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[English] Organizing Your Own SOUND Library

Organizar nuestra propia fonoteca, un desafío que nos ayuda a la hora de editar audio. | Organizing our own sound library, a challenge that helps us when editing audio.

It is one thing to create a sound library and another to make and maintain a personal sound library. That, which we use daily to create our works.

For years I’ve been looking for the ideal way to organize my personal library (with sounds of my own, I’m not talking about external sound effects that are usually already organized in a certain way).

As I don’t usually use other people sound effects, the collection of recordings, soundscapes, interviews and effects that I have, is really big.

Diving through countless long files to find specific sounds is such a daunting task that I often choose to re-record or change my ideas about the project rather than look for:
«that sound I once recorded in the cave of…

First Steps in Organization

To start my own sound library I talked to some colleagues about how they order their audios. I researched the subject on the web and defined my own needs. That’s how I designed my own system of organization.

The classification system is not the same for everyone, each person has and always establishes his or her own order.

Creating a system, putting it into practice and adapting ideas and formats from other systems is the key. Therefore, explaining how I created my own sound library, the conclusions and decisions that I have made during the process can help you to create your own system.

At first I wanted to follow the method commonly used in music libraries which is the most suitable for sharing audios and records. However, the volume of metadata to be inserted in each file is so large and rigorous that it is impossible for me to do so with all my files every time I record.

First point to consider:

I need a system that’s easy to name and label. The system has to be so simple that I can remember it and not be too lazy to put it into practice every time I record an audio.

At first I thought about creating a system that would allow me to name the audios properly from the recorder itself, but it turned out that since there are very few characters that the recorder allows me to enter, it ended up being a code that I never remembered.

So I preferred that the recorder only put the date of recording, to have a temporal reference, when I pass the audios to the computer.

Then I started using the cloud sound effects manager and bank called Soundly, which has a very intuitive interface to find sounds, but here the problem was that it mainly handles short duration sounds.

Second point to consider:

I need a software and/or organization that allows me to work with audios longer than 30 minutes, even hours. I can’t have duration restrictions due to the software.

Something similar happened to me when I implemented sample organization methods, methods used by electronic music producers. But this research, gave me ideas about how to categorize sounds.

Third point to consider:

Tagging sounds is critical to finding what you’re looking for quickly and accurately.

Considering the points mentioned above, I developed the following form of organization for my sound library.

Here are some of the things that seem most important to me:

  • The organization should respond to a common folder system, not software, the software should be an organizational complement.

Folder Structure

Define a structure of folders and subfolders with clear parameters The folders should be general and I don’t want to have many subfolders within a main folder.

Main Folders: Raw, Unclassified, Edited in Clean, Edited in Finished.
Subfolders: Objects, Soundscapes, Interviews, FX, Samples, Loops, Music.

Name parameters

  1. Which parent folder it belongs to.
  2. Which subfolder it belongs to.
  3. Name of the file containing descriptive words.
  4. Shot number.
  5. Audio quality (good, bad, regular)
  6. Sample Rate of the recording.
  7. Audio duration.

That’s what the file name would look like:

  • Raw_Objects_Rice in a glass cup_01_GOOD_48Khz_2min
  • CRUDE_INTERVIEW_Lady of the Volcano Paricutín Purépecha_03_BADAudio_48Khz_1hour


Each audio has its own tags that help define it, but it also has common tags:

mono # stereo #rhythmic #oneshot #loop #country #recording_date #bitrate #samplerate #outdoorgrace #studio recording #recorder #mic type

Software I use

AudioShell: to rename the files (Tag and rename, Freeware)
Tag&Rename: to rename the files (Tag and Rename, Freeware).
ADSR Sample Manager: to tag them and search them in the database easily. This software besides being very intuitive has the advantage of analyzing the tempo and the note in which the audios are.

It is a simple system that takes time to put into practice but for now it is giving me very good results.

Other Resources:

Metadatos: Creando tu propia fonoteca y Metadatos: La importancia de los sonidos

Author: Sol Rezza
Editor | Corrector: Franco Falistoco

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