Cycles: Audio Source Libraries
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Audio Source Libraries
In this 4-volume series, sound designer Ron MacLeod expands upon his previous work by producing a continuing series of inspirational sonic collections, utilizing the innovative processing tools from Cycling ’74.
Each Cycles download release has separate 44.1kHz / 48kHz folders. (If you’ll be doing music production, select the 44.1kHz versions. The 48kHz are for compatibility with film, DV, and multimedia productions.) The files are stored in 24-bit FLAC format.
The limited-edition packaged versions contain two discs, a DVD-ROM with both 44.1kHz and 48kHz files in 24-bit WAV format, plus a standard audio CD for an easy auditioning alternative. Files are seamlessly looped end to end.
Cover photos by Marsha Vdovin.
Cycles Volume 1: Sustained Encounters
Sustained Encounters is comprised of long evolving aural environments and unfolding atmospheres. Culled from MacLeod’s private reserve, an accumulation of years of film sound design and sonic exploration, these textures were individually ‘composed’ utilizing bleeding edge psychoacoustic processing, designed specifically to be intricately interesting and immersive without being obtrusive to additional content.
- Other Realms: longer (30 sec – 2 min) ‘otherworldly’ compositions that take you on evolving journeys.
- Atmospheres: big and spacious loops designed to provide an endless immersive field.
- Environs: loops that are more actively involved, suggesting a ‘place’ rather than space.
- Lifeforms: ‘walla’ loops comprised of non-existent life forms.
- Textural: an extreme variety of textural loops to supply endless beds of scenic ambience.
- Complex: multi layered, covering a wide spectrum of sound
- High: high pitched orientation (some to the point of pain)
- Low: big bottom end designed to PUSH AIR (subwoofer recommended)
- Events: incidents, fx and transmutations
- Immersion: a select collection of undulating 5.1 multi-channel versions.
Cycles Volume 2: Unnatural Rhythm
Unnatural Rhythm features extended form (4 to 32+ bar) non-drum alternative groove loops of mechanical, electronic, found sound and algorithmic origins. The loops titles include sample accurate BPM notation with longer loops Bar Count noted as well. This volume also includes 24-bit REX formatted versions of all applicable files for use in Reason or any 24-bit REX compatible audio sequencer. Also included is a huge collection of hard-syncopated electronic source culled from a collection of 70s-era Buchla and Serge Modular systems.
- Back Alley Tribal: found object industrial gamelan.
- Contraptions: pounding machines of real and synthesized derivation.
- Cyclic Waves: oscillating undulations for a less obvious rhythmic character.
- Found Sound: heavily processed real world appropriations.
- Grooves: beat oriented pulsations with extra groove.
- Vintage Electronics: a huge collection of hard-syncopated electronic source culled from a collection of 70’s era Buchla & Serge modular systems.
- X-tended Versions: long extended versions, some up to 96 bars, of select loops from all the categories. Processed, filtered and continually developing, these files were mixed to resolve back to the intro for transparent loop repetition.
Cycles Volume 3: Incidental Gesture
Incidental Gesture gives you active sonic textures and melodic meanderings that provide movement, emotion and narrative expression to your compositions or media projects. Composed to integrate easily into existing pieces yet intricate enough to stand on their own as incidental beds. These long (30 sec. to 3 minute) files were designed around direct use in digital workstations yet are all seamlessly looped end to end for extended play as well.
- Horn Based Gestures: lite to heavily processed acoustic horn gestures, broken out as raw, processed, fx only and individual notes (where appropiate).
- Melodic Meanderings: melodically based experimental traipsing.
- Moody Incidentals: a bit more textural, evoking an atmospheric ‘vibe.’
- Narrative Expressions: sonic banter and non-verbal storytelling.
- Rhythmic Beds: rhythmic yet non-repetitive phrases.
Cycles Volume 4: Momentary Incursions
Momentary Incursions are hits, events, effects and transitions… for use when a more finite punctuation is in order. Aggressively percussive to hypnotic and transient, this collection of 900+ non-looped samples range from a fraction of a second to over a minute in length.
- Events: longer gestures of modular, granular, metallic and electro-acoustic origin.
- FX: surreal and hyper-real effects that started life based in reality.
- Hits: shorter percussive bursts of electronics, metal, foundsound and processing overload.
- Transitions: events that provide transitional intros, endings, builds, fly-bys and tails.
- Waves: incidental swells of convoluted textures.
Cycles Design Philosophy
When consulting with several professional sound designers and composers about what would make their job easier while using libraries in the middle of a hectic production schedule – one thing came up repeatedly: Simple equals Fast.
To this end we worked on making the standards used by the Cycles series direct, easy, and to the point.
- The title is inspiring but directly reflects the nature of the actual content.
- The packageis quick to open and the spine is easy to read.
- The spine index uses a coded symbol at the top of the spine. The color suggests the sound file type (ambient, rhythmic, FX, etc.). The arrow length indicates the average duration of the samples.
- By using a DVD-ROM we can consolidate a large amount of material on one disc.
- The disc labels are easily identifiable as they are strewn about the floor in the frenzy of a deadline.
- The file format is designed for maximum convenience:
- contains multiple sample rates for quick multiple format support (48Khz & 44.1Khz)
- uses 24-bit samples to preserve quality and robustness when doing further processing
- .wav for universal application and auditioning program support
- 5.1 surround examples are supplied in 6 channel broadcast .wav (SMPTE/ITU order format) as well as 6 individual channel files (for re-configuration into other formats)
- rhythmic samples include 24-bit REX format files
- all samples are end-to-end looped for easy use in sequencers or looping applications such as radiaL, Live, Acid or GarageBand.
- The organization of the disc has been distilled to the natural essence of the content
- not too many folders to weed through
- easily and quickly scrollable audition
- the filenames are not overly pre-defined. We intended these libraries to be inspirational rather than merely a fulfillment tool. If a sound is called “snare-like” it tends only to be used as a snare.
- The audio CD is a much-requested enhancement for ease of auditioning. For example, you can play it in the background during set-up. The files were left in their raw loop state (not head/tail faded) so the 16-bit loops could be ripped if needed. Multiple sounds sharing a track are indexed (for those increasingly rare CD players that will read this information).
- The index is a simple and direct document for fast referencing of vital data relevant to the content of each library – file length, loop data, BPM and pitch (if applicable). The audio CD index includes the individual index start times for players that don’t read track index points. And both the CD and DVD index are supplied in both PDF and Excel format for easier integration into sound file databases.
The files on Cycles releases can be used freely by the purchaser – other than inclusion in other sound libraries – without any additional royalties or usage fees.
Because of the nature of some of the longer files, they cannot be used as a stand-alone piece represented as the purchaser’s original composition. It is expected that additional material will be added to the file to make it unique or that it will be significantly altered through unique processing. In the case of media work (film, video, DV), sound FX, dialog, ambience is considered sufficient additional material. Respect the source / respect the art form.