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Posted by on Jun 15, 2014 | 0 comments

Review: Glitchmachines – Quadrant


A few months ago Glitchmachines released Quadrant a “modular sound generator and effects processing plugin geared toward experimental sound design and electronic music production.” Quadrant also ” includes a Eurorack modular synthesizer sample library comprised of over 1500 samples.”. For $49 this sfx processor + library gives you a lot of content to learn and play with.

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Posted by on Feb 25, 2014 | 7 comments

Whoosh Review

GUI3D_02In the last year, we’ve all been happy to see the slow emergence of software tools designed explicitly for sound design. The fine folks over at Tonsturm are the latest to release one such tool under the moniker Melted Sounds. Whoosh is a Reaktor based plug-in for designing, as implied by its name, complex and varied motion elements and pass-bys. The basic idea behind the tool is similar to a post here on Designing Sound by Charles Deenen, which was later built into a Kyma patch by Jean-Edouard Miclot. Whoosh simplifies the process of setting up this kind of processing chain yourself. If you’ve got Reaktor, you simply load the ensemble. The source material included with tool comes from some of the best independent sound effects libraries out there. Seriously, the list is hard to ignore. Sounds have been licensed from: Chuck Russom, Colin Hart, Tim Prebble, Jean-Edouard Miclot, Michael Raphael, Mikkel Nielsen, and Frank Bry…not to mention sounds from Tonsturm itself. It’s safe to assume that it sounds good…even if I weren’t about to tell you exactly that. Ultimately, deciding if it is a worthy addition to your toolbox is something we each have to decide individually. There are a lot of tools out there, and we all have our priorities. So, a review should be about its potential impact on workflow. Does it allow you a depth of control similar to Charles’ process at a comparable (or improved) speed?

Let’s take a look at what Whoosh can do.

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Posted by on Dec 20, 2013 | 1 comment

Review: Twisted Tools METAMORPH

Metamorph Logo

METAMORPH is the latest sample library from Twisted Tools, makers of the designed sample libraries as well as some fun and unique Reaktor ensembles. With sounds designed by BJM Mario Bajardi and Komplex (Iter-Research), METAMORPH “takes heavily processed violins, pianos and acoustic instruments and morphs them into impacts, sci-fi atmospheres, user interface elements and beyond.”

METAMORPH comes as stereo 24-bit, 96kHz BWAV files with full SoundMiner metadata for easy searching. It includes sampler kits for Ableton Live 9′s Sampler and Simpler, Logic 9’s EXS24, and Native Instruments’ Kontakt, Battery, and Maschine; Also induced is the MP16d, Twisted Tools’ sample player. METAMORPH contains just over 2 GB of samples broken down into 10 categories: Drums, Imaging Elements, Micro, Noises, Pass By, Sci-Fi Atmos, SFX, Textures, Tonal, and Composite. The “Micro” category includes User Interface and “Microbot” elements. There’s a good selection of sounds to be had, and the added metadata makes finding things fairly easy.

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Posted by on Dec 5, 2013 | 3 comments

A Second Look at the Hybrid Library

Hybrid_and_Expansion_1Earlier 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.

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Posted by on Oct 1, 2013 | 6 comments

Review: Game Audio Culture by Rob Bridgett


Review by Karen Collins

Game Audio Culture” isn’t a book, so much as a manifesto. Dragging sound design (perhaps somewhat reluctantly) from out of the darkened underground studios and out into the open, Bridgett proposes that it’s time that sound designers started to be more collaborative with the rest of the game team. Bridgett boldly states that we’re in a “post-sound design era… no longer obsessed with the ‘neglected’ art” of the soundtrack. Sound designers can’t play the victim anymore: sound is getting the respect it deserves, and the next stage is to become a key collaborator on projects. Suggesting that fully one third of the sound designer’s skill set should be social skills, Bridgett sees the audio director as playing a much more important role in the future than in the past. Bridgett dubs this new art “social sound design”.

