iPad App Review: SoundSlate

iPad App Review: SoundSlate

January 10th, 2012 by

Soundboard apps are a curiously strong segment of the App Store market. Maybe because they are easy to make and get to market quickly, and people just love hearing sounds from their favorite shows and movies? In any case, what’s better than a soundboard app, but an app that lets you make your own soundboards?

SoundSlate for the iPad (and its free companion app SoundSlater) lets you create pages full of empty buttons that can be assigned their own sounds, making them accessible at the touch of a button. The app ships with dozens of pre-recorded high-quality sounds, but you can also add sounds via the iPad’s internal mic or by using the iTunes File Sharing feature.

How It Works

The app has a basic and more advanced help function built in, but the basic workflow is simple. Add a page and give it a descriptive name, after which point you will be faced with a screen full of empty buttons.

You can customize a button by tapping and holding until a dialogue pops up. This screen is where you can adjust the volume of that individual button, adjust the fade in and out times, set it to repeat or not, and set it to kill other sounds when that current button is tapped. You can also add an image to the button, making it easier to locate the sound you’re looking for at a glance. And you can also, obviously, add a sound to the button.

The “select sound” screen shows you the list of included sound effects, as well as any you have added using iTunes file sharing, all in an alphabetical list (so name your custom sound files well!). You can also add sounds from the iPod library on the device, and record one through the built-in mic.

Once your sound files are all set and your buttons are customized, you simply tap a button to start and stop sound playback. There is a master volume control and “all stop” buttons at the bottom of the app’s home screen, but each button also includes a fader on the button itself that can be used to quickly adjust playback volume. Tapping a sound to play also brings up a countdown timer so have a rough idea how long each sound is as it runs. The app is also multi-touch responsive, so you can tap multiple buttons at once or several in rapid succession.

Pros And Cons

For those of you who like soundboard-type apps, this is basically a way for you to create them yourself. You have to put in some effort up front, but the payoff is a fully customized collection of one-touch sound playback. You can use this as a fun sound-mixing device for yourself or your young ones, and it will probably supply some fun for a while, especially in conjunction with SoundSlater.

The best use for this app however seems to be in the professional industry, for those who need to be able to play sounds and music quickly and accurately, without wanting to wiggle a mouse around and find sound effects on a long list of audio files. Entertainers, DJs, professional audio-visual event technicians, teachers… anyone with a need to play sounds quickly. SoundSlate has big fat finger-proof buttons, and the ability to put a picture or adjust the color on each button is a great feature (though it would be nice if it included a set of generic images to match the set of generic included sounds).

The only minor bug is that when you rapidly tap on a series of buttons there is a slight delay in updating the second and third button appearance. The sounds play immediately upon the pressing of the button, so it’s purely an aesthetic issue.


SoundSlate is a great sound playback app that can replace expensive software and hardware solutions for many performance-related industry professionals, or anyone that might need to play sound clips at the touch of a finger.

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