Most embedded audio players offer a tiny player with the basics: play/pause and a progress bar.
While this design works great for the casual listener, Soundcloud has another audience in mind. Musicians, producers and sound engineers want to do more than listen to a track. They want to provide feedback on specific details. The bass at 2:36 needs more compression. There’s a mic out of phase at 4:01. Can we try another patch for this one chord in the bridge?
In order to allow this kind of collaboration, Alex and the guys at Soundcloud could have used a standard player and tossed a comment stream below it. Instead they decided to expand the player and allow commenters to add notes directly inside on the waveform itself. The result is pretty cool. People can post tracks and receive a flurry of comments attached directly to the waves.
The player spans the full width of the screen, so it’s easier to set the playhead at the exact spot you want. Commentor’s avatars appear in the bottom of the player, and their comments pop up on hover.
They also scratched my persistant itch for larger link targets in their “Actions” section of the sidebar:
Soundcloud is still in private beta, but Signal vs. Noise readers can check it out with this link: http://soundcloud.com/guestlist/signalvsnoise .