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I really struggle with filling out the category and subcategory field in Basehead, because I have no way of keeping track of the categories I use (except a clumpsy workflow where I need to look through at a spreadsheet each time I have to make an entry.

Would REALLY love to see some sort of preset/list/user definable dropdown for these fields!

I know you don't like comparisons with rival programs, but they have a way of doing it like this:

slack imgs

Here's an article explaining the workflow there: https://www.creativefieldrecording.com/2017/08/02/soundminer-adds-fx-categorysubcategory-presets-auto-populate/


@contact would love this feature! Anything to speed up the workflow and consistency of metadata is very helpful. 

28 Answers
Topic starter

Also check out this playlist 🙂 https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLLjgSBleNYmtweSV3PGUTqVXubwEQTDzI

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Pro Sound Effects is joining the system as well 😀 https://blog.prosoundeffects.com/universal-category-system-announcement

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This is actually an excellent example of why the Universal Category System makes sense 🙂 Maybe some inspiration for implementation?

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The excellent "UCS Reaper Renaming Tool" here might also be an inspiration for how this could be implemented in BaseHead. It works really smoothly 🙂

Just rambling in the void here - hope someone is listening 😛

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Yeah - I really hope we will. Haven't heard too much from the BaseHead team about it yet, but I keep my fingers crossed 🤞

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Would it be possible to get a comment from someone on the BaseHead team about the futures of BH and UCS? I have a lot of my own and commercial libraries that I'd like to convert to UCS, and I hope I will be able to stay in BaseHead doing that...

Topic starter

Thanks for the reply Jason – and thanks for using a fart example 😉

I totally understand that UCS does not fit your personal workflow, and recognise that there will never be a system that suits everyone, and no system will ever be 100 % perfect. I do however believe that having the OPTION for a universal system, is much better than everyone using their own system. I do however think that it can be an immense help to new users who don’t have their own category system, or people willing to take the time to adapt to the system.

So I don’t think anyone should be forced to use the system, but I think it would be very valuable for BaseHead to have it as an option.

My idea for it would be inspired be the thesaurus already in BaseHead. So you could choose to use the UCS as a template for category and subcategory, or use your own system. Maybe reading the data from a spreadsheet?

To me it seems that many people are interested in UCS, and I have spoken to several people who have chosen SM over BH specifically because of the lack of UCS and plans of implementation.

Also, several library providers and companies are implementing UCS. E.g. Pro Sound Effects and Boom. Here are a few links to companies I found that are already using UCS:


Also, check the amount of upvotes and comments on this thread - the people have spoken 😄 (Just kidding, I know you cannot put the BH logo on the moon just because users upvote the idea)

Thank for taking the time to discuss this!


NO system will be able to accommodate everyone's needs, and within UCS there is also all sorts of ambiguity and questionable categorization. I myself also wondered many times about very similar cases to what Jason mentioned as examples but just got used to the system anyway because that's what was around. In the end, effective searches will always rely on additional metadata within keywords/description, so it's an important part of creating that data, and up to the maker/recordist/creator to put in concise keywords that produce least chances of false positives.

Nonetheless, even if UCS isn't adopted as a core standard into Basehead, I think it would be very smart -- and gracious -- to provide some means of working with[in] the UCS standard to those users who want that. Filenaming as per UCS is again a great example of such potential functionality.


It's an interesting idea to have a standard to work from, not something I like to get into the debate about because people like to have their own ideas on the matter, but it's almost the same as having a standard for musical Genre that everyone must agree upon. No matter how much you try and constrain it, someone will always feel that something tagged as "Alternative Rock" is actually "Grunge" or want to reinvent things or make additions etc. Every tagging system suffers from this and unfortunately, human nature throws spanners in the works with this kind of thing becasue everyone is different and everyone wants it to work the way they do. 

There is also language and culture considerations when making anything a standard and then the question would be, is it an "open standard" that others can contirubute to or would allowances be made to allow some custom ability in the case where things don't fit? Or is it created by a specific few people and then expected to be followed as much as possible? 

I've had this same discussion with companies like Native Instruments and other VST vendors when the NKS system came out and was driven around an organised tagging scheme. It was initially far too restrictive in what they chose as tag options for instruments and sounds and since I develop NKS for a massive range of instruments I decided myself their tagging format was far too limited and designed my own tagging scheme which was eventually mostly changed and merged in an update to the tagging system which is now what is available but still, users all over disagree with how some things should be labelled such as "is a Bell a mallet or a percussion instrument" since it uses a mallet but only has a single tone likening it more to a percussive instrument?

One thing to keep in mind is that sound management software is used in many different industries and there is a differing of terms for instance between managing samples and content for music production as opposed to sound design when considering tagging. For instance, I watched the YT vid on Tims overview of it and instantly I picked out of the Ambience category off the bat, nothing that would fit my own category for Electronic/Synth ambience sounds as it is from the mindset of a sound designer, not a producer, so a lot of things to consider to try and design such a broad standard. 

I would certainly welcome the ability to have a selection box to select the categories and the ability to easily edit any of the categories and have it apply to all records. Having a standard for this that all companies would adhere to seems like a mammoth task to get everyone on board but maybe a basic "starter" list with the ability to add some additional tagging for ones own needs would be an advantage. I highly doubt we will see any standard fully adopted tho. 

@jasona Thanks for the reply Jason, these are some really good points!!

