Audio File Sharing in the 21st Century

Audio File Sharing has completely evolved.

In the last decade, the way in which engineers share mixes with their client has changed dramatically. Not long ago, if you were trying to get your mix approved by the client, either they were in the studio with you listening on professional monitors or you would print your mix to a cassette or burn it to CD and they would take it to their car and have a listen. Technology has progressed to the point that clients no longer have to come to the studio or even be in the same state in order for them to listen to the mix. Within minutes they can download their mix and listen to it on any number of formats. I’d like to cover some of the ways in which myself and other engineers have used to share projects with clients at Omega Studios.

I think we all have, at one point, emailed our mixes to a client. The limitations to this process are based on the allowable file size by either the sender or receiver’s email service. Currently, most of the major email services (ie. Gmail, Yahoo, AOL) provide a 25 MB size limit. Given that limitation, most likely you’re not going to be able to email a full bandwidth mix. Instead you’ll have to convert to an Mp3 like format. At a Bitrate of 320 kbps you can send approximately a ten minute song. The receiving party will then download the mix and play it most likely through Itunes.

There are many other Cloud services available to chose from. Some of the more popular ones include Google Drive, Dropbox, Wetransfer, and Hightail. They all offer free versions with limitations. I’ll cover what i’ve learned by using or researching about these programs.

As an audio engineer, here are my top recommendations for cloud-based services you can store your music:

Google Drive is a free service that I have had positive results with. The first benefit is that only the sender needs to have an account. Google Drive allows you to upload any file format (ie. Wav, Aiff, Mp3). Google Drive can also be installed on any smartphone. If the receiving party also has it installed, they can play back the file directly. This is true even with 24 bit files. This works flawlessly on android phones. If you have an iphone, you can get the third party app GDrive from the iTunes app store in order to allow streaming of files.

Dropbox– Free version offers 2GB of space and 2GB file uploads. To get more space they offer incentives like invite friends or connect your facebook or twitter accounts. I recently purchased a new android phone and it came with 50 free GB’s of dropbox storage. I have found that the way Dropbox has to sync up with itself each time it’s used in a new location is both cumbersome and time-consuming. Also, the invitation prompting process when sharing files with other people is a bit confusing.

Wetransfer is another popular file transfer service. It’s simply just that. Unlike the other programs that also provide storage, Wetransfer allows you to upload from their website, sends an email to the receiver to link back to their site to begin downloading. Its very streamlined. You don’t even need to register for the free version. Just go to and upload up to 2GB for free. The mobile App is currently only available on the iphone.

Hightail is another online file sharing app that is gaining popularity. Its interface is intuitive and easy to figure out quickly. The free version also gives you 2GB of storage, but it limits you to a 250MB upload at one time. The desktop and iphone versions allow the user to track when the file has been downloaded, which is something they need to fix in the android version. Streaming directly from the client interface has also become standard in most of these applications.

Pro Tools has a new ‘Share with Soundcloud’ option, which allows you to bounce your song internally and send it directly to Soundcloud for public or private listening. This may seem like a legitimate option for you. However, be aware of what quality your clients are referencing. You are able to upload lossless file types at full bandwidth. These are available for download without conversion for your client. The streaming service, however, converts your audio to 128kbps Mp3 quality, which isn’t a desirable option. When streaming, users can make comments at specific spots during the song. No more guessing where your clients are referencing their comments.

If you want to see how we file share and mix, I invite you to check out our studios and come on in to explore.

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