I have a question about your preferences with regards to library recordings.

I'm putting together a library of ambiences from recordings I made on a trip to New York.

Most of the recordings have usable sections of around 10-15 minutes but I have one recording which lasts for 1h20m and apart from vocal slating and tone it's all good stuff.

It's of late night traffic along Canal Street (a busy main street) so the recording is of fairly regular peaks and troughs of traffic, with quieter sections having occasional shouts and other sounds you'd associate with a night time ambience.

The question I have is, what would you as a sound editor prefer?

a) The full length recording (topped and tailed of course)?

b) A representative 10-15 minute section?

c) 2 or 3 shorter sections of 5 minutes each?

d) Another option I haven't thought of?

My take is that it's probably best in this case to go with option b) but I'm loath to get rid of so much good material, hence my indecision in this case.

Thanks for your input.

4 Answers 4


I'd prefer to have it just chopped into sections 4-5 minutes long and have them labeled a,b,c,d,e etc. It makes it easy to import a short section when you only need 30 seconds of ambience but then you can piece them together if you need long sections.

  • I'm seconding this. Chop it the larger file into smaller pieces, and skip the head and tail fades. That will leave people with manageable file sizes and flexibility. Commented Oct 26, 2014 at 5:22
  • Hi guys, thanks for the help. I think this is the best option, it keeps all the material but stops it being unwieldy to use. Thanks again! Commented Nov 3, 2014 at 11:09

I'd prefer option a), because I often end up with an ambience recording, that stops exactly where I want it to continue. It is a little bit more work, but in the end there is added value if you can decide by yourself where those representative sections are.

Another option would be to have markers in the recording that point out the representative sections in the whole recording, but markers are format dependent and you can't predict how the software of the user is going to deal with those markers.

  • That's often my problem, I really dislike short ambience recordings! I'm going to go with the whole file but chopped into shorter sections, I think that's the best of both worlds. Thanks for your help! Commented Nov 3, 2014 at 11:11

Just to be devil's advocate, I'd go with
e) all the above, a, b & c - let them choose.

or c) with a note that longer/shorter versions are available on request.

  • Thanks for your help, I'm going to go with the whole file but chopped into shorter sections. I think that will provide the choice that you suggested. Thanks again! Commented Nov 3, 2014 at 11:12

I work 10 years in audio post production (tv) now and I would choose A. It gives the possibility for more richness in the total production. Especially when scenes come back often, this gives a more organic result as opposed to having to copy/paste the same piece of ambiance for each recurring scene. With a good sound library management software the user can select pieces of the whole file and just import that piece. One can never have too much of an ambiance, IMHO! (Maybe just add 1 smaller selection of each ambiance (2 minutes) for people who just need a quick result, like video-editors)

  • Thanks for the help, I ended up going with coaxmw and Shaun's suggestion, I think it keeps all the material so you can have varied ambiences but keeps files sizes manageable for people who may not have library software. Commented May 28, 2015 at 12:59

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