A Second Look at the Hybrid Library
Earlier this year, I reviewed the Hybrid Library from Pro Sound Effects. Overall, it was a fairly positive review. While I was impressed with the library, I also pointed out some of its rough edges. The primary focus of the review was on the library’s metadata and how it would affect work-flow. I won’t go into heavy detail on the process here, as you can simply lick on the link above if you haven’t already read the review. Pro Sound Effects took notice of the few complaints I had with the library, solicited feedback from existing owners, and has taken steps to address the library’s weaknesses. Now that the library is available again, it’s worth seeing if the improvements have made the library any more enticing.
Let’s begin by talking about the new metadata in the library. Pro Sound Effects actually dedicated a person to working on revamping the metadata to present a more uniform search experience. I repeated my previous experiment; searching for the same target sounds and utilizing the same search terms.
The previous average search results and search time were 195 and 108 seconds respectively.
With the new metadata the average search results rose to 285, and the search time fell to 72 seconds.
More results is good, but only if the results are appropriate. The new metadata made the act of scanning through search returns a simpler process. I needed to audition fewer sounds in order to get to one (or a collection) that would fit the need. It’s also important to note that while there were 6 “failures” (searches that returned no usable results) with the previous metadata, there were only two with the new metadata. Bear in mind that these searches were done with restricted search terms. So, I consider that a marked improvement. There are still some vagaries. My previous example remains intact. Why anyone would search for “Falling_Candle_On_Piano” is beyond me, and I’m still perplexed why none of that file’s metadata contains anything that would return results if you were looking for a hollow wooden impact. Maybe they left it to see if I was still paying attention. Overall, these kinds of vagaries are much less of an issue now, and the metadata has been greatly improved.
So, do I still think the Hybrid Library is a good value? Absolutely. In fact, I would argue that the value proposition has only increased. It seems as if the Hybrid Library is going to be an annually recurring sale event. According to PSE, anytime it goes on sale, the base library will always contain the most current versions of Blastwave FX’s Sonopedia and the Foundation library by Stephan Schütze. Because those libraries update throughout the year, the Hybrid Library now contains about 1,000 new sounds. Combine that with the vastly improved metadata and search experience, and you get an extremely compelling general library at what is, for all intents and purposes, a ludicrous price…$1500. This matches its previous initial sale price from 2012 (during the month of December). Last year, PSE extended the sale of the Hybrid library into early 2013 and increased the price to $2,999. It’s entirely possible that the window will be extended again this time around. If the price is likely to increase though, there’s definitely more incentive to get a copy now.
So, what about existing owners? Those who purchased the library previously have two methods to get their hands on the new metadata. The fastest way is by downloading an Excel sheet to import into their database software of choice. They can also opt to purchase the new custom branded hard drive, which contains the updated library (both metadata and the Sonopedia and Foundation updates) at cost. The drive and shipping runs $150, and that is a flat price…regardless of where in the world you reside. Unless you’re dead set on getting those new files, I’d advise against this. [There's another option for those new files that I'll touch on momentarily.] With a library this size, a of sound effects database is pretty much a necessity. Many of the solutions out there allow you to embed metadata yourself. So, that Excel sheet is a great option, if you happen to have something like Soundminer HD+/Pro or Basehead.
There is a more intriguing path for existing owners to get those 1,000 new files from this year’s Sonopedia and Foundation updates. The new Expansion 1 has just been released.
As implied, Expansion 1 contains all of the files added to the Sonopedia and Foundation libraries, but it is not just those new files. It contains over 10,000 sounds from Blastwave FX, Boom, Foundation, Soundrangers, and Soundeffects.ch. At a price of $500, it comes on a 64GB flash drive (using 54GB of storage). A quick search through this library eliminated yet another failed search from the previous review (short wood vibration against a table), and it only took the time required to type the search to get a usable result. Curated based on feedback from current owners, there’s some really useful material to be found in this collection:
- Production Elements in the form of Boom’s Cinematic Trailers (Designed) library and Noizz from Blastwave FX
- A massive library of room tones and and Impulse responses (in everything from mono up to Auro 3D) from Soundeffects.ch
- A wealth of ambiences, crowds and foley from Soundrangers
- and more sounds and categories than I feel like listing here, go check out the list if your curious.
Expansion 1 is an interesting path to take with this “freelancers only” product. In the process of reviewing these new offerings from PSE, it was mentioned that they’re looking to make this an annual release. Each year will see a new expansion pack released. They’ll take a look at people’s feedback, assess the needs the library isn’t meeting, and the next expansion will be crafted to fill those gaps. It’s a unique approach, and one that is sure to garner some loyalty from the user base.
I’m having a hard time finding any negatives in the path PSE has taken. There are still a few oddities in the metadata here and there, but that’s me LOOKING for something to criticize…not actually finding something. If they continue to maintain this connection with the users and evolve the library in the manner they have this passed year, it could easily outpace any other general library out there. It already makes a good go of it. So, I’ll reiterate what I said in the original review. This library presents an amazing value to the independent/freelance sound designer. I know I sound like a shill, but I honestly believe that its an incredible deal not worth passing up. It’s damned near impossible to find anything out there that even approaches this.
Seriously…if your in need of a solid general sound effects library, I have but one question for you. Why are you still here?!
A copy of the Hybrid Library and the Expansion 1 library were provided by Pro Sound Effects for review purposes.