Pro Tools Workspace and Soundbase for Sound Effects Editors

By in Audio Post, Music Creation, Pro Mixing, Tutorial Thursday

As curator of the Pro Sound Effects library of more than a quarter million professional effects and a freelance sound designer, I’d like to show you some of the techniques I use in Pro Tools to manage the tremendous number of files I use across multiple locations to reduce the time and cost it takes to create great productions.


Sound Libraries: Search your entire sound effects collection in one place

If you’re like most sound editors and designers, you have vast libraries of sound effects and loops spread across multiple drives. Many audio post professionals use a general library like the Hybrid Library for a well-rounded, reliable sonic palette in addition to buying speciality libraries and recording their own sounds.

But searching through each location one by one is inefficient and messy. The new Sound Libraries feature is intended to simplify this process and bring your entire collection together in one place. 

In Pro Tools preferences on the Operation tab, you can select your default “Sound Libraries” location. Any files added to this location will populate in the Sound Libraries shortcut on the Workspace Browser.

But if your libraries are spread across multiple volumes and locations, simply navigate to a folder you’d like to add to your Sound Libraries via Workspace, then right-click on the folder and select “Add Sound Library Location”.

This makes it very simple to search your entire library by selecting the top-level Sound Libraries Location, or you can search a specific library folder by clicking the drop down and selecting a sub-location.


Soundbase: Categorize your sounds faster than ever

Soundbase brings quick and efficient tagging capabilities to the Workspace Browser. If you’re a sound effects editor this means it’s very simple to categorize your sounds.

To add Soundbase tags, click on the Soundbase field in the Workspace Browser and select from one of the existing tags, or begin typing to create a new tag. Each file can have multiple tags which is perfect for matching category and sub-category systems used by general sound effects libraries like the Hybrid Library.

For a sound effects editor, there are many creative benefits to tagging your files and browsing by category. Instead of a search that is limited to the terminology you can think of in the moment, browsing will present you with sounds that you would have otherwise not found with specific search terms.

Some sound effects libraries, including libraries from Pro Sound Effects, will import with the Soundbase tags already populated with categories.


Keyboard Shortcuts: Efficiently integrate newly added features

Now let’s look at a few of the keyboard shortcuts that will speed up your workflow using these new features:

Ctrl + Alt + T: Brings up the assign tags popup window. This also works when you have multiple sounds selected allowing you to add tags to large groups of sounds. This is very helpful when categorizing larger libraries.

Ctrl + Alt + Cmd + T: Shows/hides the Tags Pane. If you are only doing simple searches, use this shortcut to hide the Tags pane, then bring it back quickly when you want to browse by category.

Ctrl + S: Once you’ve found the sound you’re looking for, use this to instantly spot the sound to edit insertion. This one is very handy and typically a lot faster than dragging and dropping.


These new Workspace and Soundbase features are sure to help sound editors finish projects faster and with better quality by staying organized, efficient, and in the creative zone.

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I'm a sound designer/editor and long-time Pro Tools user living and working in New York City. I'm also the sound effects librarian and curator of the Pro Sound Effects library.