Echo | Collective, New Independent Library Focused on Uncommon Sounds
Their focus is on uncommon sounds. Found instruments and tools that can be manipulated and recontextualized sonically into a film or music project. The project starts operations with five releases:
All the sounds are recorded and delivered at 24-Bit/96kHz, with detailed metadata and unlocked .nki files for Kontakt.
Below is an q&a with rene, who shares more information about the project and their first releases:
What inspired you for starting echo collective?
We love finding interesting sounding things and recording them so that we can have fun bending them around. We have always done a lot of recording for our various projects, so we’ve been using the cataloging and metadata workflows of sound effects libraries for a long time, and there’s some different stuff in our work from what’s already out there.
Do you have anything to say about the independent sfx world?
The market is actually pretty saturated right now, so that affects how we approach things like pricing and what we include in each collection. Also, quality and usability can vary from library to library, so we work hard to make our stuff the best it can be. With all of that said, the guys that do this stuff are incredibly cool and supportive of others. We got lots of great feedback on our sounds and design from the guys that do this at a high level, and we’re aiming to put stuff out there that lives up to the standards that they have set.
How was the work with the typewriters and protectograph? could you tell us about the variety of sounds you obtained and how you manipulated the devices?
These turn of the century business machines are so unique, and when you run across one you jump at the chance to grab it and record it. I lucked out and found the typewriter, check printer, and adding machine all in one booth at an antique shop. Once the owner of the booth plugged them in and showed me that they worked I was sold. After a little research I discovered that each of of those machines was over 70 years old, which made the perfect working condition of each even more impressive.
For the most part they all just click and whirr and chunk, which doesn’t create much of a stereo field. Given that, I decided that it would be far more useful to roll 3 unique mic perspectives on each one. I close miked the front and back of each, and also put up a wide mic in omni so that I could potentially drop those sounds into a bgfx track.
The case on the protectograph actually comes off, which changes the sound of the stamping mechanism pretty dramatically so I recorded it both ways. The adding machine had some moving plates that got sticky with age, and they would occasionally jam and then release with a big metallic ring out which was pretty great. I turned that ring out into a musically tuned Kontakt instrument that sounds very unique. The typewriter had the most moving parts, so after all of those were covered pretty thoroughly I did a bunch of drops and rattles for good measure. It was a lot of fun recording all of them.
I wonder how was the setup and recording process on the zither. I understand you used different mic options, positions, as well as some unique performances on the instrument.
Both the zither and the accordion were recorded a little bit non-traditionally. We would mic them up, and after a fair amount of general coverage and manipulation I’d crank some long reverb into Brad’s headphones and we would really start exploring the textures of the instrument in a very different context. The result is a set of really musically inspired manipulations that go in a different direction than just a bunch of clinical coverage.
The zither also got some extra love as a stringed instrument because we were able to both bow it and use an ebow in combination with some props to really get some unique sounds out of it. It has lots of broken strings and we would do things like scrape broken strings together and thump on the exposed wood that the strings would normally cover. We’d bow the broken string that was still attached to the tuning peg for some really freaky horror sounds, and yet we could still get these great angelic sounds out of the single strings resonating with the ebow.
We actually did the zither in three different long sessions because we just kept finding new sounds in it.
Also, I was inspired to build a stethoscope mic after watching a few Diego Stocco videos. Mine doesn’t really record anything above 200 Hz, but man it really extends the low end of the stuff we stick it onto. I hadn’t built it when we did the first zither session, but once I had put it together I knew we had to use it. That thing in combination with the xy overhead mics really turned the zither into a different instrument.
For the other mics we used a pair of line audio CM3s in XY and I had a COS 11 inside the sound hole and a 4050 wide in omni. In the end, the amount of stuff recorded made offering every mic perspective prohibitively complex (and redundant) so we did what we felt were the best mixes of each combination of mics per performance. The room mic was use judicially to add some air, and really gave a nice character to the samples.
I see there are Konkakt patches including in the libraries. Any special thought about this feature or the software?
Our goal is to make libraries that are not only useful to sound designers, but also to musicians and game designers. We feel that Kontakt is a good way to extend the libraries beyond just what the sounds are and into what they really can be. Having the sounds preprogrammed into an industry standard sampler really allows users to get into things like layering and pitch manipulation very quickly. Kontakt also has a powerful set of design tools built in that let us explore ways to bend the sounds into new forms with eq, distortion, delays, etc – all without having to render the effects for the end user. Also, the Kontakt sets are completely unlocked which means that the presets that we’ve designed can act as a starting point for even further manipulation.
With all of that said, we’re coming at these instruments from a sound designer’s perspective. This means that even though we have a musical instrument programmed into a Kontakt patch we focused more on making unique textures and noises than on things like multiple velocity layers of individual string plucks. Also, we spend our time building and recording cool sounds instead of Kontakt interfaces. There are many very good straightforward zither libraries out there, and we’re not trying to replicate those at all.
Any plans for the future? What kind of things are we going to see on echo collective?
We have a ton of ideas and projects in the works, but we’re going to keep them under wraps until they’re ready to go. Also, the feedback that we get on things like our musical approach and our Kontakt instruments will influence the way we prioritize things.