Jennifer Arrowood
Issue: August 1, 2008


If you’ve ever used a sound effect in your work, you have most likely heard of Sound Ideas. Time and again their effects have proven to be useful, clean and creative. While you may already own a few of their collections, here’s a chance to own a whole lot more. The new Sound Ideas Ultimate SFX Collection is a combination of 102 different Sound Ideas collections, 628 CDs worth of sound effects, delivered on an external hard drive as 44.1k/16-bit, 48k/16-bit or 48k/24-bit WAV files.

The Ultimate SFX Collection covers a wide range, from the multi-purpose Series 6000 to the zany Cartoon Express collection, and everything in between and outside.


One advantage of the Ultimate SFX Collection is that it arrives as WAV files on a hard drive, and not as individual CDs. Additionally, these files are embedded with metadata that contains all the track information, including descriptions, durations, categories, libraries and keywords.

This saves you a huge amount of time, from the initial incorporation of the Ultimate SFX Collection into your existing library to searching through the nearly 120,000 effects later on. In order to take full advantage of the metadata, a searchable database that reads metadata is a must. Fortunately, a third-party software program, called Soundminer (, comes free with the purchase of the Ultimate SFX Collection.

The use of Soundminer is key to really maximizing the efficiency of the Ultimate SFX Collection. I simply had to drag and drop the collection into Soundminer. It took about half an hour for Soundminer to catalog the entire drive. That’s a 30-minute wait for over 570GB of instantly searchable sound effects. Amazing! I didn’t have to load one disc, type one description or copy and paste any text. In the past, I’d have to manually enter files names, which leads to misspelled words, accidentally renaming files, or not including enough information for the most productive sound effects searches. I can’t even imagine how long it would have taken to load this entire collection one disc at a time. Soundminer also displays the waveform of the sound effect you are auditioning.

This was really helpful for sound effect files that contain more than one option. I could easily cue up each option without having to play the whole file.

Another huge benefit of having embedded metadata is that the actual file names are truncated and use no illegal characters. This really helped in Pro Tool since long file names may cause importing problems, or if the file does import, the long files names obstruct the waveform, making it more difficult to edit without first renaming the file. But since the file names are so short, you actually need Soundminer, or a similar program, to read the metadata. For example, one sound effect of windshield wipers is named AutoWiper FS01_28_1. This is the typical naming convention for the entire Ultimate SFX Collection. Though it’s immediately recognizable as windshield wipers in a session, it lacks the detail needed for a productive sound effects search. Without Soundminer to read the metadata, searching through this massive collection would be impossible.


The Ultimate SFX Collection offers a huge savings by providing a large variety of collections that if purchased separately would cost nearly three times as much. Chances are you may already own some of what the Ultimate SFX Collection offers. But, even if there are a few overlaps with the Ultimate collection, the overall cost savings for the amount of sound effects, the embedded metadata, the external drive and the addition of Soundminer still makes the Ultimate SFX Collection a great value. And if you already do own many of the collections on the Ultimate SFX Collection, Sound Ideas will negotiate a special price.

Another cost consideration is the drive that the collection is delivered on. Sound Ideas uses a 750GB Avastor HDX drive that comes with three connection interfaces: USB 2.0, FireWire 400 and FireWire 800. Since the Ultimate SFX Collection is on an independent drive, there isn’t a strain on your storage resources. Integrating the independent drive is easy. You just need an open FireWire or USB connection and, using Soundminer, you can then catalog all your effects together in one spot while keeping the actual files in their existing locations.


So what collections does this Ultimate SFX Collection include? The entire list of all 102 of them can be viewed on the Sound Ideas Website ( ultimatesfx.pdf). Here are just a few: general collections, such as Series 1000 General to Series 14,000 Ambience IV; “name” brands, like Disney Ideas, Hanna-Barbera, Rocky & Bullwinkle, Lucasfilm, 20th Century Fox, Universal Studios, Turner Entertainment Co., Warner Bros. and BBC Sound Effect Library; production elements like The Big Whoosh and Elements Café collections; and very specific collections, like Jurassic Dinosaurs, Guns, Just Noise, Just Boom, Crash & Burn and Thunder Series.


All the sound effects are really clean, including the classic sounds from Rocky & Bullwinkle. Using Soundminer to narrow a search by “Library” is the best way to find identifiable cartoon sounds. You can easily find The Jetsons’ doorbell sound on the Hanna-Barbera collection, or Tom and Jerry head shakes on the Turner Entertainment  collection, but looking for a specific show by name won’t always yield the best search result. Try using sound specific keywords, like doorbell or shake, within the library-narrowed search.

Over 100 collections for a fraction of the cost — and with very little effort required to set them up.

Jennifer Arrowood is an Audio Engineer at Ultra-Sound Audio Post/The Napoleon Group in New York City. She can be reached at: