Software dilemmas

Well again we come across this problem of clients using weird and wonderful software and devices to play back their show soundtracks. This has been happening to me during the recent Adelaide Fringe. Again I see things like iTunes being used, and those dreaded iPods. I can understand that they may have only iTunes or Windows media player on their machines but these pieces of software are not designed to be used in a professional setting. For both the MAC and Windows platform there are better pieces of software to use. The 2 pieces of software that I mentions are not conducive to rapid audio cues, there are often to many keystrokes and a real chance that you can trigger the wrong audio cue. Another piece of software that recently I have seen being used is VLC, another good bit of software but again not suitable for use in theatre for audio playback.

Qlab Screenshoot

Qlab Screenshot

Now if you are using a MAC I would suggest QLAB, this is designed for playing back audio for shows. It is an easy intuitive piece of software that is very versatile and even in the free version is amazingly good. If you are using the Windows platform I would suggest using Multiplay. This piece of software is very similar to QLAB and has a similar range of great features. Multiplay is also freeware. Both these pieces of software need the minimum of keystrokes to play a track, just one to play and one to finish. None of this finding the cursor and moving it to find play or pause. So if you are going to present professional theatre I suggest using more professional software. Both of the pieces of software that I recommend will play a wide range of formats. If you have a format that won’t play there are are a variety of programs that will convert for you.

Multiplay screenshot

Multiplay screenshot

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Another problem that is cropping up is the fact that people are using iTunes etc to burn an “audio”CD for the venue to use in their CD player. There is only one problem – they burn it as an MP3 or MP4 disc. This is not recognised by a majority of CD players. If you are going to burn a CD, make sure it is in a format that a standard CD player will recognise.

Another even worse sin is low bit rate MP3’s that are often supplied. If you do have to use MP3’s make sure they are at the highest bit-rate possible. They will then sound a hell of a lot better. This is especially true if the file needs to be converted to a higher quality format like a WAV file. You are likely to noticed how degraded it will sound after the conversion. Often people take audio from YouTube clips and these are not always great quality. Since storage is so cheap no point in making the file small to get as many on your drive. So the higher quality the audio source the better quality it will sound.

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7 thoughts on “Software dilemmas

  1. We use SCS (SHOW CUE SYSTEM) on a PC – many great facilities – will also run midi, audio and video….and although not free – it is only around $200.00. and written by a guy in Brisbane. He is very open to suggestions for inclusions and improvements, and we personally have had many items written into the software…

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