SoundMaker and SoundMagicFX plugins (1997)

SoundMagicFX icons

Written by mh.

SoundMaker by Alberto Ricci is sound editor for Mac (68k and PPC), released in 1997. It is the commercial upgrade to his earlier free software, SoundEffects, from a few years prior. I have tried to get in contact with Ricci since I started using the software, but no luck so far. I found an email address on his old 2003 website, but, unsurprisingly, it didn’t go through. It seems he might work at Apple these days.

SoundMagicFX by Michael Norris is a suite of plugins for SoundMaker. The plugins are still available for download at Michael Norris’ website, but the shareware plugins folder requires a password and, when imported into SoundMaker, requires a registration code to use them.

Upon realizing this, I contacted Michael Norris and asked if I could obtain a license. He got back to me, but unfortunately he didn’t remember the password after all these years. Further research into the plugins led me to an interview with Markus Popp/Oval, who apparently was using SoundMaker and the Norris plugins in the late 90s. So I contacted him and asked if he had them somewhere on an old machine. Not more than a day later he got back to me with the passwords.

I have received permission from Michael Norris himself to share the password for the shareware folder and registration code here. But please do understand that these are not supported anymore and have long since been replaced by his realtime plugins, SoundMagic Spectral.

“Shareware Effects” bundle archive password:


Registration Code:


If you end up using this, please consider donating to Norris himself at

The non-realtime rendering of SoundMaker reminds me of working in Composer’s Desktop Project/CDP, though CDP seems to process even slower, even on a modern laptop. But I really am liking this very different way of working. Load up a file, load up a process, adjust, wait for 10-60 seconds, result. Listen, adjust, process, result. Because of the limited memory of my Powerbook, I can’t really go nuts with the processes, as it will quickly run out of memory and tell me so right away. So I find myself working with quite short audiofiles, which I then process and save different versions of for later use. So I end up having this little sound bank after each SoundMaker session that I can then arrange, re-sample, whatever, on my modern laptop (which, as of this post, is from 2012). I really don’t mind the DAW puzzle micro-arrangement workflow, since it really forces me to work with and perceive time on a wholly different scale. I wonder if this will push me to compose very short pieces. Micro works. Time to finally pick up a copy of Microsound I guess.

SoundMaker 1.0.3

SoundEffects 0.9.2


Alberto Ricci’s site (Not updated since 2003)

Michael Norris’ site

SoundMagicFX documentation

Tips and findings

When putting in the shareware folder password, I had to try two different compression tools on my modern laptop, as the first one (which might have been the macOS standard one) didn’t accept the password, but another one did.

I have tried Ricci’s SoundEffects, but it is quite lacking compared to SoundMaker. It doesn’t even feature an ‘undo’ function. I tried to import the SoundMagicFX plugins into SoundEffects, but they don’t show up. In case you wanted to try it out. So as of now I haven’t found any reason to use SoundEffects over SoundMaker.

When I first imported the SoundMagicFX plugins into SoundMaker, it took me a while to realize that most - if not all - of the GUIs for the proccesse, both standard and Norris ones, didn’t output. It just used the default GUI settings every single time. Trashing the preference folder and re-registrering did the trick and now everything works.


A few examples of what I had lying about. If you’d like to add your own more interesting examples, get in touch. Input for all of these examples is acoustic guitar.

Mock Funeral Audio · SoundMaker & SoundMagicFX: Strum 1a
Mock Funeral Audio · SoundMaker & SoundMagicFX: Strum 1b
Mock Funeral Audio · Soundmaker Strum 1c
Mock Funeral Audio · SoundMaker & SoundMagicFX: Strum 2c
Mock Funeral Audio · SoundMaker & SoundMagicFX: Strum 2b
Mock Funeral Audio · SoundMaker & SoundMagicFX: Strum 2a

This is an interesting one. I tried to process a file that was a bit long and very quickly during the process rendering, it ran out of memory and cancelled the operation. Sometimes when SoundMaker does this, it will still have rendered some of the file. Sometimes when it does this, it just glitches out completely for some of the file. Absolutely lovely sounds. After this I ran the same process again and it glitched out again, but when I went to save the file, the glitching had disappeared from the file. It didn’t even appear in the waveform anymore. It was only there for a brief moment. I still haven’t been able to recreate this.

Mock Funeral Audio · SoundMaker & SoundMagicFX: Memory glitch

Here some of the manipulated files from SoundMaker are mangled by a a ppooll patch on a modern laptop. I ought to have used lloopp for Max/MSP 4, but well.

Mock Funeral Audio · SoundMaker, SoundMagicFX & Ppooll 1


Full view:

Soundmaker, full view

SoundMaker effects menu:

SoundMaker effects menu

SoundMaker, Mike Norris effects menu:

Norris FX menu

Time varying stretch:

Timevarying stretch



And the best: the tonedialer:


· SoundMaker, SoundMagicFX, Alberto Ricci, Michael Norris, OS9, 1997