Review: AudioBlocks Subscription Loop & Sound Effect Site
When you need loops and samples to work with, you can wade through a sea of free stuff at wide-ranging levels of quality, buy sound packs hand-picked by someone else, or subscribe to a service with limited downloads. AudioBlocks tries to change the game with its unlimited download subscription to high-quality loops, sound effects and music clip WAV files. Let’s see how they stack up.
- Reviewed: AudioBlocks.com
- Price: $79/month or $99/year for unlimited downloads
- Audio download formats: 320kbps MP3, 24-bit/44.1kHz WAV
- Audio file types: Loops, Music clips, and Sound Effects.
- The Good: 24-bit/44.1kHz WAV files, with an MP3 option, as well. Tons of high-quality samples, loops and music clips you don’t often find in electronic music sample packs. Unlimited downloads. Easy auditioning and downloading.
- What Needs Work: Some funky search filtering results, such as synth bass loops and Alt Rock loops showing up in the Orchestra category. One-shot samples are all sound effects, and not drums and instrument hits
- The Bottom Line: If you’re looking for usable loops in a variety of styles and plenty of sound effects and music for sampling, AudioBlocks lets you download willy-nilly for a fixed price, and not charging for a limited number of audio files.
Subscription-Based Production Services
Subscription creep has infected the music production world for a few years now, as more and more products or companies have gone the Adobe Creative Suite route and started charging monthly fees for software and/or digital assets. Producers like Mr. Bill, ill.Gates, and AfroDJMac have monthly subscriptions for tutorials and digital products. With Melodics for finger drumming and Serato, Rekordbox, and Virtual DJ adding subscription models, subscription fatigue seems destined to set in on the DJing world as well. The question is, what are subscriptions like these really worth?
Let’s say you’re a producer/DJ who regularly seeks out high-quality samples and loops for your tracks or live sets. Would you pay $15-30 3-5 times a year for sample packs? Would you pay $8/month for 100 downloads each month, which you choose from a giant library? If so, you’d be paying for a finite amount of sound files. The recently launched AudioBlocks distinguishes itself for offering unlimited downloads of its royalty-free loops, sound effects and music beds for $79/month (hefty) or $99/year, which is comparable to those finite-download scenarios.
Sounds on the Chopping Block
First off, AudioBlocks’ selection of material meets a professional standard, but is not aimed squarely at electronic music makers. The company is an new addition to a family of sites (VideoBlocks and GraphicStock), and targets both professional producers and musical novices who just want some finished background music for their videos. That could work to your advantage if you’re open to it.
While AudioBlocks’ Music clips (finished mixes anywhere from 10 seconds to 8 minutes long) and Loops include many options labeled in their Electronic, Hip-Hop and Techno genres, most of them fall into other categories, such as rock, world, pop, cinematic/orchestral and so on. AudioBlocks’ third file type, Sound Effects, encompasses a massive collection of foley sounds (aka field recordings) broken down into dozens of categories, such as ambience, whooshes, buzzers, sci-fi, impact, and on and on.
Some advantages of this collection include high-quality loops and samples of material you don’t always find in dance-focused collections. I especially liked the orchestral, guitar, and choral vocals material. At the same time, there was still a healthy portion of synth basses, drum loops, etc. for various electronic genres. You may not have a use for the entire 2-minute care-free acoustic guitar track that sounds like every Kickstarter video for an app ever made, but you may find that perfect guitar chord, orchestral stab, or sci-fi effect that you want to sample and chop up for your own music.
Who Will Make The Most Of AudioBlocks?
AudioBlocks is really a boon to sound designers – not just full-time designers, but anyone who manipulates and wrangles new sounds out of existing recordings. You may have a use for AudioBlocks’ Sound Effects on their own, but there’s boundless material there for you to pitch, distort, granulate, and phase into percussion, bass, pad sounds, etc. Plenty of producers record their own sounds and turn them into something completely different for their music. The fact is though that anyone could smash a glass bottle with a hammer and record it, and every result will sound different; but every result will also sound similar. It’s less about recording it yourself than what you do with the recording. AudioBlocks’ Sound Effects can be a shortcut.
Of course, you can already rip pretty much any sound in the world off the Internet, but that’s where AudioBlocks’ 24-bit/44.1kHz WAV quality adds a lot of value. For the most part, the files sound impeccable, and are labeled with BPM and key where applicable.
Plus, a scrupulous staff curates and consistently updates the selection. There’s very little fluff here, but there are a ton of samples. You can narrow down the options by category and duration of Sound Effects; by instrument, duration, and tempo of Loops; and by mood, genre, instrument, duration, and tempo of Music clips. It would be nice to get more filtering options for the Loops and Sound Effects. You can, however, search for names. For example, searching the Loops for “trap” brings up a bunch of trap-style loops that would otherwise be mixed in with gobs of other Percussion loops.
Auditioning and downloading files is a breeze. Every file shows up on the page with its waveform, name, and duration. Mousing over it plays the audio and brings up buttons for downloading the MP3, the WAV, or saving it to one of your Albums (playlists). Clicking for more details brings up a page with the file’s user rating, keywords, and suggestions of similar sounds. Clicking any of those keywords brings up other sounds with that keyword, with “Hot” sounds listed at the top.
Is It Worth It? Let Me Search It
Other sites have large libraries that make them very competitive to AudioBlocks – which means every producer should do their due diligence and shop around for the best library for them. Even if there’s a comparable library, many other sites (like Splice Sounds) have limitations on downloads based on your subscription plan.
AudioBlocks has unlimited downloading, and a huge 115,000 large library of samples. Narrowing down to just its Glass Sound Effects (one of 60+ Sound Effect categories) brought up 150 samples.
Whether or not you will be one of those subscribers depends on whether you’ll pay for samples at all and then your specific audio needs. As with any subscription, you’re paying for something on a temporary basis. At least with AudioBlocks, whether you sign up for a limited free trial, a month, a year, or more, the sounds you download are yours to use forever.