When Macworld was held in San Francisco, I interviewed a young man who was launching an audio software start-up. As time went by, the developer’s number of apps grew and the company’s reputation became cemented. Soon you most likely owned at least one app from Rogue Amoeba. And Paul Kafasis has shown no signs of slowing down.
Rogue Amoeba has been setting the bench mark for audio software for ages. But now they’re attempting to spread their wings a little bit further than your home or office.
Their latest app can be used for making your podcasts or stream-casts more professional and distinctive by adding sound effects, musical accompaniment and other audio clips. But this app was also designed to embellish audio in theatre production.
The app is Farrago.
Farrago provides the best way to quickly play sound bites, audio effects, and music clips on your Mac. Podcasters can use Farrago to include musical accompaniment and sound effects during recording sessions, while theater techs can run the audio for live shows. Whether it’s providing quick access to a large library of sounds or running through a defined list of audio, Farrago is ready to assist!
Having produced podcasts and live audio programs in the past, this would have been a valuable piece of software, being afforded the ability to play sound effects and music beds instantaneously with the touch of a key.
As I have no background in theater production, I have asked my daughter who has a Bachelor’s Degree in theater to provide me with her opinion regarding Farrago’s use in stage production.
First, the UI is sleek, very intuitive and puts all of your controls within finger’s reach.
Along the top are buttons that allow you to hide either sidebar, adjust the Master Volume, Pause, Stop or Fade all sounds and Add Sound.
On the left side of the pane you have your set list. You can arrange this however it bests fits your workflow – category, scene, etc.
On the right side you have all of your adjustments. You have two volume presets which would be handy as you could set Volume A at 100% for sound effects, interview snippets and such. You could then set Volume B at 40% for playing music beds underneath voice overs or background effects such as crowd noise or falling rain.
Other customizations include naming the sound, returning a sound to its beginning, playing and triggering a fade out. For each individual file, you have the wave form with handles on both ends (as in iMovie) allowing you to trim the file’s length.
Other settings include Fade In and Fade Out duration, color coding your files and assigning special instructions to a file such as Loop, Solo, Allow Pausing and Only Play While Pressed.
To add audio files (“Tiles”) to your soundboard can be done in two ways; you can drag the file onto the app or click the “Add Sound” button on the top right of the app’s Menu Bar. At the bottom is the the actual name of the file with its extension and a Replace button.
When you drag ‘Tiles’ onto the app you can create your own collection of audio files in grid or list form. You then can arrange your ’Tiles’ in whatever manner best fits your production workflow. With your ‘Tiles’ you can then build ‘Sound Sets.’
Farrago comes with its own useful default sound set but by adding your own files, you can create your own sets based on your specific needs. These sets can be in either grid or list format, whichever is the most intuitive for you. Also, Farrago keeps a copy of all your sounds, so you never have to worry about losing any audio files.
The learning curve is as close to non-existent as could be. A comprehensive manual is located under the Help menu. It’s not terribly long, so you might want to give it a read before you dive in.
The sound quality is superb. And the responsiveness when triggering a sound seemed to me spot on.
I do have some questions regarding it’s usefulness in specific situations. For podcast production, you’ll most likely be doing post work. As you can place sounds precisely where you want them when editing, I see no need to use this app in this situation as you’re not going to be adding sounds on the fly.
Conversely, I completely see how this app would be indispensable when streaming live. Say that you’re producing a show regarding a specific topic, you could have sound bites from interviewees ready to be triggered and peppered throughout your discussion.
As I mentioned at the top of this review, as I have no theatrical background, I would ask my daughter who has a Bachelor’s Degree in Theater as to her thoughts regarding Farrago’s value in theatrical production. She had some concerns as to its use in this environment.
“… this looks like something the Sound Designer would use but I wouldn’t let an Operator have more than a “go” button, which is what traditionally they have. Being able to just click on any part of a track to start it is too dangerous and means that my Stage Manager ‘calling’ would have to be “Intro Background Music Go, Intro Drumbeat Go” and that’s too many words (normally it’s “Sound 1 Go, Sound 2 Go”).”
“The Operator has to have perfect timing when clicking those tracks and StageManager/Sound Ops already have to account for a delay from call to button push.”
“And as a Sound Op I’d be terrified that just a slight mouse movement and accidental click could set off the wrong thing.” Control rooms in high schools and regional theaters are not the most spacious of working environments.
So, my daughter doesn’t question the quality of the app but more how it fits into the workflow of a stage production, taking into account the human element.
IMHO, as solid an app as it is, I think that Farrago’s usefulness is narrower than it initially appears. But then again, every situation and workflow is different. For your situation, what I perceive as a negative could be perfect for you. ‘Your mileage may vary.’ (I should also point out that Farrago interacts with other Rogue Amoeba apps.)
A license key to unlock for a single user on one or more Macs can be purchased at Rogue Amoeba’s store for USD $49.00. (As you read this, there’s an introductory discount of 20%, making your cost USD $39.00.)
There is a free trial download available. It will allow you twenty plays in trial mode before it intentionally degrades the sound of the audio. As always, download and kick the tires.
©2018 Frank Petrie