Hindenburg

October 25th, 2010 | by Jeff Towne
Hindenburg screenshot

Hindenburg

Transom is always interested in tools that make radio storytelling easier, better, and cheaper. Lately, our Tools Editor Jeff Towne has been testing some alternatives to ProTools and just test-drove Hindenburg from the Danish Company, Nsaka, and finds it has the advantage of being designed specifically for “us”. Jeff says, “It’s built by radio people for making radio stories, podcasts and other documentary-style productions, rather than multi-track music projects. The developers seem intent on keeping the program simple and stable, easy to learn and use, even by non-technical people.”And they have a free version. For both Mac and PC. Check it. Jay A

From Jeff Towne

OK, before you make the crash-and-burn jokes about this program’s name, think of a memorable moment of radio reporting. Not a famous speech, or an audio drama, a radio report from the field, one that was really powerful and moving. What did you come up with? How about the “oh, the humanity” report from the scene of the Hindenburg disaster? It’s an important moment in radio history, and the power and immediacy of that report is what inspired the makers of this recording/editing/mixing software. The company, Nsaka, makes a mobile app that runs in iPhones, which can integrate with the desktop software, both of which are designed to help record, edit and produce stories in an efficient, immediate way.

Inexpensive flash recorders and software that turns a smartphone into an able portable recorder have made collecting sound easier than ever. But what comes next? One of the most common questions from beginning producers is: do I need to learn Pro Tools? That software has become a standard, used widely in radio production, and of course even more widely in music the music world. We here at Transom jumped whole-heartedly on the Pro Tools train back when an introductory version called Pro Tools Free was first released, not just because it was free, but also because it offered a good balance of complexity and simplicity. Pro Tools Free no longer runs on common operating systems, but Pro Tools LE still offers a relatively low-threshold entry into sophisticated editing. As much as we still like Pro Tools, it has a few big downsides. Pro Tools systems all require hardware interfaces that must be attached to the computer at all times, the software only bounces mixes in real-time, and the program has many layers of complexity that are oriented more toward music production than toward the basic requirements of making radio stories.

There is still a place for Pro Tools, or Adobe Audition, and other similarly complex software, but what would be especially useful for making audio news reports and documentaries is a program designed specifically for that purpose. The Danish company called Nsaka has done just that: they’ve created an audio editing and mixing application called Hindenburg, specifically for journalists and audio storytellers. It’s built by radio people for making radio stories, podcasts and other documentary-style productions, rather than multi-track music projects. The developers seem intent on keeping the program simple and stable, easy to learn and use, even by non-technical people.

They have posted several helpful video tutorials on their site: http://nsaka.com/#hj-tutorials

There are three levels of the program: a free version, called Hindenburg Basic offers basic editing; a $66 version, Hindenburg Journalist, offers better organizational tools and output options. There’s a professional version with additional capabilities that is available by special arrangement. Contact Nsaka for prices and details. All three work the same way, with the paid levels simply adding extra features. There are versions for both Windows and Macintosh, and the software is not especially picky about operating systems or having a super-speedy processor. The company recommends at least a 1 ghz CPU and 512 MB RAM on either platform. Windows XP or Mac OS X 10.4.11 or more recent are required.

Mix window screenshot

Mix

All the versions of Hindenburg appear very simple at first glance, and that’s part of their appeal. Basic editing and mixing is straightforward: drag audio files into tracks, trim the edges, highlight and delete undesired sections, adjust levels, export the mix, done. There are additional subtleties, but the basics are very intuitive, and can be learned quickly.

Hindenburg Interface screenshot

Hindenburg Interface

If you have an audio interface or USB microphone connected to your computer, Hindenburg finds it automatically, and asks if you’d like to use it for input and/or output. Recording into a track is simple, just click the red circle at the left edge of the track, then click the red circle in the transport bar at the bottom of the screen (or press CNTRL-spacebar). Press the spacebar, or the square in the transport bar, when you’re done recording.

Importing audio is almost as simple: drag and drop audio files from your hard drive into a track in Hindenburg, what they call the Workspace. There’s only one project window, no separate mixer view or editing pane, everything is done in the Workspace. If iTunes or Windows Media player will pay the file, then Hindenburg can almost certainly import it. It’s worth remembering that for best sound quality, one should ideally be starting with un-compressed, high-resolution files, like .wav and .aiff files whenever possible, but if you must use .mp3 or .AAC files, Hindenburg can import them without a problem. It can even handle .mp2 files, as are generated by some recorders, and used by some radio networks as a delivery medium.

Files with different sample rates are automatically converted to the session’s default sample rate of 44.1 or 48 khz. (set in the program preferences.) Higher sample rates are not currently available, which is not really a problem, they are rarely useful for radio or podcast production.

Mono and stereo files can even exist on the same track – just drag any file into any track and it’s ready to go.

Hindenburg Clipboard screenshot

Clipboard

One can also import files by right-clicking in the workspace, or pressing a shortcut key (Command-T on Mac, Control-T on Windows) but dragging and dropping is the easiest. If you’d like to keep things more organized, files can first be dragged, or imported, into the clipboard on the right side of the workspace. That clipboard can have multiple categories, for keeping different types of clips together. Categories can be added or deleted by using the File>>Properties menu. The Favorites clipboard is available in all sessions, so it’s a good place to store standard intros or outros, audio logos, or other clips that are used repeatedly.

