How to Choose A Sound Library Manager App


Last week I mentioned that I had updated the list of metadata apps. That revised post compared the prices and features of 19 sample organizers.

That’s a lot to go through. Today’s post is intended to help you choose the sound clip cataloging app that’s best for you.

Choosing the Best Sample Manager

It’s important to note that there isn’t one perfect app for everyone. There are dozens of features in these apps. Most are highly specialized for specific people. For example, sound designers may need to process their sounds with plug-ins. Sound librarians may require reading metadata from obscure file types, and embedding this text back into the file. Others may simply need a way to gather and audition all their sound clips.

Who are these people? Let’s look at them in three ways:

  • Pro sound editors and sound designers.
  • “Casual” sound editors.
  • Sound librarians.

Let’s see how those pros use the apps.

Pro Sound Editors & Sound Designers

Sound designers and sound editors need the most features. They add thousands of files, browse them with granular detail, and send them to editing apps to work on their projects.

Pros needing these type of apps typically start with the free Soundly app. That performs most tasks they need and includes a free cloud sound fx library, too. It will keep a pro content for quite some time. Typical next steps include Resonic Pro (€69), Library Monkey Pro ($449), or AudioFinder ($69.95), which add more fields of metadata (database only) and plug-in processing. Career sound pros will eventually move to the premium-priced BaseHead 4.x Lite ($399) and Ultra ($549) or Soundminer v4.5 ($899) apps for metadata embedding, spotting to editing app timelines, and sophisticated sound search options.

”Casual” Sound Editors

Do you edit audio but aren’t a day-to-day sound editor? Maybe you’re a video editor, music composer or editor, or re-recording mixer?

These “casual” editors have fewer needs than the pros above, and have more flexibility in their choices. Most just need a way to organize clips, find the sound fx they need, audition them, and transfer them to an editing app. Since they’re not editing every day, they don’t want expensive options.

Both Soundly and iTunes are excellent free options for managing many sound clips. Have a bit more cash? AudioFinder ($69.95), Library Monkey ($129.00), Resonic Pro (€69), Soundminer HD Basic ($199), and Basehead 4.x ($249), are great next steps. Those will allow more sophisticated searching, organizational features, and sound fx transferring, although they lack rich metadata features.

Sound Librarians

Do you create sound fx libraries or manage huge amounts of sound clips for other editors? These pros’ daily work includes viewing, editing, and saving metadata, then curating those clips so they are easy for others to use.

You can do this inexpensively if you’re willing to juggle a few apps. Use the free Metadigger, Aural Probe, SampleSort, or Sample Library (€30) apps to add, browse, and audition clips. Most of these lack sophisticated design but do the job decently. Notably, Metadigger is able to see BWAV and ID3 metadata. The other three Windows options add the ability to drag and drop clips into editing apps, too.

Just need a few metadata tweaks? Sound librarians may choose the free Remetacator to add BWAV and iXML metadata in batches.

If you’re willing to pay, MetadataTouch ($40, $60 for batch editing), TwistedWave ($79.90), and BWF-Widget ($49.95-$90.00) can add more fields either singly or in batches. Free single-sound metadata editing is available from Wave Agent and BWF MetaEdit.

Soundly is another solid free option to add two fields of BWAV metadata in batches and browse up to 2,500 library clips.

Sound librarians who find themselves needing more metadata fields and easier ways to apply and embed it will want to explore BaseHead 4.x Ultra and Soundminer v4.5. This power comes with a price. Those apps provide this flexibility for prices north of $500.

Budget Options

Do you want to get started working with sound libraries and metadata, but have a limited budget? Willing to work creatively? Here are options:

  • Option 1: MacOS users may apply metadata with Soundly (free, BWAV, two fields), Remetacator (free, BWAV and iXML, multiple fields), iTunes (free, ID3 tags), or Commenteer ($13.99, Spotlight comments). Then, once sound effects are organized well in the Finder, use Snapper ($79.00) to preview and transfer multi-channel sound fx.
  • Option 2: Windows users may use Soundly (free) to search, organize, audition and transfer their sound library. MetadataTouch Pro ($80) is another option to apply metadata in batches with additional BWAV field options.
  • Option 3: forego the waveform display and region selection and use iTunes, Aural Probe, or SampleSort (all free) to organize and transfer your library with drag-and-drop.

Which app is best for you? Well, it depends on how you want to use your sound library. Working in game audio, or film sound? You’ll want every feature, and you’ll likely pay the price to match. Less demanding productions can get away with other options. You may even prefer to use a combination of cheaper apps together instead of a single, more expensive one.

View all apps and their details in An Introduction to Sound FX Metadata Apps 2 – Comparing Apps.

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