This is part of Azimuth's Blog’s ongoing feature of SFX library reviews. Take a moment to read the Ground Rules if you have not had a chance to do so yet, to get an idea of what I use the libraries for and what my criteria are.
Recently a new category has emerged in the world of boutique independent SFX libraries. I'm not sure if anyone else has come up with a name for it yet but I've been referring to these as Budget Indie Libraries. These are libraries that are putting out quality sounds but doing so at extremely low prices for the end user, including pay-what-you-can. They tend to focus on sounds generated with collections of props, recorded in a studio environment - so they would be effects you could create on your own with a little time and energy. But at the low prices at which these are offered, it might be worth your while to save the effort and just buy the library. This article will explore one of these Budget Indie libraries: Arrowhead Audio's Swishes.
Along with Affordable Audio for Everyone, Arrowhead Audio seems to be at the forefront of the Budget SFX trend. Based out of England and run by a fellow named Fred Pearson, Arrowhead has released five libraries so far. The libraries are sold in three levels: Lite (£2 or approx. US$4) Full (£4 or approx. US$7) and Max (£6 or approx. US$10.) As the price point goes up, both the number of files and the technical quality increase, with Max versions offering 24bit/96k resolution.
I purchased the Max version of the Swishes collection which came to US$9.72. It's a simple download from the Arrowhead website after paying through Paypal. The Max version comes with 332 files, each containing a single sound event; multiple takes are included of every prop but each take has been broken down into individual files. The quality is very high, with zero BG noise, so the whooshes are pristine. Sixteen different props are used to make the whooshes, ranging from the usual whooshy suspects (bamboo, broom handles) to more obscure objects (rubber toys, baking trays.) Some props have insane coverage with up to ninety takes while others have as little as two takes, depending on the amount of character a prop has to offer. Single, double, and multiple swish takes are offered for most props.
Each file is also offered as both a mono and stereo file so the download actually consists of just over 660 files. The metadata is not as full as other libraries but is filled out enough to be easily navigated. When I purchased the collection I ended up going into the "Admin" function in Soundminer to globally fill in some of the columns that were blank (for ex: Short ID, Source, Category.) The description field is simply a copy of the filename, causing a doubling up of information, but understandably, since there just aren't that many descriptive words for the 14th take of a wooden spoon swish. So, wisely, each file is named first by prop, then the number of events (single/double/multiple), followed by speed (fast/slow) and a descriptor (Short/flutter/Hard/Soft/Long etc.) Rounding out each file name is channel layout (MONO/STEREO) and the take number. So a typical file name would look like: SWISH_WOODEN_SPOON_SINGLE_FAST_SHORT_MONO_011.
There have been a lot of Swish/Swoosh libraries released in the last couple of years, including Hiss and a Roar's Swishes, Tonsturm's The Whoosh, and to a certain extent Boom Libraries' Cinematic Trailers. Arrowhead's offering is not the best of all of these (Tonsturm might have that distinction) but I don't think that's what Arrowhead is aiming for, as it has priced its collection at about an eighth of the cost of the competition. At those prices it does not have to be the best to be a worthwhile addition to your SFX database. It's a solid collection, and at roughly three cents per file it's a bargain, keeping in mind that Sound Ideas' flagship products average out to fifteen cents per file... so this really is a great deal.
These sounds are useful to have in your library as they can fill out fight sequences, sporting event movements, graphic motion effects... and anything else you can think of.
You can download ten files from the collection as MP3s to get a sample of what you can expect should you decide to purchase the collection from here. Another good way into the Arrowhead Audio world would be to grab the free library called Balloon Squeaks and Creaks. It features 172 files, again for free, so you really can't beat the price!
Here is the demo of the Arrowhead Audio Swishes Collection:
Arrowhead Audio has also just released a brand new library called Rivers.