Hindenburg Favorites screenshot

Favorites

Once the soundfile is in the workspace, it can be auditioned by highlighting it, clicking on it so it turns orange, and pressing the spacebar. Placing the cursor and making selections takes a little getting used to if one is accustomed to other programs, but it becomes natural soon enough. One must be sure to click and/or drag above or below the actual waveform graphic. Clicking and dragging on the middle of a sound clip moves it in time, clicking and dragging above or below it selects portions of the soundfile. Selections can also be made by pressing the i and o keys, indicating selection in and out points.

One can audition a highlighted portion of the soundfile by pressing shift-spacebar or shift-P. Or one can rehearse deleting that highlighted audio, skipping-over the selected part, by pressing CNTRL-Shift-Spacebar or CNTRL-Shift-P.

Placing the cursor over the right or left edges, then clicking and dragging those edges, trims the audio. This is a non-destructive edit, the edges can be dragged in or out again later.

Placing the cursor over the top edge of the soundfile, then clicking and dragging that top line, raises or lowers the audio volume. This too is a non-destructive edit, that adjustment can be changed later. Hindenburg Journalist and Journalist Pro incorporate a clever auto-level function, which analyses and automatically adjusts all imported audio to have the same average levels, which can simplify the mixing process. That automatic leveling can be undone immediately after importing a file, or adjusted later by dragging the top edges of the files. It currently uses a single standard for levels: EBU R128, but more options will be added in the future.

Hindenburg Fade In screenshot

Fade In

The edges of soundfiles can be adjusted by creating fade-ins and fade-outs: simply click on, and drag, the corners of a selected soundfile. Fades can even overlap adjacent soundfiles. Fades can also be applied from the edge of the clip to the cursor position by pressing a keyboard shortcut (Command-F on Mac, Control-F on Windows.) That fade can even cross edits.

Hindenburg Ducks screenshot

Ducks

Volume envelopes can be drawn to create ducks or other volume manipulations by highlighting a portion of the soundfile, and then dragging the top edge of that highlighted area up or down. Crossfades between the two levels are created automatically. This method of volume control is not quite as flexible as the breakpoint automation offered by other audio software, but it’s quicker, and perfectly adequate in most situations. Fades that overlap on the same track occasionally behave erratically, but that can always be addressed by moving clips to separate tracks.

Hindenburg Fades screenshot

Fades

All the expected cut-and-paste operations can be done, although some of the conventions are different from other editing programs. Instead of having editing modes, like Pro Tools, Hindenburg uses specific key commands to indicate the behavior of the audio clips in the workspace. Highlighting a section of audio and clicking Delete will clear that audio, leaving a hole, without moving any adjacent audio, much like a “slip” edit in Pro Tools. Cutting (Command-X Mac, Control-X Windows) a highlighted area will remove that audio and slide audio toward the left to close the gap, like a “shuffle” edit in Pro Tools.

Cut, or copied, audio can be pasted by pressing command-V, which will not move any existing audio, like “slip” mode. Inserting that audio (Command-I Mac, Control-I Windows) will paste the audio, and shuffle existing files in that track later in the timeline, to the right.

Clips can be made to sync to specific times by placing the cursor at a selected time, then dragging the file to the cursor; the segment start or end edge will snap to the cursor position as it is dragged. The cursor can be placed at a precise time by clicking on the time display in the bottom right of the project window, and typing in the desired values. Pressing a key combination (Command-G on Mac, Control G on Windows) will highlight the time display, for easy entering of numbers. It’s not quite as elegant as the Pro Tools spot function, but it gets the job done.

Markers can be added at the cursor location by pressing Command-Enter (Control Enter). Audio segments snap to markers as they are dragged, but then can be dragged past if desired. Markers can be named and managed in the markers bin at the right side of the screen.

With those basic functions, one can build sophisticated, layered productions. Record or import audio into the tracks. Rename the segments, if desired, by selecting the segment, then pressing Enter. Trim and edit the selections by dragging the handles along the edges, or highlighting and deleting sections.

Hindenburg Track Controls screenshot

Track Controls

Music beds or ambience can be placed on other tracks, moved in time, with volume ducks, either of the entire track or of selected sections, accomplished by simply pulling the top line of the waveform display up or down. The overall level or right-left pan of an entire track can be adjusted with sliders on the left edge of each track. The final output level is shown on a large meter along the bottom of the workspace. For more precise control of the overall levels, a Master Track can be added by clicking the triangle icon next to the record, mute, solo and effects buttons, at the left side of the track display. That master track will show final levels, and allow effects, such as EQ or Compression, to be added to the entire mix. One can also add additional tracks to the session by clicking that triangle button.

