SoundBites is a full featured sound effect player for DJ's, stage shows, fairgrounds, broadcasts, parties or any occasion when a public address system is needed. All your music and favourite sounds are now at your fingertips. Just copy your sounds onto your laptop or desktop computer and trigger them directly from the keypad.
This is the SoundBites main window. It is split into four areas. On the right you can see a list of the sounds that have been assigned to the various keys on your keypad. This is the Assignments List. To the left you see the Virtual Keypad and below that, the Settings Panel and Playing Sounds display. Along the bottom are the Main Buttons allowing you to open the other subsidiary windows.
SoundBites distinguishes between lowercase and uppercase (or Shifted) keys. Shifted numbers are shown with the ^ symbol. You can assign sounds to the keys 0-9, ^0-^9, a-z and A-Z.
Each time you run SoundBites it opens the Main keyboard assignments file and displays it in the Assignments List. New users will see that all 72 keys are blank and unassigned. Any other assignment files you open (up to a maximum of 16) will be automatically opened next time you run it.
There are two ways to assign a sound to a key.
Method 1) Right click the desired key in the Virtual Keypad (hold the Shift key down whilst clicking to assign to an uppercase key). The Space bar and Enter keys cannot be assigned to.
Method 2) Double click the relevant key in the Assignments List.
The Assign Sound Bites dialog box will appear allowing you to assign a WAV, MP3, MP2, WMA, AIFF, FLAC, OGG, MID, IT, XM, S3M or MOD file to the key you have chosen. You can also assign a SoundBites Timeline file (.SBT) which we will come to later (see What is a timeline ?). That key is now ready to be used.
You can load multiple sound files at the same time from the Assign Sound Bites dialog box. They will be assigned to consecutive keys.
To play a sound just press the key on your keypad, when you release the key, the sound will be played. This system ensures faster playback of the sound. When the key is depressed, processing takes place that allows instant playback upon release, enabling you to 'queue' the sound. To stop a sound that is already playing, press the key again or press the F2 key.
You can use the 'Caps Lock' key to force all keypresses to uppercase.
The Space bar and Enter keys on your keypad have special functions.
The Space bar switches 'Pitch Lock' on or off. Pitch lock is a function that keeps the sound at the correct pitch independent of the playback speed. Try changing the speed of a sound to 200% (described below). Now, with the Spacebar on the Virtual Keypad reading 'Pitch Lock is ON', play the sound. It will play at twice the speed but at the correct pitch. Now press the Spacebar on your keypad. The Virtual Keypad shows that 'Pitch Lock is OFF'. Now when you play the sound it will be high pitched. Pitch lock also enables the Pitch slider, unless Pitch Lock is ON, the pitch slider has no effect.
The Enter key allows you to loop a sound until you stop it by pressing its key again. All sounds triggered while 'Loop is ON' will loop until you stop them. When you press the Enter key again to switch looping off, any new sounds triggered will play normally.
Note - SoundBites must be 'focused' when you play sounds. If you are using it in conjunction with other programs, keypresses will only register if it is focused. To be sure it is focused, click the SoundBites V2.2 title bar.
The first two tabs in the Settings Panel, the Settings and EQ tabs, show sliders that correspond to the currently highlighted sound in the Assignments List. The Settings tab allows you to alter the Volume, Pan, Playback Speed and Pitch of the sound, and the EQ tab gives you a ten channel graphic equalizer ranging from 40Hz to 20,000Hz. To change the properties of a sound, simply highlight it in the Assignments List and alter the sliders in the Settings or EQ tabs. The Pitch slider has a range of two octaves (one up and one down at semitone intervals).
By default, the Graphic Equalizer is switched off. To switch it on, check the EQ On/Off option. None of the sliders in the EQ tab are active unless the EQ On/Off box is checked. To apply one particular EQ curve to all sounds played, check the Global EQ box. Otherwise, all sounds will have their own EQ setting ( Note - with Global EQ unchecked, any sound still playing when a new sound is triggered will take on the EQ curve of the new sound ).
