Soundtrap Review

Soundtrap Review 2022 – Perfect DAW For Beginners?

Last Updated on March 30, 2022

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Whether you’re looking for an online music collaboration app or a modern, cloud-storage enabled Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) Soundtrap is outfitted with countless tools and features to help you create awesome beats, compositions, and even audio tracks.

But how good is Soundtrap, really? Can you do anything with it? Does it work as an online collaboration tool? What about tracking, editing, and mixing your projects?

In this hands-on review, we’ll be looking at whether Soundtrap is any good, if it's easy enough for beginners, and if you should use it for your online collaborations.

What You Can Do With Soundtrap?

Soundtrap, made by music giants Spotify, promises to be your all-in-one online studio (or Digital Audio Workstation) solution. It has often been said that remote collaboration is becoming the norm in the music business, and Sountrap lets you collaborate with anyone from anywhere.

With the Soundtrap app (for iOS and Android), you can capture and develop your musical ideas on the go. It doesn’t matter whether you’re using your desktop or laptop computer, tablet, or smartphone. Since your projects are stored in the cloud, you can create freely without worrying about saving and backing up your projects on your hard drive.

What’s included is considerably more than what some commercial DAWs even offer – priority mixing, loops library, guitar and keyboard presets, 150,000 sound effects, unlimited storage, and more, depending on the plan you purchase (more on this later).

Soundtrap also features Auto-Tune (powered by Antares), automation tools, the ability to connect your own instruments, and Patterns Beatmaker.

Overall, Soundtrap is usef-friendly, affordable, powerful, and convenient for those who are constantly collaborating with bandmates, friends, or other artists and musicians online.

The Soundtrap Experience

Is Soundtrap any good?

You've likely read their sign up page and know all the features they offer (if you haven't, check them out here), so in this section I'll jump right into what it was like logging into Soundtrap for the first time and poking around inside their recording environment.

Once you’ve created your account and log into Soundtrap for the first time, you are greeted with a minimal dashboard adorned in a simple, modern interface.

The menu features links to Projects, Messages, Podcasts, and Learn. By default, when you log in to Soundtrap, your journey begins on the Projects page.

Projects

This is where you can start a new collaboration/project or check out one of four templates – Hype Trap 2 (future trap), Laces (rock), Vertigo (pop), and Bushwick (lofi hiphop).

I started by clicking on Laces. The project took a minute or two to load, but it was relatively fast.

I had a quick listen to the recording and got to have a closer look at the Soundtrap interface for the first time.

Messages

This is where you can manage communication with your collaborators.

This function lets you keep your messages out of your email inbox and inside the Soundtrap platform, so your messages never get lost and you can keep your project communication streamlined.

Podcasts

This feature is available to Storytellers subscribers only. Inside this workspace, creators can record, edit, and mix their podcast projects and publish them directly to Spotify. Soundtrap also gives you access to Spotify for Podcasters to help you keep track of your metrics.

Learn

Whether you’re wondering how the Soundtrap studio works, want to begin collaborating with others, make beats, take advantage of the built-in instruments and loops, learn how to record audio, take advantage of effects, or otherwise, the Learn page features 18 tutorial videos to help you get started fast.

The Soundtrap Recording Interface

Making a beat

For all intents and purposes, Soundtrap is a fully fledged DAW environment. And while there are numerous professional DAWs out there that come loaded to the rafters with features, virtual instruments and effects, loops, and more, Soundtrap offers quite a bit more out of the box than certain entry level DAWs do. Furthermore, it's easy for beginners.

Firing up a new project inside Soundtrap is easy. Video tutorials even pop up on their own to show you how the platform works.

Adding A Drum Track

To get a better feel for the “studio” environment, I started a new project and added a drum track. I was able to program a beat in mere seconds using the built-in beatmaker.

Soundtrap lets you choose from a variety of sounds in Collections, Kits, Machines, and Processed. I’m a big fan of the 80s, so I went ahead and chose the “80s Drum Machine” setting, added a bit of reverb for fun, and looped the beat.

All this only took about a minute of messing around. Off to a great start.

Adding A Bass Track

With my drum track in tow, I decided to add a bass track to my project. I chose the “Lo-Fi Bass” just for fun.

Soundtrap does allow you to connect your MIDI controller (you can also use your computer keyboard), but for the bass track, I used the built-in piano roll to sequence a line.

It took me a few seconds to figure out how the piano roll works, but before I knew it, I had a bass line looped and ready to go.