Hindenburg Export screenshot

Export

When all the sound clips have been properly positioned and their levels are adjusted for the proper mix, outputting the final mix is simple: go to the File menu at the top of the screen, press the Export button on the top edge of the screen, then select stereo or mono, and the audio file type (.wav, .mp3, .aac and Apple Lossless) and press Save. The entire file will export at many times faster than real time.

One can export sections of the project, not only the entire mix: simply highlight all desired segments and use a modified export key combination (Command-Shift-E on Mac, Control-Shift-E on Windows.)

If you want to archive your project, or move it to another computer and work on further, the Save-As command will make a copy of the session file, as well as all included soundfiles. It makes a small project file, projectname.nhsx, and a folder called projectname files that contains all the soundfiles in the session.

As is the case with almost all software, real efficiency can be achieved by using keyboard shortcuts, and there are many pre-programmed key combinations that will increase the speed and ease of use of Hindenburg. A full list, along with many other helpful instructions, is in the user guide, available as a pdf download.

Although one of Hindenburg’s main appeals is its simple, straightforward structure, there are some more involved tweaks that can be made if desired. Clicking the small button with sliders on it, to the right of the Mute and Solo buttons, opens a window where four effects can be inserted on each track.

Hindenburg EQ screenshot

EQ

Hindenburg provides two: a simple but effective 3-band Equalizer, which can boost or cut specific frequencies. Turning the knobs or dragging the graphical line provides boost or cut. Dragging the lump in the line can change the center frequency.

Hindenburg Compressor screenshot

Compressor

The Compressor is also elegantly simple – there’s just one knob for amount of compression. Make-up gain is automatically applied, so the more compression that is applied, the louder the average level will be. It’s a surprisingly good-sounding effect, for having so few adjustable parameters, but use it gently. In most cases, only turn it up until the meter shows 3-4 dB of compression at the most. Additional effects can be used if you have AU or VST plug-ins installed on your computer, so if you’ve invested in third-party plug-ins, like Waves packages, you can use them here.

Hindenburg also makes an app for recording and editing on an iPhone, called Hindenburg Field Recorder (formerly Hindenburg Mobile). While that app is designed to function as a stand-alone editor of single-track audio, it can also exchange audio with the desktop version. With both the iPhone and the desktop computer on the same WIFI network, audio, along with editing info, can be transferred from the phone to the desktop computer for more elaborate editing. Conversely, sound files can be sent to the phone, so that previously edited audio is available for adding to that collected in the field.

By concentrating on the processes that reporters and producers need for audio documentary production, and ignoring, looping, grids, MIDI, and other music-based tools, Hindenburg provides a clean, simple interface for creating radio shows, podcasts, and other such projects. There may be times when programs like Pro Tools or Adobe Audition might still be a better choice, if for instance, extremely detailed editing is desired, or the mix requires multiple busses, or plug-ins need to be automated. But for most kinds of audio storytelling, where a basic montage of elements is desired, Hindenburg provides an easy-to-use, and easy-to-learn environment.

The software has improved dramatically during its Beta phase, and we expect that additional tweaks and upgrades will continue.

Even as it stands right now, Hindenburg provides a very capable, yet simple, approach to audio editing and mixing. No hardware interface is required (although a good one can improve the quality of recorded tracks, and of monitoring.) Outputting the final mix is accomplished much more quickly than with the dreaded Pro Tools real-time bounce. Hindenburg is much less picky about which versions of computer operating systems it’s compatible with too.

While we at Transom are not quite ready to abandon Pro Tools for all our audio productions, Hindenburg is more than sufficient for many of them, and provides a less-expensive, less-daunting entry point for reporters and producers who wish to concentrate more on telling the story, and less on the technique of digital editing.

Nsaka web site: http://nsaka.com/

Hindenburg Field Recorder review


40 Comments on “Hindenburg”

  • cf94 says:
    vs. Audacity

    how does it compare with audacity?

  • Sounddguy says:
    sounds like the Sony/Soundforge approach

    Other than the dual platform, most of these features sound like the Sony packages. Fast and efficient.

  • Flawn Williams says:
    The namesake

    Since Jeff brought up the original Hindenburg radio reporting as the inspiration for this software’s name, it’s worth noting that the famous eyewitness report of the 1937 airship disaster was not a live broadcast. It was being recorded to disc on-site at the time of the crash, and wasn’t broadcast until the next morning, after the disc was driven from New Jersey to Chicago! More details can be seen at http://www.otr.com/hindenburg.shtml.

    As someone who teaches new reporters how to make radio from raw recordings, I welcome this new package with its focus on relatively simple tools. ProTools can be great, but the list of gotchas and illogical traps is long, and the repurposing of what is first and foremost a music production package can be confusing for feature producers.

    Thanks, Jeff and Transom, for giving us this quick insight into the new programs.

  • Abe Martinez says:
    Combined with mobile app, it is probably the best

    Thanks for a terrific overview. This is going to come in handy as I just purchased Hindenburg Field Recorder and have downloaded the DAW as well. I am testing the two on a story I am just beginning. My plan is to document the process and comment on my blog.