Right clicking any slider in the Settings or EQ tabs will return that slider to its default value.
The Control tab
The Contol tab contains buttons allowing you to
The F1 key brings up the SoundBites help window.
Changing the look of SoundBites
The Skin tab on the Settings Panel allows you to change the look of SoundBites by choosing different 'skins' and altering their attributes. Existing users who want SoundBites to look as it used to in V1, should choose the 'Blue Ice' skin and set the Hue slider all the way to the left. Some skins contain more colours and images than others and are correspondingly slower to render. By default the TV-b skin is chosen as we feel this is a good compromise between performance and style.
The Playlist tab allows you to use SoundBites like a normal media player. You will see standard 'Play', 'Pause', 'Stop', 'Previous' and 'Next' buttons along with a display showing the progress of the track being played. You can click on the progress indicator to change the playback position of the currently playing track. Playback will cease when it reaches an unassigned key.
You cannot play timelines in a playlist. Any timeline (SBT) file in the playlist will be skipped over.
Note - You cannot swap assignment lists whilst in playlist mode and most normal keypress operations are suspended. F2 (Stop all sounds) and F3 (Fade all sounds) are still functional.
Navigating the Assignments List
Use the up and down arrow keys to navigate around the sounds in the Assignments List or simply click the sound you want to focus on. As you move around the list you will see that the values for the Volume, Pan etc. will be shown on the sliders in the Settings Tab. Also any EQ settings will be shown on the sliders of the EQ Tab. You can change any of the values on these sliders to alter the properties of the currently highlighted sound. All changes are saved automatically.
To quickly highlight a particular key, just click it in the Virtual Keypad (press Shift while clicking to highlight a shifted key).
Note - SoundBites must be 'focused' before you can use it. If you are using SoundBites in conjunction with other programs, keypresses will only register if it is focused. To be sure it is focused, click the SoundBites title bar or any blank area of the main window. If SoundBites is the only program you are using, then it should always be focused.
Right clicking on a sound in the list will present you with a submneu allowing you to :-
You can use the Ctrl key combinations listed above to quickly access the various functions. The 'Unassign and delete' option does not have a Ctrl key shortcut. This is to decrease the risk of accidentally deleteing a file.
You can select multiple sounds by clicking on a sound, pressing the Shift key and clicking another sound. Right clicking will then present you with the following menu.
The Assignments List can show more than one SKA (SoundBites Keypad Assignments) file at a time up to a maximum of 16. When you run SoundBites, you will see the Main tab at the top of the list. This list is stored in the 'assignments.ska' file in your SoundBites V2 folder. Any other assignment files you create or open during a session will be opened automatically next time you use SoundBites. To swap between lists click the desired tab or press the Tab key, any sounds already playing will continue.
Right clicking on the List tabs at the top of the assignment list will give you a sub-menu with the following options.
To create a new SKA file, Either press Ctrl+N or Right click the List Tabs and choose 'Create new list' from the submenu. Type in a name for the list in the box provided and click Ok or press Enter. You will see the name of the new list appear on the right of the tabs and you will notice that all the keys are now unassigned (blank). You can swap back to the Main list at any time by clicking on its tab. As you assign sounds to the keys in your new list, the changes are saved automatically.
To open a SKA file, Either press Ctrl+O or Right click the List tabs, and choose 'Load list' from the submenu. A dialog box will appear allowing you to open your list. All SKA files are stored in the default folder (usually C:\Program files\SoundBites V2\). Note - Do not open the file 'assignments.ska', this is the file that is displayed in the Main tab and is opened automatically when you run SoundBites.
To close a SKA file, Click the tab you wish to close to ensure that the relevant list is displayed. Now either press Ctrl+L or right click its tab and choose 'Close list' from the submenu. You cannot close the Main tab.
