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The Gamemaster Pro Sound Collection: An In-Depth Review

The Gamemaster Pro Sound Collection contains 8076 sound effects, which is all the material from all their libraries, which can also be purchased individually. When not on sale, it retails for $58.8, which works out at roughly 137 sound effects per dollar. This price includes European VAT so it may well be even cheaper where you live. Even if this was just a pack of source material, developed for sound designers to mangle and layer to their hearts’ content, it would still be, by far, the best value for money sound library I have ever come across…but it’s not just that.

Before you read on, just so you know, for a limited time, get a whopping 50% off the Pro Sound Collection when you use the code ‘Zapsplat’ at checkout, click here!

What the Blurb Says

This is the perfect collection of sounds for all types of sound designers, game developers and video editors who need a large range of high quality sound effects ready to use. Designed specifically for games, film and other media by award winning sound designers.

 

First Impressions

The library, which comprises 96 KHz 24-bit files is split into 30 folders by category. Categories include, Zombie, Whooshes, Water, Voice, Vehicles, Engines, Motors, Sci-fi Weapons, Foley, Footsteps and much more. There is also useful bonus material, including, most notably, a 44.1 KHz 16-bit bonus music folder, as well as two helpful documents – “How to Setup Automatic Guns Sounds in Games” and “General Tips for Game Developers”. There is a great deal of breadth as well as depth here, with a wide variety of sounds with many variations of each in some cases. The sounds are descriptively named, which is a great help when picking assets. By this time, I’m sure you’re wondering what the catch is and perhaps questioning the quality of the sounds given the price. So let’s dive in.

 

The Breakdown

The “Voice” and “Animal Impersonations” categories in this library encompass an impressive array of vocalizations to meet a wide variety of needs.

There are 1085 animal impersonations alone, which are impressive not only for the number of animals covered, but for the number of variations included. There is enough there to capture pretty much any mood of your average cartoon cat and enough chicken material to build a flock of animated chickens. There are also more exotic animals including zebras and bears. Cute and endearing, these animals definitely made me smile just listening to them so I’m sure they could find a good home in many an animated film, cartoon or app/game. On top of that, they provide a wealth of source material for monster and creature sound design.

Adding to the abundant lighthearted material are the offerings from the “Fun characters”, “Goblin Fairy” and Fun Creatures” subcategories in the voice folder. There are lots of cute, cuddly and quirky emotes as well as violence, mayhem, evil laughter and melodramatic death cries from the chipmunk style fairy goblin.

All these sounds are well-voiced with great enthusiasm. My only slight criticism of certain sounds in these catagories is the amount of low end and plosives in some of the sounds, particularly the “Fun Characters” catagory and a couple of the mouse impersonations. These could easily be eliminated though with the right tools and knowledge by the end user.

It’s also worth being aware that some of the vocalizations, particularly some of the animal impersonations have a slightly more ambient perspective than others, though, given the genre and the subjects covered, this is not a major setback and may well be intentional.

Coming down to earth a little, there’s also a multitude of other human vocalizations. Everything from cheers, grunts of pain and shrieks of agony; indignation, amusement, sorrow, battle cries, exertion, panting, sniffs, screams, combat vocalization and rage are captured in six well-organized folders, divided according to the person performing, three male and three female.

The performances are excellent, among the best I’ve heard, with particularly impressive combat vocalizations from the males, some very convincing chesty coughing and laughter from “Female A” and screams from “Female C” being among the highlights for me.

The contribution from “Male A” comes with some phrases soldiers might say, ideal for any military-style game. These phrases are duplicated from a walkie-talkie perspective in the “Human Radio” sub-folder. Normally I’m not a big fan of libraries containing the same sound processed different ways as it feels like padding. I think it’s well justified in this case though and actually a very good and helpful idea for those without the time, resources or project budget to process the dry assets themselves to achieve a radio perspective, which is not the easiest thing to do. The radio perspective in this case isn’t simply a high-pass filter either. There is static in the background, which is a nice touch.

