Have you ever listened to a radio programme, and you hear the announcer play short audio clips and funny sounds, often in response to something that is happening on air? Perhaps you wondered how they managed to find those sounds so quickly, and how they managed to play them at just the right moment.
There is a very high possibility the radio station was using a piece of software called a Cart Wall.
A Cart Wall is an instant audio player, in the form of a ‘wall’ of squares. Each square has a sound allocated to it (of your choosing). You can choose the colour, and how it is labelled. When you click the square with your mouse, the audio plays instantly.
A Cart Wall is ideally suited to the second studio computer, so that it is played through a separate audio channel on the mixer. Alternatively, some cart walls come as part of a radio automation package, and is routed through the software’s second output to a different channel on the mixer. That is so it can be controlled separately.
Most cart wall systems will allow you to build many different ‘walls’ and save them with different names (eg: Breakfast 1, Drive, Weekend).
While all cart walls make it easy to start playing audio, stopping will vary, depending on the system. Some systems require you to hit a stop key over on the side; with others, you click on the square a second time to stop playback – some will stop instantly, others will fade out.
The cart wall is extremely useful for music intros, music stings, fun sound effects, music beds that play under the announcer’s voice…in fact any situation where instant audio is required.
Automation systems like Simian and RadioBOSS come with a cart wall included. Alternatively, there is a range of proprietary cart wall software available online. Some are free, including DACFree.
Click here to watch a video about how the Cart Wall can be used.