By Dan Moren
September 30, 2018 8:22 PM PT
Applications Folder: Fission
As someone who spends a lot of time making podcasts, I have a broad choice of applications to use when it comes to producing audio. I’m sure you’ll be unsurprised to know that I rely on Logic Pro X for the bulk of my editing needs, but one of the less commonly discussued tools still in my toolbox is Rogue Amoeba’s excellent audio editor, Fission.
Fission doesn’t take the place of Logic Pro X, of course, or even Garage Band, but that’s in large part because it’s not meant to. Most obviously, it’s only a single-track editor, and it lacks many of the audio engineering and tweaking tools that editors and producers want from their workstation.
But Fission has more than a few qualities that make it an ideal tool in certain specific situations that audio producers encounter. One is its ability to do lossless editing of compressed audio like MP3 and AAC files. So when I get all the way through to producing a final MP3 of one of my podcasts and discover I left a whole bunch of dead air at the end, or find one little edit that I wish I’d made, I can fire up Fission and often snip out the offending section without having to go through the whole export and conversion process all over again. That can save a huge amount of time.
It’s also a helpful tool for me for shows where I have to produce multiple versions of an episode. For example, my podcast with Lex Friedman, Not Playing with Lex and Dan, has both a capsule version, in which we have a discussion before and after the movie we watch, as well as a commentary version that contains us chatting while watching the film. Of course, they’re recorded as one long show, but I use Fission to help produce the final versions from the full file. That includes deleting parts of the show, inserting musical stingers, and even copying and pasting bumpers from one file to another.
Likewise, I use Fission for my podcast The Rebound, which is hosted on SoundCloud, because the app can upload directly to that service. While I used to use Fission for my transcoding and metadata tagging needs, in recent months I’ve mostly switched to Marco Arment’s Forecast tool for those tasks.
Despite that, Fission remains an indispensable tool in my suite of audio apps. Anytime I need to do a quick edit or tweak to an audio file, or sometimes even test that audio worked correctly, it’s the app I turn to. There are a host of features that I make use of only sparingly—things like lossless transcoding between formats, splitting an audio file into multiple files by detecting silence, and, yes, chapter support—any of which could be a life-saver on its own. But put them all together and you have an immensely capable tool that everybody who works with audio should consider having in their Applications folder.
[Dan Moren is the East Coast Bureau Chief of Six Colors. You can find him on Twitter at @dmoren or reach him by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. The latest novel in his Galactic Cold War series of sci-fi space adventures, The Nova Incident, is available now.]