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The state of play with Audio/Loop/Sample Browsers in 2014

Plug-in hosts and other software applications discussion

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codec_spurt
KVRAF
 
3417 posts since 20 Sep, 2005

Postby codec_spurt; Thu Jan 09, 2014 2:37 pm The state of play with Audio/Loop/Sample Browsers in 2014

Well, it's 2014, and we still don't have a decent audio/loop browser for the PC. We have a few half-decent ones, but that's about it. The best one out there seems to be Iced Audio for the Mac, but that isn't free anyway.

This is all I am trying to achieve:

Have a browser window akin to the windows explorer. With a tree directory structure on the left hand side.

Ability to automatically play one shot or looped samples.

A playlist advance where the program automatically steps through the files in sequence.

A follow cursor function as in Foobar2000 where when you highlight another wav in the list, it automatically and seamlesly plays it next in the list. If there is nothing highlighted it just moves to the next file in the list as per playlist advance.

A waveform display to see what you are dealing with.

An ability to create favourites both in folders and files.

An ability to 'tag' folders or files for later retrieval.

An ability to create your own custom tags.

An ability to copy or move those tagged files to a new folder of your choice.


Now, some programs do combinations of those things, but none does them all. In fact, I have not been able to find ONE program that has a waveform display with tagging, in a windows explorer type of environment such as in Resonic or Sonic Explorer for example. I must stress I am talking about free programs here. We will deal with paid programs later. They aren't much better on the whole, having features that the free ones don't have, but for some reason not having feautures that the free ones do.

For example:

Sample Librarian which is paid software does a lot of those things, but it can not advance through a playlist seamlessly. Useless for what I want. And if it did this I would even have stumped up the 30 Euros it costs. But why bother when most of the free ones already do this perfectly? I'm not going to pay for a program that does not provide basic features as per the free programs available.

More on Sample Librarian later.


Back to the state of play and why things ain't like they used to be.

A 10 year old program called Multimedia Explorer used to have most of those basic features, but they stopped making it 10 years ago because it was deemed too out of date in 2004! So here we are 10 years later with nothing as good as it, even in paid software. And by this, I mean providing a quick, easy to use and familiar interface that provides at least ALL the basics of what someone might wish to do when organising their audio library.

The emphasis being more on 'organisation' here. But advanced playback features are essential too to audition those files in a manner that makes sense.


What I would really like to see is a tag feature in Foobar2000, and though it does have tagging, I spent about an hour or two trying to figure out how to install it, only to find that it is not that type of 'tagging' as I am talking about - where you basically flag a file to a folder or list for later retrieval. Why this is missing from a high-end program like Foobar2000 is beyond me. It probably is possible to do it somehow, but after spending a couple of hours I had to crack on and try out some other programs. I did end up going back to it at the end though. More on that later.

Another thing that mystifies me with Foobar2000 is why there is no waveform display. You have everything else bar the kitchen sink, but the two most important features - tagging and waveform display are missing.

And to clarify things a bit further:

I'm not talking about media players like Winamp or Aimp3. What they do, they do well, but the interface is too small and fiddly. They are more geared to playback rather than organisation.

Really, in an ideal world, this would all be integrated into the windows shell. I remember an old version of windows I had there was a play button to preview wavs. But they got rid of it. You can do it in Linux Mint. You hover over the wav and it plays whilst you hold the mouse over it and stops when you move it away. Super nifty.

Anyway, I am going to look into this tagging thing for Foobar2000 a bit more in the future, because it is still the best program over all for what I am trying to achieve. You can make collections of your wavs and render them out seamlessly to one file or copy them to other directories. It really does provide some very advanced features at a very low shell level. It is just perverse that there is not integrated tagging to the core program. The coding is obviously very high end and clever, but it's starting to get annoying now at this stage of the program's development. It just reeks of geek elitism and contrariness. Or maybe there is another reason for these two glaring omissions. I don't know.


Let's look at a few alternatives:

Media Explorer in Reaper - no tagging. But an otherwise very impressive and often used browser.

Ableton 9 browser - again, lots of features, but no tagging.

Ok, these aren't free, but a few of you might have them lying around.


Back to the freebies:

http://www.hitsquad.com/smm/programs/Sonic-Explorer/

Works well and you can favourite a folder but not a file. I also could not find a way to loop a file or advance through the playlist. I like the windows explorer shell layout. It is all I am after really. Shame it lacks those few extra basic things.

