Michael Oster is the sole guiding force behind F7 Sound and Vision and the producer of two high-quality CD-ROMs of sound effects in the Concept:FX series.

Michael Oster is the sole guiding force behind F7 Sound and Vision and the producer of two high-quality CD-ROMs of sound effects in the Concept:FX series. Concept:FX3 ($89.95) is Oster's third CD-ROM of 16-bit, 44.1 kHz AIFF and WAV files. The collection is aimed at video and film post-production, radio and TV broadcast, multimedia and game development, and Web sound design. All three CDs are available in the Concept:FX Pro Bundle for $169.95.

The sounds come from a cornucopia of sources, and they tend toward the experimental and the unusual. Sound sources include Oster's voice, old tube radios, micro-cassette recorders, a ¼-inch tape machine, microphones from both ends of the quality and price spectrum, office supplies and paper products, an antique movie camera, and old clothing. Oster also derived sounds from a Roland JP-8000, a Sequential Circuits Six-Trak, an ARP Odyssey, and E-mu modular synths as well as old effects pedals, guitar, and bass. A Korg Kaoss pad further assisted with sound manipulation.

Oster fed microphone and line sources through a 2-channel Amek System 9098 Dual Mic Amp and direct injection box and Apogee AD-8000 and Rosetta digital converters to either an HHB CDR850 CD recorder or Pro Tools 24/Mix system. Once in Pro Tools, the samples were sliced, diced, and processed with plug-ins. Oster deliberately refuses to use presets or take notes, ensuring that he won't fall back on redundant production methods.

Conceptual Menu

The CD-ROM contains folders of AIFF and WAV files, each with seven identical sub-folders that are organized according to the basic characteristics of the sounds they contain: Bites, Comic, Grunge, Hits, Longer, Small, and Static.

Oster's sound palette serves as a springboard for today's sound-design production work. A random sampling of the 282 sounds in the Bites folder revealed fluttering flybys; panning resonant noise bursts; electronic animal roars; alien sci-fi snippets; quick, chirpy stings; machine noises; hollow-sounding whooshes; crispy crackles; and scorching sizzles. All in all, the versatile panorama of sound design ranged in size from 30 to 770K.

The files stand well on their own. However, you can easily append, crossfade, convolve, and mix them into a longer, altogether different sound. I chose BT002 and BT003, blended and reversed them, played with some pitch shifting, and ended up with a sound very different from the originals.

Concept:FX3's Comic sounds lack the humor of those in Concept:FX2. Appending a few and sculpting them further can provide amusing results, though, and the sonorities of the sounds work well together. The Static folder contains distorted buzzes, noise, and, yes, all manner of searing, electrical static. The Rip files in that folder are exactly the tearing, shredding noises that one would expect.

The Hits folder brims with brief barks, smacks, wails, thuds, and squeals. It holds some unusual snare sounds — not the typical Oster offering, but a nice addition. The Grunge folder outdoes them all in terms of rude, intense samples: you get loud, raw, machinelike bits; piercing distortion; deep-pitched rumbling; and much more. Brace yourself.

The Longer folder contains some beauties. Ambnce01 gives the impression of an airport ambience fed through a transistor radio, whereas Ambnce03 has a droning, netherworld quality. Bgds03 is a slightly resonant dull-noise sample that churns and chugs in a consistent rhythm of approximately 127 bpm and is excellent for looping. Voxsim02 has the spiky rhythm of a speaking voice, blurred by just the right amount of distortion. Many files contain loop markers.

How It FX Me

F7 Sound and Vision has released another fine collection of creative sound designs. The zany file names of the earlier offerings in the series are replaced by a more pragmatic naming system, which makes things less entertaining but easier to grasp in organizational terms. In contrast to Concept:FX2's 305 medium to long samples, Concept:FX3 gives you 1,292 short to medium samples. The shorter file lengths make them excellent base material for manipulating to your needs. The price is right too. I recommend it.

Overall EM Rating (1 through 5): 4

F7 Sound and Vision; tel. (813) 991-4117; e-mail f7sound@gte.net; Web www.f7sound.com