Apple has a new pro app for audio production called Soundtrack Pro, unveiled with Final Cut Pro Studio 5.
This isn't just a slightly beefed-up Soundtrack or a new app for video
— it looks like it could be a whole different way of working. Here's
an early look at some features I find interesting (at least on paper):

  • It's a waveform editor: This is a serious audio
    editor at its core, complete with waveform and spectral views and the
    usual editing features, multitrack editors, and what looks like a cross
    between Logic Pro's WaveBurner for waveform editing and Soundtrack for
    matching to sound to picture.
  • Action Layers and Action List: At the heart of Soundtrack
    Pro is a feature unlike anything I've seen
    before — you can reorder, A/B, and turn on and off layers and
    histories of edits for "what-if", non-desctructive waveform editing.
    Think Photoshop layers and history for audio.
  • Find-and-Fix: Automatically identify and repair audio problems like clicks, pops, and noise.

  • Fully Automated: Integrated AppleScript support and OS X Tiger Automator support for fully automating audio workflows.
  • Apple Loops Comes to Sound Effects: Doing video production? Take note: on top of the (expected) 5,000 Apple Loops, you can surf 1,000 included sound effects.
  • Logic Effects: 50 included audio effects from Logic Pro 7,
    including the lush Space Designer reverb and Match EQ for deriving EQ
    settings from audio and applying them wherever you like.
  • Supports AU effects
  • Integrated Mixer: Mix audio in a more Final Cut-like interface, with full control surface support and out-of-the-box Mackie Control support.
  • Integrates with Apple's Video Tools: A single command
    moves audio between Apple's various tools for instant editing, much
    like the Motion – Final Cut – DVD Studio integration we've seen in the
    last version of Apple's video suite.

So, what is this thing? Some rumors suggested that Apple was
abandoning Logic for a new audio app. Looking at Soundtrack Pro, I
think nothing could be further from the truth: just as GarageBand was
built on Logic's foundation and ultimately reshaped a later version of
Logic, this product says Emagic throughout, from mixing to effects.

Musicians will still want the instruments, etc., in Logic (which is
you can expect Logic to remain a separate product), but for general
audio work, this could be a major new tool. Let's hope its new
features, like Action Layers, Find-and-Fix, and full automation with
Tiger's Automator, show up in the next version of Logic Pro. (I imagine
you'll be able to exchange files with Logic via XML, but I'll find out
for sure.)

In the meantime, here are apps that should start to sweat: BIAS'
SoundSoap Pro and Peak, etc. could be rendered unncessary by Soundtrack
Pro's sharp audio editing tools, and even the mighty Pro Tools has some
new competition for video production, especially if Final Cut users
start doing audio editing in Soundtrack instead of Pro Tools.

US$299 list a la carte, or part of the new Final Cut Studio (with educational pricing on each.)