To Export a SKA file, Click the tab you wish to export to ensure it is displayed. Now either press Ctrl+E or right click the tab and choose 'Export list listname'. Choose a name for the exported file from the dialog provided and click 'Save'. The file will be saved with an .SKZ extension.
To Import a SKA file, Either press Ctrl+I or right click the List tabs and choose 'Import list'. Choose the list to import from the dialog provided and click 'Open'. Soundbites will create a new folder on your hard drive called 'SoundBites listname'. This folder contains all the sounds in your assignment file. The list will apear in the List tabs preceeded by an underscore (_listname).
Backup. Choose this option to backup all your assignment files (SKA), timeline files (SBT), sequence files (SBQ) and SoundBites INI files. The backup is stored in a compressed file in your SoundBites V2 folder.
Restore. Restore your files from a previously created backup. You will see a submenu containing the backups you have made. Note - This option overwites all your assignment files etc. so be sure you want to do this. You can always make a backup first before restoring to an earlier time.
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Along the bottom of the main window are the Main Buttons. These allow you to open the subsidiary SoundBites windows. These are :-
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At the top and to the left of the main window is the Virtual Keypad. As you move your mouse around it, the names of the sounds assigned to the keys will appear in a small popup. Left clicking on a key will highlight that key in the Assignments List. Right clicking on a key will allow you to assign a sound to that key (press Shift when clicking to assign to an uppercase or shifted key). You can open multiple audio files. They will be assigned to successive keys.
When you trigger a sound the key pressed will change colour in the Virtual Keypad.
This is the Recorder window, it allows you to create your own sounds in WAV, FLAC, OGG or MP3 format. To bring up this window, click the Record Button in the main SoundBites window.
To record a sound, follow this procedure.
1) Choose the properties of the sound from the Recording quality drop down list. Note that the highest quality (Stereo 48000) takes over twice as much space on your hard drive than the lowest quality (Mono 44100). If the sound you want to record is simple speech, then Mono 44100 is more than adequate.
2) Choose the Output format for the sound. WAV format offers the best quality but creates large files. The FLAC (Free Lossless Audio Compression) option creates a file the same quality as a WAV but with a slightly reduced file size. This is the best compromise of quality over file size. The OGG and MP3 options create a much smaller file and with good quality. Note - MP3 files can only be created in stereo. If you try to create a mono MP3, SoundBites will create a mono OGG file instead.
3) You can choose to trim off any silence at the start of your recording by checking the Trim silence box. Alter the sensitivity of this function by using the Sensitivity slider. The lower the sensitivity value, the noisier the leading 'silence' that will be removed. Cheap condenser microphones, such as the ones on most home computers, can create quite a lot of background noise. You should lower the value of the sensitivity slider if you are recording with one of these. It's a good idea to experiment with a few test recordings to find the correct sensitivity value for your computer to reliably remove background noise.
4) Click the Source button to display the Windows audio mixer and select the input channel (microphone / line in / CD etc.). This will vary depending upon the capabilities of your soundcard. Once you have selected the source, you can close the Windows mixer. Windows saves the setting you choose in the mixer, so you only need to perform this step if you are changing the recording source.
5) Now click the Start Recording button (the red circle). You will be presented with a dialog asking for a name for the new file. Enter a name and location for the file and click Save. You are now recording. You will see a readout on the caption bar showing how much you have recorded. You can pause or resume your recording at any time using the Pause button. Press the Stop Recording button to finish recording. Note - The recording dialog will create a file with a .WAV extension regardless of the Output format you have chosen. This is a temporary file and is deleted when the recording is finished.
With the Autoload checkbox checked, the sound you recorded will load automatically into the currently highlighted key in the assignment list. Just press the key to hear the results. If you find that there is still some 'silence' at the beginning of your recording, you can remove it using the Cut button in the Editor (See - Using the Editor).
This is the Timeline window showing a sample timeline, it allows you to record the timing of your keypresses. This can be useful for creating complex sound effects with few sounds that can be triggered with a single keypress. To bring up this window, click the Timeline Button in the main SoundBites window. You can assign timeline files (.SBT files) to keys as you would with a sound file.
