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Have you ever thought of making and recording music online? Are you curious to know if there’s a way you can collaborate with your friends, band members, other musicians, or even producers remotely?
Whether you’ve just heard of Soundtrap, you’re still new to it, or you’ve been using it for a while, this guide is here to inform and educate you on this popular music collaboration app, what it has to offer, how much it costs, what we think of it, and more.
In this hands-on review, we’ll examine Soundtrap from a variety of angles and share our findings with you.
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The Spotify owned Soundtrap was founded on April 1, 2012. It was purchased by Spotify in November 2017.
In a few words, Soundtrap is a cross-platform, freemium online digital audio workstation (DAW) collaboration tool. It works on desktops, laptops, tablets, and smartphones (it’s been optimized for the Google Chrome browser). They have apps for iOS and Android as well.
With internet speeds improving, and online applications growing in functionality and complexity, making music online with your friends, band, other musicians, or producers, has never been more viable. Soundtrap is the top platform serving this niche, and they make it look effortless.
But whether recording alone or with friends, Soundtrap is packed with great virtual instruments and effects, loops and samples, sound effects, Antares Auto-Tune, and a variety of other features that rival some of the best DAWs and even small studios.
Soundtrap handles both audio and MIDI recording, and it even serves podcasters and content creators with their Storytellers package, which enables creators to publish their content directly to Spotify.
What Does Soundtrap Cost?
Soundtrap has a few pricing options and tiers based on your needs.
First, let’s look at the personal plans:
- Free – $0 (includes unlimited projects, 4,800 loops, 430 instruments and sounds, 150,000+ sound effects from freesounds.org, and Soundtrap Originals sound packs every second week)
- Music Markers Premium – $9.99 per month or $7.99 per month annually
- Music Makers Supreme – $14.99 per month or $11.99 per month annually
- Storytellers – $14.99 per month or $11.99 per month annually
- Soundtrap & Spotify Premium – $19.99 per month or $16.99 per month annually
Soundtrap also has education plans:
- 30-day free trial (also available to free users – try all features for 30 days before upgrading to a paid subscription)
- School or District Plan – starts at $249 per year or $4.98 per seat (minimum of 50 seats)
What Do You Get With Soundtrap?
This depends at least somewhat on the package you purchase. That said, the main difference between the tiers is the number of loops, instruments, and sounds available. The top of the heap Soundtrap & Spotify Premium package, naturally, comes loaded with more than the Music Makers Premium package does.
Here we’ll examine the Soundtrap & Spotify Premium package in detail. With this package, you get:
- Spotify Premium subscription (availability will vary depending on your country)
- Unlimited projects
- 20,700+ loops
- 300+ sounds from Splice
- 890+ instruments and sounds
- 150,000+ sound effects from freesound.org
- Antares Auto-Tune
- Time restore
- Remote interviews
- Priority mixing
- Interactive transcripts (eight hours)
- High quality downloads
- Publish podcast to Spotify
- Soundtrap Originals and Expansion Packs with new sounds every other week
These great features allow you to make music in any genre and collaborate with friends over the internet in real time or asynchronously.
Soundtrap has been created with recording music and online collaboration in mind. To that end, their scope is limited. They don’t have some of the features other online music collaboration apps emphasize – a social network component, an eCommerce component, and so forth.
This does mean, though, that they are more focused on creating the best recording experience possible.
So, the Soundtrap dashboard menu only features four links – Projects, Messages, Podcasts, and Learn. This will be clear upon creating an account and logging in for the first time.
Projects is where you can keep tabs on all your Soundtrap projects. Messages can be used for internal communication, and you will get the occasional notification from the Soundtrap team as well. The Podcasts section is self-explanatory – this is where you would go to record and edit your podcast projects. And, finally, the Learn section puts a video library at your fingertips so you can learn more about how Soundtrap works.
Most of your time will be spent inside the studio where you’ll be making music. That’s what we’ll be looking at next…
Making Music With Soundtrap / Workflow
Here’s the thing about many DAWs. They almost require an engineering degree to understand. I exaggerate a bit, but the only sophisticated software I can compare most DAWs to is photo editing and graphical applications or video editors. They take time to master.
In that sense, Soundtrap is brilliantly designed. Certainly, newbies would take a while to find their way around the studio environment, and even an experienced producer would need to spend a few minutes adapting to the workflow.
But overall, the developers have managed to create an interface and workflow that, in my opinion, is even easier than GarageBand. Don’t you find it surprising that one of the easiest to use DAWs is online?
It doesn’t matter whether you want to take advantage of the Patterns Beatmaker and virtual instruments or record yourself and your friends – with Soundtrap, you can get up and running fast!
