Dancing In Sand: Ferrite Audio Editing on the iPhone
I'm not of sound mind. I do not own a decent microphone and I am not an audio engineer. I do not record music or podcasts. I simply have thousands of audio files, captured and collected over a lifetime, that sometimes need just a bit of attention.
I have been on a personal quest for the perfect subset of iPhone apps. I have found wonderful productivity tools that allow me to read, write, and research -- all through my iPhone. Still, a few solutions have eluded the allure of going small. As much as I have hunted, I could never find a recording studio that could fit into my shirt pocket. Life can be such a challenge.
I first began to deal with my digital editing needs about fifteen years ago. I purchased Sound Forge for my Windows machine. My desires were simple. I wanted to extract snaps, crackles, and pops. I wanted classy fade-ins and fade-outs. I wanted the ability to lay down music tracks as a soothing background for my recorded memories. And, I absolutely wanted to snip out anything that made me look stupid.
When I transitioned to the Mac in 2013, I gave up Sound Forge and began my hunt for a new audio editor. I discovered Amadeus Pro. I purchased the product and found it very accessible. I loved gliding smoothly through the timeline, reviewing slivers of sound, and being able to freely trim or extend my selections. The batch processing capabilities turned out to be great. I also enjoyed the embedded effects and being able to hear the consequences of any action before moving ahead. Sweet stuff.
So, if Amadeus Pro has been such a comfortable product, why am I looking for an iPhone sound editor? Simple. I know that I am much more likely to eventually clean up all of my raw and unedited sound files if I can do so from my easy chair, the front porch, or my Mom's house. I saw some discussion on AppleVis about an intriguing app called Ferrite Recording Studio by Canis Lupus, a Wooji Juice application. I decided to give Ferrite a spin and downloaded it onto my iPhone.
The online documentation for Ferrite is quite good and promises a lot of functionality. The user guide describes support for large files and numerous formats. Ferrite projects can incorporate multiple sound tracks and many popular effects. I also found excellent information on how to edit through my Bluetooth keyboard. Most impressive was the chapter on VoiceOver compatibility. VoiceOver was not an afterthought or a lucky strike. The developers of Ferrite clearly meant to make their product accessible.
Although a healthy subset of Ferrite is free, I decided to take a chance and make all of the Ferrite In-App purchases so that I would be both working with a complete package and supporting a company that thought accessibility was important. I installed Ferrite 1.2.1 on my iPhone 6S Plus running iOS 9.2.1 with VoiceOver. As is often the case, I plugged in my EarPods and pulled out my Logitech Bluetooth Keys-To-Go keyboard. My focus has been exclusively on Ferrite's editing capabilities. For recording, I use DropVox, a handy utility for catching sound on the fly. Even so, I have had no difficulty importing sounds from DropVox, or from other apps using standard formats.
Ferrite is the most accessible audio editor that I have found for the iPhone. I can load and manipulate my large sound files. I know how to mark off segments in a track, and then copy, move, or delete the clips. I can bring in new tracks, manage my transitions, and save my work. When I have sent in questions to Ferrite customer support, I have been very pleased with the quick, friendly, and informative responses.
Still, working with Ferrite and VoiceOver requires a little patience and a bit of fortitude. Some tasks, such as fine-tuning a clip selection, take much more effort than you may prefer. There will be times when VoiceOver focus shifts unexpectedly, landing you somewhere else in the Ferrite window or inside the iPhone Status Bar, forcing you to swipe back to where you want to be. You can also accidentally transport yourself into temporary oblivion by tapping on the Time Bar at the top of the Ferrite edit window. (If that happens, it helps to know that you can escape unharmed with a simple double-tap on the iPhone glass.) And, under at least one circumstance, when you split a sound segment into clips, the screen might not immediately update in VoiceOver and you can either wait a bit or turn VoiceOver off and back on again. Fortunately, on the rare occasion that I have found myself tossed out of Ferrite back to the Home Screen, my data and edits have always been safe and sound.
