. In the price range from $30 to $100 there’s many products to choose from. And as long as they come with OS X support Boson can make use of them.
If you want to record a podcast or someone playing an instrument we would strongly recommend a Yeti Blue USB microphone. For the price of ~$100 you get absurdly great quality that is only matched by far more expensive professional gear.
If you want to digitize tapes you can use virtually any USB sound card that offers the right input jacks (usually 3.5mm or Chinch).
For digitizing Vinyls you will need a special pre-amp that will cost between $30 and $50. You could get away with a normal USB sound card but you would have to invest more time in mastering and adjusting the recordings.
Once you have your USB audio device connected to your Mac and installed all drivers (make sure the system recognizes the device via the System Setting’s sound panel) recording from that device is straight forward: First select the device as the input source by clicking on Boson’s speaker button in the upper right corner. Then just press the “record” button. Voila.
Sometimes you want to record something that’s in your computer. Like a Skype call or a Youtube video.
Though this is not as straight forward as recording from the microphone or a USB device it’s still manageable and needs ~10 minutes of one time setup. The idea is to route the system’s audio through a virtual audio device, record the audio and forward it to your speakers. Don’t fear, it’s really simple!
First you will need to download and install a software tool called “Soundflower”. You can get it either through searching on the internet or directly from our website at: http://gedanum.eu/download/soundflower_2.0b2.zip
Once you downloaded and installed Soundflower you will need to create an aggregate audio device using OS X’s built in “Audio Midi Setup” application:
After you have successfully installed Soundflower start Audio Midi Setup which is an OS X system tool that lets you create virtual audio devices by combining several real devices into one virtual device. It’s located in /Applications/Utilities/Audio Midi Setup.app
Now you have to create a “Multi-Output Device”. This is necessary because otherwise you wouldn’t be able to hear any audio playing through your speakers while you record.
To create this “Multi-Output” Device click onto the little Plus Icon in the lower left corner of the Audio Midi Setup Window and select “Create Multi-Output Device”. Activate the checkboxes for “Soundflower (2ch)” and your sound card in the right part of the window.
Once the device is created you will have to set it as the default output device. To do this open System Preferences, select the Sound panel and select the “Multi-Output Device” as the default output device. (Don’t forget to set your Mac’s volume to 100% before switching to the Multi-Output device!)
In Boson select “Soundflower (2ch)” as the recording device by clicking on the speaker icon in the editor window’s upper right corner and selecting “Soundflower (2ch)” under “Input Devices”.
Now whenever any app on your Mac plays audio it can be recorded by Boson.
(You should restart the apps you want to record to make sure they use this new device. Also don’t forget check if the app you want to record from has an option to select an audio device for output.)
To apply effects you will have first to select some audio. Then select the effect you want to apply from the ‘Effects’ menu. Some effects (like convert to stereo/mono) will ignore your selection and be applied to the whole file.
If an effect has options (like generate silence) a dialog will pop up where you will be able to alter some effect settings.
All effects can be undone/redone using “Edit->Undo/Redo” and most effects have live preview so feel free to experiment. There’s no right or wrong with effects - what sounds good is good!
These are the most important built in effects that come with Boson. This list is not extensive as we’re adding new effects with every update.
This effect will take the difference of the loudest sample in the selection and
the maximum volume and add this difference to all other samples. This is called peak
normalization and what it does is (simplified): it makes faint recordings louder and too loud recordings passable.
This effect inverts sample values by multiplying them with –1.0. A sample value of 0.5 will become –0.5 and –0.4 will become 0.4. Usually this is not audible and only used in special cases.
Swaps both channels’ data. Works only on stereo documents.
This effect reverses audio in the selected range.
Change Sample Rate
With this effect you can change the document’s sample rate. You will be able to set the target sample rate and if you want to resample (audio speed/pitch won’t be altered) or just to set the new sample rate (pitch/speed will be different). This effect applies to the whole file.
Change Bit Depth
If you’re planning to export the audio to a low bit depth (8 bit) you can change this option to simulate playback with a different bit depth. This effect only changes Boson’s playback settings and doesn’t alter the document at all. Thus if you want to undo this effect you’ll have to call this effect again with the original (32bit) bit depth. Boson internally always works with 32bit bit depths to ensure the highest editing quality. Real bit depth changes occur only during exporting audio to a different format than TAF.
