Content optimization is something that we learned very well decades ago, when we provided audio assets for games running in DOS and early Windows operating systems. In fact we even developed our own music sequencer using Turbo Assembly and Turbo Pascal, when we entered competitions for the local Demoscene. We refine our content using precision trimming so that not one byte of your game’s memory or your audio and video editing application’s buffers is going to waste.
We configure our lab tools on the highest level of detail possible. That means level meters with more than 140 dB of depth and waveform displays fully zoomed in. We treat our audio samples like fine diamonds and we “cut” them with fine precision, giving you audio assets that perfectly sync with your visuals or your song’s tempo.
We manually tweak the fade-in and fade-out of each and every sound file with great care and thoroughness. That ensures that the beginning and ending of each sound serves the intended aesthetic. In the screenshot above the fade has only a few samples duration, but it was needed to fix the way the audio hardware was playing back the sound.
Clicks and pops in your loops are not only bad cuts outside the zero-crossing points or the lack of fades.
The artifacts of bad seams in looping audio happen at the stage of DAC (Digital to Analog Conversion), which means that they manifest themselves at the playback hardware of the end user (your players, your film audience, your VR explorers).
Usually a sudden change of the signal’s audio level pushes the playback hardware to move fast to the next value. When it gets to the next value, if another sudden level is required, then inertia compels the hardware to overdrive and creates that distinctive “click” or “pop” sound we all hate.
Apart from bad editing and lack of smoothing between the loop seams, other factors that play an important role on breaking a loop are lots of energy in the low end of the spectrum, out of sync audio editors (this happens more often than you think), and wrong decisions on strategic points for editing.
We take great care to synchronize our audio editor with the source’s sample points, and the audio card’s driver master clock, to be able to produce seamless looping even for tiny sound files with milliseconds of duration that contain huge amounts of energy on the lower end of the spectrum.
Our Sound Libraries contain the samples (either oneshots or loops) as individual audio files, so you can start using them in your projects right away. The time between you clicking the “Buy” button and dragging a sound is about 2-3 minutes.
Most of our competition is offering sound samples the old way, like it was offered in tape and CDs, that is one big file with all the samples lined-up one after the other. That might be the only way in the past, but now its considered a bad practice whoever they market it.
When you buy libraries with the sounds grouped into files you:
We analyzed more than 300 sound libraries from both enterprise and indie content providers. Here is a very representative example of what we found when we analyzed the market of audio content providers. Many sound libraries are offered as samples grouped in big files. Almost all libraries packaged that way contain an average of 51% percent silence.
This is done deliberately because they don’t want to do the extra work. It’s an exploitation of the MVP (Minimum Viable Product) practice which produces non-ergonomic assets and has a negative impact for the user’s quality of life.
Owing 51% of silence is not fun. Let’s make a thought experiment. Say you only got one library with bad packaging, that library is about 10 GB size, meaning that approx. 5 GB are empty space you have to store. Now let’s extrapolate.
You store the library as an original, that’s 5 GB. You store another copy as a backup, that’s another 5 GB. Then, as a professional practice, you make one more backup which you might store on the cloud, that’s another 5 GB. You can see that by getting one badly packaged library of 10 GB can result into 15 GB of silence taking up your storage budget and sync time/bandwidth. Not counting the extra space you will get when you have to create safety copies for the edits you made in order to be able to use the sounds.
Content is another type of tool and not thinking the ergonomic factors when creating one, not only we neglect the savings in storage space and handling time, but we also make our life harder and end up with inferior results.
Furthermore content should abide to the high law of design, form follows function. There is no use on having to buy a library of ready-made sounds and do the work of editing yourself.
Optimization is good economy. Saving both storage and time in the long run can make the difference of you having the time to focus on keeping the quality of your project high and also finishing it.