Finishing off this section, we have a couple of baby vocalizations, which should serve if you have an infant cameo.

 

Mostly Monstrous

To balance the cute, heroic or every-day sounds covered above, there is, of course, a darker side to the vocalizations presented. There is a zombie category filled with growls, snarls, slurps, eating sounds and repetitions of the word “brains”. Within the “Voice” category, there is also a folder full of rather nice, visceral, troll sounds, a snarling, hissing witch and some distant monster sounds, ready processed with reverb.

There’s also a rather original section dedicated to words and phrases that might be required for in-game announcements. Spoken in a larger-than-life growl and coming ready processed to make them sound as powerful as possible, we have things like: “Game over!” “Victory” “Triple kill.”

Some of these sounds, particularly the announcements and zombie effects, are off centre for some reason, but this is easily fixed in any audio editing application if need be.

 

Hand to Hand Combat

To go with all the savage cries from people about to do violence, there’s a nice collection of whooshes. Clean, short and crisp, these swishes of objects passing through the air are very nice. Nothing too grandiose, but very effective. They would combine very nicely with anything from the “Punches” category, the sounds in which measure up very nicely against similar sounds from other libraries. I particularly like the huge, distorted punches available here, which sell the feeling of a devastating impact very well. Using the contents of the “Knife_Sword-Pick” sub-folder of the “Guns_Weapons” category will make your hand to hand combat scenes even more lethal. Add in the material from the combat-oriented “Foley” category, which includes bone breaks, jumps and throws, grabs and soldiers’ clothing and equipment handling noises, and you have the makings of a very elaborate fight scene.

 

More Combat

There are certainly enough weapons in this library for sound designers to create arenas into which it would be very unwise to bring a knife, sword or pick and expect to win. If you’re creating the sound for situations in which characters want to maintain a little distance between themselves and their foes, there’s definitely the potential to do that with this library with weapons to suit most periods. There are 51 bow, arrow and crossbow sound effects, including bow-strings creaking and arrows and bolts being positioned, which adds a nice level of intricacy, as well as more modern weaponry.

The bullets category consists of whizzes and impacts into a variety of surfaces including flesh and water. The wizzes don’t follow the Hollywood tradition too closely and provide a refreshingly original take on near misses. Most of them are short, tight and crisp, with a few longer, hyper-real passes that might serve just as well for cannon ball passes. There are also sounds to illustrate bullets leaving the gun barrel which are very cinematic. The category is rounded off with a multitude of shell casings bouncing on various surfaces to ensure that designers have all the ingredients they need for an impactful shot.

The “Guns” sub-folder contains lots of very nice gun Foley, which you can never have too much of, a couple of pistols, a sniper rifle, a cannon, a tank gun, a grenade launcher firing with associated handling noises, (my personal favorite set from this section as such sounds are rare), and three automatic weapons. What’s particularly nice regarding the automatic fire for game developers is that, as well as including a burst of fire, the sound is broken down into its component parts so that you can custom make a burst to suit your needs. Each automatic weapons set comes with a file containing the tail only.

Although one of the pistols in the “Guns” section is silenced, there is also a whole sub folder dedicated to silenced fire-arms of various types – automatics, pistols, rifles and sniper rifles. The silenced automatics follow the same pattern as in the previous section with a burst that is then broken down with the tail isolated as a separate file for developers to customize as they wish. Silenced weapons are quite rare so this is a welcome batch of assets. There are even the sounds of a silencer being screwed in and unscrewed, which I haven’t encountered anywhere else.

The weapons section is rounded off by a few quirky peashooter sound effects and a couple of tazer zaps, which ould just as easily be used as elements in other energy sound design applications.

While it would have been nice to have a little more information about the model and caliber of the weapons and bullets used here, the sounds are great.

 

Sci-fi

Not to be outdone, the futuristic heroes, villains, robots and aliens of your projects can find armaments aplenty in the “Sci-fi Weapons” category as well as the “Weapons” sub-folder of the “Retro Classic” category.