Convert to Mono/Stereo
Converts a mono document to stereo and vice versa. This effect applies to the whole file. The “[mixdown]” version of Convert to Mono will mix both stereo channels into one channel. While the normal version just discards the right channel. After performing a mixdown conversion you should apply “Normalize” to get the audio levels in check.
This effect allows you to change a selection’s overall level (volume).
Will set the selected audio’s volume level to 0.
Fade In/Out Selection
This effect will perform a linear fade in/out on the selected audio range.
With this effect you can create silent audio of arbitrary durations.
Insert Mode will insert the silence at the marker’s position. Overwrite Mode will overwrite all audio right to the marker’s position.
Generate Sine Wave
Just like ‘Generate Silence’ only that instead of silence a sine wave with user defined parameters is generated.
With the Effect Rack you can chain multiple effects before applying them. You can turn on/off each effect, change the effect settings, add new effects, remove them - all that while being able to hear a live preview of how the result will sound.
The Effect Rack is accessible via the “Effects -> Effect Rack…” menu item. Selecting this item will open an empty Effect Rack. You can then add effects by either double clicking the effect entry in the upper list (“Available Audio Units”) or simply by using Boson’s’ “Effects” menu.
Once you have added an effect to the rack it will show up in the lower list (“Audio Units to be applied”). By double clicking on the entry you can open the Audio Unit’s user interface to change its settings. The same can be acheived via the “Edit” button. (You can close the effect’s UI and re-open it later. The settings will be kept as long as you don’t remove the effect from the rack or close the rack).
Note: You can add the same effect multiple times without any problems! A chain of 5 “Distortion” effects each with its own settings is possible.
If you’re not sure if you want to keep the effect you can temporarily disable it by pressing the “on/off” button to the left of the effect’s name. And if you really want to remove the effect you can use the “Remove” button.
An effect’s’ position in the chain can be changed by dragging it around with the mouse. (Just like you drag files in Finder, etc). Just click and hold the effect’s name and move it into the desired position. As the order of effects in the effect chain is significant this is an important feature. (More about that later).
In the lower area of the Effect Rack panel you will find to the left three playback control buttons and to the right a “Cancel” and an “Apply” button. Pressing “Cancel” will clear the rack and close it. Your audio document will not be changed. If you press “Apply” on the other hand the effect rack will be applied to the document.
Effect Rack application follows a few simple rules:
With version 1.3 Boson fully supports third party Audio Unit plugins. You can load any 64bit Audio Unit that is installed on your Mac. The only type that currently is not supported are Audio Unit Instruments and Mixers (which aren’t really useful for single track audio editing anyway).
You can access your Audio Units via the “Effects -> Audio Units” menu. The plugins are sorted by manufacturer. When you decide to load a plugin for the first time in a Boson session you will be asked to lower your security settings. Click on the “Lower Security Settings” button to load the Audio Unit. Please note that this lowering of settings is needed as otherwise the Mac sandbox which Boson runs in wouldn’t allow to load foreign code (the plugin) into Boson.
If you can’t find a plugin please make sure that:
If an Audio Unit causes crashes or causes other problems please make sure that it works with other applications before contacting us. We can not offer any support for 3rd Party Units. Please contact us only about issues with AUs if you are certain that Boson is the cause of the problems. (Of course reports about not working/loading AUs are welcome. We’ll look into it and try to improve compatibility).
Note: If you don’t know where to get free Audio Units you can click on the ’Effects -> Audio Units -> Download Free Effects" menu item to get a list of Audio Units available for free.
Default Document Format
This is the audio format which is used to create new documents whenever you select “New” from the “File” menu. The default is 44100khz/16bit/Stereo and is suitable for most applications.
Wave View Renderer Settings
With the FPS slider you can adjust how often in a second the wave view is updated. A higher value leads to smoother animations when scrolling & zooming but is more CPU intensive. 60 FPS is the default here because it looks really nice. But you can tone it down if you like :)
The “Update Wave View during recording” checkmark controls wether Boson redraws the wave view during recording. If you’re planning to perform longer recordings while on battery power you should uncheck this box. Redrawing the wave view during recording is exceptionally CPU intensive as Boson needs to repeatedly read and render the complete file. (This setting is also accessible from the “View” menu so you can quickly switch drawing on or off without opening the settings panel).
