You may be aware that some schools are using a BYOD technology program where students bring their own devices such as iPads and other tablets. As a result of the vast majority of devices, the thing they have in common is the ability to access the internet via a browser. This means that the new way to incorporate technology into education is “bring a browser” (BaB). This notion is also great in music education, as there are a few DAWs that are built to run in the browser. This blog post will talk about 3 browser DAWs that can be effectively utilised in the music classroom.
In my lecture, I got to play around with Soundtrap to see how I could translate my knowledge of DAWs to create something quickly. When I first opened it and signed in, I was greeted with a tutorial video which I immediately closed. Because I really wanted to start from scratch I chose an empty template and I avoided the use of any loops.
There is a large amount of loops available for free, however, when I signed up I was automatically given a 14 day trial of the premium service. Just like GarageBand or any DAW, you can simply click and drag the samples into the arrangement to import them. You can filter loops by genre and key, so that is useful if you are trying to create something quickly in a particular style.
Another great feature of Soundtrap is the collaboration possibilities. You can invite friends or other students to collaborate on the one project, which can be excellent for classroom activities.
I found it quite easy to adapt to using Soundtrap and I can actually see myself using it in classrooms that do not have access to GarageBand or better. At the end of this blog, I will post the quick audio mockup I made in the lecture so you will be able to see what I did in a couple of minutes. Because of my competency with more professional software, I really wanted to add sidechain compression to clean up the mix and master it with a harmonic exciter. Some great features include recording from your computer’s microphone or connected instrument, monitoring, track freezing, mixing to mp3, exporting individual tracks, quantisation, autotune (pitch correction), on-screen keyboard mapped to the computer keyboard, and a count-in when recording.
Down below, you will find a collection of screenshots showing off some features and menus. I must also add that Soundtrap is limited to simple triple and quadruple time signatures, however, for basic use that is absolutely fine.
Soundtrap also has an iOS app available so its use is not limited to the browser. Here is a screen recording demo of me using it.
Soundation has been around longer than Soundtrap and was originally in Flash. It is recommended to use Chrome for it now as it has been developed for Google Native Client and is vastly superior compared to Flash. It also features an extensive loop library that can easily be imported into the arrangement. Soundation looks a little less aesthetically pleasing compared to Soundtrap, however, It is every bit as powerful. Soundation also allows custom time signatures and automation, which is pretty cool and closer to more professional DAWs.
Below you will find a small slideshow showing off some aspects of Soundation, as well as a GIF.
Audio is a lot more complex than the other two and I found it to be the hardest to use straight. It is built in Flash so it may prove problematic in the compatibility department, and graphics are noticeably low resolution when zoomed in to the max. Without using tutorials I was able to figure out how to access the loops library and to add them into the arrangement. You have to control where the sound is going and you can see cables showing what channel the sound is on. It reminded me of Reason, with the arrangement down the bottom and all the graphics above showing the plugins and knobs. Below you will find another slideshow with a bunch of screenshots.
Here are the quick mock ups I made in Roundtrip and Soundation.