I enjoyed working through Sounds Active (see previous post). However, for a princely sum I commissioned a typical 16 year old student who might use Sounds Active in their studies to write a short review. Here it is:
After playing around with the lessons and tutorials of this programme it has proved itself as a extensive interactive learning tool for those studying music tech. After the somewhat lengthy registration process, installation was a bliss and there was no glitches in the operation of the programme. I had a brief look at the tutorial which was pretty much self-explanatory and then moved on to the mountains of lessons offered, the ‘Sound Section’ is a great intro to the ‘scheme’ and I particularly enjoyed experimenting with the different harmonics and frequencies. Going on through the menus of lessons was rather tedious and maybe some animation (page turning?) between the pages wouldn’t go a miss, however in saying this I must mention the actual content was flawless. As you move through the different lessons which are categorised under main headings, ‘Sound’, ‘Spaces’, ‘Equalisation’, you find that these are then categorised again into five tabs, thus giving the user the ability to jump to the section that they need without having to plough through hundreds of pages. All of the tabs include a summary section which covers the main points that you will be needing to remember, which when coming to exam season will be helpful for many students.
Ultimately after working through the previous 4 tabs the final tab gives you the chance to mix together a 16 track recording. You can scroll through all of the tracks on the realistic mixing desk and mess around with the different dials and sliders with some ‘interesting’ results. But have no fear, for the more unaware student there is a step by step guide to making your mix of the song sound respectable and rather professional. The fact that all the previous work ties into the final ‘performance’ gives the user a feeling of success and is quite enjoyable to hear all the sound and effects learnt fall into place.
From a design perspective, I liked the stripped back styling and background image (singular), maybe some other images to place in the background relating to the different tabs? Also a search function would be helpful for, well, searching. These issues though are picky when looking at a great learning tool with some fantastic and interesting information which, when appealing to a teenage audience, is something of a miracle.