CoPA Tech Orientation: Soundtrap
Soundtrap is similar to other Digital Audio Workstations (DAW) such as Garageband, Reaper, Protools, Logic Pro, etc. However it is web-based with mobile app support.
While it may not be as advanced as Pro Tools or Logic Pro, it is a solid entry point into the world of digital audio editing and electronic sound production and can prepare you to use more advanced DAW’s in the future.
The most remarkable quality of Soundtrap is how it allows multiple users to collaborate on the same project. In our current mode of remote learning and remote creation, Soundtrap will be a fundamental tool used in many CoPA courses. Additionally, you will find it to be very useful in your personal creative practice, as you work and play with your colleagues from afar.
Soundtrap is available to all CoPA faculty and students
Even if you happen to already have a Soundtrap account associated with another email address, please make an account with your @newschool.edu email address. This is to ensure that all CoPA students are able to collaborate with each other.
Watch this 8-minute video to get a broad overview of the features of Soundtrap:
Follow these steps to learn to record the sound of your voice or instrument into Soundtrap.
TIP: Wearing headphones for your Soundtrap work is highly recommended.
0. On a new browser window separate from the one you are using to view this Canvas course, go to http://www.soundtrap.com/YOUR_USERNAME
View both browser windows side-by-side as you complete this Soundtrap module so you can follow the Canvas pages while directly working on Soundtrap to learn the concepts.
1. Start a new project by click [Entering Studio] from your main account Soundtrap page (http://www.soundtrap.com/YOUR_USERNAME)
2. To start, select a MUSIC project. (Later explore PODCAST which is more speech focused)
3. Click Add a new track
4. Choose [Voice & Microphone]
5. A microphone set-up window will pop-up. You can set your microphone input – if you want to choose between your built-in mic, a USB mic, or an audio interface mic source. Click [Input: ] and you will see your mic choices.
Generally, if you don’t have an external mic, you’ll choose Internal Microphone.
6. Once you’ve selected your mic input, you need to do a Volume Check by clicking on the [speaker/gear] icon below:
And follow the instructions when this window pops up – and click DONE when complete. Generally, this Volume check makes sure that your loudest sound does not distort or clip while you are recording.
You’re finally to start record – go ahead and press the big red button labeled [START RECORDING].
Play your instrument! Sing! Speak!
When you’re finished recording, simply press the big white button labeled [STOP]. You should see a colored region on the first, top-most track. This is the waveform that shows the sounds that you recorded.
Close the Microphone Set-up window by clicking the X on the left.
You are now back to the main studio page of your project. The audio that you recorded is held in the first track.
Finally SAVE your work:
Finally after you’ve SAVED your work, can DOWNLOAD the audio to a local file on your computer.
*** Soundtrap DOES NOT automatically save for you. Press the SAVE button often. SAVE, SAVE, SAVE ***
Great job creating and saving your first recording on Soundtrap!
You have successfully recorded an audio track.
This section will highlight some operations and manipulation to play/experiment with your track. Some examples are:
- RECORD ENABLE
- FADE IN / OUT
- SHORTEN / LENGTHEN
- LOOP REPEAT
- EFFECTS such as Reverb, Delay, EQ, Filters, Compression, Pitch Shift, and many more!
Let’s focus our attention to the “Track Header” where you’ll find various controls.
These controls will be particularly important when you have multiple tracks that interact with each other.
A: [Show mic/instrument ] – Opens the same mic/instrument options window that we used to record our first track in the previous page
B: [Record Enable] – Click and toggle this button. When it is RED – that means that it is “record enable”. A record enabled track will write new material in that track when the main project START RECORDING button is pressed.
C: [Track Volume] – Controls the volume of the track, independent of other tracks
D: [Solo track] – When this button is pressed while working with multiple tracks, only this track will make sound.
E: [Mute track] – When this button is pressed while working with multiple tracks, only this track will be muted.
Let’s say that we have recorded 3 tracks, as shown below:
In this case below, only track 2’s RECORD ENABLE has been pressed – thus only track 2 will write new audio when the main project START RECORDING is pressed.
In this case below, Track 1’s SOLO button has been pressed (automatically mutes all other tracks). Only Track 1 audio will be heard when we press PLAY
In this case below, Track 1’s MUTE button has been pressed. Only Track 2 and 3 audio will be heard when we press PLAY
There are more track options that are revealed by the [Show Mic/Instrument] button
From left to right, these are what you can access from these controls
– [VOICE] – The type of input instrument – in this case it is a type of Voice input processing. Click this to open a larger menu of a multitude of mic/instrument options.
