Cloud integration is taking over just about every app we use these days, and our DAW programs are no exception. Just about every fully featured DAW that you could use either includes cloud integration or can be assisted by a third party; but what about a DAW built from the ground up with the cloud in mind? I was able to get my hands on the latest build of Soundbridge, the cloud / collaborative DAW, and I’m excited to share what I found
Collaborating is the main focus of Soundbridge, and the deep integration with Skytracks.IO helps to foster this. Although Skytracks.IO can be added to just about any DAW as a plug-in, it’s clear that building a DAW from the ground up with Skytracks in mind can bring quite a few benefits.
Managing your cloud based projects happens right from the main screen, and there’s little distinction between a local project and a cloud file. You’ve got a friends list built right into the project management area, as well as a stem list for managing shuttling audio files back and forth from your collaborators.
The time-stamp commenting system is a bit of ‘Google Docs meets DAW’ and works in a very natural way. You can write notes assigned to specific measures, and other collaborators can see them, respond, and make any changes on their end.
The DAW application itself has all of the mainstay features you would expect. You’ve got a sequencer view, mixer view, file browser, automation, insert FX rack, and just about everything you’d need in a DAW. There are native versions of the apps for both Mac and Windows. I have found the DAW to be very responsive, and the workflow was pretty easy to pick up. Much of the interface is icon-based, and I could personally do with a few more text labels to make the learning curve a bit faster.
The built in FX are a bit on the lean side, with only the typical necessities like compression, reverb, delay, and some basic modulation effects available. The same goes for built-in instruments. There is only one instrument at this time, and that’s RitMix. RitMix is an MPC style drum machine with some very nice sounds and plenty of built in effects.
The smaller offerings of FX and instruments isn’t a deal-breaker, per se. This is, after all, a completely free to use DAW. One could easily make the argument that you can spend the money you save on your DAW on high-quality virtual instruments and third party effects. As DAWs transition over towards subscription based models (something that truly annoys me), this becomes quite the valid point!
Soundbridge is in its infancy, and the build I used was definitely an early one - but its promise is a very exciting one. The idea of a completely free DAW that can run locally AND in a browser is a really fantastic idea. You don’t even need to give up your current DAW. Imagine being able to quickly upload stems from your DAW of choice, and simply use this as an online arranging or songwriting tool to collaborate with folks? You could even use Soundbridge and Skytracks as an online ‘assembly’ place for your band, keeping whatever app each band member chooses to use locally completely platform and DAW agnostic! It may be early in development, but this app is definitely one to keep an eye on.