Translating between the visual and the musical is never a perfect science. But maybe that’s the point — maybe it’s the oblique quality of transforming a picture into a sonic score that’s so appealing.

SonicPhoto is the latest application to attempt the feat. Following in the footsteps of MetaSynth and Photosounder, it makes each pixel a source for harmonic information, scanning across the image from left to right. As such, the process and results are related to those in each tool.

But developer Daniel White has added some twists. He notes that, unlike Photosounder, he has skipped a sound importer or graphic editor, working instead on “convincing andautomatic stereo, as well as a harmony/instrument filter for some amazing music possibilities, etc.” White tells CDM he’s unfamiliar with MetaSynth as he doesn’t own a Mac, but having been a long-time MetaSynth fan, it sounds to me as though the sonic results here are distinct – likely taking advantage of modern processing architectures for greater polyphony – and stereophonic interpolation is more automatic.

A free version is limited to length (15 seconds); paying up to US$99 buys you more time and greater quality. That may frighten away casual users, but the sound design possibilities, for die-hards, seem compelling. You can check out the results in the video.

While other options exist, including a number of tools (see below) that allow the graphical interface to function as an editor, SonicPhoto’s laser-like focus on transforming images into sound might make it interesting to those who want to “hear” photos.


  • Use any picture as import
  • Instrumental and harmonic quantization for adding tonal qualities
  • Presets
  • Automatic stereo spatialization
  • Single-screen GUI
  • Load and save custom projects
  • High-quality renders (low-quality previews
  • One purchase buys unlimited future upgrades; no keys/passwords for authentication of your purchase on install


iZotope Iris: Paint with Spectra, Make a Real-Time Synth [Videos, Gallery]

Sound to Pixels and Back Again: Isolating Instruments with Photosounder

MetaSynth 5 is Here: Graphical Sound-as-Painting Tool, Overhauled

New Ways of Shaping Sound, as Free Linux Instrument is a Bezier-licious Tone Board

Spectral Layers Audio Editor Focuses on Editing Sound Visually, a la Photoshop