Sayonara 2021 + Your HISSandaROAR Xmas Present!

Before we get to your Xmas present, as an Uncle of nine can I share the best Summer Xmas present strategy that I ever came up with? Go to a toy store, buy a small water pistol for each, plus one large super soaker gun…
On the day, distribute the small presents, but WAIT!
There’s one for me from Santa! What could it be?
Game on!
(It’s worth mentioning this strategy only works once. The following year: CHAOS!)

Your HISSandaROAR Xmas Present!

As 2021 draws to an end, inevitably it provides a chance to reflect on the year that has been, and while COVID has kept most of us isolating LOUDLY at home, it is your creative work that has helped express the zeitgeist and kept us all inspired & thriving. So, thank you for creatively contributing to our collective sanity and evolution!

Thanks also to everyone who has supported HISSandaROAR this year!
Accordingly, it is a pleasure to share a gift of some interesting new sounds with you. What sounds? Well, maybe it’s more fun to not know what’s in a present before you open it, and if that sounds like you then simply hit the direct download link below to access your free 24bit 96kHz Xmas Present.

Access these sounds via DIRECT DOWNLOAD:

47 x 24bit 96kHz stereo .WAV files with UCS Metadata
550MB download > 857MB decompressed

But if you’d like some context as to how and why I recorded these particular sounds, then please continue reading…

Towards the end of 2021 it felt like my many separate creative interests were merging. For example, I have been slowly developing a cymatics project and a few months back acquired a large stainless steel tank, which I have set up outside and at times have filled with oobleck, slime, flour, food colouring and various props. But recent heavy rain filled it to the brim with water, so I had to manually empty it using buckets… Two sonic ideas became apparent:

First, I was reminded of how the sounds of exterior water splashes are so distinctive. They are not a sound that can be faked, or recorded on a foley stage. So the first half of the 2021 Xmas present is a useful collection of practical water splashes onto wood, concrete, windows & grass. I ended up recording quite a few variations on wood, and discovered a technique where I could get an entire bucket of water to land with a single impact (described as ‘vertical drop’) but equally some of the more complex splashes have beautiful attack – almost like an aleatorical percussion break!

Second, my stainless steel tank has beautifully deep resonance, which I have been activating using large transducers (more on that in 2022!) But I got to wondering how it would sound if the tank was inverted – upside down – with the mics inside it, thereby protecting them from getting wet. What would a splash sound like, impacting such a large rigid chamber, as though it’s a stainless steel drum skin? Would it still sound like water? or would it become a resonant metal impact sound? As a source of percussive impacts, could it be ‘played’ with water?
Have a listen to the video to find out:


Life during COVID seems to make time elastic. The last half of this year for me has involved a deep dive in many areas of my work, dominated by research & development. As with the cymatics project, I feel 2022 is going to be a year of converging projects where disparate techniques find their form in hybrid output.

For example, I’ve become mildly obsessed with contact printing and specifically cyanotype printing, which was invented as camera-less photography back in 1842 by English scientist and astronomer Sir John Herschel… As is paralleled in my sound & music exploration, I love the idea of re-evaluating and recontextualising old school organic techniques with more abstract digital processes… For my cyanotype exploration, an analogue film photo is developed and scanned, then digitally manipulated, output as a new digital negative, printed using cyanotype chemicals, physically manipulated and layered, scanned, digitally manipulated and animated, and then recomposed with music & sound.
Developing this creative practice has been an invaluable reminder of one core technique which I believe applies to everything: if you love something, give your full sustained attention to it, and it will reward you in ways unimaginable. Do it. Do it lots. Keep doing it. Thrash around & find the points of failure. Delay judgment about those failures, because they might not be failures at all. They may be sign posts, steering you towards something that no one else can imagine. Persevere.

In the realm of ideas, everything depends on enthusiasm.
In the real world, all rests on perseverance.


My studio currently feels like it is in the best form of its existence, with MOTU AVB routing all of my synths, modular and outboard… And my digital arsenal feels similarly stable and evolved to my hybrid focus work. For field recording I’ve recently added a Sound Devices MixPre10-II, partly for 32 bit 192k multi mic recording, but also motivated by the SD ‘Musician’ plugin which is crucial to some of my projects for 2022 (but strangely seems to have had little coverage in the media). I’ll share a lot more on this, but for now I am consciously working towards New Year Osouji

We may not yet be out of the woods with COVID, but 2022 is going to enable a ‘post-war’ boom of creativity if I have anything to do with it! And specifically, with regards to HISSandaROAR, a series of large new sonic resources are approaching release:

I started recording FOLIAGE back in August this year, and I am relieved to say it is very near finished. The final recordings to be made are now dependent on my garden. My crop of corn is chest height and is developing a lovely complex rustle, while the front lawn has been left untended and unmown, expanding the range of grassy foots and movement. During the holidays I will find some quiet moments to record these, along with some of the other plant textures I am growing. It amuses me, making discoveries like I am a small child. For example, did you know zucchini leaves are raspy, almost like sandpaper? And rhubarb sounds a bit like rubber? Currently all of the mandarins, limes, yuzu, and tamarillo in my greenhouse are flowering, and the scent first thing in the morning is exquisite. I wish I could capture some of the scent and include it with the eventual sound library!
SD050 FOLIAGE will be the first HISSandaROAR release for 2022.

