Review by Carlos Garza
|This is a general-purpose library of general purpose, human and musical sound effects. The library is distributed on seven DVD-ROM discs, plus a single disc with 1.5 GB of previews in 128 kbps MP3 format. The library itself is provided at 24-bit/96 kHz resolution and would require 55 GB to stored on-line.
SFL includes a software application, appropriately named, “Juicer” that provides browsing, searching and sample preparation. Installation of the complete library at full resolution (55 GB) is unnecessary because of Juicer’s semi-automated batch processing. I didn’t mind loading in the appropriate DVDs when Juicer prompted me because at this point I don’t have 55 GB to spare on my hard drives.
Juicer Audio 3.02 was tested for this review on an Apple G5 Quad running OS 10.4.8. Requirements include a DVD-ROM drive, 256 MB RAM, 1.5GB for previews, Apple QuickTime version 5.0.2 or later, Mac OS10.3.9 or later, Windows 2000 or XP, DirectX8 or later.
Sound FX Library includes 11,500 clips divided into 170 categories. The set includes voice actors and musical logos in addition to Foley and sound effects. The general effects include ambience, animals, crashes, explosions, Foley, horror, household, impacts, office, sci-fi, technology, weapons and weather. The human effects include men, women and children. The topics include exclamations, business, commercial phrases, questions, police, reactions, telephone systems, states, occasions and numbers.
The noise effects include alarms, ascends, beds, beeps, bells, blasts, buttons, computer, descends, distortions, drones, evolvers, feedbacks, filters, hits, lasers, LFE, liquids, fly-bys, kicks and lasers, sci-fi elements, stabs, whooshes and more.
The Musical FX section includes short phrases of electric bass, flute, guitar, organ, percussion, sax, trombone and trumpet. Also included are musical “logos” broken out as: acoustic, comedy, corporate, electronic, jazz, new age, news, orchestral, pop, rock, sports, urban and world. There are sets of related cues organized as acoustic, corporate, jazz, orchestra, rock and urban and longer pieces, or “textures.”
The strength of this product is in the general sound effects and human recordings. These are both well recorded and versatile. It’s hard to imagine what is missing. The animal set is reasonable but not exhaustive. There are four types of dogs, for example. The dinosaur sounds — some made from real animals – are impressive. I felt like I was in Jurassic Park.
There are 328 basic Foley sounds and another 146 just for footsteps. There are rivers, waterfalls, things falling in water, office sounds, sports. By the way, the golf swing makes a nice whoosh that would work in a fighting game. Speaking of which, there are 237 weapons by brand name and bullets going into different surfaces.
The weather sounds held my interest. Thunder is sometimes called “lightning” but it sounds great. The big Hollywood-style explosions would sound at home in a film of any budget. These are BIG sounds. I mean it. There’s even an atomic blast. Where did they get that?
The human sounds are also quite useful for anyone making commercials or corporate sound design, such as telephone systems. The adult voice actors are professional sounding and there are enough words and phrases to make a variety of announcements and commercials.
The strongest musical elements are the acoustic, corporate and orchestral. The rock elements lean towards the heavy side but are very convincing. A bit more variety in the guitar tone and playing styles would help the overall usability. I really liked the orchestral transitions and the variety of moods makes this a go-to set. There are some gems in the electronic and pop logos as well. I can easily hear these used in professional and academic productions for TV and stage.
Juicer’s keyword-searchable index is handy to use but does not always respond as expected. For example, searching for “air” returns plenty of air-based sound effects but also returns “folding chairs” and “scissors cutting hair.” Searching for “boom” or “bang” does not return any of the excellent explosions in the general effects class.
The idea of using an integrated browser is a step in the right direction but it would be nice if users could add their own topic areas, ratings and bookmarks. I found the organization and preview features quite valuable when going through a library of this size. Playing samples and adding them to a batch for extraction is simple.
I noticed only small problems with the interface. The track ball on my Mighty Mouse works in reverse on the left-right volume control. Vertical scrolling works fine, as does clicking on the volume control and dragging it.
On the down side, Juicer cannot be used to browse libraries from other manufacturers and searching is apparently text based rather than semantic. Nonetheless, the effects are excellent and the sound quality is stunning. This is a well thought out set with applications in sound design for film, TV, interactive web sites, theater productions and game creation. The music cues and dialog clips are applicable to corporate, academic and commercial productions.
Digital Juice Sound FX Library is a versatile collection, sounds great and was the easiest to navigate of all the sets I auditioned.
(c) 2006 Carlos Garza