Soundminer is set to release a new version of their sound library search software. As many of you know, Soundminer is the industry-standard for managing sound clip collections.
I was excited to learn that the Canadian company is offering a deal on upgrading to an early version of the software. Word of this has been rather quiet, so I thought I’d share what I’ve learned with the community.
In addition, I bought my own copy recently, and have been testing it for a while. So, in this post I’ll write about the upgrade, how it works, and why you may wish buy the early release now. I’ll also share the features offered in the upgrade.
What is Soundminer?
Soundminer is officially labelled “asset management software.” Simply put, it helps you organize, search, and use your sound library recordings. However, it isn’t merely limited to searching sound collections. It can be used in a handful of ways. The most common are:
- Organizing and sorting large sound libraries.
- Searching, finding, and auditioning your sound effects or music clips.
- Wrapping or embedding dozens of categories of hidden text metadata information with the file (e.g., description, microphone, recorder). This info becomes fused to each file. That means it will travel with each sound, no matter where it is stored.
- Transferring search results into editing software.
- Applying VST plug-in effects to sound effects or music.
There are other uses. These will be the most common to field recordists, though, since they involve their mastering and curating roles. The software is also targeted towards sound designers, post-production editors, and music supervisors, each of whom use it differently.
Why Upgrade Now?
As you can imagine, software that accomplishes this many diverse tasks will be incredibly complex. The upcoming release, 4.5, promises much-needed updates, refinements, and a few cool new features. It will be a paid upgrade.
The software is actually not quite ready yet. So why is it available now?
The Soundminer crew pushed out the early release of 4.5 for a select group: Pro Tools 11 users. The new version is now compatible with the recently-released Avid sound editing software.
That’s why the upgrade is currently ~27% off. Early adopters can buy it now for $200, instead of $275 when it is officially released.
I assume this is done to give Pro Tools 11 users quick access to a compatible version of Soundminer while the developers polish the code for final release.
While I remain only on Pro Tools 10, I use Soundminer daily to organize my sound collection, tweak metadata, and create new sound libraries. And, while I’m not affiliated with the company, I am a fan of Soundminer. So, I jumped at the cheaper price. I was also drawn in by the new features.
What’s New in Soundminer 4.5 Pro
Here are the big features so far:
- Pro Tools 11 compatibility. That includes 64-bit Rewire, and full interleaved file support.
Multichannel overviews. Do you have interleaved, 5-channel WAV files? You can now see each channel displayed discretely in the sound file overview display.
Improved right “Metadata Panel.” That panel displayed (among other things) details of the current selected file, such as category, channels, duration and so on. It has been reworked in 4.5.
Version 4.5 adds cool improvements. You can now:
Drag and drop those fields in any order you like.
Refine searches with “Finger” mode. Click text in the right panel to display all similar results in your database. So, say your selected sound displays “Vehicle” under the category heading. Click that “Vehicle” text to display just those sounds also tagged with the Vehicle category.
Search within fields. Click under any header title. A text entry field will appear. Type keywords, and hit enter. That will return search results found just with in that field. Want to search the microphone field? Click beneath that header, type in your text (e.g., Neumann), hit enter, and all entries in the microphone field that include the text “Neumann” will appear.Metadata Panel – Search[/caption]
- New, speedy scanning code. The code takes advantage of multi-core technology. It has access to more computer resources, which means scanning and exporting are faster.
New mirror pane. Mirroring allows you to create a batch copy of your selections. The mirror pane allows you to control how and where this is created: how the files are named (using description, category, or a combination), final sampling rate, and the folder arrangement of the final files.
- FLAC support on mirror, playback, and editing. FLAC is an non-proprietary lossless compressed audio file format. It’s now supported in 4.5. That’s great news. It means that full resolution sound libraries take up 50–60% less space without sacrificing quality.
Those are the major features in version 4.5, build 35.
It’s important to know that not every feature is currently up and running. There are actually many other features planned. They include:
- Auditioning single channels.
- New waveform display options. Audio can be displayed as mini waveforms within search results. There’s also a “radar” overview, which displays the waveform in a compact, circular format.
- MIDI control of Soundminer functions.
- The waveform selector can be moved or extended with grabber handles.
- Microsoft Excel file type support for import and export. (Finally!)
- Record in place. Apply VST plug-ins to your sound, select record, and Soundminer will capture your sound design to a new file at your default transfer path.
- Time tool. Adjust time compression and expansion by dragging on the fly. It’s like the current pitch shift tool, but on a 2D grid.
- Analyze tempo and pitch.
These are still in development, and are not part of the stable 4.5 release. They’re labeled “Not For Production” releases, and are currently at build 54. You can download these versions from a private forum and tinker with them, but expect bugs.
I’ll share a full review of the major Soundminer features when everything is finalized.
If you want to read what’s planned, see the Soundminer blog post about the 4.5 release.
How to Upgrade
Some things to note:
- This is not finalized software. You should expect minor bugs. It’s best for people who must use Pro Tools 11, or are not working on critical projects.
- Hardware copy protection via iLOK 1, 2, and Hasp HL is required.
- Compatible with Mac OS X 10.6.8 – 10.8 with Intel Processors.
- There isn’t a fancy installer. You’ll need to do this yourself, but don’t worry, it’s just drag and drop.
- You’ll need to surrender your previous Soundminer licence. Old versions of Soundminer won’t work on the new 4.5 license.
- Buyers have access to a private forum. You can report bugs, see sneak peaks of new features, and correspond directly with the developers. The staff are known for being helpful and responsive.
- New versions appear periodically on the forum. Check in there and download new releases when you like.
- If you have a vital project, Soundminer also provides a compatible version of 4.3, but you’ll have to track that down on the forums.
So, how does Soundminer 4.5 Pro hold up?
Well, it’s certainly faster. I have a quad-core i7 machine, and Soundminer takes advantage of that. I’d say that scanning large batches of sound files is about 15–20% faster. Searching, exporting, and transferring sound effects is definitely snappier. I’ll compare times in an upcoming article.
The new right panel looks pretty slick, and works well. There are a handful of minor interface updates, too.
The multi-channel overview works as promised. I find that it lags considerably, though. There is a delay of about one second waiting for any waveform to display, even after I have recreated overviews. This is pre-release software, so I’m sure that this will be ironed out.
I haven’t experienced any bugs at all on the version I’m using. So, if you are a Pro Tools 11 user, want to save yourself $75, or are the adventurous type, you may wish to grab the prerelease software. (Please note: the pre-release is no longer available.)
I’ll write more about the features of Soundminer 4.5 Pro soon.