There are dozens of sound browsing apps on the market. Realized in 2016, Soundly distinguished itself with two significant features:
- It’s free to get started.
- It includes a subscription-based pro sound library.
Soundly (Windows, macOS) quickly became popular. Since 2016, the developers have added new features to the app at a regular pace. We last looked at Soundly in depth a year ago. Today’s post takes a quick look at their most recent update, revealed last month.
Soundly’s latest update adopts a new numbering style, dropping the 2.x versioning format previously used. The 2019.6 release features some important improvements, and many other tweaks. I’ll also share a few smaller features added between the last article and this one that people new to Soundly may have missed.
Sound Effect Library
Soundly has put a lot of work into their sound clip collection. For those new to the app, it is free to use and comes with a free library of foundation sound effects. For a monthly fee starting at $14.99, users unlock access to the complete sound collection. The free offering now totals around 1,000 clips, with the pro collection topping out at 40,000.
I asked developer Peder Jorgensen about the current state of the sound library:
…We’re always focusing on the sound library, and we're adding new sounds all the time… We're continually looking for the right sounds in every category, and the best matches to every search. We are combining natural recordings with custom designs, and the feedback from our users has been excellent! We spend a lot of time fine-tuning the naming and meta-data, so that searches will be as relevant as possible. Perfecting the library, in terms of richness, quality and meta-data, will always be a work in progress – luckily we love working on continually improving it.
Soundly also offers community sound bundles for sale, as well as “Soundly Collections”, custom theme-based playlists available to Soundly Pro users. Recent additions include "Martial arts”, "Post-apocalypse”, and "Prison."
What use is a sound library if you can’t find anything? Verison 2016.6 has added major improvements with this in mind.
Labelled as an AI-powered search, Soundly has adopted a four-pronged approach to finding sounds.
At first, keyword searches are aided by an auto-complete function that drops down a list of terms.
Soundly also has an extensive thesaurus custom-built for finding results for alternative specific sound effect terms. So, typing “swish” will also return results for “whoosh”, and “woosh”, and so on.
After results are displayed, a few “Related Searches” appear at the top of the app. So, typing “thunder” will also discretely display “lighting”, “storm”, and so on. Each can be clicked to return results for those terms. This is helpful for expanding your search vocabulary, re-igniting inspiration, and to help take new directions for finding results.
There’s also a “Did-You-Mean” feature which recognizes common misspellings and suggests correct terms. Jorgensen explained:
If you search for foilage in Soundly will ask if you meant foliage, squeek will be corrected to squeak, metalic to metallic, cuttlery to cutlery, and so on.
The upshot is that your research results should be more accurate and provide for serendipitous discoveries.
Soundly has now added the ability to select individual channels from multi-channel (i.e. 3+ channels) files. So, single channels in a 4-channel quad sound file can be selected, highlighted, auditioned, and transferred separately. This is done by the icons above the waveform or by keyboard shortcuts.
A smaller but helpful workflow fix: now after spotting to Reaper or Pro Tools, the destination app is brought to the front.
These improvements join other changes made the previous year, such as “skip to next transient”, as well as “rename on export”, “prefix file name on export”, column display preferences, and more options found in the settings.
Soundly is now available in Portable Mode. As you’d expect, this allows for installing Soundly on an external hard drive or USB stick and using the app from anywhere.
To use the app this way, simply install it on an external volume, launch it, and flip the “Portable mode” setting to “On” in the preferences window. This will allow the app to be run and will save settings next to the application file.
Moving from facility to home and back? Portable Mode is a helpful addition to bring your libraries and workflow with you without cluttering facility PCs with random installations.
Learn more about Soundly.