Sound effects for all with Soundboard

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Every so often, we do a special edition of the Macworld Podcast called Mac Pundit Showdown. It’s a game-show format featuring lots of sound effects and music and the like, the most important of them being the sounds indicating that points have been tallied.

For previous editions, we’ve hooked a MacBook up to our mixing board and used custom keyboard sound effects in GarageBand to generate the sounds. But for today’s edition we used a new tool, one that made generating sound effects incredibly easy: Ambrosia Software’s new $29 utility Soundboard.

Soundboard is a utility that lets you assign sound effects to each key on your Mac’s keyboard. Assigning a sound is easy: just drag a sound file out of the Finder and drop it on a key in Soundboard’s window. Our old GarageBand method of producing sounds requires us to hold down a key for the entire time we wanted to play the sound; Soundboard lets you customize each sound’s behavior, so that it plays during a keypress or plays its entire length even after you lift up your finger. For longer sounds, you can press the same key again to fade it out.

Soundboard is flexible enough that you can play plenty of sounds at once, too — so, for example, Pundit Showdown host Philip Michaels can play “The Lonely Man,” as heard on the vintage TV show “The Incredible Hulk,” while also awarding points for punditry.

I realize that Soundboard doesn’t exactly have a broad potential audience — though surely there are office cut-ups out there who will seize upon this product as a way to bring zany sound effects into everyday cubicle life. But if you do any podcasting or audio streaming or DJing, it’s worth giving Soundboard a listen. I know we’ll be doing many more editions of Pundit Showdown than we’ve done in the past, and Soundboard’s ease of use is a big reason why.

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