To record a timeline, follow this procedure.
1) Click the Record Timeline button (the red circle). Any data already shown in the list will be replaced. The timer readout will show the time elapsed since starting the recording.
2) Press the keys you want to record on your keypad. The keypresses and timings will appear in the list. Note - No keys used in the recording of a timeline can already be assigned to a .SBT file (In other words, a timeline may not contain another timeline).
3) When you have finished, click the Stop Recording button. The Play and Save buttons will become available. You should save your timelines in the default folder (usually C:\Program files\SoundBites V2).
4) You can listen to the timeline using the Play button. For long timelines, you can start playback at any position by clicking it's entry in the list.
5) Use the Save button to save the timeline. You can now assign this file to a key on the keypad. Timelines are associated with the assignment list used to create it and cannot be assigned to a key in a different list.
To open a timeline click the yellow 'Open' button. You will be presented with a list of all the timelines associated with the current assignment file, simply double click the one you want. If you saved your timeline in a folder other than the default, you can access it by clicking the 'External' button. You will then be presented with a standard Open dialog box.
You can Insert, Delete or Edit an entry in a timeline by right clicking it and choosing from the sub-menu. Insert and Delete will present you with a box over the buttons allowing you to alter the values required. If you alter the timing of a keypress you can adjust the entries below it by checking the 'Alter subsequent' checkbox, ensuring the spacing between the sounds remains constant.
When you assign a .SBT file to a key and trigger it. You will see a small box at the bottom of the Assignments List that gives you a readout of the elapsed time and which keys are being triggered. To stop the playback at any time, press the key again.
This is the Sequence window showing a sample sequence. It allows you to record your keypresses and trigger them when needed by pressing the spacebar. This is useful if you have a set order of sounds to play but the timing varies. To bring up this window, click the Sequence Button in the main SoundBites window.
To record a sequence, follow this procedure.
1) Click the Record Sequence button (the red circle). Any data already shown in the list will be replaced.
2) Press the keys you want to record on your keypad. The relevant sounds will play and the keypresses will appear in the list.
3) When you have finished, click the Stop button. The Play and Save buttons will become available.
4) To start playing the sequence, click the Play button. You can now trigger the keypresses you have recorded by pressing the spacebar on your keypad. When you have finished, click the Stop button.
5) Use the Save button to save the sequence. You should save it in the default folder (usually C:\Program files\SoundBites V2\). It will be saved with a .SBQ extension.
To load a sequence click the yellow Open button. You will be shown a list of available sequences (SBQ files), simply double click the one you want. If you have saved your sequence to a folder other than the default, you can access it with the External button.
Sequences are fully editable. Right click an item in the list to see a menu allowing you to Delete, Insert or Edit that item. Insert and Edit will present you with a data input box over the buttons for you to make changes. Click Ok when done.
It is a good idea to keep your mouse cursor over the Sequence window to keep it focused when playing or recording a sequence. You can also trigger sounds in the normal way when playing a sequence.
This is the Editor window showing a stereo sound file with a section selected. It allows you to copy sections of tracks into a new file that you can then assign to a key. To bring up this window, click the Editor Button in the main SoundBites window.
The button bar at the top of the window contains controls allowing you to View, Play, Pause, Stop, Make, Cut, Fade in, Fade out, Choose filename, Change fade time and Autoload. Below the button bar are controls enabling you to Scroll, Zoom, Magnify and Alter playback position.
To view a sound, highlight it in the assignment file and click the View file button on the left of the button bar. The file will be displayed and is ready to work with. The Editor can open WAV, MP3, MP2, OGG, FLAC, AIFF or WMA files. It cannot open SBT, MID, IT, XM, S3M or MOD files.
To hear the track, click the Play button. You will see a black line moving across the display showing the current playback position, and a Progress indicator showing how much of the track has played. You can click on the Progress indicator to change the playback position or right click it to go to the start of the track.
