Categories Menu

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!”

Read More

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.

Read More

Posted by on Jul 5, 2013 | 0 comments

How ‘The Last of Us’ Sound Design Outshines Gameplay

Forbes: How 'The Last of Us' Sound Design Outshines Gameplay

Forbes magazine isn’t particularly known as a go-to resource for video game info, but their recent review of ‘The Last of Us,’ written by Andy Robertson, draws attention to the game’s audio experience in a way many of the major gaming outlets neglected to explore. If you enjoyed the SoundWorks Collection profile of ‘The Last of Us’ audio team, you’ll also enjoy this gameplay review that details the effectiveness of the audio experience from the player’s perspective.

Check Forbes for the full article.

Read More

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.

Read More

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.

Read More