SD051 = HISSandaROAR #100
Due to the erratic nature of Spring weather (130kmph winds!) forcing breaks from working on FOLIAGE, I will also soon finish another large sound design library, which will be the second release for 2022. It will also be the 100th HISSandaROAR release, so it is personally satisfying to me that it contains some of the most gorgeous sounds that I have never heard before and I can’t wait to share with you!


Early in 2022 I will also be launching an education initiative, building on the virtual intern concept from my blog, and essentially walking participants through the entire process of sound design for a feature film:
From the script to the final mix.

While access to tools is less of an issue nowadays, to help develop real-world skills I wish to go right back to the start and begin with Sound Editing 101 via an ongoing series of tutorials and discussion, with practical exercises working with sound to picture.


Unlike much of the planet, Xmas holidays in New Zealand provide a welcome chance to enjoy Summer. Spending time outdoors, at the beach, hiking, eating, drinking in the sun… and occasionally cursing the damned cicadas for ruining potential recording opportunities!

2022 is also going to bring a major benefit for my sanity & for local noise levels. Transmission Gully is a major 4 lane 27km highway that has been in development for over 20 years (see this drone fly through video) and is due to open early in 2022. The major benefit for me is that it will provide a bypass for all traffic heading North from Wellington, basically removing 90% of the traffic that currently travels up SH1 near my suburb in Plimmerton. COVID lockdowns revealed just how quiet life can be with the absence of traffic, so this new motorway is going to turn my local hood into even more of a quiet, sleepy backwater. Just how I like it!

OK that’s about it for 2021. Thanks again for supporting my work at HISSandaROAR. I hope you have a relaxing holiday break, in preparation for a highly productive and creative New Year. Stay safe, stay sane and keep your batteries charged – you just never know when a recording opportunity may appear!

ps I don’t know what they were smoking back in VIctorian times but these bizzaro Xmas cards really take the cake!

bestest regards

Tim Prebble
Field Recordist/Sound Designer/Photographer/Foley Forager

Floof/Tinsel Muncher

Temperature Inversion

My field recording work is often exterior, so I am often dependent on the weather…
Wind & rain ruin recordings (unless that’s what I’m recording) but checking the hourly weather forecast I keep noticing how the wind always dies down at night… Why is that?

Answer: temperature inversion
Longer answer is here

“The wind speed tends to decrease after sunset because at night the surface of the Earth cools much more rapidly than does the air above the surface. As a result of this difference in cooling ability, it doesn’t take long for the ground to become colder than the air above it. The air in close contact with the ground — say in the lowest 300 feet of the atmosphere — then becomes colder than the air above it.

This circumstance leads to the development of what is known as a temperature inversion. Inversions dramatically reduce the amount of mixing that occurs between different vertical layers of the atmosphere. As a consequence, once the inversion sets up (after sunset), it is much harder for fast-moving air above the ground to mix down to the surface, where it could appear as a gust of wind. During the day it is very easy for the air to mix and cause surface gusts.”

Impossible Things



Today I was thrilled to receive a matched pair of Sanken CUX-100k microphones!

The last major microphone purchase I made was coming up on a decade ago. December 2011 I ordered a pair of Sennheiser MKH8040 mics, followed soon after by an MKH8050 and a pair of MKH8020. Amazing to think of the impact these Sennheiser microphones have had on my work. They have travelled all over New Zealand, Japan, Samoa, PNG etc…And the incredibly low self noise has enabled so many unique sounds to be recorded, many of which would have struggled to exist with the noise floor of many microphones.

These Sanken CUX-100K microphones represent the dawn of a new era. I am no fetish-ist, the only reason to invest hard earned income in tech is for results, and I have so many projects which have been patiently waiting for this day to arrive! But first I need to learn to use these new microphones. My plan is to record a new mini library, as a test: recording with the new microphones alongside the Sennheiser microphones which I know so well. This will give me a side by side comparison: how does the CUX100k in cardiod Far mode sound compared with an MKH8050 in the same position? How does the CUX100k sound in omni mode, compared with an MKH8020 in the same position? What are the CUX100Ks strengths and weaknesses?

