Sound Cue Playback Tools

When I asked on the Theatre-Sound List  for suggestions of software tools that permit playback of sound cues for Theatre, I received lots of suggestions. I was asking specifically about tools that work under Windows. My primary laptop runs Mac OS and I use QLab from Figure 53, but I have a secondary laptop that runs Windows and I wanted to put it into service for playback as well. I occasionally run into situations where I need my primary system, but also have a gig needing playback. So I gathered together all the suggested products (and a couple comments from folks) for reference.

  • Richmond Sound Design’s SoundMan-Server: Charlie Richmond just about wrote the book on Theatrical sound playback technology, I recall reading a paper of his presented at an AES conference on Sound Reinforcement in 1986.
  • SFX
  • CSC Show Control not be confused with
  • SCS Show Cue System
  • CueMaster: developed by a Theatre-Sound List subscriber because he could not find a system that did what he needed.
  • Black Cat Systems Sound Byte: this is more of a “cart machine” than a cue stack, but it does have some MIDI automation. It is available for Windows, Mac OSX, and iOS.
  • MultiPlay: as of Feb. 2016 this is not under active development, so no new bug fixes and as new versions of Windows come out there are likely to be driver issues. As a note, MultiPlay was mentioned by more people than any of the others, but that may be because of the cost, FREE.
 Free Version (channels)Demo / Trial Version (channels)Price Range (outputs)
Windows Software
SoundMan-ServerYes (2)No$0 (2)
lots of steps
$7554 (999)
CSCYes (2)No£0 (2)
£84 (8)
£399 (32)
SFXYes (2)Yes (upon request)US$ 295
including support and updates
SCSNoYes (4)US$58 (2)
US$100 (4)
US$149 (16)
US$199 (32)
US$249 (512)
+ annual support
Mac OSX Software
QLabYes (2)Yes, 20 minutesUS$0 (2)
US$199 (8)
US$399 (48)
+ rental options
iOS Applications
Go ButtonYes, 1 ShowYes, 1 ShowUS$0 (1 show)
Windows / Mac OSX / iOS
Sound ByteNoYesUS$39 (1 rack of carts)
US$79 (5 racks of carts)
US$149 (50 racks of carts)

Beware iDNS (and others)

Everything on the Internet has a numeric address, much like your phone number. The system that converts names (like to numbers is called DNS or the Domain Name System and it is much like your phone’s address book. In order to use a name on the Internet you need to register that name.

In the early days of the Internet there was only one name registrar, Network Solutions, and all names cost $35/year. Today there are many, many name registrars, of which Network Solutions is still one; others include GoDaddy and the one I use DynaDot. They all provide essentially the same service. They are all free to charge whatever they like. Prices seem to average about $8 to $10 / year per name. You need to renew your registration every so often and you can pre-pay for multiple years at a time.

This is where iDNS comes in. Since the records of who has registered what names and when the registrations expire are all public, anyone can lookup when one of my Internet names is expiring and who I am. Since I have over 10 names registered, I regularly receive US Mail (spam) from a company named iDNS “reminding” me to renew my domain name. Of course the fine print at the bottom says that by filling out this form I will be transferring and renewing my domain name, at a rate of $45/year. I just toss these in the recycle pile.

Today I had a client I work with tell me that he got a renewal notice in the mail for one of his domain names. That made sense as it is going to expire in about a month. Then he showed it to me. It was from iDNS (his name is registered with Network Solutions) with a rate quote of $45/year. I told him to shred it.

So if you have registered Internet domain names, read any renewal notice you get carefully. iDNS is not the only registrar spending real money sending US Mail to try to get you to switch your names to them, at higher rates than anyone else I have seen.

ZFS Resources / Links

I see some of the same questions come across a variety of mailing lists. Often times the questions are phrased differently, but they are essentially asking the same things over and over again. This is not a bad thing as new people are introduced to ZFS and start asking about it. I find that I am sending people to a number of links where people who know more about ZFS than I have already answered the questions. To simplify giving out all these URLs I am gathering them up here for reference in one place. Expect this list to grow as I find more good write-ups on ZFS and ZFS related topics.

These will all open in a new tab or window.

Matthew Ahrens on RAIDz stripe width

Richard Elling on MTTDL and ZFS configurations MTTDL == Mean Time To Data Loss or a relative measure of how safe your data will be

My ZFS Resilver Observations from replacing a drive in 2014

My ZFS Performance vs ZPOOL Layout results from testing I did while at a client in 2010

FreeBSD Wiki ZFS Tuning Guide FreeBSD specific, slightly dated, has some recommendations but does not fully explain them