The latter contains 8-bit-sounding, low-fi goodness, suitable for arcade games and toys used by characters in your projects. They certainly do take me back. Meanwhile, the offerings from the “Sci-fi Weapons” category certainly fit in well with the modern tradition of sci-fi weaponry advanced by other libraries. There is a nice breadth of scale to the weapons in this section, ranging from the small and tonal to the large and punchy and there are also a few all-important futuristic handling noises that have become such a hallmark of modern energy weapon sound design.

 

Give Peace a Chance

When characters in your sci-fi universes are going about their daily lives rather than shooting at one another, there are still plenty of sounds in the “Sci-fi” category to help breathe life into those settings. There are power ups and power downs, explosions, bleeps and buzzes ranging from the high to the low-tech, space ship sound effects including thrusters, shields and interior ambience loops, as well as alarms.

What I particularly like about this category, which is a theme that extends to many other sections as well, (the related “Alarms_beeps_siren” folder for example), is the number of sounds that loop seamlessly. Seamless looping is such a time-saver  or sound designers, not to mention a hard-disk space-saver. Many of the sounds in this collection that you might use to underpin an entire scene – alarms, engine sounds, force-field hums etc, are only a couple of seconds long, meaning that this large collection remains relatively compact.

My favorite sounds in this section though have to be the robot vocalizations. Many sound designers have been inspired by the sound of R2-D2 and have tried to capture the essence of his very organic, emotive language. The robot sound effects here are among the closest to this ideal that I have encountered because they are composites made up of modulated buzzes and beeps. The same applies to the robot sounds found in the “Retro_Classic” category, particularly if multiple sounds are combined.

Many of the sounds in the “Retro_Classic” category can be used to supplement the sci-fi category because it is crammed full of frequency modulated wave forms that could be used as elements in many sci-fi scenarios. The remainder make excellent retro game sounds, with sub-categories for “Collectables” such as coins and others full of jumps, great bit-crushed explosions and impacts.

 

The Rest of the Retro

There is a separate section for “Retro” sounds, which sound just as 8-bit, but are more musical. They include musical stingers, strings of beeps and synth wobbles.

 

Modern UI

For those creating a game or app with a more modern feel, other sections have you covered. The “User_Interface_menu” category contains a broad spectrum of clicks, clunks, whistles, bleeps, chords, plinks plonks, warbles, short whooshes, buzzes etc, whereas the “Collectibles_Items_Powerup” folder contains material that is more focused towards notifying the user of positive or negative results. Consequently, this section contains more glissandi, tinkles, chimes and sparkles. There are also more literal sounds such as a cash register and variations of coins/counters jingling. Both make good additions to any pallet of UI elements.

 

Magic

Speaking of tinkles and sparkles, the Pro Sound Collection also has a comprehensive collection of magic sound effects. Being a keen fantasy reader and a role-player in my spare time, I’m rather fussy about magical sound design but this category is definitely one of my favorites out of the whole library.

Magic is one of the most subjective areas of sound design because there are so many traditions, so many concepts of how magic works. Should a magic sound focus on the mysterious origins of the effect or should it concentrate on the material effect the spell has? There are so many disciplines of magic too, so many different types of spell to capture. In these 395 sounds, I think this library does a good job of covering all the bases and preferences where magic is concerned.

There are ripples, tinkles and chimes for you to build your own elements from, there are riffling pages for spell-book sound design, all the elements are covered except earth – fire, lightning, wind, ice, water, there are nature spells, dark magic sound design, healing magic, magic device transformation sounds, potion bubbles and more. Of course, many of the sounds could just as easily be used as layers in explosions, sound design for trailers etc or sci-fi energy discharges. The fact that they have been named for magical uses may make them harder to find for use in these alternative applications but, given the purpose of the library, to be a ready-to-use pallet of elements for games and so on, it makes sense that the elements for a particular genre should be organized neatly in one place, ready to go. In fact, this very point is addressed in the very helpful accompanying document “General Tips for Game Developers”, where the user is encouraged to try multiple searches in order to find the best sound.

