Post Magazine

September 2011

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review By LUKE HARPER Owner Audio Altimeter Minneapolis emember the last time you didn't have the right tool for the job? How frustrating it was, how much time it took to complete a task that should've been fast and easy? I would imag- ine you have a lot of the right tools for a lot of jobs... but you might not know about this one: SmartSound Quicktracks is an Internet- based collection of royalty-free music. But this particular service goes one significant step further: stems. That's right. Customizable splits, just for Customizable royalty-free music from the cloud. you. Need just the drums? Here ya go... bassline and backing Rhodes piano? No prob- lem. How about a customized duration? You enter your desired length,down to the frame, and it will spit out a shockingly well-formatted result that ends exactly when you want it to. A huge time-saver. So visualize this — you need just that cue.You've gotten close, but the pinnacle, the true picture-perfect match still eludes you.You log onto Quicktracks. START SEARCHING You get there via SmartSound's main site ( SmartSound has a lot of offerings, but there are multiple menus to guide you.The first time you visit, you go through a sales page that outlines the ser- SmartSound Quicktracks R to anyone who has dealt with an online nee- dle-drop service.You have two basic search boxes listing various categories, and then drop-downs that offer additional options — instrument, intensity, tempo, album and com- poser.You also have a blank search field in which to refine your results. The project I was working on demanded a little "lite" electronica, with just enough hip to make the corporate grey sparkle a little. Searching this yielded 100 tracks. Not a ton, but enough for my purposes. It should be noted, by the way, that not all of your results will have total customization beyond specific lengths.They have amassed various libraries over the years, but only the more recent of- ferings can be really split out.That leaves the majority of results, but full disclosure is healthy. Aiding in your selection is a handy- dandy little icon next to each result that in- forms you as to your potential levels of cus- tomization. Listening through immediately reveals that the offerings, in general, are pretty darn good.They're clean, well pro- duced and modern sounding.We are given some great info to help us skim over the po- tentials. Title, a short description, album, tempo and intensity. I find a track I like, but it isn't quite right. Maybe there's something on the album from the same production crew that could be slightly closer to what I'm aim- ing for. Clicking on the specific composer throws up all of their tracks, which can help you narrow flavor nicely.To narrow more, I type "confident" into the search bar. Finding a whole track that I like, and it's time to start the fun part: options.Who doesn't love op- tions? Handy, right? You just want to dive in. It's important to feel inspired by tools vice and lets you play around with a basic offering.Then you sign in and create an ac- count.There's been no money involved yet, just the basics. At this point you can access the main Quicktracks search area, which should be very familiar in layout and method 48 Post • September 2011 such as these, and Quicktracks really does an excellent job of making it intuitive and simple to get the most out of the cus- tomization process. Frankly, it's also pretty fun.The variations are well thought out and offer enough variety to further hone. Being able to grab splits lets you get positively mi- croscopic about your new creation. It is so refreshing and nice to be able to just drop the damned lead for 26 seconds while the announcer chats at us about something cru- cial. No more awkward edits on the three with a reverse cymbal snuck in for when the edit isn't quite right. FINAL THOUGHTS As you may have noticed, this is not a "grab and go" service, per se. I mean, you VITAL STATS PRODUCT: SmartSound Quicktracks cloud- based, royalty-free, soundtrack creation system WEBSITE: tracks PRICE: Individual tracks from $29.95- $39.95; Albums $99; deals on collections could, in theory, find the perfect track right off the bat, download it, drop it in your time- line and be done. But that's not really the point. This process can take awhile. But, if you don't have the budget for a custom score, and the same old libraries are boring your ears off with predictability, Quicktracks will make you smile. The price will as well: individual instru- mental tracks range from between $29.95 and $34.95. Pieces featuring vocals jump all the way up to $39.95. All albums, regardless of arrangements vis-a-vis vocalists, are $99. There are other deals to be had, just check the Website for the deets. Based on the quality and quantity of options available, the pricing is perfectly reasonable. As with life, there are a couple of minor quibbles to be had — the site, while beauti- fully fast, is a little clunky. Initial navigation takes some getting used to. Not catastrophic, but you might want to get established with the system before pulling it up mid-session with a twitchy producer breathing over you. Then there is the issue of selection: while constantly expanding, the base collection is not huge.The main genres are represented, but for really obscure options you may find yourself looking elsewhere. However, given the awesome to embar- rasingly unusable filler ratio in terms of cre- ativity and results, Quicktracks is fantastic. It's just the right tool for a surprising amount of production jobs.

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