Adam Schoales
Editor. Geek. Tea Drinker.

Adam Schoales : : Blog

Thoughts, process, and other ramblings.


SoundSource and Video Editing

I’ve had this little app from Rogue Amoeba sitting on my machine for a while. It’s called SoundSource, and on the surface it seems pretty basic;

Control audio on a per-app basis, adjusting the volume and output device for individual apps. Apply an equalizer and other audio effects to any audio on your Mac. Even adjust your Mac's audio device settings and levels instantly, from anywhere. It's all possible right from your menu bar, with SoundSource.

And, if I’m honest, I’ve never really had a use for it. Actually, I’m not even sure when or why I bought it in the first place (I think I got an earlier version in a bundle, and got a marketing email recently offering a low upgrade price, but I can’t be sure).

But the other week I finally found a use for it, and I’ve never been so thankful for a silly “on a whim” purchase I’ve made.

For those of you who don’t know, we recently just wrapped on the 44th annual Toronto International Film Festival (or TIFF). I’m a video producer there, and my job during the festival is to produce the closing night trailer, which is a highlight reel of all the great moments that happen over the course of the eleven day festival. This means scrubbing through lots, and lots, and lots of footage (over 70 hours to be somewhat more precise, but not that precise).

The thing is though, a lot of that footage comes from red carpets and is used mostly as b-roll, which means I don’t actually have to listen to what’s going on in that footage (believe me, you can only listen to so many hours of screaming fans before you start to go insane). In previous years I resulted to listening to music or podcasts on my iPhone using my AirPods, leaving my Sony headphones plugged into my computer and popping those on when I was finally ready to listen to the intros/Q&As for whatever film I’m currently scrubbing through.

But this year all of that changed, thanks to SoundSource.

SoundSource Screenshot.png

Once I loaded Final Cut Pro into the application (using that little “Add App” button at the bottom) I was able to control the volume of Final Cut’s playback, as well as the playback of whatever I’m listening to at the moment (iTunes, Spotify, etc.). So while I’m blowing through red carpet footage I could simply turn down Final Cut’s playback to a barely audible whir, and have the soothing sounds of Ólafur Arnalds piped through Spotify.

SoundSource Screenshot 02.png

But wait, there’s more! I mentioned intros and Q&As, all of which we capture both with direct microphone feeds and the onboard camera audio. These direct feeds mean that we get high quality audio, but to ensure we don’t get distorted audio we play it safe and record it at a much lower level than we might otherwise. This means that it can be a little difficult to hear it when playing it back.

In previous years I used to have to jack up the clip volume in Final Cut to +12dB, and then remember to turn it back down to 0dB before applying a compressor for the actual edit. This year I took advantage of another handy feature of SoundSource.

SoundSource Screenshot 03.png

See that little magic wand button? That the “Magic Boost” feature which auto-magically boosts all your audio. Clicking that button would automatically boost the low levels to a level I could actually hear without issue, saving me the added steps of raising/lowering the audio levels in Final Cut.

At this point the app has basically paid for itself. And there’s all sorts of other features I didn’t use, like audio effects, and EQ, and more.

This $30 (USD) app has proven so incredibly handy, it’s hard to believe I never used it until now, especially considering my love for all of Rogue Amoeba’s products.

So if you’re an editor who has to scrub through hours of footage where sound isn’t exactly key, and want a way to control audio levels of all your apps independently, I cannot recommend SoundSource highly enough.