Anyone working on a fantasy game could easily come to this folder and make significant in-roads very quickly, if not complete the whole task, depending on its size.

I particularly like the way elemental magic is handled; there are sounds, for example, of a fireball being conjured, then its blast and finally its impact, so that, much as with the automatic weapons section, you can use a sound as is or combine some however you want. I also like the lightning sounds. There is a nice variation in scale from small discharges and arcs to larger thunder claps.

This collection of effects could be supplemented with the sounds from the “Cinematic” folder and also from the “Explosion_Fire_Gas” folder. The electricity sounds here would add colour to the electricity hums folder of the same name if desired, though that folder also contains some electrical crackling of its own. If you need to craft spells for an earth mage, there are a number of very good, rich, bass-heavy impacts and earth debris in the “Impacts_Smashable” folder that could easily be combined with less specific magical sounds to produce impressive results.

 

Explosions and other destruction

The explosions in the “Explosion_Fire_Gas” section are very good, very clean, not artificial sounding at all. There are also a number of ignitions there, something that is comparatively rare in sound libraries unfortunately. There are fuses and lighters, gas leaks and regular fires. The explosions in this pack can easily be enlarged by layering them with each other and/or including some of the debris effects from the “Impacts_Smashable” section, particularly those of glass falling and shattering.

If you are looking for slightly less lethal forms of destruction, the “Snow_Ice” category has ice-breaking sound effects, which could be used as sweeteners in a lot of places as well as by themselves and, most interestingly for me, numerous snowball sound effects, which flesh out a thin place in my sound effects collection nicely.

 

Back on a Lighter Note

The Comedy_Cartoon section boasts 167 sounds, some of which are versatile enough to be used for more serious applications. There are, for example, a number of horn calls, which could serve as notifications in battle-themed games. Some of the eating sound effects, particularly those without significant low frequency content, could also be used in other genres.

In addition to these, there are farts, whistles, squeaky toys, squeaky cleaning loops, belches, squirts, sounds of climbing and jumping and a cartoon computer. Lighthearted, happy, positive sound design is definitely an area in which this library excels.

 

Foley

Several categories in this library encompass some Foley elements, many of which have already been discussed. As well as the combat sounds mentioned earlier, the folder entitled “Foley” also contains sports bag sounds, zippers, cloth movements, couch leather stretching sounds, and keys jingling. There are also folders dedicated to doors and footsteps, two categories of sound in which I firmly believe it is impossible to over-invest.

 

Footsteps

The footstep collection is broken up into individual steps in keeping with this library’s ethos of being primarily aimed at game developers. In this way, every time your character moves, a different random step on the surface you have chosen can be triggered. This also allows you to set your own pace and very easily match the gate of the person walking to the action on screen if you are working in another medium other than gaming.

The steps themselves sound pretty nice. There is a very good variety of surfaces such as wood, water, sand, snow, mud, metal, concrete, gravel, grass and ice. there are slides and scuffs, which, once again, is an example of Gamemaster filling an important hole as there aren’t nearly enough scuffs and slides, which are the types of movement that really make footstep Foley real for me.

 

Doors

I own many door sounds. When I am auditioning them, so many sound wrong somehow to me. Either they have been over-used so I avoid them to keep from sounding canned, or they don’t quite have the character I’m looking for. They lack that indefinable something. Part of this is simply my inability to imagine the sound in the context of the scene for which I’m auditioning it. But whatever the reason, the doors in this collection sound just right to me – ready to use just as promised. I can see myself
using many of these. There are gates, hatches, boxes, locks, rock doors, including a grinding stone loop, a manhole cover and more. There are also door hydraulics, which I have heard so many times before, every time a car boot is opened, but something about the way the whooshing hiss is recorded and captured in isolation really highlighted to me the potential to use it as cinematic source material. Likewise, the metallic squeaks and the manhole cover sounds are very inspiring.

 

Metal

Another category of Foley with sounds that are great by themselves but also offer particularly rich possibilities as source material is the metal folder. Full of banging tins and metal lids, metal impacts of various sizes and small metal objects being sorted, ideal for tool-box Foley, I really like this category. There are also chair creaks, which represent another type of sound that I think is particularly important for bringing a scene to life.