If I could make one wish for a future version of Ferrite, I would ask for better timeline navigation and play-back capabilities for VoiceOver users. In order to create a masterpiece, I really need the ability to fine-tune my selections so that my clips start and finish at the absolutely perfect moment. Tiny splinters of sound can leave disturbing clicks and awkward blips that interrupt the effect I am trying to create. Perhaps these extraneous segments are easy to manipulate and eradicate in a visible sound wave, but these unwanted elements are very difficult to audibly isolate using the current keyboard and touch tools in Ferrite. However, with an enhanced ability to gently nudge the beginning and end points of selections in any direction, and a mechanism to listen to both the current selection and a short segment of the project with the selection ignored, I'd save time and be a much happier fellow.
Given a second wish, I would ask for even more control via Bluetooth keyboards, with special attention given to how those interactions would work most effectively with VoiceOver. At present, a VoiceOver user often has to switch between keyboard modes, known as Quick Nav, to take advantage of the available power in Ferrite. My fingers get tangled up after switching back and forth so often. However, I appreciate the precision that a keyboard can offer when doing detailed work. I hope greater keyboard enhancements are in our future.
I love having an audio editor on my iPhone, one that can handle the size and variety of files in my sound library. Ferrite is the first product that has been able to meet most of my needs. Ferrite does not yet have all the features or power that I have experienced on a desktop, but having it with me everywhere, in my pocket, makes it a very valuable tool. Great products take time and effort to evolve. Because I have seen a commitment to VoiceOver accessibility, I choose to be very hopeful that Ferrite will become an even better iPhone app that we can use for all of our sound editing needs. For now, Ferrite requires some extra effort to get things done. That works for me. A lot of fun often takes a little work. Like dancing in sand.
*** Morgan is the author of six other AppleVis blogs, including “Small Differences Matter”, “Big Is The New Small”, and “Think Small”. He gratefully welcomes and appreciates your comments and feedback.
Yes, I agree, Ferrite Recording Studio is a good app that is fully accessible, but could need more features in a good way.
• Save !camera roll so you can share it on a social network
• I agree, more playback control with VO
• I agree on this as well, more bluetooth keyboard commands.
• Noise reduction could also be a good thing.
I spent a few days figuring out the application. I was impressed by the level of accessibility, and by the developers personal responses.
The app works as promises, but there is something missing.
It is complicated to take one piece of sound and delete it. I have to split the track in three, cutting before and after the unwanted sound, and then delete the portion I don't need. This makes it so time consuming that I just found myself going back to Audacity on the desktop.
Does anybody have a solution on how to speed up this process?
The deleting of regions seems to be common. This is the way protools and garage band do it so to be blunt, get used to it as this is what the programs do when editing anyway even if you are not aware of it.
I agre with you, we've gotta get used to it. But one thing... I find myself deleting the whole track instead of deleting part of the track that I want. I set it to the designated time, but then I hit the cut button and it chucks everything in the garbage.
I really enjoy using Ferrite. It works well and very accessible. The developer is good as well.
I keep VoiceOver speech on when I start the recording, that way, I know the recording has started, in case I don't perform the two finger double tap gesture right.
I have created a project with three clips. I split them into pieces, where the VoiceOver bits are, for deletion. There are seven clips. They are at different points, and they are all on the same track.
The VoiceOver bits are at, 0 seconds to 5 seconds, 1 Minutes 51 seconds, to 1 minute 55 seconds, 2 Minutes 32 seconds, to 2 minutes 37 seconds, and 4 minutes 24 seconds, to 4 minutes 29 seconds. The three clips in between, are the full speeking parts.
When I select those unwanted parts at once listed above, swipe down to menu, and choose delete, ripple delete, the remaining three clips, stay at their original positions, which are 5 Seconds, to 1 Minute 51 Seconds, and 1 Minute 55 seconds, to 2 minutes 32 seconds, and 2 minutes 37 seconds to 4 Minutes 27 seconds.
If I delete and Ripple delete each clip 1 at a time, it moves them down.
My question is, why do the remaining clips not move down when you have multiple clips selected at once that begin at different points in the timeline? Can you give this a try with VoiceOver? not
I just recreated the test you described where you tried to delete several clips at once and hoped that it would ripple the remaining clips together. Like you, this works fine for me when removing and rippling a single clip, Which I do all the time without a problem, but when I tried deleting and rippling with multiple clips in s single action, the remaining clips stayed in their original time location. It was not what I expected either. I may be missing something obvious, but it looks like something both of us could report to the developer. They have always been receptive to my questions and observations.