– [Reverb] – adds more/less reverberation effect. Reverberation is the effect of sound bouncing off hard acoustic surfaces such as inside a larger church or in a concrete tunnel in order to create a longer, sound image.
– [Pan] – controls the balance of the audio between the Left and Right channels
– [Volume] – same volume function as in track header
– [Effects] – opens a menu of many effects such as Delay, EQ, Filters, Compression, Flange, etc.
DIRECT TRACK EDITS
Focus your attention to the RED/MAROON colored region that represents recorded audio. There are some operations available directly on the track itself. Play/Experiment with all of these functions on your project.
Bring your mouse cursor directly over the track and it will reveal some control icons
The Small White Circles at the Upper Left and Upper Right corners can be dragged to create FADE-IN & FADE-OUT effects, respectively to give a smoother start or end to the sound of the track region
The Bracket/Arrows at the Lower Left and Lower Right corners can be dragged to EXTEND or SHORTEN the audio of the track region.
The Circular Arrow at the Upper Right corner can be dragged to LOOP / Repeat the audio region.
The White EDIT button at the Left side of the region will open an Edit menu. There are many interesting audio effects and transformations quickly accessible here.
UNDO / REDO
Finally, with all of these manipulations, you may make a mistake or change your mind about a track operation. You can always access an the UNDO and REDO buttons at the top of the project window:
Congratulations you’ve learned some fundamentals of multi-track audio manipulation in Soundtrap.
Now that you’ve learned fundamentals of recording yourself on multiple tracks with basic operations and effects, lets learn how to bring a remote, online collaborator into the mix.
Your collaborator must also have a Soundtrap account.
Start by click on the BLUE CIRCLE at the upper right of your Soundtrap project.
This will open up the Collaborators Window
Click on the [+ INVITE] button
…which opens up the Invite window:
Once you invite other Soundtrap users, they will be notified. When they accept, you will be notified via email or an notification within your project.
You and collaborators can work independently, and whenever you one of you hits SAVE, the other collaborators are notified and a button labled SYNC appears in your Collaborators windows.
****** THIS IS IMPORTANT ******
In a collaborative Soundtrap project, the workflow is guided by a many, many (many) sequences of each person pressing SAVE locally as they work, and then the collaborators pressing SYNC to the most updated version of the collaborative project. So everyone will be relying on SYNC to keep align in the collective as SYNC is an abbreviating for “SYNCHRONIZE”. You will find yourself pressing SAVE-SYNC-SAVE-SYNC-SAVE-SAVE-SYNC… very often as you work with your collaborators.
But wait there’s more!
Not only can we quickly update a project with recordings and audio material from multiple remote users, we can also use the built-in VIDEO CHAT function that is built in to Soundtrap.
Finally, watch this 2-minute video that shows how to record a conversation/interview between 2 Soundtrap users that are speaking via the Soundtrap video chat.
Also remember that in addition to the spoken voice audio, you’re able to use other tracks of music or sound effects to add to the production.
Collaborative remote Radio Play anyone?
This Soundtrap module has only touched on some of the basic operations and work flow. This is to familiarize you with the platform before being asked to do more creative and advanced uses in your upcoming CoPA courses and in your personal creative practive.
Here are some final tips to keep in mind.
SAVE, SAVE, SAVE
Soundtrap does not auto save – be sure to press the SAVE button often!
It is best practice to use headphones when working with Soundtrap. It will help avoid feedback when recording. And generally, headphones will sound better than your built-in computer speakers.
Monitoring allows you to hear in real-time what’s being recorded. In other words, if you have a microphone track, with reverb and other effects on it, you will hear yourself with effects while singing/speaking into the microphone. In the Settings menu at the top of the Soundtrap project, you can turn Monitoring On or Off. This applies only when a track is RECORD Enabled. Headphones HIGHLY RECOMMENDED to avoid feedback
MORE INPUTS AND INSTRUMENTS
When you press [ + Add New Track ] in your project, explore the many different choices: MIDI synthesizers, MIDI winds/brass instruments, drum machine sequencers, direct guitar/bass amp simulator… all with many choices and manipulations.
IMPORT AUDIO FILES
You can bring audio files (.wav, .mp3 etc) from your computer into your Soundtrap project by simple dragging them into the project window
SAVE, SAVE, SAVE
Soundtrap does not auto save – be sure to press the SAVE button often!