- Can an in-browser DAW compete with Logic, Ableton, and
- Get to grips with Soundation’s collaborative toolset
- Hear examples of Soundations loops, samples, and effects
Soundation has created an intuitive in-browser DAW that is quick and easy to learn. While there isn’t as much to offer as a traditional DAW such as Logic or Ableton, the platform is easy to use and suited to anyone just starting out.
We live in an age where things are becoming more and more convenient, and this certainly applies to audio production.
Many years ago, everything was recorded to tape. Now, most music is made in a DAW and downloaded to your Mac or PC. How could this be made more convenient and easier? Well, moving your entire workflow online.
Soundation is a company that does just that. Essentially acting as an in-browser DAW, Soundation’s aim is to allow musicians and producers the ability to make music online quickly and easily.
But is it a match for the likes of Ableton, ProTools, and Logic?
We recently put it to the test to find out!
What Is Soundation?
In a nutshell, imagine taking your DAW of choice and putting it in a web browser. It really is that simple!
Soundation offers much of the features you’d expect from a traditional DAW including loops and samples from the included sound library as well as effects including EQ, tuning, and compressors.
You’ll also gain access to MIDI loops, presets, and virtual instruments. At face value, there isn’t much more that you’d need to ask for.
Let’s take a bit more of an in-depth look at the features that you’ll get when signing up for Soundation.
It’s worth mentioning before we do that there are various subscription options (more on those later), each with their own benefits, but you can sign up for free, which is handy for anyone looking to dip their toe into music production or anyone who is looking for a convenient and less CPU-intensive option to a traditional DAW.
Signing up is as easy as inputting an email address and password. From there, you’ll automatically be taken to the main page where you can start a new project each time you visit the site.
Once logged in, you will notice the main site disappears. At first, I was under the impression I’d need to log out to check out Soundation’s features and learn more about using the tool, but a handy ‘Learn’ icon is at the bottom of the screen that opens a new tab and gives you all the information you need.
A bit of a buzzword in music production right now is collaboration. More and more producers are wanting the ability to work with friends on projects and emailing ‘Mix.1.1.2’ back and forth isn’t always the slickest option!
Soundation’s collaboration mode allows multiple users in the same project simultaneously. You’ll be able to see who is working on the project at any time, and all changes are saved through the cloud, meaning there isn’t any risk of lost work. Pretty neat.
Recording works precisely the same as you would expect in a conventional DAW. Simply select your input and get recording.
I was impressed by this as there was a concern about latency issues. However, when demo’ing on Soundation, we didn’t pick up on any of those annoying delays that can throw you off during recording.
Whether or not this would be affected by an interrupted internet connection I’m not sure, but this is a bit of an irrelevant point as Soundation can’t be held accountable for bad internet!
Loops are a great way of getting a track started but also can be really inviting for anyone who is new to production and looking for a fun way of creating music. It’s also less intimidating than opening a session with an empty screen!
Soundation’s loop library consists of 20,000 royalty-free samples that you simply drag into the workflow (if you’re familiar with Apple Loops in Logic or Garageband, then you’ll be used to using these).
12 virtual instruments in total can be used in Soundation, which range from drum machines and the appropriately named ‘Simple Synth’ to sampled instruments that are handily mapped out on your keyboard.
Arguably 12 instruments might not be enough for the synth connoisseurs and audiophiles out there, but at the same time, Soundation is built for convenience, so to expect a suite of hundreds of options is probably a little much!
One aspect we particularly loved about Soundation was their beatmaker, which is a sequencer and sampler that comes loaded with high quality kits and sounds. You’ll have the option for pre-made beats that you can tweak or import your own audio and use the envelope, pitch, pan and volume parameters to put your own touch on your beat.
If you really want to get stuck into beatmaking then Soundation have teamed up with several producers and content creators to give you an insight into their workflow including Sharpe, Bishu and and Thani.
Soundation has all the effects you’d expect from music-making software.
You’ll find a parametric EQ, compressor, and various modulation options. It’s obvious Soundation has opted for simplicity with these, and while there isn’t a huge amount of parameters per effect to tweak, the fact that it sticks to the platform’s theme of convenience and ease, it’s certainly nothing to complain about.
One of the things I like about Soundation is the extensive tutorials. It’s pretty much a given that learning new software will end up with trawling through YouTube videos to figure out how to use the thing!
Soundation covers everything from the basics of recording to more intermediate and advanced mixing techniques and, perhaps most interesting, their ‘Recreate’ series, which breaks down famous tracks such as Billie Eilish’s Bad Guy and the Stranger Things theme tune, and shows you exactly how to recreate them in Soundation.
Music is all about inspiration and Soundation definitely has the right idea for inspiring new producers who might load up their software and wonder where to start.
Upon opening my first project, I was prompted with a ‘What Do You Want To Do?’ popup. Options included recording audio, making a bassline, and adding a loop or audio sample.
Whatever you choose will prompt a handy box containing information on exactly how to do that.
For those of you who are familiar with production, then the interface doesn’t hold any surprises. I’d say it’s a bit of an amalgamation of
Everything you need is located on the right of the screen, and importing a beat, loop, or sample is a case of drag and drop.
MIDI beats are customizable via a traditional grid screen, which is great if you’re just looking for a starting point and have gain and panning options.
Creating a track this way was surprisingly easy, meaning there is an appeal for anyone starting on their production journey. Still, there are certainly some limitations for those who are used to many busses, effects, sends, and groups.
For this reason, I’d say that it might not be suitable for advanced producers or mixers, but that isn’t to say that anyone with a solid background in Logic, Ableton, or any other ‘mainstream’ DAW won’t have a heck of a lot of fun using Soundation.
As I mentioned, there are a few pricing tiers available for Soundation. The great thing is the lowest tier is completely free to use, so if you aren’t sure if it’s for you or even if you’re looking for a fun way of creating music, then you don’t have to have any financial outlay to use the platform.
A free plan will get you going with 1GB of storage and includes 3 projects.
While this is a bit limiting, all plans come with instruments and effects, automation, MIDI control, and an export option.
For those wanting more, a Starter plan comes in at $4.99 per month if billed annually or $9.99 billed monthly. This gets you access to 10 projects, 2,000 loops, and 10 GB of storage.
The Creator plan is billed at $9.99 per month if billed annually or $14.99 per month on a month-by-month basis and a Pro plan follows the same structure with $29.99 per month if billed annually or $49.99 month by month.
Respectively these will give you access to 15,000 and 20,000 loops and 100GB and 1TB of storage. Both offer unlimited projects.
Soundation is a great tool that genuinely offers something for everyone.
Of course, advanced music makers might find it a little limiting, but at the same time, it’s something that they can load up and create something fun in minutes and experiment.
For those new to production, it’s a great stepping stone and makes things simple, clear, and concise. We all know how intimidating it can be the first time you open a DAW, and Soundation takes that away and makes things simple to understand, with added support from their in-depth tutorials and guides.
If you’re looking to load up a bunch of stems and get mixing from scratch, then Soundation probably isn’t for you. But, if you want to create music with a minimum of fuss and, perhaps more importantly, have fun, then I’d highly recommend checking it out.