SndSampler 3.7.1 – Review

SndSampler 3.7.1
Author: Alan Glenn
Shareware: $20.00

This is such an amazing piece of software that it’s going to be difficult to do it justice without writing a Stephen King-sized book about it. But I’ll give it a try, anyway. First, SndSampler is at heart a digital audio recording and editing application. It is RAM-based, meaning that you can’t open a given sound unless it will fit it into available RAM. This is only a small drawback, however, since it provides a clever alternative for owners of low-RAM Macs (see below). The authors have also kept the flashy graphics to a minimum in order to free up as much RAM as possible for working with sounds. (Not to mention the fact that RAM prices are at an all-time low!)

SndSampler provides basic sound editing features: (cut, copy, paste, insert, mix, resample, 8/16-bit conversion, mono/stereo conversion, etc.); a good array of user-customizable special effects (echo, reverb, flange, chorus, tremolo, backwards, pitch bend, Butterworth filters, smooth panning from left to right speaker, etc.); it can import/export different sound types (.au, .wav, and raw audio files; import CD audio, and any kind of sound file supported by QuickTime); add sounds to QuickTime movies; and, as far as I and my Mac enthusiast friends can tell, it never crashes! (That alone gives it a gold star.)

Making CDs?
Some of SndSampler’s most interesting features are those designed for audio CD creation. First, when recording you have the option of writing the audio directly to your hard drive. This enables you to record more audio than can fit in RAM. Once you are done recording (you’ll probably want to optimize your disk first), you can edit the resulting sound file(s) using SndSampler’s Segment and Join functions. As the names imply, these allow you to chop up an AIFF file into smaller files which can fit into RAM. Then you can edit them (fade the beginning and end, etc.) and use Join to recombine them into one file. This is actually a lot easier than it sounds. The Segment function is extremely well designed, and also makes it easy for you to divide up one large audio file into separate CD tracks.

Batch Mode
For those who to work with a lot of audio files, SndSampler provides a ‘batch mode’ for automatic processing. All you need to do is drop all your files onto SndSampler’s icon and you can choose to automatically downsample, normalize, import, export, compress, and much more. You can even import multiple CD audio tracks! If there’s a problem you will see a little ‘Batch Errors’ file in your destination folder which tells you vaguely what went wrong.

Sound Resources
Anyone who does a lot of work with ‘snd ‘ resources will be especially interested in SndSampler. You can control more aspects of these resources with this application than you’d probably ever want to: format; initialization option; resource attributes; sound command; and other esoterica. The less intense user will like the fact that SndSampler can extract ‘snd ‘ resources from any file or application, in other words, games. Just drop your favorite game onto SndSampler’s icon and up comes a dialog which allows you to preview and/or open any of the ‘snd ‘ resources contained therein. (Note: not all games store their sounds this way. This is especially true of PC conversions.) You can then edit and save them back to the application. Tired of those same old sounds in your favorite game? Use SndSampler to change them or completely replace them (but be careful and always work with a copy of the game). In batch mode you can automatically extract all the ‘snd ‘ resources from any file, e.g., games and screen savers, and store them as separate sound files. It can also take a bunch of separate audio files and insert them as ‘snd’ resources into another file (great for software developers).

Unbelievable Deal
All this and more for an amazing $20! Not to mention that when you register you are eligible for tons of free upgrades (there has been one every few months for the past three years). SndSampler is simple enough for the novice but powerful enough for the professional. It is a full-fledged sound editor which competes well with the $300 commercial packages. And it only takes up about 700K on your hard disk (bloatware beware)! A great deal if I ever saw one.

•Debra Power •

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