    I am an experienced ProTools user having worked as a mastering engineer in a studio with multiple HD systems. Now I do freelance production at home and part-time work for the local NPR member station. My freelance is on a ProTools MBox system (owned by the client) and the station uses old versions of Cool Edit Pro and Sound Forge. After getting used to the step down to these lesser systems I have to say that within the realm of reporting and most podcasting ProTools is probably expensive overkill and maybe even inferior given the scope of work we are doing. In my opinion, reporters and audio story tellers are better off learning to use a tool like Hindenburg instead, especially given the integration of their desktop and mobile app.

    I have already used the mobile app to capture interview bits on the fly (straight into the iPhone without an external mic) and the sound was fine for broadcast. However, I can’t see doing much actual editing on the tiny screen of my phone. That’s one reason I prefer Hindenburg Field Recorder to Monle (which I also purchased). To me, Monle is trying to do too much with the multi-track. It’s cool, but not practical. So it was wise of Nsaka to create both the field recorder and the DAW.

    One item I didn’t see mentioned here or in the review of the mobile app was the ability to add photos to the session clips on the field recorder. This is helpful for quick id of your bits and really useful as more stations expect reporters to post their stories to the web and have pictures when available. If you follow the tutorials of Hindenburg you see how they use that feature when role playing the part of a reporter at the scene of the Hindenburg crash. It’s an elegant touch and shows the builders understand that reporting is more about story telling than great use of technology.

  • Jeff Towne says:
    Keep us updated

    Abe, I look forward to following your experiences, please let us know when your blogging about using these apps is underway.

    You’re right that any editing on an iPhone screen is going to be fairly limited, but it’s amazing to me that it CAN be done, either on Hindenburg or Monle. At least one can do some down and dirty trims and tweaks, as part of filing from the field, rather than only sending raw tape.

  • Jeff Towne says:
    comparison w Audacity

    I find Hindenburg to be much more stable, predictable, and smooth-feeling than Audacity. As much as I respect what the Audacity folks are doing, I think it’s a great democratizing tool, I find the program itself a little flaky – it crashes more than it should, and I’ve more than once experienced missing audio when re-opening a production.

    There are a lot of intangibles when using software, and Hindenburg just feels better to use that Audacity, at least to me.

    the beautiful thing is that you can try them both, see how they feel to you. The free version of Hindenburg will give you the basic experience, although if you’re doing lots of work on it, you’ll want some of the features of the paid version.

  • Jeff Towne says:
    comparison w Sony products

    Yes, Soundguy, the basic feel is not too different from Vegas or Soundforge.

    As I’d mentioned in the article, as a contrast with Pro Tools, but it’s equally valid here: one of the advantages of Hindenburg is that it’s designed expressly for making radio. Of course there are plenty of tools that can help do that, and different users will prefer different working environments, or want different tools. Vegas is designed as a video editor. It can work just fine as an audio-only workstation too, but there are lots of things you need to learn to ignore. Even Sound Forge, a great audio utility, is built to do so many things: to be a sample editor, to prepare audio for phone systems, to produce music, to prep CDs, etc. That’s all good, but sometimes it really nice to have a focused tool.

  • Jeff Towne says:
    The inspiration

    Flawn, thanks for sharing those details – perhaps the Nsaka folks will share their story too – they too were quite moved by the actual event that inspired the name.

    And please let us know how it goes if you teach this to beginning reporters, I’d be very very curious how they experience it if it’s the first program they try.

  • 5inthemorn says:
    Love it so far.

    I’ve been producing a personal podcast for about a year now and settled on Audacity early on. I figured that with time I’d be able to navigate its quirky idiosyncrasies, a fair trade for the price. Last week I was working on an episode where I discovered a problem half-way through the timeline right before I was going to publish it. That coupled with other UI issues probably added 3-4 hours to production. By the time I fixed the problem(s) I was too tired to contemplate tweaking things for creative purposes because the timeline seemed too fragile. I owe it to Audacity for leading me from my video production hobby to audio podcasting… but since last week, I started looking for a better alternative. I started consider Apple’s Logic Express for $200 but I knew it’d br more MUSIC production tools than I need.

    Yesterday, listening to Marc Maron interview Ira Glass led me to poking around This American Life’s site (again)… to here. After using Hindenburg Journalist for about 20 minutes, I could have cried. In a good way. For me, it’s like (an affordable) upgrade to Audacity with EXACTLY the features I need. Thanks so much for sharing.

  • kt says:
    Nice!

    First impression: it’s the iMovie of radio production apps (and I mean that in a good way). It seems simple, elegant, and fit to get the job done. I will certainly be giving it further attention in the coming days.

    My only complaint so far: I’ve yet to find a way (if there is one?) to record multiple tracks at once – i.e., host and guest mics on separate channels, recorded onto separate tracks. I’ve also yet to discover a way of splitting imported stereo audio into two separate tracks.

    This program really has the ease-of-use going for it, much more so than Audacity or Sound Studio. It may well be put into service soon at a student radio station I engineer for.

