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Posted by on Dec 16, 2011 | 5 comments

HISS and a ROAR Releases SPRINGS

SPRINGS is a diverse new library of sound design source material released by HISSandaROAR and recorded by Tim Prebble.

Traversing from literal & very powerful trampoline springs & impacts through very strange bowed & manipulated extention springs all the way to abused outboard hardware (AKG BX5, Vermona Retroverb, Doepfer A199 with an Accuphonics tank) and of course, the classic slinky – but in this case stretched across a room and recorded with a contact mic at each end! Three sizes of thunder drums (long flexible springs attached to a drum resonator) were also hit, bowed & scraped to capture physically useful sounds as well as more evocative abstract material. This library is a diverse and inspiring collection of material that is incredibly fun to play with!

Available at $79 until December 25th (Regular price $99). Delivered at 24bit 96kHz. Includes 1,100+ sounds (6.9GB).

Below is a q&a with Tim, talking about the springs and some HISSandaROAR news:

What inspired the library?

Tim Preble: Being a bit of a dub-head I’ve always been into spring reverbs – I bought an AKG BX5 off ebay a decade or more ago, and I always remember almost blowing my speakers when I had it cranked up & accidentally moved my rack! But it was when I was working on the Cirque De Soilel 3D film that I had an epiphany. There is a scene in the film with some super hero characters doing totally outrageous moves on trampolines and despite being told the scene would be a music montage, I decided to try augmenting the rhythm with trampoline sounds. Next door to my studio is the rehearsal space for local circus group Fuse Circus, so I borrowed a small trampoline from them and recorded it using contact mics as well as normal mics. As soon as I listened to the contact mics I realised it was basically a large scale spring reverb – every hit made the all of the springs resonate! We did end up using some of the recordings in the final mix, and after I uploaded a video of recording those effects a few people contacted me, wanting access to the sounds. I couldn’t give them those particular sounds as they were specifically for the film, but I made a mental note to revisit that particular prop. And as always I started researching other elements I could record….

What else did you find?

TP: Good characterful springs are not actually that easy to find, but one source that proved useful was from exercise equipment – I disassembled a few chest expanders, and spent a bit of time attaching them to objects in ways that would encourage resonance… I also bought an old kids toy – a ride on horse, that was suspended by nice creaky springs. I explored other spring reverb outboard effects – I also own a Vermona Retroverb which is great – it actually has a ‘crash’ button on it that sends an impulse to the springs, but it also has a really nice resonant filter. My modular synth has a spring reverb, a Doepfer A199 module, so I bought an old Accuphonics 3 spring tank and used the module to get clean audio output from it, and I beat the hell out of that tank! I’m surprised it survived, but it was worth it. Some of the short sounds make me think of retro weapons, but some of the flickery sounds I got from it by applying friction along it, I have never heard before!

And of course I messed around with some slinkys – I hunted for the biggest/longest one I could find and then tensioned it horizontally across my studio, with a contact mic at each end, 20 feet apart. Another device I messed with are called Thunder drums – I bought one when I was in Bali a few years ago, its basically a long small tightly wound spring that is attached to the skin of a drum. If you shake it, it makes a sound a bit like thunder and hitting the spring has an almost flangey tone to it, but I discovered a few other interesting ways to extract sounds from it. Bowing the spring while varying the length created some really interesting pitch bends, but so also did rubbing or scraping your hand along the spring. A few times I’ve had to make sounds for someone suddenly abseiling or lowering down & I’ve always struggled for source material with that constant descending friction, but I’ve found a great element now!

Were they difficult to record?

TP: Some props really took some thinking about, because the sound they produced was acoustically very quiet but attaching a contact mic to the primary vibrating element meant the mic itself would absorb and/or stop the resonance. I think there is a concept in physics, where the act of making an experiment alters the circumstances or environment to such a degree that the experiment itself is no longer valid – it was a bit like that! I also soon learned that it is difficult to keep a contact mic attached to moving objects, so it took different setups and strategies depending on the specific sound I was after, even within the same prop. That little wood block with the tiny spring at the start of the video is a good example. I could get tone from it but I couldn’t record it – it just didn’t vibrate enough to excite the wood it was attached to. It was only when i clamped it down & actually attached the contact mics between the wood & the spring itself that I got interesting results. But, as you see (backwards) at the start of the video, it eventually flew to bits!

What are your favourite sounds? Any happy accidents?

TP: This library is full of happy accidents! Someone on my blog asked how I go about choosing what sounds to record, and I had to confess its half intent and half happy accidents – experimenting & being curious. The last prop I recorded for the library was when I revisited that trampoline, and having spent so much time recording other springs I had a few more ideas about how to get some new sounds from it. One aspect I now know is that to get ‘big’ dynamic sounds often requires gentle technique and hitting that trampoline gently with a gong beater, and being mic’d up and gain staged accordingly allowed me to get some huge subby sounding impacts, which feel more powerful than the hardest hits that I did later. But going back to that tiny spring, I now knew that attaching the contact mics on to the spring itself led to interesting sounds (it just couldn’t be the spring that was doing all the work, or the mic would detach) So the last sound I recorded was one of my favourites: attaching the contact mics directly to the springs and then very gently hitting other springs & elements of the trampoline. I swear there is an entire gamelan orchestra inside that trampoline when it was rigged this way – I could have sat & played it for hours. Over-recording was actually a real problem with this library, not over-level but content. I’d find a sound that I loved, that was really evocative or interesting and I could easily keep playing with it for hours! Must. Stop. Recording.

It’s been a great year for independent sound libraries – do you think its reaching saturation point with all these boutique library start ups?

TP: To be completely honest I think we’re barely scratching the surface. If you combined all of my libraries with all the great libraries released by Frank, Michael, Chuck & all the new sites, we would hardly match 5% in terms of quantity of the old school libraries such as Sound Ideas CD collections or whats on the Sound Dogs site. But in terms of quality, resolution and providing unique, characterful and interesting sounds I think at times we surpass them… Every time someone releases a new collection of recordings, whether you buy them or not, you know they are a resource waiting to be called upon. I sometimes dream about the huge library resources studios like Skywalker Sound must have, and while we’ll never get close to that, at least we’re slowly providing more diverse options, and they are options available to anyone.

Whats next for HISSandaROAR? Are you having a holiday??

TP: Indeed. This is my last library release for the year. As 2012 is a busy year with films for me I’ve deliberately been recording as much as possible and I have another couple of libraries recorded. The last task for me for the year is to finish the HISSandaROAR Christmas present, which is a free 24bit 96kHz collection of Tortured Cymbals, a preview of a library for next year. It will get sent out to everyone on the mail list next week, as a small gesture & to say a huge thank you for all the support this year. And thanks to you, Miguel and everyone at Designing Sound for an inspiring year!!
Happy Holidays!


  1. inspiring stuff… I pleasantly zoned-out listening to the demo… feeling strangely relaxed now.  

    Great year for Indie Sound Libraries… 
    I totally agree that high resolution, focused libraries are far more useful for sound designers than the traditional general SFXs.

    Thanks Tim……

  2. top notch. one can tell how much time, prep and thought when into this long before you hit record. well done!

  3. Great work Tim, I have been abusing the Slinky trick for some time but this is a library I will be purchasing. I have been wanting to grab one of those planar mic systems, but two would be even better!  :-)

  4. mmm…sapporo, i’m sampling that right now! ;P

    another great set, tim! happy holidays


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