Both settings don’t have any influence on recording performance or quality and changing them is completely a matter of taste and concern for battery power usage.
Show Feedback Button
Uncheck this box to hide the green feedback button that is visible on top of the editing window.
Recipes are step by step instructions for most commonly performed tasks with Boson.
iPhone ringtones are normal M4A files with a .m4r file extension and a maximum length of approx. 40 seconds. Let’s create one of these!
The only surefire way to improve quality is to improve the source signal. If you’re using a bad headset to record your memoirs no amount of editing and mastering will make the recording sound good.
So if you’re serious about producing great sounding results consider investing into a good microphone. (The Yeti Blue is a great bargain at ~$100 which offers quality usually found only in more expensive pro microphones).
Go to the “View” menu and make sure “Update WaveView during recording” is unchecked. If this setting is off then Boson won’t waste any power on updating the wave view during recording. Which results in around 80% less battery power drained.
First try to convert it with another application into a file format that is supported by Boson. If that doesn’t work or you can’t find an app to convert then drop us an email and we will try to help you.
This works as intended. Boson just drops the right channel and keeps only data from the left channel. If you want to keep data from both channels use “Convert To Mono [Mixdown]” (see also next question).
If you want to keep data from both channels when converting to mono you will have to use the [Mixdown] version of “Convert To Mono”. Also after conversion you usually will want to apply the “Normalize” effect to the document because [Mixdown] simply adds both sample values. So if you mix two samples with values 0.8 and 1.0 the result will be one sample with the value of 1.8. Which is outside max volume (1.0). Normalizing the audio will fix this.
M4P files usually are DRM protected by Apple and can only be read by iTunes. Sadly it’s not possible (nor legal) for us to include a feature to read such files. As a workaround you could try to record the audio from iTunes via Soundflower. See Recipe 3 for how to achieve this.
44.1 kHz (44100 Hz) is the sampling rate of audio CDs giving a 20 kHz maximum frequency. 20 kHz is the highest frequency generally audible by humans, so making 44.1 kHz the logical choice for most audio material. High quality tape decks using metal tape, and medium quality LP equipment can reproduce 20 kHz (higher for top quality LP equipment, though some of this is harmonic distortion inherent in the medium). Note that the upper limit of human hearing falls rapidly with age. While people in their teens can hear 20 kHz, many older people cannot hear above 14.5kHz.
48 kHz (48000 Hz) is the sample rate used for DVDs so if you are creating DVD audio discs from your Boson projects you may prefer to work with this setting.
The sampling rate determines how many digital samples of audio are stored per second. So a 48khz sampling rate means that Boson stores 48000 samples per second of audio (per channel). Using a significantly higher sampling rate increases this amount. While 192khz for example is something modern Macs can cope with it uses 4 times as much data per second as 48khz. So your audio documents get 4 times bigger and your Mac has 4 times more work to do to process the audio when you edit the document.
Example calculation for a stereo document:
sample rate * byte per sample * channels = data per second of audio 48khz: 48000 * 4 * 2 = 384 KB/s. 192khz: 192000 * 4 * 2 = 1536 KB/s = 1.5 MB/s. 384khz: 384000 * 4 * 2 = 3072 KB/s = 3.0 MB/s.
Most users won’t need a higher sampling rate than 48khz so you should have very good reasons to work with higher sampling rates!
Because of how OS X handles audio hardware Boson can not physically set the audio hardware to use the current document’s sampling rate. Rather during recording/playbeack the audio stream gets converted on the fly to the document’s sample rate if both sample rates don’t match.
So once you have decided which sample rate you want to use for your work you should set this sample rate in the OS X “Audio MIDI Setup.app” which you can find in /Applications/Utilities.
Open the utility, select your audio device in the left hand list and set the appropriate sample rate in the input and output tabs. (See screen shot).
Once you have done this there will be no resampling performed if the Boson Document’s sample rate matches your audio device’s rate.
You can contact us 24 hours a day over at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Don’t panic! ;) We’re here to help you out. Just drop us an email and describe what problems you have with Boson. We’ll try our best to help you! (Please mention what Mac you use, which version of OS X is installed and what version of Boson you’re running).
If you like Boson please leave us an review in the App Store. This helps us tremendously! And if you don’t like Boson just contact us and tell us what you don’t like about it. (We can’t answer to App Store reviews so please write us first!).