You can also set a position marker with a single left click on the diagram, you will see a red line appear and playback will now start from that position. To clear a position marker, double click the diagram.
You can scroll through the file, and zoom in and out to show more details using the Scroll and Zoom sliders just below the button bar. The Magnify slider allows you to see detail in very quiet sounds. Note - Do not use the Scroll slider when the track is playing. As a track plays the Scroll slider position is updated automatically.
Right clicking on the Zoom slider will present a menu allowing you to go to Minimum zoom (shows the entire track), Maximum zoom (shows one pixel as one sample in the track) or zoom to fit any Selection you have made into the width of the window.
To select a portion of the track click the diagram where you want to start and drag the cursor to the end position before releasing the mouse button. You will see the area you covered is now shaded. Now when you click Play, the playback will loop around the selection. You can change the start and end points by moving your mouse cursor to the darker blue edge of the selection. You will see the cursor change to a double arrow, click and drag as before to change the position. You can change the start or end positions during playback. To clear a selection just right click anywhere on the diagram.
You will notice that the Fade time slider shows a different time depending upon the size of the selection you make. When you make a selection the fade time is automatically set to half the total time of the selection. If you click Fade in and then Fade out the result will be a selection that fades in to its full volume and then immediately begins fading out. To undo a fade operation click the View button again making sure the original file is highlighted in the assignment list. Note - Fading cannot be heard from within the editor, you must create a new file to hear any fading (this will be solved in future updates).
To create a new file from the selection click the Make button. A new WAV file is created from the selection you made. This file is named according to the name in the New filename box and saved in the folder chosen with the Select folder button. Filenames are suffixed with 01, 02 etc. so you don't have to choose a new filename for each section you make. If you have Autoload and Below original both checked, then the new file will be assigned to the next available key in the assignment list. If you uncheck Below original then the new file replaces the assignment of the current key.
To cut a section of the track, select the area you wish to remove and click the Cut button. A new file is created and named as above. The original file is still intact. This is useful for removing silence at the beginning or end of a track. Please be advised that this operation can take a few seconds.
When you close SoundBites after using the Editor, you may be advised that there are temporary files and asked whether to delete them. These temporary files are WAV files and can take up quite a lot of hard disk space. If you intend to carry on working with the same tracks next time you use the Editor then you can leave them in place and the Editor will be able to load them more quickly next time. If you're finished working with the tracks then go ahead and delete them.
The next program update will enable you to save the files you create as WAV, MP3, OGG or FLAC files. Click the Update button on your main SoundBites window about once a month to ensure you are up to date.
1) Create a 'Working' assignment list to use when editing tracks (See - Create a list). You can create quite a lot of files you won't use and your assignment list can get cluttered if you have Autoload on. By doing all your editing in the 'Working' list, it is easier to delete the ones you don't want using the 'Unassign and delete' option from the assignments menu. Then select the ones you are happy with and Copy and Paste them into your usual assignment list.
Note - The 'Unassign and delete' option will permanently delete the file. It will not appear in the Recycle bin.
2) SoundBites creates temporary files when editing. When you close the program down, you will be asked if you want to delete these temporary files. It's usually a good idea to reply 'Yes'. The only reason to keep the files is if you will be working with them again and you have a slow computer. On a slow machine, the files will load much faster next time if you keep the temporary files.
This is the CD ripper window, it allows you to copy CD's to your hard disk in WAV, FLAC, OGG or MP3 formats. To bring up this window, click the Ripper Button in the main SoundBites window.
To copy a CD, follow this procedure.
1) Choose the CD Rom drive you wish to copy from using the dropdown box provided. Insert a CD into the CD Rom drive (if there isn't one already) and wait a few moments for your computer to read the tracks. By default all the tracks on the CD are selected for copying. Click on the checkboxes to the left of the track list to select or de-select tracks. You can also right click on the track list to select or de-select all tracks.
