The Tube SFX Library

“The Tube” is a royalty-free collection of recordings and sounds made from swinging a cardboard tube. The sounds this particular tube makes when swung are quite interesting, and I have yet to encounter another one that sounds like it.

I came across this cardboard tube a few years ago. It seemed entirely unremarkable at the time, but as I was about to throw it away, I discovered it made a very unusual whoosh sound when swung. I decided to keep it so that someday I could record it.

Essentially, this tube makes hollow, ethereal tones when swung, which I found to be pretty cool. Upon further experimentation, I found that it made four distinct sounds at four distinct swing speeds.

In this library, these four sounds are named “slow”, “medium slow”, “medium fast”, and “fast” (there are a few takes of a fifth sound, which was swinging the tube backwards, but this is mostly just air, and doesn’t have much of a distinct tone). Each one occurs at a specific speed of swing, which wasn’t always easy to hit exactly, so there are takes in this library that are at slightly incorrect or inconsistent speeds, and they are labeled as such.

  • Slow – This is a fairly gentle, simple, low hum. I refer to this one as “somber” in the metadata. Its loudest component is around 100Hz
  • Medium Slow – This is higher, and more of a whistle than a hum. I refer to this one as “mournful” in the metadata. It contains a short bit of the “slow” sound at either end, as it accelerates and decelerates. Its loudest component is around 370Hz
  • Medium Fast – This is notably louder than the previous sounds, and causes the most vibration of the tube itself. I refer to it as “more aggressive” in the metadata. It tends to contain a short bit of both “slow” and “medium slow” at either end. Its loudest component is around 250Hz.
  • Fast – This is the most complex and airy sound, and has the most speed-depended variation. I refer to this one as “musical” in the metadata. It tends to contain a short bit of all three previous speeds at either end. Its loudest component is around 500-600Hz, depending on speed.

While one may expect the tube to transition smoothly from one tone to the next as speed increases, it actually steps directly from one to the other, without much transition.

This main body of this library is essentially just many, many takes of those four main sounds. This means that there isn’t a tremendous amount of variety here, as it is all just this one tube.

For each of the four main sounds, I did four versions:

  • Long distance swing – usually 180 degrees around me (if you imagine looking straight down at me from above) or more. “fast” tended to be more, something like 270 degrees.
  • Short distance swing- various lengths, but all significantly less than 180 degrees. The intent is to provide takes that naturally terminate in a shorter amount of time, rather than forcing you to artificially shorten a much longer take, as I found that very difficult to do without ending up with something that sounded very obviously edited.
  • Random – this is one long file of me doing many takes of a particular speed. Various lengths and angles. The intent is to provide even more takes and variety, in case, for example, you are trying to sync to a very specific visual, and not just any swing with do.
  • Continuous – this is where I did my best to maintain a specific tone continuously for a good length of time. This proved enormously difficult to do especially for “medium slow”, and as such, most of these continuous takes are inconsistent, and have very pronounced frequency fluctuations, like really obvious “wow” on an extremely warped record. I really wish these were more consistent, but it’s the best I could do. I suppose you could use some sort of pitch corrector to smooth out the frequency fluctuations…

I did many takes of all four of these versions of all four sounds in both mono (shotgun mic) and stereo (XY mic). My reasoning is that the mono files provide a very direct, immediate recording of the sound, while the stereo files are better for applying effects than plain mono files, and just generally have more information in them for design. Also, the mono and stereo versions were recorded totally separately, rather than doing both perspectives simultaneously, so they are all unique takes.

In both the mono and stereo files, the microphone follows the source of the sound, so the stereo files do not have panning in them. Instead, the sound is centered in the stereo field (some takes aren’t perfectly centered, or drift off center, and are noted as such).

This all amounts to a huge number of takes of each sound. For example, for just the long distance swing of the “slow” sound, there are 20 takes in MONO, then 17 more in STEREO. And that’s just for one version of one speed.

The sheer quantity of takes included may seem like ludicrous overkill, and almost certainly is, but I am of the opinion that there is no such thing as too many takes.

In total there are 257 mono files, and 194 stereo files. These recordings have no EQ, compression, or limiting.

In addition to these plain recordings, there are 148 designed sounds, all made from the same tube. While I originally did not intend to include more than a small handful of designed sounds, I ended up making quite a few interesting things while playing with the recordings. Almost all of these designed sounds are highly synthetic or “sci-fi” in nature, and weren’t really made with any intended purpose in mind. They also are not really “ready to use” in the sense that almost all of them have not had their dynamic range altered, and will very likely need compression or limiting when implemented. While all of these are made directly from recordings of the tube, many of them were made using raw material that is not included in this library. For the most part, it’s a bunch of weird, synthetic-sounding stuff I made for fun.

Also included are 4 impulse responses of the tube’s interior. One is stereo, and the other three are mono. While normally I would never make a mono impulse response, I included some just for additional variety, and because it’s easier to fit a mono mic inside of a narrow tube…

These impulse responses, when applied, make things sound very hollow and muffled. Three of the four also result in very boomy bass. I have no idea what these would be used for, or if anyone would find these useful in the slightest, but I think they’re kind of neat in a general sort of way. And they only add a couple megabytes to the library, so why not?

This library includes: 194 stereo and 257 mono plain recordings, 108 stereo and 40 mono designed files, 1 stereo and 3 mono impulse responses, for a total of 603 files, all at 24/96. Total runtime is 1 hour, 5 minutes.

This first sample includes only the plain recordings of the tube. This demo has had some loudness processing, but the actual files in the library have not.

The demo includes only designed sounds. As I mentioned above, they are predominantly very synthetic-sounding.

This is a demonstration of one of the impulse responses. The first half of the music is totally dry, and the second half is at 100% wet level. This only demonstrated one of the impulse responses, as the other three are very similar, with fairly minor variations to frequency response.

The Tube
603 files at 24/96, 1 hour 5 Minutes, 1.84GB (1.5GB Download)
Includes CSV, PDF, and XLSX track lists

PDF Track List

Posted in Libraries.

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