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Posted by on Jul 19, 2010 | 8 comments

Rabbit Ears Audio, New Independent SFX Company from Michael Raphael [with exclusive Q&A]

This online and independent model of sound effects distribution is growing even more each day. Now, the turn is for the talented Michael Raphael, who you may know as the creator of the fantastic Field Sepulchra sound blog. He is announcing the release of his new sound effects company called Rabbit Ears Audio.

The company is based on online sound effects distribution for sound designers and editors. Rabbit Ears Audio offer royalty-free sound effects, giving some purchase/quality options and really affordable costs. This is what Michael said:

I created Rabbit Ears Audio to provide sound designers and editors with royalty-free sound effects libraries.  I began my career working as a producer and engineer for nationally broadcast public radio programs, but  I first got the field recording bug when I was hired to record sound effects for some museum exhibits.  After one day of recording turn-of-the-century trolleys in all of their rickety glory, I knew this was the thing for me.

Since that fateful day, I’ve been running around recording non-stop and, three years ago, I started a sound blog to showcase my passion.  Now, I want to provide libraries that are not only useful to the end-user, but are also driven by my curiosity and my desire to provide something unique.  Rabbit Ears libraries are intended  to fulfill specific needs, not generic ones.

Michael is also releasing the first REA’s library, full of amazing Rockets sounds:

Amateur rockets. When you first hear those words, an image of little Jimmy in the backyard launching a tiny rocket comes to mind. Forget little Jimmy and, instead, imagine adults building high-powered rockets in their free time and launching them in remote locations. The rockets come in all shapes, sizes, colors, and are remarkably sophisticated considering NASA is not involved in their production. From ignition, to launch, to misfire, to misadventure in mid-air, these rockets pretty much rule.

The rocket engine sizes are rated by letters. The largest rocket I saw was an “M,” but there were also a lot of “J”s and “K”s. There is a tremendous diversity of sound within those rocket types. These recordings could be the basis of weapon sounds, launch sounds for vehicles, as well as many other things.

I recorded these rockets on two separate occasions. The first session was in Plaster City, California, where temperatures soared to over 100 degrees Fahrenheit before noon. The second session occurred in Pine Island, New York on an onion farm.

The library has two purchase/quality options:

  • Basic Version – 15 sounds at 16-Bit and 44.1 kHz (9.4MB download)
  • Standard Version – 41 sounds at 24-Bit and 48 kHz (49.5MB download)
  • Hi-Quality Version – 113 sounds at 24-Bit and 96 kHz (227MB download)

If you want to learn more about the license, you can find all the information here.

And here is a little Q&A session I had with Michael, digging about some information on this new project.

DS: Michael, could you tell us a little more about your career, projects and what you do with sound?

MR: I’ve been working in Radio for 10 years both as a content producer and as an engineer. I’ve worked on a variety of NPR programs in US. Most recently, I worked on NPR’s Radiolab.

I got the bug for SFX recording when I was hired on a number of museum exhibit design projects back in 2004. After an eye-opening experience recording turn-of-the-century trains and trolleys, I knew SFX recording was a field I wanted to get into. In 2008, I spent a chunk of time in LA with Rob Nokes getting a strong feel for the work, and was really inspired.

I’m still working in radio and currently divide my time between NPR programs and a couple of sound design projects.

DS: Why you decided to start your own sound effects library? What are your goals with it?

MR: I started my sound blog, fieldsepulchra, over two years ago to push myself and my work. After 2 years of running around recording, I wanted to focus my energies, so I might better benefit from my own work and others might as well. While working full-time in radio over the last few years, I’ve taken on a few small game, film, and SFX projects that have helped shape the way I build libraries.

I’ve also been really inspired by what Tim Prebble and Chuck Russom are up to. After much encouragement from the both of them, I’ve decided to throw my hat in the ring.

DS: In the Rockets description, you talk about the recording challenges with the high SPL and strategies you used to overcome it. Could you tell us more about those strategies/techniques applied?

MR: Honestly, it’s not rocket science…

But in all seriousness, it was just a matter of research. Before I actually recorded at a launch, I just went to one and listened. By the time I scheduled the first recording, I knew what some of the larger rockets would sound like and I also knew that I’d have to protect my equipment from lots of dirt and smoke blowing around. I have learned how to use foam effectively to help dampen vibration. One of the mics I used was a boundary layer mic that I positioned on the ground with a piece of foam that I cut from a car waxing kit.

DS: Any special anecdotes from your recording sessions?

MR: In Plaster City, CA I experienced my first “land shark”! Apparently a land shark is when a rocket misfires, slips off the launch pad, ignites on the ground and proceeds to shoot across the ground and not in the air. Luckily, the rocket that became a land shark was pretty small, but there was still a poor guy who got it in the shins.

The New York recording was a little more tame. The launch site was on a rather large onion farm that was overrun by giant snapping turtles. When I arrived I was told to “avoid the turtles”

In general, it was a good idea to track each launch in case a rocket’s parachute’s didn’t open and it started to move rapidly toward the earth.

DS: What about the future? Any hints about the next releases?

MR: You’ll just have to wait and see!

Rabbit Ears Audio


  1. Anybody who doesnt run to buy a copy of these is an idiot. Its really that simple.

  2. Agreed. Great recordings!

  3. Michael- I put my money where my mouth is too…. they are definitive- excellent work!

  4. I’m with Charles on this, go buy now. I actually made Michael sell me a copy before it was even released! I heard the demo and had to have it right away!

  5. Good luck Michael, sounds like a great resource

  6. Michael –

    Love the website… we should talk sometime – would love to hear what you are working on currently.

    John Binder


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