I continue to use Ferrite on a very regular basis and find it quite useful.
Thanks for writing,
If you delete two clips that start after each other for example, it will bring the remaining clips down.
I sent a note to the developer about this, and perhaps if you can as well, it would be helpful, and perhaps he can investigate it.
If you are going to use crop end or move a clip using the move or crop end commands respectfully, Is the only way to move the slider a little bit, and if it is not at the location you want, to keep moving the ruler, up until you get it to the location you want?
Hope to hear from you, you can also email me as well, and we can talk about my questions and observations.
Another great question...
I will need to experiment as I do not know the answer off the top of my head. Might take a bit of time, but It has me intrigued.
I am curious, did you send a note to the developer regarding deleting multiple clips if the unwanted clips are at different points in the timeline, Ripple Delete does not bring the remaining clips down?
I sent a note to the developer about the multiple clip deletion and ripple behavior that you first shared. That was useful to know. Because I always delete single clips at a time, I had not run into that error in my regular editing sessions.
The developer and I had talked about it, but I think he was confused, and missunderstood what I was sharing and asking. The issue is when selecting multiple clips that do not go in order on the timeline.
As a test, select multiple clips in order on the timeline, then ripple delete. You will notice, the remaining clips move down.
Can you please give that a try and let me know what you find?
I got a very useful answer back from Wooji Juice, the developer of Ferrite. I received permission to take an excerpt of their answer about deleting and rippling multiple clips that are separated by clips you wish to keep. As you noted, Ferrite does not ripple spaces left between clips that you intend to keep. For me, I have always deleted single clips right after I marked them, and when done in that fashion, closing the gaps by rippling works fine. Even so, you made me very curious. I found their answer very helpful.
The lead developer wrote:
"Yes, that’s correct, that’s the intended behavior. What Ripple does, isn’t to close up all the gaps in the timeline, it’s to specifically close up the gap that you’re creating when you delete the selected clip or clips. So you can select multiple clips in a row (without skipping any), delete them (creating a big gap), and Ripple will close it up just fine. But when you select scattered pieces with other pieces in between, the big gap you’ve created already has other pieces (the ones you chose not to delete) sitting inside it, blocking the ripple from occurring."
"In the next update to Ferrite, there’s a new feature you may find useful, where you can select a bunch of clips, and have it line them up together next to each other, optionally leaving space between them. You could use this after a delete instead of Ripple, if you want all the clips packed together."
Again, I've always been happy with the Ferrite support. I really appreciate the care they put into their answers.
I have contacted the developer a lot myself, and I think he is a bit upset, and confused. I did not mean for things to come across that way. I was only asking the things I was asking and commenting on, as you have seen, I do a lot of testing, and I was clarifying, things I was not sure about.
If it is possible, can you please do me a favour, and send him a note, letting him know that? I won't email as much going forward, when I have a question, and would like things clarified.
You can take my name if you want.
He does a good job, and I don't want him to not respond to me, and feel as though I require a lot of customer support, because is not the case. I do a lot of testing, and that's what I was doing in Ferrite.
You can take my name if you want.
You can email me, email@example.com
Hope to hear from you soon,
Hello there, Morgan and others, who they can reply to my basic question.
I bought this app after reading these positive posts as it is voiceover friendly and the tech support is responding also for our clarifications.
But I can add tracks, I mean, I can export and import. But dono how to select, copy, trim and edit. So could some of you give me the jusctures or the commands for doing this?
One of these days, it certainly would be handy to have a complete guide for using Ferrite with VoiceOver on an iPhone or iPad. That is a hint to some nice soul out there who loves to write and knows both Ferrite and VoiceOver.
When I taught myself how to use the product, I lived inside of the Ferrite documentation available in the app. There are sections for VoiceOver and Bluetooth keyboards, which really helped, but I reread the entire manual many times to keep learning new tricks as I picked up expertise. For me, I found using a Bluetooth keyboard the easiest way to do sound editing. In fact, I never do any audio editing by fingertip. I'm a Bluetooth keyboard kind of guy.