 

Miscellaneous

The misc category contains mostly assorted Foley with a few other types of sound thrown in. The ones that stuck out for me particularly were the florescent lights, which sound exactly like the ones we had at my secondary school. I’ve not heard lights like that in other libraries. They sound good and rackety and would make good ingredients for an electricity sound effect.

The film projector sub-folder provides some excellent clicks and slides which could be used for any type of mechanical sound design. There’s also a typing folder that features single key presses as well as typed sequences, a Pogo stick, some writing Foley, which is always good to have, and some very appetizing cooking sounds – sizzles mostly. In short, the purpose of this category seems to be to fill a few holes in the library to make it as well-rounded as possible, with some sub-folders containing just two assets, others containing many more.

 

Setting the scene

Having a background track for any scene is vital to give a sense of place and so this library provides two categories of background, all loopable, for you to set the scene in which your characters find themselves – “Backgrounds” and “Animals_Nature_Ambiences”. The former provides 34 background loops of man-made sound – air vents, construction work, people talking, engines/motors etc. There’s also an urban park ambience and a wind-chime. I was particularly impressed with one of the longer construction loops, which features a vehicle maneuvering, not the easiest thing to line up precisely to create a loop

The latter provides numerous nature loops such as wind, swamp, cave, cicada, fantasy jungle, ducks on a lake, rain, surf, river and waterfall ambiences. All of these are very nice. I particularly like the haunted wind ambiences as I’m always on the lookout for atmospheric wind.

This folder additionally boasts a number of animal calls like snake hisses, solo crickets, black swans, roosters and song birds. It would have been nice to have more information about the species of some of the birds for convenient searching and accurate placement in scenes, but the sounds themselves are very nice. To top the natural category off, we have some excellent, very evocative thunder.

The “Water” category also has some sounds that may serve as background elements for some scenes including underwater perspectives, a shower running, boiling water and bubbles. There are also splashes and single drips to be found here so. The latter would be particularly useful for creating your own cave or cellar ambiences etc.

 

Going Places

Travel is an important part of many projects and so this folder features truck engines, generators, trains and helicopters, the majority of sounds being loopable as you may have come to expect. There are also tyre skids, wind-screen wipers, electric window sounds and an eerie ship’s horn.

 

The Bonus Material

The bonus folder of music included with this library is, like the rest of the assets, flexible and versatile, with music to suit a wide variety of genres and moods from calm or mysterious, to playful or warlike. There are some clips suited to 8-bit games and many pieces ideal for the fantasy, cartoon and comedy genres. Given the price of most royalty-free music, this is a very generous addition. The two documents are also very brief but helpful.

 

Summary

This is a comprehensive collection of sounds with high production values with something to add to pretty much any genre of story-telling. As well as sounding good, the attention to the assets’ organization and many of them being loopable ensures that the Gamemaster Pro Sound Collection delivers on its promise of providing resources ready to be slotted into any project with interest.

If you are just starting out in sound design, I cannot think of a better resource in which to invest to give you a good grounding in pretty much all sound categories. For those who already own a large collection of sounds, this library still provides excellent variety and is likely to fill many holes in your collection. It certainly did with mine. The quality and price make it an excellent bargain, whatever stage you are at in your sound career.

 

Ah Yes…About the Price

Gamemaster has teamed up with Zapsplat to offer our community a massively generous discount on top of the already bargain price. In fact, it’s the largest discount they’ve ever offered.

For a limited time, get a whopping 50% off the Pro Sound Collection when you use the code ‘Zapsplat’ at checkout. Note, this discount is offered for a short period, from the time of writing this article.

This really is a great deal and I hope you all benefit from it. If you pick up a copy of the library, do let us know what you’re doing with it.

Happy Pro Sound collecting!

Justin Macleod is a sound designer based in the UK who runs SkyClad Sound. You can check out his sound effects here at zapsplat.com and follow him on Twitter @SkycladSound