Adding A Synth Track

While a drum and bass jam can be kind of fun, a track like this just wouldn’t be complete without a synth track. So, I added a synthesizer track, found a nice 80s sounding pad – “Feb Pad” – and created my loop to float on top.

I also added an effect, just for fun. It’s at this point that I should point out that I had a bevy of effects to choose from – Classic Dist, Overdrive, Flanger, Delay, Equalizer, and more.

For my synth track I chose Stereo Chorus.

Adding A Lead Synth Track

At this point, I had a nice sounding retro loop. But I figured I would add a lead synth for a bit of flavor. Why not? Even at this point, the track I created was relatively sparse, and could easily handle more layers.

Blind Lead sounded plenty 80s to my ears, so that’s what I settled on.

Final Touches

So, I was able to put together a fun synth track relatively quickly (nothing I would write home about – after all, I didn’t spend much time in composition). It was fun, and relatively easy to figure out the workflow of the interface.

Obviously, tracking alone doesn’t tell the full story of any DAW though. You’ve also got to be able to edit and mix. And since all my tracks were MIDI, there wasn’t a lot of mixing to do in the first place, but I went ahead and made a few changes (the kind of tweaks I would I often make to any project):

  • I wasn’t happy with the Lo-Fi Bass, so I changed it to 80s Synth Bass. This beefed up the track in a big way, and helped it sound more 80s.
  • I sucked out some of the abrasive highs from the drum track.
  • I added a bit of delay to the lead synth track. This helped create a more ominous feel to the lead synth. The delay was very transparent and natural sounding. Nice!
  • I duplicated the original synth track. I panned one of them hard left and the other hard right. I then changed the sound of the synth on the right to J.W. Pad. This added some nice depth to the track.
  • I adjusted the tempo to make the track a little faster. All MIDI tracks automatically adjusted to the new tempo.

While making some final tweaks to the tracks, I noticed that most tracks had effects on them by default. For example, the drum track already had a Dynamics Compressor and Parametric Eq on it. No wonder everything sounded so good out of the box – it was basically mix ready before I did any tweaking!

What this means is that even the average musician probably won’t find the need to mix for hours. A few slight adjustments can go a long way. And that’s a big deal.

Exporting The Track For Beginners

As a creator, I value the ability to save my tracks and export them to appropriate formats quickly and easily. Some DAWs do this better than others.

First and foremost, Soundtrap lets you export your entire project to MP3 and WAV. Perfect. It should be noted that you can’t export to WAV unless you’re subscribed to Soundtrap, but even with the 30-day trial you can export to MP3 after saving your file (saving required).

But they also let you export your MIDI to file, Flat.io, or Noteflight. Whether it’s for further editing, or for importing your MIDI creation into another project, this is a handy function.

What Effects Are Available?

Virtual effects for mixing audio

You’re probably starting to get a sense of the various virtual effects you can add to your tracks already. But we thought we’d give you a comprehensive list, either way. So, here’s what’s included inside Soundtrap:

  • Distortion: Classic Dist, Fuzz, Overdrive
  • Modulation: Auto Pan, Auto-Wah, Chorus, Flanger, Phaser, Rotary, Stereo Chorus, Tremolo, Vibrato
  • Echo: 3D, Delay, Room, Slapback, Stereo Delay
  • EQ and compression: Brighter, Compressor One, Dynamics Compressor, Equalizer, Filter, Parametric Eq
  • Master: Karaoke, Volume

Soundtrap Design, Usability For Beginners & User Experience

Is soundtrap free?

Here are a few comments on the design, usability, and user experience of Soundtrap.

Design

Soundtrap developers have opted for simplicity in design.

It’s clear they’ve taken cues from some of the best DAWs available while developing their own efficient workflow for anyone looking to collaborate online – musicians, composers, artists, podcasters, producers, engineers, or otherwise.

The white background (to be fair, there is a dark mode as well) speaks to Soundtrap’s streamlined design. Everything is clearly marked, and there is minimal menu surfing, whether it’s tempo, effects, loops, or otherwise.

The color-coded tracks against a white background make them pop. It’s not revolutionary (almost all DAWs do this automatically these days), but it is an integral design choice.

Usability – Is Soundtrap Easy For Beginners To Use?

As someone who has come to efficient workflow, I can honestly say I might be one of the pickiest music producers out there. It’s one of the reasons I’ve come to insist on Waveform over the years – most other DAWs force me to work for what I want instead of putting it at my fingertips. Of course, I have gotten used to Waveform with repeated use.

