Apple Soundtrack:
Drop, tweak, mix and change key and tempo on the fly

By Steph Jorgl

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Soundtrack is an entry-level, yet pro useable composition app made by Apple for the Mac. Designed to attempt to be the only loop-based alternative to Acid on the Mac (other than the already well-touted Ableton Live), Soundtrack delivers some super sweet functions to everyone from entry level to Pro.

The app allows you to drop in any audio file/sample into the arrange window, and Soundtrack will automatically loop this file across the timeline, until you tell it to stop. Theoretically, you can drop in a drum, a bass, a piano, a guitar and then tweak the temp and key to fit a certain scene or mood in a film, or composing a new original track, even if it’s not intended for film. This is also a great app for playing around and getting familiar with nonlinear editing, and arranging and mixing of songs.

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Sonic Sketch Pad
Soundtrack can be a very fun app to use as a sonic sketch pad. The Media Manager function gives you a way of organizing your loop libraries so you can instantly find a compatible sound for your work. The app comes with over 4,000 included royalty-free Apple Loops (which are actually not all true loops but rather audio files/samples that you can loop within the app), or you can import more sounds from any commercially available ACID, WAV or AIFF collections.

The new format Apple has established for samples designed to work within its audio apps is called “Apple Loops.” This format adds information that lets Soundtrack quickly locate files by instrument, genre or mood. The program also supports ACID, WAV or AIFF loop formats and audio files. A simple click of a button lets you browse through your entire library. You can also enter text to refine your search instantly.

The Media Manager in Soundtrack displays your sound search results in a list that shows you tempo, key and the BPM (beats per minute). Plus, your searched audio files are always auditioned in perfect tune and sync with the project you’re working on, so there’s no guess work involved. Then, after you’ve found the right sound, you can simply drag it into the timeline and arrange your looped samples into the composition.

High-res and MIDI ready
You can easily integrate Soundtrack into your current studio setup by using MIDI time code or a beat clock to synchronize Soundtrack with your other apps and hardware. Soundtrack can process audio at high resolution, at levels of up to 24bit/96kHz.

You can also adjust the volume for fade-ins and automate volume across each individual track, as well as pan tracks out in stereo. Soundtrack includes dozens of audio effects ported over from sister company Emagic, including top quality plug-ins like reverb, EQ, delay and chorus that you can apply to enhance and color your instruments.

Editing in Soundtrack

Mac Audiophiles

Read up on these Mac-using audioheads (featured in the Interviews section) for insights on what they use and why.

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Once you’ve gotten a decent mix in Soundtrack, you can either bounce out your composition into a single file, save individual tracks for use in other audio software, or bounce and then embed your mixed composition into a QuickTime movie.

Using Video Markers to Score in Soundtrack
If you use Final Cut Pro or Final Cut Express to work on video projects, you can use its scoring markers to indicate key visual edits and scene changes. Likewise, you can also import any QuickTime movie into Soundtrack to use as your guideline, and add markers to your project in Soundtrack.

When you import a video file into Soundtrack, any set markers act as magnets for the loops, making it easy to synchronize your music with important events within the video clip. So, if your video producer re-edits your clips, Soundtrack will stretch all of your audio to fit the changes, so you can go through more iterations of edits without painstaking labor.

Applying Effects To Your Mix
Audio Units are an essential element of the Mac OS X audio architecture. Once you pick out a loop and drop it in the timeline in Soundtrack, you can then tweak the tone by adding a little reverb, EQ, delay or another effect into the mix.

Soundtrack comes with a collection of over 30 professional software effects plug-ins, designed by the Emagic team. You can further supplement your effects collection by adding in additional third party Audio Units (AU).

Saveable Preset Option Just Added!
You can now save a setting for a particular effect for later use as a custom preset. With the addition of this function to Soundtrack, you can start building your own self-tuned presets for all of your favorite effects, which you can then use in any AU-using audio app. It’s just like finding and marking your favorite tweak spots on all your favorite pedals!

If your studio is stocked with a variety of hardware and software, you can easily integrate Soundtrack. The app works well with anything that uses MTC or MIDI beat clock, so you can use it in real time with Reason, Logic, Pro Tools, Digital Performer, Cusbase or other DAWs and apps. You can also set Soundtrack up to play in looped mode while you use an external hardware sequencer, drum machine or tape deck. It will all work in lock step with the Soundtrack app so you can precisely automate every mixing and effect parameter over time, and take creative control of every sound.

Recording In
Soundtrack lets you record instruments from scratch with multiple takes. Once you add your favorite performance into the project, it will stretch and match up, just like other added looped content.

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