    –kt

  • Hans Grand says:
    You can’t compare

    You can’t compare Audacity versus HINDENBURG
    It’s like comparing apples to bananas.
    But IF you want to know: HINDENBURG is for Journalists and Audacity is for musicians.
    The HINDENBURG sound editing programme is so easy to use, that even no-experienced in sound editing find it to be a piece of cake – a very good one, actually

    Best
    Hans Grand
    Senior Sound Engineer
    Danish School of Media and Journalism

  • George Jones says:
    Fact Check: American Airlines Used To Return 4 Discs To Chicago

    Flawn,

    Correction 1: There was 4 16" Presto Green Seal discs …. not one as you implied.

    Correction 2: Morrison and Nehlsen returned to Chicago via an American Airlines DC-3 flight … they did not drive as you stated

    Here’s the rest of the story:

    Take a look back and you will appreciate how far we have come over these last 75 years in field recorder progress. A mid May 1937 photo shows Chicago WLS radio station reporter, Herbert Morrison, and his recording engineer, Charlie Nehlsen.

    They are demonstrating the use of a “portable” field recorder kit consisting of the Presto 6D disc recorder, the Presto 85A amplifier and a dynamic microphone. This equipment was AC powered and considered “portable” in 1937 since it had leather carrying handles!

    This field recording kit weighed over 80 pounds and was a two person operation … the reporter / recordist and the engineer to run the equipment.

    This is quite different from the 2010 12.5 ounce iPhone 4 Prosumer Audio Field Recorder & Editing Kit (iPhone 4, Rode NTG-2 mic, cable, Hindenburg Field Recorder app) that is operated by one multitasking person as both the reporter and engineer.

    The Presto equipment was used at 7:25PM on May 6, 1937 in Lakehurst, New Jersey by Morrison to record the audio story of the Hindenburg Disaster that took 36 lives.

    Morrison and Nehlsen flew on American Airlines with the four 16” Presto Green Seal discs the evening of May 6 back to Chicago. They had to evade German agents who were after their recordings.

    Herbert O. Morrison (1905 to 1989) was in Lakehurst, NJ at the behest of American Airlines PR people who were promoting their new DC-3 connecting flights with the Hindenburg.

    On the morning of May 7, 1937 these discs were broadcast over WLS Radio in Chicago as well as later in the day the combined nationwide NBC Radio Blue Network and the NBC Radio Red Network.

    Up until May 7, 1937, radio station owners had prohibited the use of news field recordings … they wanted everything live and not “canned”.

    This Morrison news recording on the Hindenburg disaster, where he said “Oh the humanity!” is noted as one of the most famous examples of audio news and audio storytelling of all times. The discs are now in the U.S. national archives. A digital version is available for purchase.

    Morrison did not start off as a Professional Journalist when he went to work on June 13, 1930 as a Radiotrician for WMMN Radio in West Virginia.

    He had been appointed to West Point but was dismissed in January, 1925 for math deficiencies. In 1929 he became a pilot … and later a Colonel during WWII in the US Army Air Corps.

    Via Morrison’s audio storytelling, we are there with him in 1937 as an “earwitness”. His audio recording expressed in our inner psyche what mere words could not about the drama and immediacy of this horrible disaster.

    Herb Morrison was in Radio and Television for over 40 years. It is for sure he would appreciate the new lighterweight field recording equipment we have now.

    Without portable field recoding equipment that can be carried on a daily basis … your audio storytelling capabilities could be limited. The 12.5 ounce iPhone 4 Recorder Kit can be carried on a daily basis whereas a 30 ounce Recorder Kit based on the popular Marantz PMD661 is not carried that regularly by us.

    It’s all about the story and it’s all about the equipment and the apps such as Hindenburg Field Recorder and a DAW like Hindenburg Journalist.

  • Chris B says:
    Fades

    Hey thanks for alerting us to Hindenburg! It looks to incorporate many of the useful basic qualities of Pro Tools with less music-producer clutter and at an affordable price.

    I have one qualm: the fades. I often want to draw down ambi or music not just using linear fades. A curved fade can often help duck something in just the right way. But Hindenburg, without the breakpoint automation, doesn’t seem to allow for anything but crude linears? Am I missing something?

  • Jeff Towne says:
    Stereo to split mono

    KT – good question about recording to two mono channels rather than one stereo, and/or splitting a stereo track to mono. I don’t know how to do that within the program, but I can see how that would be necessary. I do that all the time in Pro Tools, one of the few advantages of that program treating everything like a mono file! I’ll be seeing one of the creators of the program at the Third Coast Festival, so I’ll ask him! In the short term, you could always load the stereo files into some other program, like Audacity or Pro Tools, split them, then export each side as a mono file… There should be an easier way though!

  • Jeff Towne says:
    Fades

    Chris: I agree, I miss being able to tweak the fades more, but in the end, I understand the trade-off. They’re trying to keep this super-simple, not have too many options. I occasionally work on pieces created by other public radio producers, and I’m amazed at how most of the time fades, whether written as fades, or made with breakpoint automation, folks have used just basic linear in and out fades.

    I’m a cosine fan myself, although occasionally exponential curves work better, but I have to admit that if I close my eyes, a basic linear fade is often just fine…

    Who knows, perhaps some day the Hindenburg folks will add greater tweakability to the fading tools. I’m not actually sure whether they’re using a linear fade, or if the graphics just make it look like that, but it sounds pretty linear to my ear.