And you can not tag individual files or folders either. Though you can use the windows shell to send a file to a folder of your choice and this copies it there.

In an ideal world, there would be favourites and tagging. They perform similar but distinct functions.



http://resonic.at/

No ability to tag files and no favourite system. Not even a windows shell right click> Send to. Though you can drag the file out the window by selecting the upper left file name in the window. Resonic has playlist advance but glitches when switching through files, though it does not glitch playing back a single looped file as some programs do. This program is in the early stages of development. If it just concentrated on the few basic requirements I have, I would even pay money for it.

A program that did this would be a no brainer for me to shell out 10-20-30 quid for such basic functionality. But it just does not exist. Not in any program for PC anyway. So let's take a look again at our old friend Sample Librarian, as a case in point.


http://www.ryaudio.com/ Sample Librarian

Sample Librarian comes frustratingly close to what I want. I was just about to buy it when I realised that it can not advance through a playlist seamlessly. Say for example when you use the up down arrows. Also, for the life of me I could not find an option for it to advance automatically through the playlist. I'm not saying it doesn't have one, but I couldn't find it. But the glitching when switching was a passion killer for me anyway so I just gave up. Sorry, you just lost a sale for not implementing features that are already implemented in some of the free audio browsers.

Excellent favourite/tagging management though. Another program let down by lack of basic funtions. Come on. Sort it out. If you can program software to this level, you can implement these features, I would have thought. Lots of others are. For a little over 30 quid, this one was nearly a goer. You can try it free for 30 days.


http://ifoundasound.com/Index.php?page_id=6


Ifoundasound looks promising though it is about 70 Euros to buy, but you do get a two month full trial. There is a free crippled version but that is no good to me. On first impressions it does not seem to have a play list advance, so that is not good. Also the waveform display is small and toy like. The interface is a mixture of very nice and very nasty. The GUI alone would put me off. Seems to be a poor use of screen space with some areas too large and others too small. It looks like it might use the Juce framework and it looks a bit like a dodgy version of Traktion in parts. But I might be totally wrong about that. Also it needs a bit of time and effort to set everything up for how you want to work. But this is not a criticism. Foobar2000 is no different in this regard.

It does, however, have a built in wave editor with some very novel and powerful editing options. You can select regions from the wave file and save them to your work folder. Very powerful and probably more geared towards film and broadcast applications, but no reason why the rest of us couldn't make use of it as well. I could certainly use a feature like this. Unexpected, but a nice touch.

Again the developers are concentrating on doing advanced stuff whilst missing the basics of what *some* people might want to do. *Some* of those people want to be your customer and give you money.

But no way would I spend 70 Euros on this. Maybe 20 or 30. Not that it isn't worth the asking price. It may be perfect for a lot of people.

It seems to have an incredibly powerful and easy to use tagging and organisational system. It does not, though, do the very basics of what I want. So near, yet so far. Lower the price. Sort out the GUI. Add a couple of basic features like playlist advance with looping options. Then this might be the most powerful Loop/Wave browser out of the lot. In summary: some very clever ideas and implementations, but let down by a clunky and kludgey feeling interface.



http://www.revel-software.it/breezer/beta/download

They do a pro version for 50 Euros and a scaled down version for 15 Euros, but I have tried neither. Though the new beta that they have for free download seemed nice enough with lots of advanced features such as favourites and options for tagging.

Unfortunately, whilst it has a myriad of capabilities in this department, I couldn't actually figure out how to tag a file. Just me being dense I suppose. But ten minutes of going through all the options and right click menus left me frustrated and I gave up. Also the GUI is very wishy washy and uninspiring. I wouldn't pay money for this, especially because it has one glaring 'No No' - it can not play even an individual file seemlessly without glitching at the end. So much promise. Yet let down in the basics department and so disappointing for it. I can't have a program that glitches every loop. Not to mention a sickly and garish colour scheme. You can try the beta for free though.

Ah I just figured out how to tag a file you create a new file and then drag the file to the left hand browser pane tag you created. It will be added. This is a nice feature. Shame it took me 20 minutes to figure out. What is wrong with a good old fashioned right click> tag? Or hitting T on the keyboard. But to be fair, I am being a bit brutal here. Any new system needs time to figure out and I didn't take that time being in a rush. This program seems very powerful so I'll give them a pass. I maybe would even pay for it if they sorted out the glitching and the horrible GUI.


