From alien articulations to laser gun blasts, from otherworldly ambiences to infinite varieties of mechanized movement, the genre of science fiction can demand more creativity and variety from sound designers than almost any other. Boom Library’s “Sci-Fi Construction Kit” offers more than 9 GB of sounds tailor-made for interstellar exploits and cosmic adventures.
The Sci-Fi Construction Kit contains a wide variety of sounds – from unprocessed recordings of servo motors to synthesized drones to metal impacts. The goal of Boom Library’s “Construction Kit” series is to provide sound designers with components which can be combined or processed further according to the project’s specific needs. This feature is one of the Sci-Fi library’s greatest strengths: the collection includes many multi-purpose sounds which an experienced sound designer could manipulate to suit a variety of situations. For example, the kit includes over 60 “metal movement” sounds, ranging from small mechanical clicks to huge, groaning metal plates. Around six takes are included in each of these files. With a few exceptions, the unprocessed recordings included in the kit are well chosen and well recorded, offering a comprehensive variety of materials. Occasionally though, a sound will pop up which has clearly been run through some effects, making it an inexplicable outlier among the otherwise pristine recordings.
In addition to the excellent collection of recordings in the kit, Boom has also included numerous synthesized sounds. While generally of a high quality, these are more hitand- miss than the recordings. The ambient drones are well designed and labeled, though they occasionally feel more reminiscent of a horror genre than of science fiction. The small selection of synthesized weaponry sounds are, contrary to the title of the library, quite heavily constructed and would probably be more suited to Boom’s predesigned sci-fi library. Again, these are somewhat hit-and-miss; while many of the energy whooshes and laser projectiles are dynamic, impactful, and well-designed, others are inexplicably harsh and unpleasant, and probably should not have been included.
As is the norm with Boom Library, the sounds in “Sci-Fi Construction Kit” are delivered at 96kHz and 24bit. The recordings are pristine, with little reverb audible except on very large sounds such as some metal impacts. The file labeling is clear and intuitive, and the included Soundminer metadata offers comprehensive descriptions of each sound.
The Sci-Fi Construction Kit is being sold directly from Boom Library for 149€ (about $200), though it can be bundled with the “Sci-Fi Designed” library for an additional 50€. It certainly isn’t cheap, but considering the quality and variety of sounds included in the pack, the price is appropriate. It is important, however, the recognize the limitations inherent in a library like this. The library could easily have been twice as large, and still be unable to cover every kind of sound that could be called for in the sci-fi genre. Also, although the six takes included for each sound are helpful, they are simply not enough for any kind of longer project. Say, for example, you are designing the sound for a robot and after searching the library you find the perfect servo motor sound. After editing in a few robotic movements, you will probably find yourself faced with the choice of either repeatedly reusing sounds or switching to a different source recording in the library. That being said, this library is perfect if you are designing a trailer or other short project and don’t have the time to make a bunch of recordings yourself. The Kit also provides a great way to test out ideas for longer projects.
Boom Library’s Sci-Fi Construction Kit may not be the end-all, be-all of science fiction sound collections. In the hands of an experienced sound designer, however, this library has quite a lot of potential. The diverse set of high-quality sounds included in this library make it an excellent and invaluable addition to any sound designer’s collection.