This theme has a retro, artistic look and feel with some nice features for bands to promote themselves like a music player, image slider and gig calendar. It includes the Soliloquy slider premium plugin and utilizes several features from the Jetpack plugin. Tuned Balloon is also compatible with WooCommerce, or alternatively, the Easy Digital Downloads plugin can be used to implement an e-commerce store on your site for selling media.
Tuned Balloon is a fairly feature-packed theme, offering the following:
- WordPress theme customizer
- Responsive design
- .psd files for music player and social media icons
- Custom post formats
- Right-to-Left (RTL) language support
- Utilizes features from Jetpack plugin
- Styled for WooCommerce and Contact Form 7 plugins
- Soliloquy slider plugin included
- Widgetized homepage, footer and sidebars
- Custom and responsive menu
- .po and .mo files included
- Custom page templates
- Child theme support for advanced customization.
Installation and Initial Setup
The theme download file includes documentation, the Soliloquy plugin, data files for importing sample posts and widgets as used in the demo, a .psd of the theme graphics, and WordPress files included both as an unzipped directory for FTP upload and as a .zip file for easy installation via the WordPress dashboard.
The images used in the theme demo are not included with the theme and some customization is required after initial installation to emulate the look of the live preview.
The Soliloquy Slider premium plugin is included with the theme and needs to be installed separately before it can be used. You’ll also need to install the Jetpack plugin, GigPress, and Recent Posts Extended to make full use of all the features of the theme. It’s recommended to use the Easy Digital Downloads plugin if you wish to sell media from the site but the theme is also compatible with WooCommerce
You can use the Widget Import & Export plugin to import all the widgets used in the demo from the included .wie file. All plugins must be installed before importing the file. I still got a couple of error messages that widgets were incompatible with the theme on importing the file, even after installing all the plugins
To create a menu like the one on the demo, you’ll also need to create a custom menu displaying the custom home and bio pages, news page (posts page) and categories for media, discography and tours. The media page is intended for displaying all music video and image post formats (you’ll need to select the media category when writing posts). Discography is intended for audio posts only. Tours can be used for posts with date and location information of upcoming gigs.
This is what the theme looks like straight out of the box if you don’t import the sample posts and widgets:
In order to keep things simple, rather than a separate options panel, Tuned Balloon utilizes the core customization feature within WordPress to adjust the look of the site, with all customizations made with real-time preview. This makes it really easy to see the effect that changes you make are having on the site without having to switch back and forth between browser tabs.
This function can be found under Appearance > Customize and offers options to edit the:
- Site title and tagline
- Header Image
- Background Image
- Choose from a static or dynamic front page
There’s no in-built way to change fonts but this can be achieved by editing the code via the Custom CSS function of the Jetpack plugin.
There are a lot of custom widgets included with this theme, which make it easy to build a site with lots of useful features for music fans.
As well as the basic WordPress widgets, these include:
- Social networking icons for footer with ticket stub graphics
- A biography widget for the home page
- A top image for the homepage
- Music player
- Record image
There are also several widgetized sidebars set up for the homepage that require external plugins such as GigPost and Recent Posts Extended. You’ll need to set the homepage to static homepage rather than recent posts to make use of these widgetized areas.
There are 4 different templates to choose from for the homepage, which I cover in “Page Templates”, below.
The music player widget is pretty easy to set up and use. Simply upload MP3 files via the WordPress media upload and change the song URLs in the widget to those of your files. A maximum of seven tracks can be used with this music player.
The audio player also includes graphics and is displayed as a record player with animated effects, which makes it unique and much more attractive than standard audio players.
One big downside about the homepage music player is that once you click on a track to play, it launches in a new window and this can’t be changed. It’s a shame that users are taken away from the nice theme to a plain un-styled window.
However mini players of single songs can be embedded in content using the audio shortcode that comes with the Jetpack plugin and you have the option of removing the player and instead linking the animated record graphic directly to this content by using a different homepage template (explained in “Page Templates” below).
Custom Post Formats
Tuned Balloon comes with several post formats for creating different types of content:
These are all pretty self-explanatory. The gallery post format utilizes the attractive tiled gallery functionality from Jetpack, rather than the default WordPress gallery.
The theme comes with 8 templates in addition to the default template:
- Bio page
- Custom full page without header image
- Full-width, no sidebars
- Home main
- Home version one
- Home version two
- Home version 3
- WooCommerce shop page
“Home main” and “Home version one” are the same template but “Home version one” uses a different version of the music player widget – rather than playing individual tracks when selected, it acts as a graphical link to another page that includes audio files (for example, your discography page).
“Home version two” uses a Soundcloud iframe instead of the audio player widget and “Home version three” is exactly the same, but without the top image.
Tuned Balloon is available for download from the Anariel Design website for $49 as part of the WordPress plan. The license includes the Soliloquy slider plugin, record player graphic, sample header images, help files, live preview import files and support from the developer.
This is a really reasonable price considering the number of useful features that are included with this theme – Many other music themes offering similar options are priced in the $70 – $100 range. When you consider that you’re also getting access to the premium Soliloquy plugin that would set you back $29 alone, you’re really getting a bargain.
Documentation and Support
The theme comes with HTML help files describing the setup and usage of the theme, which are fairly easy to follow. The documentation does seem to be slightly out of date, in particular there is no mention of WooCommerce and only Easy Digital Downloads is listed in the recommended plugins list.
On the other hand the developers are quick to reply to support requests and the theme is also updated regularly with improvements and bug fixes.
While Tuned Balloon is a nice looking theme, a lot of its attractiveness comes from the graphics which are not included in the theme. It also needs a fair bit of customization to get it to look anything like the demo. While it is possible to emulate the demo page by importing posts and widgets, this takes up a lot of time and is not completely intuitive without the user guide. It would be nice to offer an instant setup button like some other premium themes do.
This being said, the theme is attractive, fairly flexible and easy to customize once you get the hang of the way it’s been set up. I also like the fact that it’s not designed to be a “cookie cutter” theme so you don’t have to worry about another band having a site that looks exactly the same.
Another nice feature of Tuned Balloon is that rather than implementing its own complicated options panel like many premium themes, it uses the native WordPress customizer, post types and widgets features. If you’re already familiar with the core WordPress features and don’t want to spend time learning a new system, this could be a big draw for you.
If you’re an intermediate WordPress user or a beginner who doesn’t mind taking an hour or two going through the instructions setting things up, this could be just the theme you need to promote your music.
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