Currently I am collecting some music and sounds for an upcoming D&D campaign. It would be simple to set up an iPod with speakers for managing the music, but I want both music and a sound board of sound effects which are gathered by me.

How can I play the tracks effectively? I am looking for a simple solution which lets me use both music and those sound effects. Android, iOS, or PC(Windows or Ubuntu) solutions would work though mobility is still undetermined.

Also simplicity beats complexity.


2 Answers 2


I wrote an application for doing this kind of thing: RPG Ambience. It's an HTML5 app that works in at least the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, and Internet Explorer.

At this point it's intended to be controlled with the keyboard, which is pretty handy and fast if you have a limited selection of sounds. I'm working on a visual playback interface that will be helpful when you have too many sounds to easily memorize keyboard shortcuts for all of them.

Right now all files are imported into and stored locally in your browser. Integration with Google Drive will soon be available, though.

Playing sound effects over the music would involve putting all sound effects on the foreground layer, so that they don't interrupt the music that is currently playing.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Will there be a way to use this on a tablet(iPad or android nexus 7)? Being online it looks good and simple enough to use, but not quite what I expected. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Mar 24, 2013 at 11:28
  • \$\begingroup\$ I haven't yet had the chance to test it on tablets. My guess is that using an on-screen keyboard to control it will not be optimal or even possible depending on how the keyboard works. The visual playback interface that I have planned should make tablet use easier. The application itself is designed with the assumption that both sound and visuals are used, so it has some features that might be in the way if all you want is a soundboard. \$\endgroup\$
    – Jakob
    Commented Mar 24, 2013 at 12:21
  • \$\begingroup\$ After looking at it, I see what you mean. The visuals are a good touch. I may have to find a second solution for specific sound effects, but I think your application will work great for ambient music. If I set up the play area well I could include a monitor/tv in the background with the image or text for each scene. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Mar 24, 2013 at 12:27
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    \$\begingroup\$ In that case, you might want to wait a bit before accepting this answer, to encourage others to suggest tools specifically tailored towards sound effects. \$\endgroup\$
    – Jakob
    Commented Mar 24, 2013 at 12:39

Perhaps try downloading FMOD Studio? It's a middleware tool designed for developing and mixing audio in electronic games, but it can easily be used to control audio for tabletop RPGs, as well.

After all, it's designed for the task: It can design, mix, and control game audio on-the-fly, and (more importantly) it allows you to audition what you create, so you can effectively use the tool as a sort of complicated DJ-ing interface. Plus, it can be downloaded and used free of charge, provided you don't make any profit as a result.

In the interests of full disclosure, I'm an employee of Firelight Technologies.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Not quite what I was looking for, but I may look into it for making more complex tracks (such as multi-layer tracks with birds and leaves over the music in a forest). I may use this as part of the prep for a session, but not in game as simplicity is a key part(to prevent being overwhelmed as DM). \$\endgroup\$ Commented Mar 25, 2013 at 7:11
  • \$\begingroup\$ You can do simple stuff, as well. You could just use it as a way of managing playlists and queuing up canned sound effects in one place. I do admit, however, that using it for a game requires some preparation before play. \$\endgroup\$
    – GMJoe
    Commented Mar 26, 2013 at 2:42

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