.....................

We've had some of the bad and the ugly, so let's have some of the good, so to speak. Or rather, free programs that don't exactly fit into the category of what I am looking for, but turned out to be very pleasant and utilitarian finds, none the less.

http://sourceforge.net/projects/auralprobe/

Great for auditioning drum sounds and for organising my thousands of drum hits. If I want a shaker, I have a library of shakers from all over the shop - thousands of them all on the screen and colour coded and drag and droppable. Useful little tool that does what it does well. You can really set this up to catalog things just how you want, being able to, say, get it to find and include files that have a 'clp' or a 'cp' extension in the file name when it is searching for claps. Very nice touch that works very well.



http://hypercube-softwares.dyndns.org/s ... ch-finder/

Universal Patch Finder has been the biggest revelation to me. A real find. It has an excellent tagging system, but not the type where you can tag individual files and retrieve them later or make lists with them. It is for organising collections of patches or sounds. A different thing, but very useful and powerful none the less. Maybe they could implement this individual tagging feature later. The best thing is that it can run stand alone or as a vst in your host, syncing to tempo and automatically auditioning files. You just drag and drop to your DAW.

Another amazing feature is its ability to extract the midi pattern from a .REX file via drag and drop into Geist via the dedicated 'Geist' button. It is explained in the manual. Though not very well. You can also drag and drop the rex file audio itself into Geist. Though you can do this via the Geist browser anyway, this is an excellent addition to locate and deploy extra files from different locations. And really, that drag and drop of the midi information from the rex file has to be checked out. You have one file looping in your Geist, but maybe you want to change the feel? Just drag and drop from UPF onto your Geist pattern button and it creates a new pattern based on the chosen rex file. A very nice feature to have that anyone that plays about with Geist will really appreciate.

It is very hard to explain this and probably harder to visualise it. But no other program does this at all. It is an excellent little bonus addition to an otherwise extremely useful program.

And even though UPF doesn't implement the simple tagging functions I am after, it does have favourites and you can loop seemlessly via the up down arrows through the files. No playlist advance though, so a different beast again to what I am searching for. But one program out of the whole lot that I could just not live without now I have tried it.

That this program is free is amazing. Once you have loaded it as a vst in your host and have your entire loop/sample collection on hand, organised via the tag system, a whole new world opens up. Just click on that file in the browser and it will sync to your host. I know of no other program that does this as elegantly or efficiently. Or at all.

The two main minus points for this program are its small window size and limit of 2000 sample/waves. The window is a good size for the VST version for loading into hosts, but it would be amazing to have it full screen when it runs standalone.

.............



So after all this faffing around I am right back to where I started. Using Foobar2000.

I can do everything I want with Foobar2000 except view a waveform and create tags. So I just drag the file into a new folder and make a new playlist. It isn't too bad really, but it certainly isn't elegant or ideal. But Foobar2000 is the only program that has seamless playback through a playlist. Not one of the others paid or not paid could achieve this. At least not that I could figure out. This feature is a deal breaker for me. I load up my playlist and it steps through my stems without a glitch. Foobar2000 can then render the whole playlist to a new file of your choice, wav or mp3 etc. I'm going to see if there is some kind of tagging components I can add to do what I want. Still no sign of a waveform display though.


Obviously, I have only checked out the few programs of this ilk that I know about. Feel free to make recommendations if you think it might meet my needs. Or if you just want to say what you use and why it works for you. Or if I got something wrong, or if there is any news on any forthcoming updates by developers.

I'm going to try to send a link to this post to the software devs I have mentioned here. That will give them some kind of right of reply, and who knows maybe even give us some kind of insight into how things are going with them and what we can expect some time later in 2014. If nothing else I would hope that it helps them see the bigger picture. Or even the smaller one, hopefully.

DAWs are old hat now, even my Gran runs one - most of us run several.

But how many of us can say we have a 'Photoshop' for searching and organising our (what must be by now) extensive libraries, of loops, samples, renders?

What we need is a killer app for the Audio/Loop/Sample Browser domain.


