The end-result is an impressive collection of more than 8 (!) hours of music-free pub crowd and ambience recordings from around London – covering everything from near-empty to jam-packed pubs.
Get the full story behind their library, download free samples, and hear why you sometimes need to wear a hat for that perfect take:
Hi Rowan and Luke, please introduce yourselves and what got you into indie SFX:
Hi Asbjoern. Thanks for having us! Individually we are Luke and Rowan, two sound effects editors and recordists who work in film. Collectively we are C O L O S S A L. Colossal exists as a conduit for pursuing our passion of recording. We want to create and share great-sounding libraries that people find useful and interesting.
How did you come up with the idea for the ‘London Pubs’ library – and what are some of the highlights of the library?
London is blessed with many beautiful-sounding old public houses. Many of these offer up historic and unique acoustic environments and the folks that fill them make for killer recordings. We knew that editors in all walks of life would find crowds like these useful. Our aim was to create the ultimate pub crowd library and offer the rest of the world what we have on our doorstep.
How did you pick the places to record, and what was your recording setup?
Essentially our pub selection came down to three main factors: Music, Acoustics and People. We had to source locations that played no music for obvious reasons, so a lot of reckies were done before hand. Sourcing beautiful-sounding spaces was an absolute must. Some of our pubs were super old taverns panelled in wood and stained glass, so we wanted to capture that character in our recordings.
The people then in these spaces were hugely important. We didn’t just want gigabytes of busy pubs, we needed to get a full range from empty to heaving and everything in between. There are a lot of pubs in London, but using this strict criteria when selecting left us only with a few perfect venues – and we recorded every single one.
We didn’t just want gigabytes of busy pubs, we needed to get a full range from empty to heaving and everything in between
In terms of setup, we often we had DPA4060s hooked up on hats so the capsules sat right above our ears – about the most accurate Jecklin Disk you could put together, and it sounds that way. And we usually shot the same location from 2 discrete perspectives. We set up at different areas in a space, sunk up and rolled. The dual perspective gives you so much choice when it comes to using the material; you end up with a close and distant perspective of every event that happens in one recording. If you need an easy way to build a really immersive crowd bed, this stuff is great for it.
Want 26 minutes of pristine London pub recordings from the full London Pubs library? And yes, they can be used for commercial projects too. Just enter your name and valid email address below to get the download link + the much-loved A Sound Effect newsletter:
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What was the biggest challenge in recording the library? Any surprises along the way?
Unsurprisingly, music was our biggest challenge here. Some places we recorded
didn’t play music as a rule so they weren’t an issue, yet other places, often the best-sounding spaces played music constantly. So we had to talk it out with the place and find a time where they were happy to shut the music off while we recorded. Thankfully most publicans were happy to indulge us in exchange for a few pints!
London Pubs Vol 1: Primary interior perspectives
London Pubs Vol 2: Secondary perspectives for quad use, exterior pubs, football crowds, pub sound effects
London Pubs Complete: Features everything from vol 1 & vol 2
What are some of your favorite recordings in there?
I think a favourite is definitely the recording at the Blind Fool. Basically a bunch of loud out-of-towners were in town for a day and having a good time.
I was set up near them, with a satchel containing my 722 and a scarf around my neck, concealing the DPAs that were wired into my hat
I was set up near them, with a satchel containing my 722 and a scarf around my neck, concealing the DPAs that were wired into my hat. It wasn’t really a cold day, so I must have looked a bit odd with a scarf like that much to their amusement. They decided to take the piss out of me, my scarf, and my satchel, the very things that allowed me record them up close and personal, without them actually knowing… and the take is great.
And of course Luke caught a more diffuse version of all the mockery in all its distant glory, too.
What’s ahead for Colossal?
Without spoiling too much, we’ve got several new libraries underway. They’re a mixture of FX, Ambiences, and Sound Design that we think the editors out there are really going to love and find both useful and fun to cut with. Watch this space!!
A big thanks to Rowan and Luke from Colossal for speaking with us! You can check out their sound library ‘London Pubs’ right here on A Sound Effect.