Once I have enough good examples I will share a free mini library with everyone who bought a library during the 11th Birthday Sale. I honestly never thought I could afford these microphones, and whether you bought COMPLETE 98 or a single unit FX during the sale, you have helped make this possible and I can’t want to share the results with you!






Very pleased to have FX012 PLATE SMASH finished & released! The library was a request from a game sound designer, for a new project (so they received a free copy of the finished library!) Having spent so much time earlier this year smashing glass I instantly liked the idea and headed to my favourite local recyclers TRASH PALACE to see if they would let me buy a stack of plates… I filled two record crates with plates (as per the two you see at the start of the video) and rigged my studio for recording, gain staged my microphones, and began experimenting with methods of smashing the plates.

As I performed smashes I paid attention first to how the initial impact break sounded, and secondly to the debris and shatter. What became apparent was that even identical plates, smashed in the exact same way each time varied, and not by small amounts. The exact same plate smashed the exact same way sometimes sounded massive but other times sounded like a tiny cup being broken. I also came to realise that once the structural integrity of the plate has been broken that the plate is only useful as debris: there was no chance of two takes from the same prop!

The primary means of smashing I used at first was (1) throw at cinder block (2) throw at a flat concrete paver (3) hand-held hit with a heavy metal hammer (4) throw at large heavy wooden mallet. By the time I had smashed the first crate of plates I was already planning the next sessions.

The tonality of the plate debris was also noticeably different from glass. While glass soon disintegrates into tiny pieces, a plate might break into 25 pieces but some of the bits would remain quite large. I figured these would be useful later, for a dedicated debris recording session.

But before I could get back to TRASH PALACE to get the next batch of plates, NZ went into total lockdown due to the first community case of Delta variant of COVID. Level 4 lockdown meant no leaving home other for essential supermarket shopping or exercise. Three weeks later COVID was contained with the boundaries of Auckland city and the rest of NZ was released into Level 3 lockdown, which meant I could go plate shopping again!

This time I took four empty record crates and filled them with a wider variety of plates. Selecting some that were pottery, some that were dinner pudding plates or bowls, others that were smaller in diameter.

The first session with the new selection I decided to record outdoors. I knew the exterior would sound ‘different’ and that debris would be able to fly in every direction. But it wasn’t just for variety I wanted to do the exterior recording. I also wanted to verify with my own ears that I was not losing any significant aspects by recording indoors.

After waiting for a quiet windless day and smashing my way through the first crate of exterior recordings, I loaded up the new recordings and compared the sound. The debris disappeared faster but I was happy with the sound from my dampened record room, so it was back to the studio for the next 3 crates.

Now I figured, anyone wanting a plate smash sound may also want elements to layer and one that immediately came to mind was the ‘ding’ of a plate being hit, without breaking. As with previous props I tried recording hits with a range of mallets, while the plate was sitting on soft foam and on denser foam. The sustain was good but I wanted more variety, so next I used some bungy cord and suspended a single plate so it was free to spin and move. Much better sound, and a hit when a plate is really spinning has interesting stereo movement which could be useful as part of a composite plate smash. So I selected ten plates and bowls of different sizes and which each had a discretely different pitch. Next I captured single plate ‘dings’ and slowly escalated the force I used to both spin the plate and to eventually smash it.

Eventually I came to the end of all the plates I had sourced – six record crates full, so I was left with a mountain of debris. I recorded a few single debris drops on to concrete, and then sourced some hessian sacks, which I figured would be quiet enough (don’t want rustles particularly) as well as structurally strong enough to not be sliced open by the plate debris.

I recorded drops of single pieces into one sack until it was quite full, and then captured movements and hits with it until my arms ached. Next, I suspended it on bungy cord and smacked it with a big wooden mallet amongst other tools, the impacts sound really interesting and surprisingly at times like very complex armour, and at other times like a sack of gold coins! I love finding useful elements in unexpected sources since when layering sounds it is often the obvious choices that get used first. Finding an applicable element with a unique tonality is very useful.

I emptied that sack out and got another smaller sack & filled it with only a dozen plates shards and performed some moves with it, achieving a lighter and more varied clatter of pieces due to the free space for movement.

If I was tasked with making designed plate smashes apart from this library I would likely also use elements from the GLASS Practical library (some of the bottle smashes could be useful for mid/lower freq) and possibly even some elements from VEGE VIOLENCE and some from BODY HITS. But even just this MiniFX PLATE SMASH library has enough range of material to achieve the task and lots more beside.

No cuts, and no damage to any humans = a successful recording project!