I was recently chatting with Jonah Guelzo, a freelance sound designer who we have featured a number of times on Pro Tools Expert, about highlighting some SFX database software. Jonah, along with so many others in the community rely on their vast sound effects libraries to cut and design soundtracks for film, tv, and the like. But when it comes to navigating large libraries, other than the Workspace and creating Catalogs in Pro Tools what other options are there?
Is Soundminer The Only Answer?
Until recently he would’ve given just one answer - SoundMiner. Arguably the de-facto database search software standard for post, but for how much longer? Jonah believes there’s another contender really worth a serious look and that is BaseHead. He hadn’t heard of Basehead till a Picture Editor mentioned it and asked if he’d recommend it. Not being familiar with Basehead, he wanted to give it a go before giving an opinion.
Basehead & Soundminer - The Same But Different
Both SoundMiner and Basehead offer a host of tools to the sound editor/designer, robust ways of searching for sounds, enriching sounds with extensive metadata, performing sound design tasks, and various ways to ingest media into a DAW. However dig a little deeper, or a play with the demos, or watch Jonah's video and you’ll find quite a few surprising differences.
Basehead Is Cheaper, But Wait There Is More To It
Coming from a deep rooted SoundMiner background from his work in Los Angeles, BaseHead first caught Jonah’s eye merely from a financial standpoint with pricing significantly less than Soundminer. Basehead has three tiers whereas you’ll find SoundMiner has four. The GUI is quite a bit different between their HD line and V4 line. With Basehead, the GUI is consistent throughout all 3 tiers. So you won’t have to get familiar with a different user interface moving up through the flavors.
Basehead's Support Is Growing
He also likes that Basehead’s licenses are Mac/PC agnostic allowing installation on either OS. While SoundMiner grew in popularity in the Post world, BaseHead took off with the game sound community, becoming the standard at EA, Sony among others, which is why originally it was developed just for the PC platform, just like SoundMiner was Mac only.
As BaseHead’s user base grew, they crossed platform with a Mac version at Version 2. SoundMiner’s HD line is now available on both platforms, but you have to pay for either a Mac or PC license separately, or pay a premium for a universal license. If you want the V4 line, you’re stuck with Mac.
Jonah Is For Basehead
While SoundMiner is no doubt an extremely useful application, in this video Jonah gives you a brief window into his favourite SoundMiner alternative - Basehead and show why he thinks Basehead is going to sway a lot of SoundMiner users. In the end he not only recommended it but bought into the Basehead platform himself. Over to you Jonah....
“Having been a SoundMiner user for quite some time I really didn’t think I would have ever wanted to switch platforms, but within a very short period of time, my tastes began to change. With SoundMiner, I always felt limited. I opted for an HD Plus license for $400 as I just couldn’t stomach the $600-900 price tag to get the features I was used to using in LA. The HD line compared to the V4Pro line just felt handicapped and once you’ve bought into the platform and have enriched extensive metadata into your sound files if you ever choose to jump ship your metadata won’t be accessible.
To me pricing is more straightforward with Basehead. For practically the cost of my Soundminer HD license I can own the highest tier of Basehead. With Basehead the licenses are more flexible, lower tiered versions less handicapped, and in my opinion the program as a whole is just much more versatile and better laid out visually and functionally. I played around with version 3x at first and still was loving the thought of Basehead even though there were a few features missing that I was used to in SoundMiner. But the big WOW factor for me was when version 4x was released. From groups to imports, virtual libraries, auto complete, thesaurus function… the list goes on and on.
It would be fair to say that the first release of version 4 was a little buggy, but they’ve really ironed out the kinks and has been a very stable ride. I think a big testament to the usability of Basehead is due to Steve Tushar (owner/developer) being an active Sound Designer himself so he’s tailored the program not from a developer's way of thinking, but as a creative. You can really tell this program has been developed by someone that actually uses it everyday. I feel that fact alone is something often lost but yet is so important the the end product… How often have we all been frustrated by software that becomes a creative hindrance rather than a creative aid?
Basehead is starting to ground itself more in the post community as SoundMiner users are catching the breath of fresh air that comes with Basehead. If you still haven’t taken the plunge with a SFX database searching software, take a serious look at Basehead. Your wallet will be happy you did, and if you’re a long time SoundMiner user as I was, I encourage you to take Basehead for a test drive and as I think you’ll find, you’ll feel comfy with all the standard features found in Soundminer but will find yourself delighted with quite a host of features giving you flexibility at a level Soundminer can’t compete on. Take Basehead for a ride and you just might find yourself questioning your loyalty. If you watch the video to the end you might find a nice surprise but only for a limited period.”