With that premise in mind, “Game Audio Culture” maps out just how Bridgett envisages the future role of the sound designer to play out. How does game audio influence collaborative practice? Where does design come into the mix, and how does that change under the idea of social sonic practice? How should scheduling change to accommodate a more social, collaborative space? How do you plan your budgets? What role does audio play in QA, and how does audio bring in feedback from its team and its players? These are just some of the questions Bridgett seeks to answer.

For the game sound designer, this book offers practical tips on how to turn your workplace into a more collaborative, holistic world, in which sound plays an important part. It best serves as a how-to guide on being an audio director, in a world where many of the triple-A titles have teams of people working on audio that need to be coordinated and managed. Most game audio directors find themselves in that role through promotion and experience, but without any formal training available. Bridgett fills the gap in knowledge by providing useful tips and tricks that will benefit even the most experienced designers and audio directors. For the rest of us, he gives us much to think about in terms of our practice.

For the academic or scholar studying game audio, the book is particularly useful in its description of process, and will help anyone to understand the many different skills required to undertake sound design for games today. Especially interesting are the more meandering thought pieces that round out the book: self-described “utopian” considerations of where game audio is heading, what the future holds for sound design, and two interviews that read like thoughtful, in-depth discussion between two sound designers, kicking back over a beer and reflecting on their jobs.

Finally, I would suggest that game designers themselves pick up this book, to understand what the sound team is doing and to incorporate some of these tips in bringing the sound team on board early. In short, there’s something in “Game Audio Culture” for everyone: it’s one of those books that is worth reading multiple times, as a reminder of how far we’ve come, and how far we still have to go.

Special thanks to Karen Collins for contributing this review. You can find Karen on

You can purchase Game Audio Culture online here.

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Posted by on Sep 17, 2013 | 1 comment

Review: Robobiotics


Although we are halfway into a new topic month here on Designing Sound; listening through Empty Sea’s new Robobiotics library makes me think about last month’s “Noise” topic. Of course not in any negative way mind you, but noise in the way Rob Bridgett described it as: “desirable noise”. If you think about it robot servo motor sounds/foley have become an integral part of media’s depiction of robotic and synthetic characters. An android or robot who didn’t have some sort of servo sounds going on would seem “off”. Some of the character of C-3PO or R2-D2 would be lost without the power window and antennae recordings that helped build up their servo sounds. Even the super-future robots of 2004’s I, Robot had shimmery electronic foley elements. The “desirable noise” of robot movements, however impractical they would be in real life are ubiquitous and certainly not going anywhere (especially not if giant robot moves keep happening!). And Empty Sea’s new offering in Robobiotics scratches the synthetic itch of robot foley we were all programmed to have.

From The Library by Empty Sea’s page for Robobiotics:

 “Robobiotics is an exciting new sound effects collection from The Library by Empty Sea. A big one at 4.5GB, this collection contains over 3600 sounds. We’re talking about almost 3 hours of material here! We spent over a year recording and designing Lasers, Robot Vox, Impacts, Servos, Ratcheting Metal, Ambiances, Transformations, Foley, Vehicle Bys and much much more!

This collection features all original material both designed and recorded, for robots and sci-fi. It even includes original sounds from the MPSE Golden Reel nominated web-series DR0NE for which Empty Sea provided post production sound services.  As always, we painstakingly edited, processed and mastered the sounds, while also embedding them with metadata. It is a must have for any project that relies on SciFi material! Don’t wait, grab your copy today!”

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Posted by on Jul 30, 2013 | 0 comments

Review: Rob Papen’s The 4 Element Synth

4 Element Synth

Let me just start by making one thing perfectly clear: I have never been a synth head, mostly because I’ve always found that designing with recorded audio is much more immediately satisfying. Rob Papen’s The 4 Element Synth might change that.

I have taken courses, read magazines, looked up tutorials online and otherwise tried very hard to wrap my head around synthesizing my own sounds and with very few exceptions I usually wound up giving up in frustration.

