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Original author(s) Edward Williams
Developer(s) The Soundbeam Project / EMS
Initial release 1989
Stable release
Desktop Soundbeam
Operating system Microsoft Windows
Type Special needs education, art installations
License Proprietary

Soundbeam is an interactive MIDI hardware and software system developed by The Soundbeam Project / EMS in which movement within a series of ultrasonic beams is used to control multimedia hardware and software.


Soundbeam uses a combination of ultrasound (sonar) and tangible (foot controller) inputs to generate MIDI messages. The sonar uses 50 kHz signals.[1]

The latest version SOUNDBEAM 6 incorporates many of the features of both soundbeam 2 - 5. It has a full touchscreen interface, inbuilt sampling, inbuilt high quality sounds, inbuilt mini keyboard - it comes with a wide and varied sample / sound library and with 37 preset soundsets for immediate musical composition and performance. It now also includes film that is embedded with each Soundset and you can also add your own film. The film is triggered by the switches.

Version history[edit]

Release Dates Status
Soundbeam 1 1989-1998 Discontinued
Soundbeam 2 1998-2010 Discontinued
Desktop Soundbeam 2003-2012 Discontinued
Soundbeam 5 2010-2016 Discontinued
Soundbeam 6 2017–present In production


Originally designed by Edward Williams for the production of avant-garde dance music, Soundbeam has been used primarily in the field of special needs education due to the minimal physical movement required for its operation. David Jackson's Tonewall project has utilized Soundbeam since 1992.[2]

Due to the system's ability for expansion with four sensors and eight switches, installations have included DAW synchronization (such as with Reason or Ableton), as well as live video manipulation such as Arkaos, (Resolume and Vvvv). There are many thousands of users of Soundbeam throughout the world, and there are many film examples available on YouTube and on the Soundbeam projects website.


  1. ^ "Music and Movement: Soundbeam 2 MIDI Performance Controller". Reviews: MIDI Controller. Sound on Sound. October 2001. Retrieved 4 January 2009. 
  2. ^ "David Jackson's Tonewall". Jaxon Tonewall. 6 November 2007. Archived from the original on July 24, 2008. Retrieved 4 January 2009. 

External links[edit]