    There’s a somewhat kludgey process you can try: break the end of a segment into a few different segments, by placing the cursor and pressing command B to make a break, do that a few times at strategic places. Leave the first segment at full volume, then stair-step each segment tot the right down by dragging the top volume line down to approximate the curve you want. Then, select all the stair-stepped segments, place the cursor at the top of the fist non-ducked segment, and press command F. That will draw a fade across all the selected segments. It’s a weird way to do it, but it might get you there…

  • Hans Grand says:
    HINDENBURG at Danish School of Media and Journalism

    Nsaka.com contacted the Danish School of Media and Journalism (DMJX) in spring 2010, with a request that the school be a beta tester of Hindenburg, their sound editing program.

    Alice Hoier and Hans Grand, both sound engineers, took up the challenge. Out of this, arose a model of collaboration on fine adjusting the use of the program. This work was completed in September.

    The result is now available to download at http://nasaka.com where comprehensive video tutorials and user manuals in pdf can be found.

    On August 16, 2010 the first version of Hindenburg was rolled out all over DMJX where the program replaces Pro Tools – as a consequence we are no longer dependant on using hardware in our sound editing program.

    The program is very intuitive and easy to learn for the students and since the transition to Hindenburg the need for support has been at a significantly lower level. Additionally, students can download a free, special DMJX version, to their own computers.

    The costs of using Hindenburg are at the same level as previously used for Pro Tools – but with the essential difference that we no longer have 40 computers available for sound editing but, to all intents and purposes, have one a computer for every student.

    There are around 1,000 students enrolled at DMJX.

    Best
    Hans Grand
    Senior Sound Engineer
    Danish School of Media and Journalism

  • Tom Salyer says:
    How Do Different Fade Styles Work ?

    Would you be kind enough to explain how and where the different types of fades are used, how they sound different ?

    I’m a still photographer producing audio slide shows.

  • Tom Salyer says:
    How Do Different Fade Styles Work ?

    Would you ‘all be kind enough to explain where and how the different types of fades are used, and how they sound ?

    I’m a photojournalist producing audio slide shows, and am new to audio storytelling.

  • Nsaka says:
    Fades and stuff

    First of all: Thanks again to Jeff for writing such an extensive review and thank you for all the positive words from others pitching in here.

    b @kt
    We will look into how we can extend Hindenburg so that it can be used to record simultaniously to two mono tracks. Before that we will come up with a way to split a stereo track. We learned from Jeff that flash recorders often deliver material that needs splitting.

    b @pauldon:
    Mouse wheel + Cmd zooms in and out. Mouse wheel + Shift + Cmd zooms track height. Mouse wheel + Shift scrolls vertically.

    b @Tom:
    You do not need to know if there is only one curve to choose from :) … but I can tell you that liniear fades sounds very unnatural due to the logarithmic sensitivity of our ears.

    Jeff is right: The straight-line drawing of fades is a visual thing – but even if they did represent the true thing, they would still not be "liniear" because the waveforms in Hindenburg are shown on a logarithmic scale.

    The fade curve is a "symetric cubic fade" which looks like a "S" when shown in a linear display. The curve was chosen based on two criterias. It should sound natural and it should be usable for cross-fades as well as in/out-fades. It approximates the same curve as if a tech with a calm hand fades in or out using an audio-tapered fader on a console. Since is it symmemtrical, it is possible to use it for x-fades without creating a peak or a hole in the middle.

    By the way: All cuts in Hindenburg Jouranlist that do not have a fade already are given a 10 ms. autofade in order to avoid clicks.

    For now we need a convincing argument for adding selectable fade curves – but we are open for input.

    If you have questions, comments or feature requests, feel free to email us.

    /Preben Friis
    Nsaka ApS.

  • Jeff Towne says:
    Fades/Splits/Updates

    As Preben stated so well in the message above, many of our concerns will be addressed, or sometimes are already present in the program – be sure to read all of the documentation, there is a lot of extended functionality available as hot keys, or key combinations, especially on extended keyboards.

    I’m still of two minds about the fades – for one, Preben is right, if they were simple linear fades, they’d sound pretty bad, and these fades don’t sound bad, so we need to be careful that we’re not being fooled by our eyes! That is a common problem with computer-based audio editing: we often give primacy to things that we see, rather than what we’re hearing. It’s often helpful to close one’s eyes, or look away from the screen, just to make sure that we’re really listening. If the on-screen graphics made the in and out fades look like s-curves, I suspect that we’d be hearing s-shaped curves…

    I want to experiment more, but I suspect that this one default fade curve might be just fine for the vast majority of circumstances, and that there may be work-arounds for the others. That said, I do sometimes like a more dramatic logarithmic curve for hitting posts, or extremely gentle ramping of certain sounds. I never feel the need for an actual linear fade…

    I worked for many years in the early versions of the Sonic Solutions DAW, which did not have break point editing. Instead, one adjusted volumes by making segments and then tweaking the fades between the different segments. It was a very different way of working, but every bit as elegant, sometimes more so. Hindenburg’s model isn’t exactly that, but it’s similar, and I suggest folks give it a try.

