At the beginning of October, I purchased a vocal booth!
I hadn't planned on making this investment for at least another year, but all the right pieces fell into place. The booth was gently used and already available on the east coast. I even had the right amount of money set aside in my savings. All the stars were aligning and it seemed like the perfect step forward in my career. So I said yes!
StudioBricks has been on my radar since I saw an interview with a narrator for ACX about what her daily life was like narrating audiobooks. I was tremendously impressed by how comfortable and clean her recording booth and setup appeared, but it took me a while to find out who made such beautiful looking booths!
I came across StudioBricks again when I was researching audio treatment solutions for my day job as a Learning Experience Designer. There were a few key factors that I wanted to apply to my personal recording solutions, as well as impart to my supervisor, that made StudioBricks stand out above other vocal booth models I'd seen so far.
It's been a while since I initially signed up for a copy of Pro Tools First, so I was really excited to see an email about a week ago letting me know that the download link for my copy was finally available. I'm assuming that fine tuning this product may have taken a lot more time than anticipated, as it incorporates some newer features that Pro Tools has begun to offer, but so far, my impression is definitely favorable.
To clarify, I do come to this review as someone who uses the standard release of ProTools regularly, though I've been happily running version 10 for some time and I'm not as familiar with some of the much newer features 11 and 12 have to offer. I also use ProTools primary for voice over recording and SFX editing and design, so I'm nearly exclusively working in the edit window on any given project.
So far, the pros are outweighing the cons. I'm currently using a Macbook Air for maximum mobility, so Pro Tools First is by far the most ideal mobile DAW for my current workflow and experience. Even though my projects are technically synced up with cloud storage (something I've seen Avid attempting to push towards in its standard releases), you still have the ability to work on projects offline as long as you have them opened previously and readily available. Your changes also seem to upload only when you hit the save function, so thankfully it doesn't impact performance while you're editing in real time. Though I'm not really a fan of having *only* cloud storage as an option, I really can't complain too much, especially as this will handle 99% of what I need it for anyway.
The best by far for me is that all of my hotkeys are still available and the workflow is fairly identical to what I'm used to in the standard Pro Tools windows. Most of the built in, standard plugins are also available to apply to your tracks or use via the audio suite function, so you can do a fair amount of editing and mixing before you start missing any functionality. You can also
Along with the lack of ability to have local projects (there is also a 3 project limit unless you purchase extra - which to me, is very within reason for what we're getting for free), one of my other main complaints is that there is not an option for clip gain, which is a basic function I use pretty frequently and probably miss the most. I'm also sad that there aren't any video options either, even just for reference purposes, but again in the scenario of getting what you pay for, it's hardly a deal breaker. It would be something I'd be willing to pay a reasonable amount for down the road if it were made available as an add on.
So far Pro Tools First handles smoothly and does nearly everything I need it to. As long as you understand what it is and what you can expect to get out of it for the unbeatable price (or lack thereof) this is a solid additional tool to add to the arsenal of indie sound producers or professionals who need a solid version of Pro Tools for simple tasks and on the go.
Have you ever found yourself wanting 26 variations of an alpaca mating call?
Have you just realized that you now want 26 variations of an alpaca mating call?
Yeah, that’s basically what happened to me too.
I’m pretty new to sound design - it started out as a hobby during my first year of college and since then, I've found myself in not insubstantial debt to a lovely college in Chicago and with an incurable addiction to awesome sound effects. Most of my experience in school had me weaned pretty cleanly onto the Sound Ideas and Hollywood Edge standard libraries, but once I had graduated and starting working on my own podcast series and contracting with my friend’s growing studio, I needed my own library and one without a price tag that made me cry inconsolably.
The Hybrid Library found it’s way onto my feed as the result of a mass ‘liking’ spree via social media. One of my teachers (wisely) advised us to follow others in the business and take advantage of job and equipment discounts they would occasionally post. Pro Sound Effects ended up falling in that mix, and I really really liked the $1500 price tag they had assigned to the Hybrid Library. After spending most of the day pouring over the demos and PDF files to see if it had some of the random effects that I’d been having recent trouble finding to see if they were just as good as advertised (I really needed bullet shell casings dropping on not wood floors, and yes, they had them), I applied for the discount and was accepted almost immediately.
The ordering process was extremely smooth, my contact at Pro Sounds Effects (hi Jeremy!) was very friendly and helpful the entire time. The hard drive arrived about a week after it shipped, and I managed to staunch my hemorrhaging cash flow enough to start working with my new library.
It’s really pretty. I like it a lot.
The variety on this hard drive is fantastic. A couple of blind spots I've had continuous complaints with for Sound Ideas and Hollywood Edge were a lack of updated tech/sci-fi sounds, game interaction sounds, whooshes, animals, and clean sounding small foley. The Hybrid Library contains an abundant amount of all these effects (remember the Alpacas?) and I can already see this will be a boon to my sanity. I also like how much cleaner and to date many of these effects are compared with my experience in Sound Ideas and even Hollywood edge. Not that they skimp on the standard fare of a lot of ambiance, mechanicals, weaponry, etc, but it feels much more balanced and well rounded. In particular, having both the Foundation Library and Sonopedia working together to lay your groundwork really boosts the variety and amount of sounds you have to work with.
My complaints are very few and far between. There are a few packs that are less cleanly recorded than I prefer to use. In particular, the Buzzsaw 2 library felt very repetitive and Rare Animals in particular doesn’t give a lot of close range, isolated sounds. Beyond this, for my personal taste, I wanted a bit more options for footsteps, and impact/close combat foley. And to Pro Sound Effect’s credit, it looks like there’s an expansion (also on sale right now) that looks to address those concerns. Since I already had Boom’s Fantasy and Sci-Fi Packs (areas that the expansion also seemed to address and supplement), I picked up a few other libraries that also went on sale for the holidays to patch my own solution together, and I’m very pleased with the results. I’m coming out very much in the green in this case and I couldn’t be happier for the opportunity.
I’m still getting my feet wet with this library, so this is mostly my initial impressions of things, but so far it was unquestionably worth the investment as a new and independent creator.
The Hybrid Library is currently available at a special low price of $1500 for qualifying freelancers through the end of the year, and as of the writing of this review, there are still 30 units left. For more information and to apply, visit Pro Sound Effects Website for details.