Cheers.
You'll be pleased to know, I'm knocking it all on the head.
User avatar
SODDI
KVRAF
 
2728 posts since 2 Jul, 2007, from Oxycontin Acres, Georgia, USA

Postby SODDI; Thu Jan 09, 2014 9:12 pm Re: The state of play with Audio/Loop/Sample Browsers in 201

Good shoot-out, man. I have similar needs.

And there WAS one - I used it when I was using Windows 98. WavBrowser I think it was called. Just couldn't keep it running past XP.
User avatar
codec_spurt
KVRAF
 
3417 posts since 20 Sep, 2005

Postby codec_spurt; Mon Jan 13, 2014 12:57 pm Re: The state of play with Audio/Loop/Sample Browsers in 201

SODDI wrote:Good shoot-out, man. I have similar needs.

And there WAS one - I used it when I was using Windows 98. WavBrowser I think it was called. Just couldn't keep it running past XP.



Thanks. Obviously it is not a big priority. All the noobs are too busy making their world-changing beats. Of course, they will realise, when they get to our level and they have a cornucopia of the alchemist's Gold to choose from, it is a different game.

:-)

I recently found this thread at Gearslutz. Talk about synchronicity! They really rave about this thing called JRiver. I never heard of it before but it looks perfect. The price is right. I am checking it out as we speak and I shall be as brutal as I was to the others.

http://www.gearslutz.com/board/music-co ... music.html

Talking of synchronicity. I just booted into this random install of linux that I have and I found this MASSIVE page of every single media player known to man, done by a Kvr member on Kvr. He really went to town on this.

I will try to dig it out, but it is there somewhere at Kvr.
You'll be pleased to know, I'm knocking it all on the head.
peersh
KVRer
 
8 posts since 3 Jun, 2005, from Germany

Postby peersh; Wed Jan 15, 2014 12:11 pm Re: The state of play with Audio/Loop/Sample Browsers in 201

I seached for a sample browser two days ago and found this one for Windows:

http://sonicwire.com/mutant

(Don't panic, it is japanese, but at the bottom you can switch to english)
I could not yet check all features but it comes with tagging, favorite lists, waveform display, explorer-like tree on the left, quick preview stepping through a folder by cursor, looping on/off ... It seems to be quite nice and it's free. Perhaps you'd like to check it out.
peersh
KVRer
 
8 posts since 3 Jun, 2005, from Germany

Postby peersh; Thu Jan 16, 2014 3:50 am Re: The state of play with Audio/Loop/Sample Browsers in 201

Two minor additions regarding Sonicwire Mutant:
1. Administrator rights are only needed by the MutantUpdater. Rename MutantUpdater.exe to anything you like so it won't be called automatically by Mutant any more.
2. Mutant is available for Mac too.
NickMo
KVRer
 
14 posts since 25 May, 2013, from UK, near London

Postby NickMo; Mon Mar 24, 2014 12:13 pm Re: The state of play with Audio/Loop/Sample Browsers in 2014

Has anyone managed to find a sample browser which allows you to delete samples from within the sample browser?

I have a program called 'Preview' which operates via Windows Explorer/Windows Media Player, which lets you look through files and click on them to preview the sound, but also lets you delete, cut, paste, move etc. However it can only handle 16 bit so is no use for sorting out 24 bit samples.

I've been looking for a program that can organise my samples for ages. I thought I'd found it in ryaudio sample librarian, but now I've downloaded the trial version I realise that it only allows sorting/labelling of files, and it doesn't perform the main action that I want it to, i.e. identifying all the rubbish samples in my collection and hitting delete. It's possible to audition a sample and then open the location in Windows Explorer, but this is very time consuming when I want to delete nine or ten samples from each of many folders.
dadarkman
KVRer
 
2 posts since 16 Dec, 2010

Postby dadarkman; Thu Aug 14, 2014 12:14 pm Re: The state of play with Audio/Loop/Sample Browsers in 2014

Damn! it seems that SonicWire's Mutant folks has been busy updating the program. They might very well be the one to keep up and if possible get to relate some feature requests to them. Well, hopefully, they'll implement them!

The first time I went to their site about a few years back, the site was in complete beginning stage and the software was Beta. Now, they have a professionally looking site, and the software has been polished and updated with new features. Yea, we need to reach out and become buddies with those over at Sonicwire lol! We just may get our wishes of the ultimate sample browser.

Thanks @peersh for pointing them out in the thread, that prompted me to give them another look!

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