So much foley and sound for video work is done in a DAW these days, although for most projects the entire suite of tools available to you within a Digital Audio Workstation might be a bit overkill. While film features are finding their ways into our favorite music composing apps, if you find yourself dropping audio and foley into videos frequently you may already be pining for an app dedicated to give you the tools you need for this task directly. Audio Design Desk is such an app, and I had the good fortune of giving it a run through this month.
Audio Design Desk is a tool designed from the ground up to let you add sounds to videos with the greatest of ease. For media content creators and folks that have to drop in audio, this app eliminates (what feels like) a hundred steps from your typical foley workflow. In essence, you drop in your video. You have a browser that gives you access to a bunch of included foley sounds, or you can import your own. You quickly select which key on your numerical keyboard you’d like to assign to trigger a sound effect. You watch your video, and you trigger your sounds with the keyboard. They are saved, and you have complete control over them.
It’s really that simple. From YouTubers to professional sportscasters, this app gives you what you need very quickly. It’s designed to take a workflow that used to be quite tedious, and speed it up to the point where it becomes, dare I say it… enjoyable. You can also drop things in manually, of course, and the workflow adapts appropriately.
In terms of warping and manipulating the sound, the tools are ample. You also have access to your complete suite of third party plugins - so all of my beloved Universal Audio audio effects loaded up and worked without a hitch.
One of the best features that immediately ‘grabbed me’ from Audio Design Desk is that tracks are automatically created upon instantiation of a sound effect. You don’t have to make audio tracks on your own if you don’t want to! While playing back your video, as you tap your ‘trigger keys’ and drop sound effect markers, a new audio track is created for each discrete audio sample you choose. This way you can mix afterwards and only have to deal with channels you’re actually using.
That’s not to say you can’t create a separate track for an alternate lane of the same sound effect. You totally can, and it’s easy enough to drag sound effects from track to track after they’ve been marked and triggered. You can put everything on a single track if you wanted, and you can utilize per-clip gain and insert effects to manage the level control of your different samples. The flexibility of Audio Design Desk is staggering. It’s rare that you see an app that is so deep with controls but also presents them in a default workflow that keeps them out of your way until you need them.
The default ‘sound effect drop’ keystrokes are also smart. If you’re using a ‘hit’, it will automatically drop the sound effect with the peak of the ‘hit’ at the point you dropped it. If you’re using a ‘rise’, you can have it drop the peak of the rise when you hit the ‘R’ key. This makes it incredibly easy to time the ramp ups and fall offs of your sounds. With time and pitch stretching, you also have complete autonomy over the timbre and attack/decay speed of the sound.
The organization of the sound library is wonderfully efficient, and there is seamless integration in-between the default ‘packs’ of foley effects (of which there are many) and your own custom sounds that you fly in. You can have a preset group of your favorite stingers, rises, hits, and such to punctuate your content in seconds before you push it out. If there’s one theme that is prevalent in this app, it’s speed.
If you’re a content creator, this app could most definitely fit in the ‘indispensable’ category. You can add Hollywood blockbuster style foley with astonishing speed, and you can settle into an ‘audio for video’ workflow that is efficient and powerful. I can’t see going back to a standard DAW to accomplish these audio for video tasks - it would feel like the dark ages.
Price: $14.99 Tier 1 / $29.99 Tier 2 with various included sound packs
Pros: Fantastically fast workflow, deep control of sounds, fun and intuitive interface, streamlined tools that save a ton of time, responsive and customizable workspace, great included sounds.
Cons: The pricing tier is subscription only, and I’d like to see a perpetual license available, or discounts upon a yearly subscription.