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How Is The Audio Craze Sounding?

Sound effects sell. It's just one type of audio that has joined the race on the information superhighway to fulfill its promise, which some of us have been asking for and using for well over a decade now: The ability to send sound effects from a web site to a client at a moment's notice. Knowing that kind of thing sometimes makes it hard to believe that there was a time when sound effects discs took weeks to arrive! Weeks! And, when they did ar- rive, occasionally they were of pretty shoddy quality, requiring us to take hours to sort through the "sound catalog" and make functional. All self-professed "audio geeks" and sound engineers alike are relieved, to say the very least, that those days have passed. Today, companies are looking for better and easier ways to make their audio libraries accessible to a greater number of users, while making sure their files are at higher resolution and ready to pop in to an already-running production. That said, the latest craze of downloadable single files or entire libraries has been hampered by a bevy of issues.

Not only is the Internet's increasingly narrow bottleneck a concern, but so are any number of software compatibility problems and the high cost of putting those files on the Internet. Though most com- panies "audition" sounds on the Web, and a quick per- usal of home pages allows for more specific searches, the overwhelming feeling is that the compact disc method of distribution will not disappear any time soon. The Internet has, however, allowed these audio post houses to offer their own libraries online. In fact, one quick search for "audio: sound effects" generates nearly 1 million links to some of the more established companies as well as to some of the more obscure ones. One thing is for sure.

As the number of general sound effects catalogs have grown over the years, demand seems to be decreasing. So, some companies are turning more and more to specialized discs. Maybe there are a lot of general libraries out there, and people don't need another general library. However, more special- ized libraries are coming to the marketplace, People are considering more "niche" categories of sounds and just going out, recording them, and posting them on their web site. It's as simple as that, but it's also very, very com- petitive among big business as well as audio entrepre- neurs or enthusiasts. For example, any high-end automobile TV ad campaign is going to go directly to these kinds of links to locate the best "sound quality" for their ad. For ex- ample, that secure sound of the door shutting on a brand-new car in a TV commercial takes hours and hours of research. And that sound comes from one of these audio posts, which means someone just made a lot of money. Sound sells. It sells more than you'd think, and it's one of those "I've never thought about it," kinds of subconscious realities we "hear" every day.

So the next time you see a luxury car commercial on TV, really listen.


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