As much as it pains me to say it, by introduction to audio recording came right after high school with a trip to the local radio station. That visit set me on a career course (one of many) which included audio recording and editing with reel-to-reel tape, aluminum editing blocks with razor blades, and the new fangled cart machine which played commercials, promos, recorded shows, and music.
Cart machines went the way of the dinosaur, but digital technology has a strange way of recreating the best of yesteryear, but in a digital form. That’s SoundByte. A radio station-style digital cart machine. Audio cart machines of yesteryear could hold multiple cartridges, each of which could be played with the push of a button.
SoundByte works the same way. It’s like having a monstrous cart machine on your Mac’s screen, pre-loaded with sounds; commercials, sound effects, promos, music, shows, whatever audio clip is needed with the click of a button.
See? That looks and works much like a giant cart machine would have worked 30 years ago. SoundByte makes it simple to integrate audio clips into a live production, good for podcasts, theater productions, radio and TV productions, or anything that needs multiple sounds dropped into a recording, including music playlists.
Each SoundByte screen can have up to 75 recordings, each with an assigned button. Multiple audio recordings can be played at the same time, good for sound effects. There’s a built-in Time Playlist feature, too, and sounds can be output to different devices connected to your Mac. You control the order of the recorded sounds, too.
The regular version supports five cart racks, 375 audio recordings total, but the pro version adds an order of magnitude to that; up to 3,750 recordings (I see an organization issue for anything beyond a dozen or so). There’s nothing quite like SoundByte for the Mac.
At the other end of the useful scale is RecordPad, a cross platform audio recorder which does not do as much as Garageband on your Mac (the one that comes with every Mac, iPhone, iPad, and is free). I have a full collection of audio recorder apps on my Macs, and I want to like RecordPad. But I can’t.
Features are almost typical; but not quite. Files can be recorded and saved in .MP3, .AIFF, even .WAV. The MP3 component uses MPEG Layer-3 and supports variable bit rates up to 320kbps (about the same as 256kbps in AAC, Apple’s preferred format).
Sophomoric is the word I would use for RecordPad, but the saving grace is that there’s a version to use everywhere; Mac, Windows, iPhone, Android. Storing and playing back audio files is easy, though. The recording list displays all recorded files, the format, size, name and date recorded.
Preferences are nominal, though, but there is an option for voice activation recording, and a setting to limit recording time.
What if you want to edit an audio track waveform? For that you need an extra app from the same company. What if you want multi-track audio recording? That requires yet another separate purchase of yet another app. RecordPad is competent, but quirky, and does not compete well with other recording options, including Garageband, TwistedWave, Amadeus, and others, including the free OcenAudio which competes well.