And while collaboration is certainly at the forefront of the platform, making music alone is just as satisfying and efficient. There are countless built-in instruments and effects, all with presets. This makes them sound great out of the box!
To achieve the equivalent versatility and flexibility in a standard DAW, you would need to download, install, and perhaps even purchase various VST plugins. Not that this is bad. But what’s amazing is that Soundtrap puts all this functionality at your fingertips. No need to hunt endlessly for countless VSTs. And you will find that the virtual instruments and effects are high quality too.
Further, instruments are near mix-ready out of the box, the moment you set them up. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t make any tweaks, or that you won’t need to do any mixing inside Soundtrap, but it will make the process immeasurably easier.
Now, let’s look at a few specific aspects that make up the Soundtrap workflow:
Perhaps one of the reasons a DAW like FL Studio is so popular is because it allows you to create beats / loops with astonishing ease.
Drum machines / samples are a standard in most electronic music, so if you can make your beats efficiently and painlessly, it stands to reason you’d be able to spend more time on the creative aspects – chord progression, melody, hooks, etc. – of your projects too.
Soundtrap has its own answer to FL Studio’s drum module, which is their Patterns Beatmaker.
Patterns Beatmaker ensures that the process of making beats is fun and easy. You don’t need a lot of music theory knowledge to know how it works or to take advantage of it (though a basic understanding of rhythms and 4/4 time can’t hurt).
Load it up, and you will see that Patterns Beatmaker comes set up in advance with a Kick, Snare, and Hihat (Closed) sound. You can easily add more to your kit by clicking the “+ Add” button.
And without you even selecting what you want the next sounds to be, Soundtrap will automatically add Hihat (Open), Crash, Ride, High Tom, Mid Tom, Low Tom, Ride (Bell), Hihat (Pedal), and Rimshot sounds to the module, in that order. Basically, that’s a full kit!
There are a variety of drum sounds to choose from as well, whether it’s kits, machines, percussion, or processed, depending on what suits your project best.
Soundtrap further lets you tweak your reverb, pan, and volume settings. Additional effects can be added to your drum track if you want, and you can choose from classic distortion, fuzz, overdrive, auto pan, auto-wah, chorus, flanger, phaser, rotary, stereo chorus, tremolo, vibrato, 3D, delay, room, slapback, stereo delay, brighter, compressor one, dynamics compressor, equalizer, filter, parametric EQ, karaoke, and volume.
Additionally, the beats you create can be about as short or as long as you want them to be, and once created, you can loop them to virtual infinity too.
Play The Synth (Synth Track)
Once you’ve got a weighty beat, the next step, of course, would be to add a synth. Maybe a bass synth to start things off with.
Adding a new synth track is as easy as following the onscreen instructions.
Once your new track has been created, you soon discover that there are multiple ways to create your new synth part. You can play with your MIDI controller or your computer keyboard, and of course, you can draw in your parts using the piano roll as well.
If you don’t have any music theory knowledge, then that might be a good place to start, but there’s nothing saying you can’t come up with your own riffs through experimentation and practice. Even professional musicians often rely on their ear rather than on knowledge alone.
As with the drum track, you can choose from a variety of synths (or other instruments), control the reverb, pan, and volume, and even add effects to your synth track. You can loop your synth parts too.
Once you have one synth part created (e.g., bass), you can start layering in your pads, chords, leads, melodies, etc. to flush out your song. The process is the same.
Clicking on this button will open the loop browser on the right side of the interface.
In addition to a search bar, you can also choose from various loop categories like originals, beats, drums, bass, piano, guitar, synth, SFX, hip hop, RnB, pop, rock, EDM, MIDI, sounds, my loops, Splice, and jetsonmade.
If you’re a complete beginner, then loops are a great place to start. You can find a variety of inspiring sounds in various genres, ready for you to combine and mess around with as you please.
And even if you’re not a beginner, loops can help inspire new ideas.
Additionally, there are plenty of ways to configure the loops you’ve dropped into your project. You can fade in, fade out, reverse, auto-tune, voice transform, and even transpose to fit the key signature of the song you’re creating.
Further, you can tweak various parameters of the loop, including bass, treble, reverb, pan, and volume, and yes, you can even add effects.
Soundtrap Design & Interface
The minimalism of Soundtrap’s interface is a thing of inspiration. With a plain, flat vector style look and minimal color, it kind of takes after popular electronic music DAW Ableton Live. But Where Live’s workflow will take even an experienced engineer some time to master, Soundtrap should come much more naturally and intuitively.
