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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.

Soundiron Glass Beach
Glass pebbles at “Glass Beach”, MacKerricher State Park (Fort Bragg, CA)

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.

Soundiron Glass Beach Uberarpeggiator
The Glass Beach Grain Hit patch with the “Uberarpeggiator”

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?

Product: Glass Beach by Soundiron
Format: Kontakt 3.5+ (unlocked), 24bit/44kHz samples
Price: $9.99 USD
Like: authentic & original, well designed sounds, value for money
Don’t like: –
Verdict: 9/10

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.

More information: Soundiron / Glass Beach

HISS and a ROAR releases AMB002 Beaches sample library

Hiss and a Roar has released Beaches, a new ambience sound library.

HISS and a ROAR AMB002 Beaches

If you’ve ever had to sync waves to picture then you will appreciate the need for a collection of cleanly recorded waves of various scales; from gentle idyllic waterlaps to more turbulent surf. Each location in this new library was recorded to six tracks, capturing a narrow & coherent stereo image with a Sanken CSS5 microphone, a dynamic & exciting pointillistic image using a pair of Sennheiser MKH70s, and a more diffuse, brighter image using a pair of omni-directional DPA 6040 microphones.

Each ambience in the library contains a minimum of three minutes duration for each of the three sets of stereo mics, in all fourteen beach locations, along with a photo to clearly identify the setting, and GPS coordinates incase you’d like to visit on Google Earth. This library aims to provide sound editors with the ability to easily choose which location and recording/s best match the perspective and point of view of your footage. Alternatively if you need a micro-nap, hit play & transport yourself to a pristine Pacific beach, far far away…

AMB002 Beaches is available to purchase for $49 USD.

More information: HISS and a ROAR / Beaches

Recommended read: The Little Food Book – You Are What You Eat

I spent the last 2 weeks on a beach resort in beautiful Tunisia, doing pretty much nothing, just like I had planned.

Taking it easy on the beach in Tunisia
Taking it easy on the beach in Tunisia

Tunisia is a perfect place to relax, as long as you stay away from the Medina‘s where people will try anything to get you into their store to buy their overpriced junk. Souvenir shopping in Tunisia involves lots of bargaining so don’t be afraid to counter their offer with like a 10th of their original “special price for you my friend” offer. (Some shops have fixed prices, which is a good indication of what the “right price” would be).

Most days involved breakfast, a game of tennis, beach, lunch, more beach, dinner, entertainment. Lather, rinse, repeat.

Suffice to say I got plenty of rest and time to read some books. One particular little book I would like to share about is The Little Food Book: You Are What You Eat by Craig Sams.

The Little Food Book

Here’s a short description of what this book is about:

30,000 Americans a year die of obesity, more than the total annual toll of motor accidents, firearms, drugs and alcohol combined. The World Health Organization estimates there are 500,000 pesticide-related poisonings a year. Who controls what we eat? What happens to it before it gets to us? The Little Food Book will help you understand how by tackling the issues that affect the way we eat. Craig Sams writes with authority in this collection of mini-essays, explaining the mechanics of food production and related subjects such as organics, nutrition, hormones, pesticides and GMOs.

Do you ever really think about the food you buy in the supermarket? Where it comes from, how it was made, what’s in it?

When you get fresh vegetables and cook up a healthy veggie dish, do you know how much pesticide residue you’re eating? How about the antibiotics and hormones used to keep sick animals from dying so they can become profitable enough to be slaughtered to end up on your plate?

It seems this is one of those “people don’t know about this” issues… Then again: Obesity (not just from eating fast food, but chemical and hormone induced imbalance of our bodies), cancers, animal diseases like BSE, foot and mouth disease and avian flu. When you think about it, you just know that there is a problem with our food.

We’re messing with the food, in a way it isn’t meant to be messed with.

Just to name a few concerns:

  • Food additives: E numbers, artificial flavors (even when they call it natural flavor it’s chemical), etc. How safe are they really?
  • Intensive farming: destruction of soil for short term profit, unhealthy for both environment and consumer.
  • Genetic modification: do we even know what we’re doing here?

Unfortunately, food is big business, and when there’s money involved things tend to get messy. Organisations like the FDA are supposed to look out for consumer health interests, but it is politically outgunned because corporate campaign contributions and powerful lobbyists speak louder voice than even clearly documented science (link).

So what can we do?

Well, I’m trying to buy fresh or processed Organic foods (also called biological food in Europe).

Organic food
Organic food (and no, it’s not just vegetables)

I’m already seeing a steady increase of organic foods in my local supermarket, and I’m happy to buy it to voice my opinion (you know how loyalty cards work right?), even though it’s more expensive for most products (up to 50% even).

In my opinion governments should subsidize organic food (instead of subsidizing burgers, a burger without subsidies would cost about 3 times the price you pay now…). Healthy people benefit a country immensely, if only for the gigantic reduction in health costs.

Anyway, don’t take my word for it. Investigate! Check the labels on your food and look up what’s in it. It’s important to know vegetable fat is not the same as vegetable oil, and a bio chicken is not just a chicken with more space to run around.

Holiday break

Related: , , Posted in news on Aug 31, 2007 - comment 3 comments

Hooray, I’m having a little holiday break!

Since I’m the only one updating this place, it’ll be a bit quiet around here for the next 2 weeks or so. If you still see new posts appear it will be because they were magically posted in the future (so, it will be old news).

Holiday!
The place I’m going to supposedly looks like this. I can digg it.

Anyway, no reason to not stay informed while I’m out enjoying sunny beaches, lovely food and not having to do anything really.

Cheers!
Ronnie

Giant Lego man washes up on Dutch beach

Related: , , , , Posted in random posts on Aug 08, 2007 - comment 1 comment

Reuters reports about a huge Lego man, which was rescued from the Dutch sea.

Giant Lego man found at Dutch Zandvoort beach
Giant Lego man found at Dutch Zandvoort beach

From the report:
A giant, smiling Lego man was fished out of the sea in the Dutch resort of Zandvoort on Tuesday. Workers at a drinks stall rescued the 2.5-metre (8-foot) tall model with a yellow head and blue torso.

“We saw something bobbing about in the sea and we decided to take it out of the water,” said a stall worker. “It was a life-sized Lego toy.” A woman nearby added: “I saw the Lego toy floating towards the beach from the direction of England.”