It is rare for a software product to still work 10 years after it was first written, let alone 19 years. But that is the case with Sports Sounds Pro (SSP).
Developed in 1999 by Bill Buschmeier, SSP does one job really well, plays music files using a cart/button style interface. A software version of Instant Replay.
Sports Sounds Pro main interface
Running on Windows, it is a lightweight application (less than a megabyte) that features a grid of buttons. Click a button, and you instantly play that track. A page can have up to 48 buttons, but you can have up to 180 pages, IE over 8,600 tracks can be loaded.
Bill made it to be used a sporting events, hence the name. He is not in the production industry and that was never his main market. Bill is just a guy that saw the need to be able to play music stings at his son’s baseball games, could not find something cost effective so in 1999 he wrote it himself.
In the first year of its life, Sports Sounds was Freeware. As the user base grew and the requests for additional features were received along with the increased need for user support, he started charging for it.
Fast forward 17 years and he is still selling SSP largely unchanged from it’s early iterations. The interface does show it’s age. According to Bill’s Facebook page, he works at Home Depot in appliance sales so SSP is obviously a side project.
I first came across SSP in 2006 when I was doing a job in San Francisco and the local guys were running it. It was cheap, so I promptly bought a couple of copies.
There are other products, both hardware and software, that do what SSP does and they range in cost from around $3,000 to $10,000+. SSP costs $149 USD so it is a bargain.
The button interface is ideal for situations where flexibility is needed. In unscripted events, you need to be able to access a lot of tracks fast depending on what is going on and SSP does this really well. The programme does have a search function so if a track is not on the current page, it can be found and played out quickly.
As tracks are played, Total Time, Elapsed Time and Remaining Time are displayed. Information critical for running a tight show. Once the track has been played, it changes colour, stopping you from running track twice by accident.
Other features include fade, crossfade, loop, normalise and you can set the in and out points. Feature wise, this is not a very exciting tool. It is though, absolutely rock solid. I have literally run thousands of cues over ten years and have never had a single issue.
Like I said, a boring product that does a simple job well, and absolutely reliable. Sometimes that is precisely what you need.