What is Soundplant?
Soundplant is a digital audio performance program that turns your computer keyboard (yes, your QWERTY keyboard) into a versatile, low latency, multitrack sample-triggering device and playable musical instrument. It can assign sound files of unlimited size and any format onto virtually all keyboard keys, giving you hours of instantly-playing random access audio at your fingertips with no extra hardware needed. Use Soundplant as a performance, presentation, or installation tool, as a drum pad, to mix together tracks in realtime, as an educational aid, to trigger sound effects or background tracks during a show, to create music or loops, to quickly sketch sound designs, or to give new life to old sounds - all via an input device you’ve been practicing on for as long as you’ve been typing. Because it is a standalone 'software sampler' that uses your own samples, Soundplant is an infinitely flexible electronic instrument limited only by the variety of sounds that you feed it. A simple graphic interface provides for drag-and-drop, point-and-click configuration of each key, including several options which control the way each sound is triggered, along with non-destructive pitch, offsets, looping, volume, fading, and more. Every sound that plays is visually displayed with a progress bar and track time, and you can even turn on 'background key detection' to trigger sounds while using any other software with Soundplant hidden. Here is a list of features:
Soundplant is not a synthesizer, an editor, or an effects processor. It is designed to do one thing and do it well: to trigger sound files from the computer keyboard with maximum speed, efficiency, and ease of use. Users love its rock-solid stability for live events, its simple one sound per one key metaphor which eliminates the usage complications of many other software samplers, and its ultra-optimized use of the computer keyboard with lowest-possible latency requiring no external devices or MIDI. Now in its 11th year of existence (and 1st year in an official Mac version), Soundplant has won multiple awards, and its users include the BBC on shows such as Doctor Who, Sveriges Television, composer and Genome Music creator Todd Barton, and breakcore producer Droon.
- 72 keyboard keys can be used to trigger sounds, all with very low latency
- drag and drop sound files on to keyboard keys for quick and easy key assignment
- plays virtually all sound file formats in existence including .wav, .aif, .mp3, .mp4, .m4a, .aac, .flac, .wma, .alac, .wv, .ogg, .snd, .ape, and many many more, even audio from video files like .wmv, .mov, .avi, .divx, .mpg, .flv, .3gp, etc.; free version is limited to loading only uncompressed 16- and 8-bit .wav and .aif files
- 'background key detection' mode allows Soundplant to continue receiving key input while minimized or hidden; trigger sounds with global hotkeys while using any other audio software, typing a document, or doing anything else in any other program
- intuitive visual interface displays full configuration and playback progress info for all sounds in 'detailed view', or switch to 'simple view' for a smaller display of only essential info
- *new in beta* capable of playing hundreds of sounds simultaneously, allowing for dense soundscapes and complex virtual instruments
- *new in beta* sound output device selection; have multiple instances of Soundplant output to multiple audio channels simultaneously
- *new in beta* 32-bit floating point internal mixing for highest possible sound quality
- *new in beta* up to 96 kHz sound mixing for ultra high fidelity
- *new in beta* direct internal recording of Soundplant's output
- waveform display
- in addition to keyboard key triggering, Soundplant can also play sounds via mouse click, like a 'virtual cart machine'
- pitch adjust allows micro-tuning to the 100th of a semitone and a 10 octave range; easily auto-assign the same sound to multiple keys at varying pitches to create playable instruments
- precise sound start and end offset control to the 100,000th of a second, more than most editors; easily auto-'splice' pieces of a sound across multiple keys (for example, to extract individual drum sounds from a breakbeat loop)
- support for wav file cue points; easily set playback offsets to cue points defined in any audio editor
- realtime volume, panning, and pitch control for each key, all non-destructive
- *new in beta* realtime lowpass, reverb, resonance, and LFO effects, all non-destructive
- randomization settings for varying the playback of sounds
- customizable sound triggering, allowing for looping, overlapping, restarting, muting, pausing, and fading
- onscreen keyboard keys are highlighted and animated as they play and can be color-coded
- a true performance program that continues running even while configuring keys and loading and unloading sounds on the fly; multiple instances of the program can be open simultaneously for even more flexibility
- works identically on Windows or Mac
- saves and loads keyboard configurations as .keymap files, which are fully cross-platform compatible and can be easily transferred between different computers with the handy 'save w/ sounds' feature
- includes several options for minimizing CPU and RAM usage for performance tuning so that it can run well even on older computers; Soundplant can give new life to that dusty old slow laptop you thought you'd never use again
Minimum System Requirements
Soundplant is not very demanding. It requires an 800MHz or better processor, 256MB or more of RAM, and of course, a sound card (your built-in cheapo soundcard will work fine, and so will any add-on professional quality card). It is optimized for the USA keyboard layout. Almost any computer made in the last 8 years will run Soundplant, though a faster machine is recommended for lowest latency triggering, and minimum 1024x768 screen resolution is recommended for optimal display.