    I had the opportunity to sit and chat with Nick and Prebin at an audio conference recently, and I’m confident that there are more cool things coming, and that they’re listening to users. They surely can’t implement EVERY suggestion that comes their way, but when users confront a fairly universal problem, like needing to split a stereo file into two mono files, they’ll add that functionality.

    So, be sure to check back for updates! And in the interim, just try the fades as they are, but don’t look at them, listen to them. You might like them more than you thought!

  • Jon Wagner says:
    Compared to . . . Amadeus?

    I know ProTools is the industry reference point, but I’m curious about how lower end versions of the two new programs reviewed recently–Reaper and Hindenburg–compare to Amadeus Pro (also an inexpensive program with a relatively straightforward interface). Judged by people who do audio documentary "for real," is this a reasonable alternative, or are there deal-breaking limitations?

  • Chris B says:
    Waveform

    Hey Jeff, thanks again for all the explanations of the deceptively linear-looking fades on Hindenburg. While I may just be stuck in the land of breakpoint automation, I am definitely willing to give Hindenburg’s fades a try.

    I had a separate question to anyone else reading about the waveform display for the sound regions themselves. Perhaps it’s just me and the programs I’m used to (Pro Tools, Dalet [ugh], Audacity, even Garageband), but does the waveform seem a little difficult to read in Hindenburg? Perhaps I am alone in this and just being inflexible, I’m just curious for others’ perceptions. I find it a bit tougher than other programs to suss out phonemes just by looking. But this could very well be just a case of me not giving myself time to get used to it.

    Believe me, with the $350 upgrade price on Pro Tools 9, I’m eager to try to make Hindenburg work for me in case support for PT M-powered gets dropped.

  • Abe Martinez says:
    Hindenburg Journalist – A first production experience

    This is a follow-up to my original post on using Hindenburg Journalist. I completed a project using Journalist that aired recently on our local NPR-PRI member station. It was an experiment for producing stories with alternative tools like the iPhone, Skype, etc. I documented it on my blog as "Goals, Rules and Results."
    http://greatexp.net/2010/11/alternative-tools-for-radio-reporting/

    And created a video with screen captures and a bit more detail about how it was done.
    http://greatexp.net/2010/12/using-hindenburg-journalist/

    Since that time Nsaka has made an update to the program and I have become much more comfortable with it. The more I use it, the more I like it. It’s simple and elegant, yet includes higher-end features I wish I had when I was a novice back in the analog days. Specifically, the compressor and the auto levels on import are tools that can correct a lot of basic errors. Adding presets would be even better for rookies and a de-esser (with a few presets) would be nice as well, though you can probably achieve that with the equalizer that is included.

    One major issue… I really (REALLY) miss the normal visual representation of waveforms that cross the median line. I don’t understand why Nsaka chose what I suppose to be a spectral view. Surely I am not the only editor who has learned to recognize sounds visually and can fly in edit sessions as a result. (Editing pickups in the middle of "s" sounds was one of the first cheat skills I learned as an editor in a hurry.) I can’t recognize anything for sure (other than breaks) with Hindenburg, so I have to scrub a lot to find my way around. That increases the time it takes to rough edit and wastes a lot of skill I have developed over the years. I really wish Hindenburg could offer the standard waveform view as an option!

    I still maintain, however, that combined with their iPhone field recorder, Hindenburg may be the best option as a versatile, low cost package for reporters and podcasters as well as for public radio stations and places that teach broadcasting.

  • Bill Metcalfe says:
    Selecting in Hindenburg

    I have just downloaded the free version and I like it but cannot figure out how to select in just one track. If I try to do that it selects in all tracks. I must be missing something simple.

    Any advice on this?

  • John Bonell says:

    I downloaded Hindenburg Field Recorder for my iPhone 4. I wondered if I could use it with my Beyerdynamic MCE 58 microphones. I contacted Nsaka with a question about a connector and they got right back to me with a link to KVConnection.com (http://www.kvconnection.com/product-p/km-iphone-xtrs.htm). I purchased the connector (under $40) and it came quickly. I can now use my microphone along with headphones for monitoring. This is the ultimate in handy recording hardware coupled with good quality microphones. I no longer have to fuss with the multitude of menus on my Zoom Handy Recorder H4 which is clearly designed for multi-track music recording.

    Hindenburg is indeed an easy to use program. I have used ProTools before and found it easy to learn with many bells and whistles to tweak production, but I don’t feel much is sacrificed using Hindenburg’s use-friendly and intuitive program with similar results.

    Thank you for your article, Jeff. It led me to this excellent product.

  • sounds like a good program. I would not buy it before it will be able to split a stereo-channel into mono (and I need to decide which channel, left or right ormix) and more fade and crossfade options.

    am now using Ableton Live for all my work, which is killer.