Soundtrap also happens to have a light and dark mode, depending on which you prefer.
The interface makes it easy for you to focus on what matters most – making music – instead of trying to figure out how to pull up the piano roll or scrolling through giant libraries of synths and tweaking endlessly to find the ideal sound.
Which isn’t to say Soundtrap doesn’t come with a lot of virtual instruments and effects, because it does. But the options are all organized by specific categories, and there’s even a built-in search function to help you find what you’re looking for faster.
Whether it’s virtual instruments or loops, Soundtrap is also highly searchable. Many DAWs don’t do this, or only do it poorly. But with Soundtrap’s search, you can quickly and easily find what you’re looking for.
Thanks to the simplistic design, Soundtrap is very easy to use, even for a beginner. It makes the workflow what it is, too.
Soundtrap is cross-compatible across a variety of devices and browsers.
That said, unless you are using their app, the best browser to use with Soundtrap is Google Chrome. Some features don’t work, or don’t work as well in browsers like Mozilla Firefox.
That said, we have tested Soundtrap with Firefox, and we were surprised to find that the recording environment was stable, and most features still worked quite well.
Basically, there are some device-browser combinations that tend to work better than others, and if you’re having any issues, return to home base (load it up in Chrome).
In terms of MIDI controllers / keyboards, Soundtrap says all keyboards on Mac, Windows, and Chromebook work with their online DAW.
That said, the following keyboards are known to work especially well with Soundtrap:
CME Xkey 25, Akai LPK 25, iRig KEYS 37, M-Audio Keystation 61, and Zivix Jamstik+.
You can even connect old school MIDI interfaces using these connectors – ART MConnect, Roland UM-ONE, and Alesis USB-MIDI cable.
Soundtrap’s mastering is automatic, which is to say, there is no way to control the coloration or character of the mastering. That said, it is a nice feature to have, given that the music you save to your hard drive from Soundtrap will basically be release ready.
How does the mastering work? It happens automatically when you save your project.
This does mean, though, that you’ll probably want to do your mixing withing Soundtrap too. This process will better prepare your music for mastering.
If you don’t know what you’re doing, especially in terms of mixing, you can always ask a producer to help you out. After all, it is a collaborative platform, and that is the point.
How Much Support Does Soundtrap Offer?
Soundtrap is very easy to use. That isn’t to say there isn’t a learning curve, mind you. You can learn it on your own, if you prefer, but it will take some time and effort.
Fortunately, Soundtrap offers 18 detailed instructional videos in the categories of getting started, collaboration, beatmaker, instruments, loops, audio recording, the studio, and effect series, which should answer all your most pressing questions, and show you the ins and outs of the workflow as well.
To access the videos, all you need to do is create a Soundtrap account and click on “Learn” from the dashboard.
In case you need additional support, though, Soundtrap does have a convenient “Support” button you can use to access their extensive knowledgebase (frequently asked questions) or contact them directly.
Soundtrap Review, The Verdict
It’s no wonder Spotify ended up acquiring the award-winning Soundtrap. They mentioned “good cultural fit,” as one of their motives, which may be true, but Soundtrap is also the easiest to use, most powerful, and most supported online collaboration oriented digital audio workstation there is.
Whether they have plans to integrate Soundtrap and Spotify is a more meaningful way is a point of speculation, but it certainly doesn’t seem like an impossibility.
Although you don’t get access to all the features in the free version, if you want to use Soundtrap for free indefinitely, you can. But even the paid tiers are priced reasonably and should be well within reach for most creatives and creators.
The number of features that are included with Soundtrap is frankly insane. You wouldn’t expect this much, even from some of the most expansive (and expensive) DAWs out there. Virtual instruments, effects, and loops are all available in abundance.
The workflow is also smooth and efficient. Even if it does require some getting used to, Soundtrap has successfully created an environment that’s welcoming to musicians and producers at every level.
Their interface is minimal and yet attractive, and this is not an easy balance to strike. In that sense, it even appeals to modern sensibilities, with Ableton Live being one of the most popular – if not the most popular – DAWs out there featuring a CPU friendly, “flat vector” design.
And what this means is that even though there are competitors (relatively few), Soundtrap is the destination for online music collaboration. Once your friends or band mates try it out for themselves, they’ll probably be hooked on it too.
And whether it’s mix-ready tracks, automated mastering, or compatibility, Soundtrap is incredibly convenient, regardless of your skill level, experience level, or the tech available to you. Our verdict is that it doesn’t matter whether you’re a complete beginner or an experienced producer. Soundtrap is worth a try. And what it does, it does exceptionally well.