It’s not unusual to find free sample packs with a couple dozen sounds or sometime even a couple hundred. However, when one of the most famous broadcasting entities in the world releases more than 16,000 sound effects and recordings from its 90-year-old archive, that’s a special occasion. So enjoy picking through this treasure trove of BBC WAV files, and some nice effect plug-ins from Black Rooster Audio to run them through.
BBC Archive of 16,000 Sound Effects & Field Recording WAV Files
At the BBC Sound Effects Beta page, there are more than 16,000 WAV files of sound effects and field recordings from the BBC’s 90-year history. This is a fantastic resource for sound designers or producers looking for bizarre samples to exploit or to process into percussion sounds or other kinds of sounds.
There are only a couple of problems, one being that the sounds are merely listed in alphabetical order, rather than categorized. Maybe when the page is out of the “Beta” stage, that will be fixed, but for now you can type into the Search field and come up with, say 94 results for “hammer” or 82 results for “thunder.” Such searches give you the expected and unexpected results, like a recording from the interior of a P-47 Thunderbolt fighter plane from World War II or field recordings from the 1969 construction of the London Bridge. Things like that just can’t be authentically reproduced.
The other caveat concerns commercial use. You can download any of these files for "personal, educational, or research purposes," but you are supposed to inquire over email about other types of usage.
Black Rooster Audio Free Plug-ins
Cool free plug-ins are always welcome, and whether you want them for shaping up your BBC finds or for their more traditional, intended use, Black Rooster Audio has three freebies that do the trick. You must create an account first, and then you’ll get access to a single installer for Mac or Windows that contains all of Black Rooster’s plug-ins in AU/AAX/VST formats, including its 8 commercial plug-ins. You can try those for 14 days for free, or opt to not install them at all.
Black Rooster simulates the circuits of an early 1950s analog filter for the two constant-K filters of the VHL-3C. Using the lowpass and highpass dials, you can quickly narrow the frequency band of a track down to almost nothing or to just trim off whatever low or high frequencies you don’t want.
Here’s a great-sounding amp emulation with simple controls for dialing in crunchy distortion or a little lighter overdrive. A Cabinet simulation switch and Tone knob come in very handy for crackling up any source, whether its the usual guitar or a synthesizer, bass, or what have you.
Designed specifically for recorded tracks of single drum sounds, The Canary includes tuning, filtering, an attack processor, synthetic sustain and a mix knob for adding punch, tone and character for drums. I found that it could also help to make other instrument sounds subtly more staccato or distinct.
None of Black Rooster’s free plug-ins feature preset management, but they’re all designed with simple controls and express purposes, so you can quickly find your sweet-spot settings.
Boilerplate disclaimer: Most “free stuff” that we cover here will require you to provide an email address and/or register an account.