||Win version supports Windows 8, 7, Vista, or XP sp2+; Vista or higher recommended
||Mac version is a universal binary optimized for both Intel and PPC processors, and requires OS 10.4 or later; 10.5 or higher and Intel recommended
Here is a complete list of all new features added in v.39 since the previous public release (v.26):
- virtually every audio file type now supported
- first non-beta Mac version, with an identical feature set to the Windows version
- sounds set to 'play from disk' have all of the configurability of 'RAM' sounds
- 'list keymap' function
- master volume control
- keymaps easier to transport between computers and fully cross-platform compatible, with intelligent sound file locating
- redesigned interface with onscreen keyboard enlarged for better clarity and names of sounds appearing under each key, and channels meter enhanced with info and progress bars
- onscreen keys are animated as they play, showing progress
- 'background key detection' mode
- 'fade' keymode
- sound length display updates with pitch and offset modifications
- new key colors added
- all time displays standardized to H:M:S
- realtime RAM usage meter on Windows
- overall performance optimized and efficiency increased, making this the lowest latency Soundplant ever
- 'simple' and 'detailed' view modes
- waveform display
- key settings can be adjusted even if no sound is assigned to the key, allowing for saving of empty keymap templates
- 'low power mode' option
- 'show key config after key hit' option
- randomization settings for pitch, pan, and volume
- code-based program registration system
- Windows installer program
- asynchronous dialogs and file loading guaranteeing seamless playback even while loading new sounds
- play sounds with a mouse click
- recently loaded keymaps pulldown list
- 'save w/ sounds' function
- wav file cue point support
- 'save current key config as default' option
- 'mp3 handling' option (decompress while playing or on loading)
"Be sure to pick up Marcel Blum's Soundplant... files are triggered with virtually no latency... offers a refreshing alternative."
-Download of the Month, Electronic Musician Magazine
"Love your product, as a sound designer for theater it is absolutely indispensable in creating reactive and dense sonic imagery to enhance live performance."
-Jim Fourniadis, The Dark Room Theater, San Francisco
"In an era of bloated software, Soundplant is squeaky clean - we love it! 100% Astro-Certified!"
-rock band Man or Astro-Man?
"With Swedish Television (SVT), I've done the Olympics in Beijing, where we of course used Soundplant live to the whole world... Without doubt the most used 'playback program' in TV work over here, with great success."
-Mattias Dalin, EUROSOUND mediacrew ab
"Your program is amazing! I use it all the time in my work as an audio engineer for corporate events, and it works flawlessly every time. For example, I used it when I did John McCain's victory speech in the NH primary - Soundplant triggered both his recorded intro and the "Johnny B. Goode" outro that went live over national television to millions. Cool stuff!"
-Alan Starr, Technical Director/Audio Engineer
"An impressive instant playout software package... you won't want to use a MiniDisc ever again!"
-Ian Richardson, Doctor Who sound designer, Line Up Magazine
"I can vouch for the extreme stability of Soundplant--it just sits there and works, even on a very low spec machine... hundreds of random effects per show over a six week run, and not a single hiccup in 5 years of use."
-Bobbsy, AudioMasters Forum
"I wish every program worked as obviously straightforward as it does. I can't imagine an easier way to trigger samples from a computer keyboard, live."
-Chip McDonald, Cockos Forum