Best Service's Studio Box Mark II pulls together the content from a number of earlier titles (RedBox, BlueBox and Blackbox, plus 500 new sounds) and is supplied in four volumes: Nature, Human, Technical and Cinema & Game. The coverage appears comprehensive and, with everything presented in a 44.1kHz, 16‑bit, stereo WAV file format, the whole lot comes in at 22GB, with over 9000 individual files. Armed with a stiff drink and a plentiful supply of survival rations, I dug in…
First up was Nature: a collection of background atmospheres of natural timbres and a variety of featured animal sounds. While the collection of animals might not satisfy Noah, it covers dogs, cats, frogs, horses, sheep, pigs, monkeys and insects, along with some more exotic species. There are some excellent barking dogs and chirping insects, although I was disappointed to only get one donkey sample (I like donkeys!). The more background‑orientated material includes lots of water (lapping, flowing, crashing in waves, for example), but there are also some very good rainfall and thunder samples.
The Human volume is particularly diverse. There are good dollops of applause, ambient sounds of cafés and restaurants; children playing, crying and laughing; fireworks, footsteps, doors being opened, shut and locked; church bells, voices (including a very good selection of solo and crowd laughter) and sundry minor other categories. However, the biggest sub‑set within this volume is sport‑related sounds, with everything from baseball to wrestling: balls being beaten and kicked and, amongst the karate and boxing folders, some useful sounds of people being hit!
Technical is where things get, um, technical: planes, trains and automobiles are joined by boats, helicopters and forklift trucks (I know, it doesn't have quite the same ring to it). Alongside the transport, there is also a range of office, machine noises, vending machines, construction sites and lots of phones going off.
Volume 4 covers cinema and game sounds so, as you might expect, there are plenty of bleeps, whooshes and impacts. If you want to create a sonic warzone, there are also plenty of guns going off, explosions (the latter in the 'blasts' folder) and some game‑friendly 'body' and 'sword' impacts; these would sound right at home in a Kung Fu or sword and sorcery context. This volume also includes a potentially useful range of cartoon‑style sounds: silly voices, sounds and some slapstick‑style impacts.
While the combined price for all four volumes is not in the pocket-money range for most folk, if you need to build a sound-effects library from scratch, this is well worth considering. While not breaking any particularly new ground, for sound designers looking for a one‑stop sound-effects shop, Studio Box Mark II covers most of the bases. John Walden