Teaching Station: Soundpad

January 12, 2021   Martin Jones
Fully use audio in your remote training.

Sound effects and noises are part of communication and can be used to great effect while training.

Stream Deck Sound Pad

Stream Deck Sound Pad (full)

As with the Stream Deck, sound effects are a well-established technique of streamers, and I know other instructors have used it in training, including live instruction, previously. This was my first opportunity. It wasn’t until I had the Stream Deck that I even had a plan on how to access samples. I saw the Soundpad Integration plugin from BarRaider and decided to go with Soundpad (5 EUR) because it already had a Stream Deck extension. It has worked wonderfully.

Soundpad comes with a few samples, but you will need to augment with your own. This will be a personal choice, but there are some standard choices, such as crowd noises. Soundpad works by playing the sample through the output of your microphone.

The photo above shows the full set of samples I have assigned to buttons on the Stream Deck. Well, the full set at the time of writing. I have not been able to use them all in training yet. Some are on hold for just the right moment! This is not my main Stream Deck profile. The main profile can be swapped for this one, and we can swap back to the main profile.

Stream Deck (main profile)

Stream Deck (main profile)

The photo above shows the main profile with only a subset of the samples present. These have been chosen to be the ones most likely to be needed immediately. Note the samples present here are in the same position as on the full sound profile. The button at bottom left swaps between profiles.

I have found that the samples have been very good at getting groups of less forthcoming attendees to open up and be more interactive. There is an element of ‘literature’ about the meaning of sounds that brings the audience closer together because we have a shared understanding of what the sound represents. I think it’s easier to slip audio into a presentation dynamically than for visuals, which is great for interactivity. Of course, literature comes with a downside - it could be culturally dependent.

It’s not necessarily easy to play the right samples at the right time. To help with this, a fellow instructor and I have floated the idea of having one play samples while the other is teaching as part of a team teach. In this way you have what radio stations have - a presenter and a producer. We’ve yet to act on that idea though.

I assume that playing samples too often would, on balance, detract from training. I have, so far, only used them sparingly. If you’re not sure that playing the sample would help, I’d suggest not playing it and keeping them special.

Summary

Using an application like Soundpad, coupled with a Stream Deck, can make remote training sessions more fun and engaging.