A couple of years ago I lamented about the lack of good resources for sharing audio clips. What I was after was sort of a YouTube for audio. Video sharing sites were becoming relatively common, but audio was another matter. At that time I created a wish list for online audio sharing. I had suggested some possibilities for audio sharing, but none came close to my wish list. In fact, most of the hosting sites I mentioned are long gone.
Now there are a couple of new options to fill the bill. SoundCloud (http://www.soundcloud.com) and Audioboo (http://audioboo.fm) both offer audio file hosting. While very similar, they each have slightly different approaches to how music is shared on their sites.
SoundCloud seems to be targeted toward musicians who want to share their work. Audio clips are uploaded, then shared in a social networking environment. Users can follow each other and can leave comments on the various tracks. There is a free version, and various levels of paid versions. You can upload as many files as you would like on the free version, but the total amount of time for all tracks cannot exceed 120 minutes.
In the above image you can see a sample file that I created, along with a comment made by another user. Of course, links and embed codes are provided for inclusion in blogs. My reading of “Annabel Lee” by Edgar Allen Poe is embedded below:
Some other features of SoundCloud include the ability to set up a drop box so other users can send files directly to you. You can also change the privacy settings of your creations so that these aren’t all public. One thing that is lacking, though, is an RSS feed for your creations, or any support for podcasting.
A very cool feature of SoundCloud is its ability to link to the Aviary suite of online tools. Files created in the Myna module of Aviary can be saved directly to SoundCloud, and SoundCloud files can be edited in Myna.
On a side note, the reading of Annabel Lee was created in Myna. Aviary does have some audio hosting capabilities, but they can be a pain to figure out.
Audioboo has most of the same features as SoundCloud, but looks like it is targeted more toward the podcasting crowd. While you can upload files of various types, the application also lets you record audio directly to the site. An RSS feed is available, and your creations are automatically listed in iTunes as an available podcast.
As with SoundCloud, embedding and linking codes are available for uploaded files. Here’s the Annabel Lee recording, as rendered by Audioboo:
One of my favorite things about Audioboo is that it allows users to geotag their sounds with a drag-and-drop Google Maps interface. This allows for some interesting possibilities – users can record ambient sounds and create soundscapes to add to audio tours or virtual tours of an area. In fact, there is an iPod/iPhone app that will let you record a file in the field, upload it to Audioboo, and will automatically geolocated that file.
I don’t have an iPhone, but I do have an iPod touch with a Belkin microphone attachment. It did a great job of pinpointing where I had recorded the audio. The test audio is below:
As you can see (and hear) it makes a very nice high quality field audio recorder. A similar app for Android was available, but was pulled due to bugs. I’m hoping they get it back online soon so I can use it with my Android phone for places where WiFi isn’t available.
Audioboo has free and Pro versions, similar to SoundCloud. In the free version you can upload as many files as you would like, but each must be less than 5 minutes. My audio tour of the Anderson Jockey Lot is six minutes long. When I uploaded it to Audioboo, the last minute was truncated.
So, we have two excellent audio sharing sites that use two different approaches. There are pros and cons to each. I find myself leaning more toward Audioboo because of the geotagging and field recording capabilities. It must be mentioned that there is a mobile version of SoundCloud, but it seems to be more for accessing the site on a mobile device rather than creating new content. However, both have lots of potential.
Back to my original wish list, though – how do each of these applications stack up? Here’s a side-by-side comparison using a Google spreadsheet. You may need to do some scrolling to see the entire list…