Review: Soundiron Glass Beach sound library for Kontakt
I count Soundiron among some of the most interesting sound library developers I know.
Whether it’s the 30-voice male chorus of epic choir library Mars, M1 Garand’s rifle sound fx, a tear-jerking Emotional Piano, or the Bronze Bin percussive sounds made with a trash can, Soundiron seems to be able to take any sound source for a proper deep sampling session and turn it into something beautiful and useful.
So how about a bunch of glass pebbles on a beach? Enter Glass Beach.
For this sample library Mike Peaslee went on a trip to record sounds at a place that was once used to dump refuse.
From the City of Fort Bragg website:
Beginning in 1949, the area around Glass Beach became a public dump. It is hard to imagine this happening today, but back then people dumped all kinds of refuse straight into the ocean, including old cars, and their household garbage, which of course included lots of glass.
By the early sixties, some attempts were made to control what was dumped, and dumping of any toxic items was banned. Finally in 1967, the North Coast Water Quality Board realized what a mistake it was and plans were begun for a new dump away from the ocean.
Now, over 30 years later, Mother Nature has reclaimed this beach. Years of pounding wave action have deposited tons of polished glass onto the beach. You’ll still see the occasional reminder of its earlier life, such as a rusted spark plug, but for the most part what you’ll see is millions of pieces of glass sparkling in the sun.
In 50 years we’ll probably be saying the same thing about some of the things we do in this day and age, but… what were they thinking?!
The Glass Beach library includes 225 samples (24bit/44kHz, non-encrypted PCM wav files), which are used in 31 Kontakt patches in three categories.
The percussion section includes various pebble sounds (hit, scrape, bounce, etc.) and some individual footsteps. These are mostly high pitched click-type sounds, great for adding some interesting glitchy elements to your music, or you can use them as a support or main part in your percussion. Using these sounds with the included “Uberarpeggiator” Kontakt script is easy and fun.
The ambient soundscapes category includes sounds of waves crashing on the shore and in a tide pool, a waterfall trickling down a sea cave, and some sounds of man and his best companion walking through the sea glass sand and the pebbles on the beach.
Since these samples were recorded in an outdoor location you might also notice some “unintended” sounds, most audibly some sea birds (I guess). One of the presets actually includes a flock of geese flying over. The lengthy ambience samples can be set to start at a random position with the “Random” control to achieve a kind of round-robin effect.
Lastly, there’s the special fx section. Here we find a number of designed instruments, including some synth and pad type sounds, creative percussion, sound fx and more. Quite a lot of processing is going on with most of these, and in some instances unrelated samples are used as well (e.g. the Glass Piano). These are not necessarily typical for Glass Beach. However, they are a nice addition to the palette of sounds and they work exceptionally well with the other content in Glass Beach.
The Kontakt instruments include a number of performance controls (controls vary per instrument), the Tone/FX panel with various effects, and there’s the custom “Uberarpeggiator” script mentioned earlier.
A collection of 40+ convolution impulse responses is included as well. These are readily available in the reverb section of the Tone/FX tab for some instruments, or you can use a 3rd party software of your choice.
Check Mike Peaslee’s video below for a quick tour of the Glass Beach library.
So what do I think?
Format: Kontakt 3.5+ (unlocked), 24bit/44kHz samples
Price: $9.99 USD
Like: authentic & original, well designed sounds, value for money
Don’t like: —
Glass Beach is found in Soundiron’s “Experimental” category of instruments — and rightly so. It’s basically a mixture of field recordings and designed instruments which match the character/vibe of the location. Obviously this library is not going to be everyone’s cup of tea. To me, the sounds of Glass Beach are quite beautiful, evocative and inspiring.
The glass pebble sounds have a unique quality, great for creating glitchy rhythms. I reckon the ambiences will appeal to soundtrack composers, for film/tv/games, or perhaps for use in music productions that just need that soothing quality of sea and beach sounds. The included “special fx” patches are well designed and a valuable addition to the library, bringing greater diversity of sounds. I absolutely love some of the delicate, dreamy and hauntingly beautiful tonal patches.
Soundiron is selling this library for $9.99 USD, a real bargain if you ask me. Glass Beach is packed with unique sounds, it is well produced, and — true to Soundiron’s mission — it feels like a proper labor of love.