Within 20 minutes of sitting down with The 4 Element Synth, I realised my frustration wasn’t due to my lack of understanding, but because none of my ‘lessons’ explained synthesis very well.

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Posted by on Jun 25, 2013 | 2 comments

RX2 Advanced – Review

iZotope RX is legendary. Every other week I see a tweet about how it saved someone’s job (or life) and in these few years that it has been around it has become a go-to standard for all noise reduction magic, if you can afford it. What makes RX so powerful is the fact that you can get it working really well with just a few parameters while also having the option of diving into a spectrogram and literally sculpting out the offensive frequencies.

There are loads of reviews and resources online, including YouTube videos and content from iZotope themselves. Its capabilities are well known. When iZotope sent us a review copy I thought it might be best to look at some of the features available only in RX 2 Advanced while also using it for what it is not really meant for – sound design.


RX in its current version (V2) comes in two flavours: RX 2 and RX 2 Advanced. Here’s what is extra with RX 2 Advanced:

  • Adaptive mode in Denoiser: It automatically adapts to changing noise profiles. We all know that even broadband noise doesn’t stay constant with scene and perspective cuts. It also includes a high frequency enhancer.
  • Deconstruct: “This new class of audio manipulation tool intelligently separates audio into tonal and noisy components. For example, a singer’s voice has tonal parts (vowels, M and N sounds) and noisy sounds (breath sounds and sibilance like H, S and Sh).” Sound design possibilities right here!
  • Third party plugin support: Load up your favourite DX/AU/VST plugins with RX and process only parts of a file with Spectral Selection. It also works for batch processing. More sound design opportunities!
  • Advanced Denoiser options for precise control: Self explanatory
  • Zotope 64-bit SRC and MBIT+ dithering: iZotope’s famed sample rate conversion algorithm and dither – also found in other audio applications
  • iZotope Radius time and pitch control: Originally available for Logic Pro and Soundtrack, it is a time stretch and pitch shift algorithm.
  • Export History as XML: Seems useful for archival and forensic work
  • Azimuth Alignment: For tape restoration

RX 2 works both as a standalone application and as plugins in your favourite DAW. For this review I have explored most of the features using the standalone application.

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Posted by on Jun 19, 2013 | 3 comments

Review: iZotope Insight


Thoughts by Ian Palmer:

Anyone who knows me will know that 4 years on I am still madly in love with iZotope’s RX noise reduction package. So it is rather exciting to see what else this company can do. I had high hopes for this meter after hearing about its launch. If only I could do this review in three words, as in “It’s bloody good”!

Just to note, that I am reviewing Insight on an iMac running OSX 10.7.4 with ProTools 10.3.3, in stereo and from the point of view of a Dubbing Mixer in Europe using the forthcoming R128 mixing specifications.

Installing and registering the plugin is very simple and straightforward, as was finding it in the Sound Field folder. I easily located the preset folder and changed the settings to R128. Or BS ITU1770 Loudness Meter with History Graph EU. It’s easy enough to add my own presets and name them, but for the inexperienced I think the names could be simplified.

Screen Shot 2013-06-09 at 1.28.58 PM

I really like the UI of Insight. Whilst it is busy, it is also easy to navigate quickly. It is customisable so that you can also make it as crowded or simple as you wish. The display options are Levels, Loudness History, Spectrum Analyser, Sound Field and a Spectrogram. It’s really interesting to see things that previously I had to listen for, like a mix being bass heavy. Tis is useful for those of us in smaller rooms and with smaller speakers wher such things can be difficult to hear. I welcome the phase meter in the Sound Field, something lacking from the likes of Waves’ WLM. The Loudness History gives you the ability to quickly identify where in a mix a problem might lie. Clicking on the plus button expands (any) the display where you can take a screenshot or even copy a very long list of measurements. Great for attaching to a mix delivery to placate those evil number crunching bureaucrats in QC.

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