    • jeff says:

      Marco – you CAN split a stereo file into two mono files right now: you get a track with the left and another track with the right, but you can always delete one if you don’t want it. And the fades and crossfades are pretty slick once you get used to them. There aren’t different fade shapes, but there’s lots of flexibility in how you adjust volume. If you really need a specific shaped ramp, one can break a region into many smaller regions, adjust the levels of those sections individually, then make crossfades between those new regions, or even smooth the stair-steps in one command. I’ll get into that when I post the updated review. Soon….

  • Andy Bowers says:

    Sad news: I’ve grown fond of Hindenburg, but they just eliminated the free version, jacked up the price of Journalist to $95, and restricted its use to “semi-professionals.” Pros, which presumably includes most people here, are now supposed to pay $375 for the pro version: http://hindenburgsystems.com/1795/update-1-10

    • jeff says:

      I didn’t realize that they would be no longer offering the free version – actually I believe it still exists, but they had always intended that version primarily for truly non-profit uses, such as programs for radio journalism in developing nations. Their comparison table still lists an “NGO version” so if you work for an organization that truly does non-profit charity or development work, I’d email them, I suspect they will still make the software available.

      I don’t think I can fault them for raising the price from $66 to $95, that’s still pretty amazingly cheap for the power of the software. I can’t speak for the company to say for sure what they mean by non-commercial and/or semi-professional use. Perhaps someone will comment here (also – I’m preparing an updated review of the software, and will get a clear statement from the developers about the intended uses.) But I’m guessing – and I’m only guessing – that freelance independent audio producers, producing primarily for non-commercial radio, would be considered valid customers for the $95 Journalist level. If you’re not making your living as an audio editor, you’re semi-pro, which I think describes what freelance independent producers are: Audio editing is only one thing they do as part of a larger skill-set, hence semi-pro audio. But, that’s MY reasoning, I’m sure we’ll hear from the Hindenburg System folks, and see where they draw the line.

      I think the Pro Level is meant for someone who truly is making their living by audio editing, and for professional installations in commercial studios, radio stations etc. That version has some very good extra features, but those will come in most handy for people doing exacting, professional-level work. If that’s how you’re making your living, $375 is not a ridiculous price to pay for a piece of software, that’s in the ballpark of Adobe Audition, Sonar Producer, Cubase 6, etc. The Hindenburg Pro version isn’t a scrappy little no-frills program, it’s very powerful, with professional features.

      I certainly understand the appeal of inexpensive (or free) software, but that’s never been the main appeal of Hindenburg to me. Instead it’s that it’s easy to use, easy to learn, and makes a lot of tricky things easier – such as maintaining consistent audio levels. I’ve always recommended the paid Journalist version to people, so that they could get the benefits of the auto-leveling, the EQ, the compression, etc. I thought the free one was mostly an introduction, a way to see if you liked the overall paradigm. So that still exists in the free 30-day trial. If you’re looking for new audio editing software, but aren’t sure, try the trial version for a month. If you’re serious about doing the work, $95 isn’t so much to spend. The developers of the software have to make money somehow…

      That said, I’m sad to see the free version gone from general circulation. There are plenty of beginners that are not in a position to shell-out a hundred bucks, especially if they’re not completely sure if they’re still just experimenting with audio production… Heck, I know plenty of people who just can’t shell-out a hundred bucks. And I was thrilled to see something available to EVERYBODY that was a little more elegant than Audacity. But I’m not responsible for the finances at Hindenburg Systems, so it’s easy for me to say that.

      I’m still going to heartily recommend the $95 version. I sincerely doubt that the company would be upset with most people using that version, unless you’re a hotshot full-time audio jockey or you’re doing a large install in a commercial facility.

  • Steph says:

    Hi Jeff,
    I just read your review of Hindenburg + all the comments, and I am thrilled to see an updated review is coming… soon !
    I’ve been producing my podcast for 2 years, simply using GarageBand. It suits my need, but I am now wondering if switching to Hindenburg would be a good thing i.e. the learning curve for an self-taught person like me VS getting features GarageBand does not offer.
    Any thoughts ?
    Many thanks.
    s.

  • Jeff Towne says:

    I think Hindenburg is better-suited for making podcasts than Garageband is. Garageband is an amazing program, and one can certainly do everything you need to do with that tool, but it is still geared more toward music-making. Hindenburg is specifically designed to make radio stories, and podcasts, and other such audio documentary-ish productions.

    The bad news is that it now costs $95, still a great deal for what it does. The good news is that there’s a free 30-day trial, so you can try it out before shelling-out the money, and see if you like it.

    The auto-level features make getting a consistent volume across your production MUCH easier. The Voice Profiler does an almost magical job of making voices sound better in the mix. The way Hindenburg does volume ducking makes it super-easy and smooth to do layering of sounds.

    I say, download the trial, and be sure to watch the videos on the website, AND!!! download the users guide pdfs, there are lots of good tips in there.

    And I’ll try to hurry up with the follow-up review, in which I’ll share some of my favorite tricks…

  • Steph says:

    must say i’m almost convinced! :)

    i’ll await your update to try the 30day version.

    thanks a lot to you and transom for your help.
    s.

  • Peter says:

    I work for the BBC and edit audio in the field most days. This software is simply brilliant. Brilliant because it’s simple and intuitive.

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