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Manchester Based Audio Studio. Sound Design | Voice Over/ADR | Foley | 5.1 Mixing | Pro Tools | Education | Sound Effects Libraries
Manchester Based Audio Studio. Sound Design | Voice Over/ADR | Foley | 5.1 Mixing | Pro Tools | Education | Sound Effects Libraries

PRODUCT REVIEW: Frick and Traa - City Bicycles

Audio Post Production Manchester

Company: FRICK & TRAA

Product: City Bicycles

Price: $99

Our Rating: 4.9/5

A new library from the dynamic Dutch duo that is Frick & Traa, City Bicycles puts you in the saddle of 4 different models of pushbike.

Opening Our Copy

After opening our copy, we searched through the folder structure to find an extensive metadata guide, as well as metadata provided in multiple formats (something that we should see more of in libraries). Also featured is a file hierarchy guide, a read me file with a nice welcoming message of support and contact details. Frick & Traa get 5/5 for customer service.

The research and marketing put into this library is impressive to say the least and is a great start for the company going forward. A total of 2 years research and development allowed them to find the most effective recording techniques, which gives the library an immersive sound and content that packs a punch.

The artwork is gorgeous and the videos created market the product extremely well.

The whopping total of 5.5 hours of content was recorded at 96 kHz, over 7GB unzipped! It's safe to say the sounds here can cover a multitude of bicycle scenes, just take a look at some of the information below on what is included:

Four bikes were recorded and given names to help the user identify their favourites for different uses:

1. Good bike: a smooth sounding retro bike that doesn’t rattle or squeak, really nice tire noise. 2. Bad bike: an old worn bike with severe rattles and cranking, tends to let the chain fly off. 3. Ugly bike: this bike gets you from A to B... but it won’t win awards for it’s looks. 4. Racer bike: a vintage racer that’s probably owned by a barista or a hipster art student.

Speeds and actions:

Three speeds for every bike and every surface (see below). Departures from slow, medium to fast getaways. Arrivals from slow stops with gently squeaking handbrakes to heavy stuttering skids.

Five perspectives were also recorded:

1. Onboard Front: captures the whirring tire and surface sound. 2. Onboard Pedal: nice overall combination of pedaling, crank creaks, chain rattle, tire and surface sounds. 3. Onboard Rear: close up sound of the rear axle, with chain, sprocket and switching of gear. 4. Tracking shot: mono recording of the passby, keeping the bike in focus while passing by. 5. Static XY shot: stereo recording of the passby that emphasises speed.

Five Surfaces were covered:

1. Asphalt: nice and clean, with smooth singing sound. 2. Large Bricks: nicely textured surface that makes the tires purr like a cat. 3. Gravel: a fresh crackling surface sound that you might find in a city park. 4. Grit: classic bicycle path surface sounds that layers perfectly with the other surfaces. 5. Icy road: frozen asphalt with sparkling textures of ice crystals snapping under the wheels.

Bonus additions include:

1. Exterior recordings of various actions in multiple takes from rattles, bounces, shakes to roll-bys. Enough to make your bike sound just a little different. 2. We also recorded 21 additional single passbys of various bicycles, from severely rattling to smooth riding bikes on small brick streets and alleys. Enough to expand your options to create a distinguished sound design.

Climb On

In terms of using the library, there isn't much this won't cover. The recordings are clean, without feeling overly processed or harsh. We love the mic options, and between them, you can cover most camera shots or video game situations with minimal processing and mixing. The overall tonal balance and riding performances feel well executed, as does the presentation - making the library a breeze to use on a deadline.

The handling sounds and extras are a welcome addition, and really complete the package. This product just seems to keep on answering your wishes each time you open a folder. 'What if my rider is drunk?' They have it covered. 'What if my rider has broken his bike' They have it covered. There were many more happy surprises too as we listened through.

The surface recordings are perfect for vehicle sound design - with some pitching, they could be a car's tires on gravel, or a motorbike slowly approaching on an icy road. They would also would work well for crackle and lo-fi vinyl fun - the possibilities are truly endless here!

Some of our personal favourites come in the 'Various other' folder, pass by's on unique surfaces like brick and cobblestones - they are a fun idea to implement in sci-fi spaceship pass bys.

City Bicycles is a library that makes you feel like you're present on location, listening to your own bike moving. That's what all of Frick & Traa's hard work has been for.

Switching Gears

The only constructive criticism we can aim at City Bicycles, is the consistency of presentation - some folders have short descriptions in their file name. We think keeping these descriptions in the metadata guide would have been more user friendly.

The Bottom Line

City Bicycles has a plethora of content, for a great price. The perfect balance between a great concept, great presentation and outstanding execution, lands them an almost perfect score of 4.9. Not only do Frick & Traa offer a free mini pack to try the library, but they also will give all readers some unreleased content when they purchase with our code (see below).

Go grab it now for all of your creative Sound Design projects!

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