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The Soundslice Blog

Here’s an improvement many have asked for over the years: We’ve greatly improved the quality of our MP3 slowdown!

If you use our slowdown feature for any slice that is synced with an MP3 (as opposed to a video), you’ll now find the slowdown sounds much better — making the music easier to transcribe or learn from.

Our old slowdown algorithm resulted in artifacts, jitters and overall unpleasant/distracting sounds. The new algorithm isn’t perfect — this kind of thing can never be perfect — but it’s a lot better. Here are a few demos:

We call the new approach “enhanced slowdown,” and our player now uses it by default if your web browser and device can handle it. You can see whether enhanced slowdown is active — and toggle it on/off — by clicking the speed and using the checkbox:

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Note that you won’t see that checkbox if you’re viewing a slice with video (as opposed to an MP3 recording), or if you’re on an old web browser. If enhanced slowdown is turned off or unavailable, then our player will use our legacy slowdown algorithm.

On some older devices, or on iOS, enhanced slowdown might result in choppy audio and/or sluggish player performance. If this is the case for you, just use that checkbox to turn it off.

Another small improvement: if you change the speed during playback, our old slowdown would quickly pause and resume playing the audio — resulting in a choppy feel. With enhanced slowdown, the audio keeps playing during speed changes, and the speed smoothly transitions. One less thing to distract you during practice.

Read more about enhanced slowdown in our updated help page. And here’s a sample slice you can test it with if you’re curious.

Perfect looping

And another thing! As part of this change, we’ve improved MP3 loops to be perfectly timed. If you create a loop for an MP3 recording, the audio will be identical each time through.

So rejoice, percussionists and anybody else who relies on looping while practicing. This means no more split-second gaps between loop iterations. It’s a subtle change but personally I’ve found it makes a big difference in my own music practice.

This improvement applies only to MP3 recordings. We can afford to do some more sophisticated processing if we’re dealing with an audio file as opposed to streaming video. We’ve beefed up our help page on looping to point out the subtle differences in loop precision across the various types of recordings (MP3, video and synthetic playback).

If you’re creating instructional material on Soundslice and you want your students to use perfect loops, we highly recommend using an MP3 recording to take advantage of this. A slice can have multiple recordings, so you can offer your students both an MP3 and a video version as needed (see here for info on multiple recordings — it’s one of my favorite Soundslice features).

Enhanced slowdown and perfect looping are now available sitewide on any slice that has an MP3 recording. You don’t need to have a paid plan in order to use enhanced slowdown, but note that you do need a paid plan in order to add MP3s to slices you create. Enjoy the new features!

We’ve added the ability to color notes in the slices you create. This is nice for visually highlighting certain passages or helping beginners learn to read music.

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Setting colors is easy. Just use our editor to select a bunch of notes, then open the color panel in the “Engraving” section:

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For those of you using other notation software, we’re upgraded our MusicXML importer to import notehead colors as well.

For lots more information, see our new help page about colors. Enjoy!

Note that this feature is limited to people in a paid plan.

Here’s an improvement that should make it easier to organize the music you’re practicing in Soundslice. You can now bookmark any slice sitewide.

Previously, our bookmark feature was only available on slices that were posted to somebody’s public channel. Now, you can bookmark anything — slices in a course you’ve purchased, slices a teacher has assigned you, slices you’ve created yourself but haven’t posted publicly, etc.

To make this possible, we moved the bookmark icon to the top of the slice page. Previously it was in the “sidebar” area, by the slice description, but only certain slices have sidebars. Here’s what it looks like (the orange icon at top):

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As always, your bookmarks are available on a dedicated bookmarks page for easy access. The latest few are also available on your overview page (the main page you see when you log in).

We’ve made several design improvements to Soundslice, mostly with the goal of making the experience even better on small screens such as smartphones. Here’s what’s new.

Consistent view-vs-edit switching

When working with slices that you’ve created, you’ll now always see the Viewing/Editing toggle at the top of the page:

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Previously, we only showed this toggle in our notation editor. Whenever you viewed one of your slices (i.e., not in the editor), you’d see an “Edit” button at lower right of the page. That button is now gone, and our new design is nice and consistent.

Simplified player header on small screens

Previously, whenever you viewed a slice on a small screen, the top of the page would have two horizontal sections — our sitewide navigation and the slice information:

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This took up too much valuable screen space! On a small screen, each pixel counts. So we’ve changed it to use only a single header:

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This seemingly small change makes things feel a lot less cramped and more spacious.

Improved landscape mode on small screens

When viewing a slice on a small screen in landscape mode, you can now move the video to the left of the notation. We’ve also reduced the size of the controlbar, to give your music even more space.

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Native home-screen experience

This one is really nice for people using Soundslice on their phones. You can now get essentially an “app-like” experience by adding Soundslice to your home screen.

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If you add Soundslice to your home screen, you’ll get a Soundslice icon that lets you use Soundslice without any of the usual web browser UI (such as the back button or URL bar). It makes a big difference!

If you use Soundslice a lot on your phone, we highly recommend doing this to make the best use of your screen space. Read more in our new help page.

We’re excited to announce two new instrument visualizations in our player: trombone and trumpet.

As with our existing visual piano keyboard, fretboard and violin, these visualizations show you how to play each note in a graphical fashion. While our player plays music, you’ll see the visualizations animate according to the currently playing notes.

Here’s what the trombone visualization looks like:

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And here’s the trumpet visualization:

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For trombone, since certain notes can be played in multiple positions, we’ve added a “Set trombone slide position” feature to our editor. This lets you specify exactly which position the visualization should use for a particular note. Read more about it here.

For more on the visualizations, including how to enable them as a slice creator, see our new help pages:

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