But I can honestly say I was pleasantly surprised by Soundtrap. Sure, some things did take me a little longer to figure out, such as using the Beatmaker (it was my first time) or finding the magnifying glass icons for the piano roll. But I’m generally talking seconds, not minutes, to achieve a desired end.

If you have absolutely no experience with DAW software, you might have some learning to do. That said, learning to use Soundtrap is nothing like learning to use Pro Tools. It’s far more streamlined. Plus, the included video tutorials are there whenever you need them, and you only need to watch two or three to get the fundamentals.

One thing that should be noted is that as of now, Soundtrap does not officially support Firefox. Amazingly, I was still able to create the project referenced in this guide using Firefox. For maximum support, use the Mac-Chrome combo. Soundtrap also works nicely on Mac-Safari, Windows-Chrome, Windows-Edge, Chromebook, Linux-Chrome, iOS app, Android app, and Android-Chrome app.

The User Experience

Every piece of software requires some time to learn. In recent years, though, applications have become more streamlined.

If you’ve never used a DAW before, then learning Soundtrap will take some time. But the skills you learn here will translate nicely over to DAWs like GarageBand or Waveform.

If you’ve gotten used to the behavior of certain DAWs, then there will likely be a bit of an adjustment period. But you will have a head start on those just getting started.

More than likely, you will be pleasantly surprised by the workflow, as well as the features built right into Soundtrap. You can create master ready tracks with minimal effort, thanks to presets, and you can even save your own presets after they’ve been created.

As result, there are few DAWs like Soundtrap that can take you from idea to completion with maximum efficiency. Even in Waveform, adding effects, loading up a preset, and tweaking until I’m happy takes a little longer to achieve.

You might encounter the occasional issue with the project environment not loading (check your internet connection), an unsupported browser, or some other minor glitch or error. But for the most part, Soundtrap is a very stable working environment, and an excellent DAW for online collaboration.

Pricing – How Much Does Soundtrap Cost?

Soundtrap offers multiple pricing schemes depending on your needs.

First, here’s an overview of personal (or individual) plans:

  • Soundtrap Free: Is soundtrap free? Well this plan gives you access to unlimited projects, 4,260 loops, 430 instruments and sounds, 150,000+ sound effects, from freesounds.org, and Soundtrap Originals sound packs every second week. This is a one-month free trial and does not include all the features Soundtrap offers.
  • Music Makers Premium: $9.99 per month on the monthly plan, $7.99 per month on the yearly plan ($95.88 total).
  • Music Makers Supreme: $14.99 per month on the monthly plan, $11.99 per month on the yearly plan ($143.88 total). This plan includes Splice loops.
  • Storytellers: $14.99 per month on the monthly plan, $11.99 per month on the yearly plan ($143.88 total). This plan was created specifically for podcasters.
  • Soundtrap & Spotify Premium Bundle: $19.99 per month for the monthly plan, $16.99 per month for the yearly plan ($203.88 total). This plan includes a Spotify Premium subscription as well as access to Splice loops.

Soundtrap Student Pricing

Soundtrap for education

Now, here’s an overview of education plans and their cost:

  • 30-day free trial: Just as it sounds. No credit card required to try all features for 30 days.
  • School or District plan: Depends on the number of seats required. Starts at $249 per year (or $4.98 per seat) for 50 seats and goes up from there.

Soundtrap Review, The Verdict

How do you create the ultimate online music collaboration tool? The answer to this question is much more challenging than one might be inclined to think, because it requires you to think in terms of use cases. Who will be using the platform? How will they be using it? Where could things go wrong?

But Soundtrap is quite possibly the most eloquent answer to this question we’ve ever seen. Because when it comes to a tool of this nature, if it isn’t easy to use, if a musician can’t learn to use it, it probably isn’t destined for mass adoption. There would still be smaller pockets of producers, engineers, and artists that enjoy it, but that’s it.

When it comes to creating a powerful beginner DAW, Soundtrap delivered. They created a fun, easy-to-use solution. Adding tracks is easy, the Beatmaker is a blast, and the instrument presets are set up to be darn well near mix ready. And that makes even the often challenging and specialized task of mixing far easier than it was in the past.

Soundtrap is also affordable. Now, granted, if a DAW is what you want, you should get a DAW. In the long run, you will save money (unless you’re on a subscription plan). But if you want an online collaboration tool with great built-in features, presets, loops, and more, you’ll love Soundtrap.

Even I will be keeping Soundtrap in mind for future projects because I can tell that it’s a very competent online music collaboration tool. And this is coming from someone who swears by good, old-fashioned DAW apps installed on his laptop or desktop computer.

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