I think a system like this definitely should be optional, and the user should be able to modify it – exactly like the Thesaurus in BaseHead. A universal system will never be perfect for everyone, but it could be a good starting point for having a more unified use of categories across sound libraries, which is something I sense many people want.

Tim is a least trying to be inclusive, and make polls in this Facebook group, to get people's opinions on the categories in the system: https://www.facebook.com/groups/UCSFX/

However, I do think adding the Universal Category System to Basehead would be a great benefit for a lot of people, and it would fit right in the spirit of keeping things open and shareable BaseHead already has 🙂 I know other people like asoundeffect.com and Soundly are working implementing the system, so it would be great if BaseHead could work with the system as well.

A managed category system that allows selection using dropdowns is a great idea, I have upvoted this thread as it's something I would love to see. Would probably have to see how the "UCS" idea pans out since it's still in a draft stage and would need input from some of the larger content providers.


Steve may jump in, this is all just my own opinion on the subject and I personally don't use commercial libraries and these are the people that would need to be convinced to change their ways and get on board since they are the ones supplying the industry and no one wants to spend all their personal time retagging libraries.

We have had a look and discussed the possibility, from Steve's POV it doesn't seem "difficult" to really implement from a technical standpoint, I think the concern he and I both have is how suitable the tagging is for certain classes of effects, how interested other developers would be in formatting their years of catalogues to a new standard and peoples current way of doing things and the flexibility to also allow users custom tagging or not and the wider uptake from developers to make it actually useful on more than an individuals level.

There are a LOT of considerations with a new standard which on the surface appears like a great idea to the individual and I'm all for a more universal system if possible but to others it's like trying to reclassify the endless genres of music into a specific list of categories that everyone must agree to use where you need to fit every peg and in some cases the categories are more of a personal thing than technical and people will disagree with the classification of some things while wanting others to be added etc. Try asking all countries in the world to agree to only use one of the following words from here on out: pavement, sidewalk, foot path... 

Here's a quick example of usability concern for me personally simply based on the fact not everyone is American.

Based on the way I have been cataloguing my own sounds for the last 15 years, I have a single tag called "vehicles" with sub categories for vehicle types and classes of sounds so if I need a train sound for instance, I go to the vehicles category then to "trains" (since a train is a type of vehicle) and that's intuitive because to me, Main Category is "what is the class of sound: vehicle" and sub is "what is the type of sound: train". From there I use keyword tagging to class the sound types within trains which I can easily filter with a simple keyword search (steam, diesel, track, horn). 

Switching to UCS this is where my train falls off the track:

In UCS the main category of vehicles does not contain trains as it has its own "trains" main category... So I may say "ok, I guess that's fine because there are different train types and sounds (even though I use keywords for that I can live with it). I then assume "well there are many different types of trucks from delivery trucks to large road trains, military trucks, petrol and diesel trucks, horns, trailers etc. so that must also be a main category... Nope! I find my "truck" label under Vehicles > "Truck, Van, SUV".... Why the hell is Truck and SUV the same thing??? Of course when I try find a big 12 cylinder turbo charged truck engine I find nothing at all... 

Now I know exactly why this is and this is a valid point to highlight that not everyone thinks the same... I am from Australia so in America "Truck" means "pickup truck" which we call it a "Ute" short for utility vehicle and I would class this under "4WD Vehicles" which also covers off roaders but "Vans" are a separate vehicle as they are completely different, but here in Australia "Truck" means "Semi Trailer" and I actually find my query in UCS under "Vehicle > Freight" and there is no way to sub categorise the different types of trucks from small delivery to large road train sounds.... I have to use tagging for that which is why I think "why not just use tagging for trains and boats too and have these all under vehicles"

This is all just my opinion and everyone has their own, but this is where a standard appears great for maybe one group but for another it's a case of "nah, stick with my way". In my collection I would never tag a Ute as a "Truck", nor would I call a truck a tractor which again, difference in geography some will call it a "tractor trailer" and to me, a tractor is something you use to plow your farm. I'm not about to suggest the rest of the world calls pickup trucks Utes to fit my own way of thinking... This is just one example which can be worked around but then it's not intuitive to my way of thinking. 

Another quick example as I flicked through the list again... 

I want a good fart sound and go straight to "Human" category... nothing there. 

I then note there is actually a "Fart" category with different sub categories for real/fake/misc.

I instinctively think when I want a fart, it's a human sound and that is where I would go to look. For me personally I would not feel I have enough farts in me to need 3 levels of classification for them, i'd just assign a simple keyword to them and place them under "human" along with cough, sneeze, snore etc... 

Rest assured tho, it is a feature we know has some interest and anything of interest is considered if it is possible and feasible, just need to make sure that it does not cause issues with the users who may have no interest in this solution and of course it needs to actually work and be usable. It may be an optional feature that when enabled will force you to use the UCS tagging, maybe could even auto match current categories to the UCS equivalent, who knows, No idea but suggestions on how it would be implemented are welcome since I know not everyone out there is keen on the idea so it needs to be at the very least optional. 

Just don't get all excited in the hope for it in the immediate future as it can take years for a standard like this to even be implemented and figured out. 


Yep it has been noted and is in the think tank.




I'd also like to see UCS as an option. Maybe at least and option with a list of categories, sub categories, custom, etc, so I don't have to type every time. Batch renaming then comes very handy with the all the available fields. Already made some presets for renaming and works nice when i need it too.  


UCS please!!!


note that steps towards this feature are now in progress. You can offer feedback, suggestions via this dedicated thread now: 


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