Although I don't have enough expertise to write a good Ferrite user guide for VoiceOver users, I'll offer a few quick observations of how I personally use Ferrite.
* When the Ferrite screen does not seem to have updated after splitting or joining clips, just turn VoiceOver off and back on again. Triple-click home twice. As a work-around, I find it very dependable.
* For easiest editing, I find that having no more than three clips on the screen makes life easier. For example, when I split a track into three pieces, with the intention of deleting the middle clip, I immediately rejoin the two remaining clips after selecting and deleting the middle one.
* When you want to delete a clip, make sure it is the only clip selected. Although Ferrite has excellent undo and redo features, it is so much easier to get it right the first time.
* Regularly turning off QuickNav so that you can stop and start the playback by pressing the spacebar on a Bluetooth keyboard is a real time-saver. There are some really handy keyboard shortcuts documented in the manual.
* Also, holding down the Option key when you are using the spacebar to stop and start playback will leave the playhead in the position where the playback started. Very handy.
* Using the VoiceOver keys, Control and Option, along with the spacebar, works great for selecting and deselecting clips.
I know this is of limited assistance, but I wanted to offer a bit of help and encouragement. Perhaps some day, I'll write more about Ferrite. It is one of my favorite tools.
Thank you morgan. I will try those commands. I'm using anker bluetooth keyboard so I hope I can find those.
eI’m trying out the free version of Ferrite, and kind seem to understand how to perform such basic tasks as marking the spot 15 secons into Track1, so that Track2 plays when the 15 seconds of Track1 plays. As well as other tips/tricks to get the most out of this app.e
I've had ferrite for a while, but I'm just now going more in depth with it. I have a radio aircheck with commercials, and I'd like to edit the commercials out. I know how to split clips and then tighten things at the end to remove the silence. I'm at a total loss of how to move through the file in tiny increments. I know there's a keyboard gesture for this, but it's not fair, I shouldn't have to take a keyboard with me to edit audio. For example, I have one file that's an hour long, when I swipe up on the timeline, it moves in increments of three and four minutes, some of the commercial breaks are only one or two minutes, which makes it super awkward to just speed through the file and split where I need to split. So I guess what I'm asking is is there an alternate gesture where I can advance the timeline in finer increments?
I'm using Ferrite 2Pro. I don't have a Mac or a Bluetooth keyboard, just an iPhone and this neat app that I can maybe make audio podcasts with.
I've read the VoiceOver sections, but I'm not sure how to work with deleting clips. One thing I want to do is delete VoiceOver speaking. "Speech off" is not a great way to start a podcast, right?
Plus, I have an upbeat song, that I want to fade in and out at the beginning and end of each 'cast. Ep 1 is in the making, but I still can't get the hang of it.
Back in the day, I played with tape recorders: editing, adding applause from records I had to my songs so it sounded like I was singing to large crowds; and creating tiny leprechaun voices by unplugging the tape recorder, speaking normally, then plugging it back in again. The unplugged sound was a tiny little voice. The plugged sound was my own. Did I mention I was nine then?
About a dozen years later, convinced I wanted to enter the music biz, hopefully to marry my favorite celeb, ha ha, I learned how to multi-track on a Fostex. I wrote my own songs, sang all the harmonies, and stuff. Then I sent my love ballad to my celebrity love, who didn't marry me, but who did phone me twice. No word of a lie!
Now I'm messing with Ferrite. My ultimate goal is to make video 'casts for my light-dependent friends, and to show off my ugly mug.
In the meantime, I'm okay with audio. Only, like I said, I haven't got that edit thing down, even though I read the instructions.
Do you know of a community of Ferrite users who know how to do this better than I?
I appreciate any help available.
Thanks for sending such an interesting note. Your message was fun to read.
I like Ferrite, and still use it when I do audio editing, but I have not done a major project in quite some time. And, I do not have any ties to a community of other Ferrite users. However, you might try sending a note to the developer and ask if they are aware of a Ferrite users group or mailing list that you might join.
Good luck on your quest!