2) Choose the Output format for the sound. WAV format offers the best quality but creates large files. The FLAC option creates a file the same quality as a WAV but with a slightly reduced file size. This is the best compromise of quality over size. The OGG and MP3 options create a much smaller file with variable quality using the Quality slider (Lower quality = smaller file size). If you choose the MP3 option you can also write tags to the track by checking the MP3 tags checkbox.
3) To have the tracks loaded automatically into the current assignment file, make sure the Autoload option is checked.
4) Now click the Rip CD button. You will be presented with a dialog allowing you to specify the location of the copied files. Guide it to the folder you want and type a short filename ('Track' or 'Song' will do) and then click 'Save'. As the tracks are copied they will be named 'Track_01','Track_02' etc. depending upon the filename you specified. If you have Autoload checked, you will see the tracks appear in the assignment list one after another. You can start playing the first track while the others are being processed.
The Stop button will cancel the copying at any time should you wish to do so.
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This is the Browser window. Use it to quickly access your favourite download sites on the internet. It comes pre-loaded with a few recommended sites, but you can add and delete sites from the list if you wish.
To go to a web site, make sure you are connected to the internet and simply double click an entry in the list. Your default web browser will load and display the site you chose.
To add a site to the list, right click the list and choose Add a website. A box will appear into which you should type (or copy and paste from your browser) the full address of the site you want to add. Press Enter when you are finished.
To delete a site from the list, just right click it and choose Delete this website. You will be asked if you are sure you want to continue.
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This is a major revision of SoundBites and contains many improvements and changes. These changes are mostly based on user feedback and we would like to thank all those who have contacted us to report bugs or suggest improvements. Special thanks to Jamie and to Daniel.
Re-written audio recorder with peak meter and visual display. Output to WAV, MP3, OGG or FLAC formats. Load results directly into the assignment file.
Improved Timeline and Sequence functions. Now fully editable and easier to open.
Playing sounds window now incorporated into the main window.
New bigger and brighter buttons.
CD ripper window. Output to WAV, MP3, OGG or FLAC formats. Load tracks directly into an assignment file.
Editor window. Play sections of tracks. Load sections directly into an assignment file.
Playlist function. Play tracks as you would with a standard media player.
Frequency display area.
Printout your assignment files for easier viewing.
Un-assign and delete option. Remove unwanted files from your hard drive.
Backup and Restore options. Backup your assignment files, timelines and sequences with one click.
Slider settings and other options now saved when closing down.
Timelines now use less processor power.
Small improvements throughout.
Still to come in future updates
The Editor will have the ability to create files in WAV, FLAC, MP3 and OGG formats. It is currently restriced to WAV files.
Copy and paste, Normalize, and other functions within the Editor.
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SoundBites is Copyright (c) 2008-2011 Minstrel Media Software. All rights reserved.
The shareware edition of SoundBites is licensed for 30 days free usage, after which you must register to continue. Registration costs £12.50 ($18.50 at the time of writing) and is carried out through the Paypal secure payment website. Upon confirmation of payment you will be sent a unique serial number to activate your copy of SoundBites. Registration applies to a single machine only. Registered users who change their computer or hard drive may apply for a new serial number at no extra cost. Once registered, the licence holder will receive free updates for life.
To register, click the 'Send me registration details' button on the initial shareware notification screen. Your default email program will load and create an email containing your application number. Send this to us and you will receive an email containing the link to our secure payment page.
Note - The application email must be sent from the machine that SoundBites is installed on.
If you use an external e-mail provider (such as Hotmail or Googlemail), copy the application number shown on the initial screen into an e-mail and send it to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
To make your payment, click the link in the e-mail we send you (or copy and paste it into your browser). This will take you to our PayPal sequre payment page. Click the 'Buy Now' button and follow the instructions from Paypal. Once your payment has been received, you will be sent an email containing your unique serial number. Copy and paste this along with your username into the relevant areas of the initial screen and click 'Register', you will now have full access to SoundBites with no time restrictions. Registered users will receive free updates for life.