Pro Sound Effects Hybrid Library Review

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Whether you’re talking about a multinational corporation, a sports team, or even a large post house, there’s a reason why the phrase “the rich just keep getting richer” rings true: they have all the resources. When the large post houses can afford multiple mixers and editors, top-of-the-line equipment, and assets like large sound effects libraries, it can be really hard for a one-man studio to compete.

But thanks to the folks over at Pro Sound Effects, competing just became a little bit easier with the Pro Sound Effects Hybrid Library. Created with the individual freelancer in mind, the Hybrid Library is a compilation of over 50,000 sound effects chosen from multiple catalogs, all combined onto one 500GB hard drive, and offered at a fraction of the cost it would normally take to own such a large collection.

The Catalogs

Curated from the best of the entire Pro Sound Effects Library, the Hybrid Library features the entire Sonopedia 2.0 and Foundation catalogs. Both are general use catalogs and they make up about 80 percent of the sound effects in the library. Sonopedia itself is about 40,000 sound effects, covering everything from animals to hits and whooshes to even pirate walla (If you need a pirate saying “Son of a biscuit eater,” you’re covered.) The effects are quality recordings, with very a low noise floor, and often have a variety in the takes, so you can find the distance, speed, and duration of the effect to match your project.

The Foundation Library is a general library aimed toward video game sound design. While it contains plenty of general use effects like machinery, animals and ambiences, it also offers plenty of sound elements that will allow the user to create his or her own soundscapes piece by piece.

Beyond these two general catalogs, the Hybrid Library also includes effects from niche libraries like Zombie Apocalypse, for all of your flesh-biting needs, App FX for mobile and app effects, and even 5.1 room tones and ambiences from the Soundeffects.ch catalog.

The Effects

The quality of the effects is better than you’d expect from the large general use libraries out there. The recordings are clean, with little noise, and feel thick. Sometimes, especially with older libraries, the sound effects are thin and tinny, an issue the Hybrid Library avoids. All files are .wav files and while some effects are 16 bit and 48K or even 44.1K, about 65 to 75 percent are 24 bit/96K, resulting in top-notch sounds.

But the real draw is the variety found within the catalogs. We had difficulty stumping the library with our searches to find any areas that are obviously lacking. Among our searches, we looked for a variety of weight-lifting sounds, wrestling mat hits, cinder blocks smashing and debris, and a cotton candy machine, all of which we needed recently for a project and didn’t have in our current library selection. Of these items, only the cotton candy machine was a no-go, but we think that’s due to the very specific search term we used more than anything else. Once we took “cotton candy” out of our search string, we found a popcorn machine that suited our needs perfectly.

Pricing

Over 50,000 effects culled from multiple general and niche catalogs, including some 5.1 ambiences… this should cost, what? Ten grand? The pricing for the Sonopedia and Foundation libraries alone through the Pro Sound Effects website total $7,000. Add in the niche libraries that go for five hundred to a thousand bucks apiece and you might be well past a cost of $12,000. But, again, this library is designed with the individual freelancer in mind, so the grand total for the Pro Sound Effects Hybrid Library and its 50,000+ effects comes to:

$2,500.

Nope, that’s not a misprint. That’s $2,500 for over $10,000 worth of effects. And that’s at full price. At the end of the year, Pro Sound Effects often offers a sale on the Hybrid Library and drops the price to $1,500. Now, to purchase this library you need to submit an application. Pro Sound Effects wants to ensure to the best of its ability that it is supporting individuals, not corporations, with this pricing, and that its effects are going to qualified audio engineers. Our drive was given to us for review purposes, so we didn’t have to go through the application process. But given how dedicated the company seems to be to supporting the small guy in this business, we think Pro Sound Effects is not looking for reasons to deny an applicant, and the company would probably be willing to find a way to get you the effects or library you need.

User Support

Because of its dedication to supporting individual freelancers in this business, Pro Sound Effects is much more than merely a distributor of the Hybrid Library. It doesn’t just sell freelancers a library and forget about them. Beyond the basic customer service you would find with most companies, Pro Sound Effects has found multiple ways to continue to support its customers after the product is purchased to ensure the user gets the most benefit out of the library.

First, in addition to the sound effects, Pro Sound Effects includes an extensive spreadsheet of metadata to ensure searches generate pinpoint-accurate results. The metadata was actually one of the few complaints when the Hybrid Library debuted, with users pointing out that some effects’ descriptions were so specific, they would never show up in a search. Listening to that user feedback, Pro Sound Effects worked to conform the metadata descriptions for a later release to increase search results. But improving search results means little if you don’t have a way to search the database, so Pro Sound Effects has paired with Soundminer to offer a discount on three different versions of the metadata search engine as an add-on when a freelancer purchases the library.

Beyond helping users make the most of the more than 50,000 effects, Pro Sound Effects continues to add sound effects to the library after purchase. Users are given an annual update, free of charge; Pro Sound Effects added about 400 new effects to the existing library in 2014 alone. If that’s not enough, Hybrid Library owners can purchase two Expansion Libraries from Pro Sound Effects that will add thousands more sounds to an already huge collection. The Expansion Libraries are based on user feedback, created to fill in gaps in the Hybrid Library or expand on effects already there. Finally, if a desired effect isn’t in the library, updates, or Expansion Packs, the user is given 100 credits to download sound effects directly from the Pro Sound Effects online library. There is literally no way freelancers will go without the sound effects they need when they purchase the Hybrid Library.

Conclusion

For many years, the standard bearer for sound effect libraries has been the Sound Ideas 6000 series and the Hollywood Edge Premiere Edition series. They’re great general effects libraries that most, if not all medium to large studios have on hand. But for a lone freelancer working out of his own one-man studio, they’re out of reach, financially. Let’s compare them to the Hybrid Library:

Complete Hollywood Edge Collection:  68,200 effects – $12,000
Sound Ideas Series 6000 Combo:  20,600 effects – $1,995
Hybrid Library Plus Extensions:  60,763 effects – $2,500

Factor in the age of the 6000 Series and much of the Hollywood Edge collections, how often they’ve been used throughout the industry, and the fact that the highest quality for the majority of their effects is 16 bit/48K, there should be no doubt that the Hybrid Library – with its obscenely low price, large variety of fresh, high-quality effects, and the continual user support after purchase – is absolutely worth every hard-earned dollar it costs to a freelancer.

For more information, and to apply for the Hybrid Library, visit prosoundeffects.com.

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User Story – Ryan Billia

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