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SoundServe Online Sound Library Service

Issue #14
May 14 , 2004

Why pay for sounds you don't need? With a SoundServe account, you get exactly what you need, when you need it!

I'm pretty sure this has happened to all of us at some point:

1) We need a particular sound - a Wurlitzer electric piano, for example - but to get that sound, you have to buy a CD-ROM with dozens of other sampled keyboards you'll probably never use. Pipe organs, for instance. . .

2) You work in post production and your client (who otherwise is a very wonderful person) decides he just doesn't like a certain sound effect, so everything comes to a screeching halt while you desperately try to salvage what you already have (and we know how that will turn out, right?).


With a tip of the hat to the Tom Jones song of the same name, these scenarios are fairly common. Whether it's paying for sounds you don't want or need or finding yourself under the gun in post, it can be frustrating.

In our first example, it's like needing a coffee table and having to buy an entire set of living room furniture to get it. In our second example, it's precious time wasted while you try to please the client (who, after all, is paying for the session).

These are just two reasons why any rational person (and I use that term loosely since we're all musicians and engineers, aren't we?) should have a SoundServe account - which incidentally happens to be a Sweetwater exclusive.


SoundServe is the best way to get exactly the sounds you need. You build your own custom sound library from the worlds largest database of pro sound effects, samples, loops and multi-sampled instruments. There are three SoundServe categories:

SoundServe-FX. With thousands of sound effects from all the biggest names in post, from the classic BBC archives to industry leaders like Sound Ideas, you'll have a searchable database of thousands of stock sounds, foley effects and ambience recordings in AIFF and .WAV formats. You can bet that finding the precise sound you need is just a few mouse clicks away.

SoundServe-M. When you need multisampled instruments (like our aforementioned Wurlitzer), well darned if they're not right there, ready to download in any one of nine formats: MachFive, GigaSampler, NN-XT, EXS24, HALion, Soundfont, Kontakt, Unity and SampleCell.

SoundServe-SL. A lot of people are making music these days using loops, riffs, hits and one-shot files, so SoundServe offers up tons of ACIDized .WAV and AIFF sounds in lots of different keys and tempos. From the most basic drums and bass rhythm loops to African tribal chants, you'll be pleasantly surprised by the quality and selection, with more on the way.


I make at least part of my living doing sound design, so I'm not your average SoundServe client. And I'll admit that I had some resistance to the whole concept of what I'm calling "Sounds on Demand." But I'll be darned if they didn't make a believer out of me after I had the opportunity to download a bunch of files. There's unquestionably some great stuff here!

I actually set aside one afternoon to browse the SoundServe archives, but that eventually turned into an afternoon, evening and early morning session, and I still only auditioned a portion of the material on their site. My advice would be to set aside a full weekend, or maybe four or five week nights. We're talking about 250,000 files and still growing.

Oh, and I do want to make sure that everyone gets the fact that the audio demo files are hugely compressed, and not at all indicative of the quality of the actual sound you will be downloading. It's a shame that companies have to do that to protect their intellectual properties, but it's a fact of life today.

Timesaver tip: Often the same multisamples will appear in all the various formats, but they won't always be listed together. So if you are looking for, say, a cello ensemble, take note of the first file you audition (source and size of the file) so that you won't be hearing the same audio demo over and over again. Hopefully, as the SoundServe site grows, the samples can all be grouped together. It's a very minor complaint, and once you know what to look for, it's easy to refine your own searches.

Another innovation is the Soundbay. Let's say you are called in to work at a facility other than your own and you didn't realize you needed certain sounds, samples or effects. Or maybe there's a problem with the media you were counting on (it happens). Just log onto the SoundServe Web site and you can access all the material you have already purchased within minutes. How cool is that? And did I already mention that SoundServe is a Sweetwater exclusive?


The beauty of SoundServe is that you can audition the entire library - if you so choose - before investing in the service. The multisamples are not as comprehensive as the other two categories, but the company is working on adding more sample sets. As far as the sound effects library goes, it's unquestionably the best investment you can possibly make if you do any sort of post production work. SoundServe can literally pay for itself in one single session if you get hit with a lot of last minute changes or unexpected shots that you hadn't counted on.

As far as the loops and one-shot samples, I found lots of sounds as I auditioned the demo files that would certainly have inspired me to start working on a new song (had I not been working on this review, of course). For the way I personally work when writing songs, I typically start with a beat I like or even a specific riff and then go from there.

To open a SoundServe account, you first select which category you want: SL, M or FX. For $199.99 you can get access to 300 samples, loops and one-shots (SL), 50 key-mapped multisamples (M) or 125 stock sound effects (FX). From there the sky's the limit, all the way up to unlimited access, which for pro post facilities is certainly the way to go.

Not sure if SoundServe is right for you? At just $39.95, the Sonomic Online Library Card allows you to choose 50 samples or 20 sound effects. That's more than enough to give you a very real sense of the selection and quality that's available.


SoundServe makes so much sense, you have to ask yourself why nobody thought of it before now. As I already stated, your investment can easily pay for itself in short order when you need a certain sound, and you need it right now!

I look forward to spending more time exploring the SoundServe site. Whether it's for sounds I need for my new video projects or inspiration to get me started writing some new music, odds are good I'll find what I need with my SoundServe account - and so will you!

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