Stephen

Aircraft Addons : CRJ-200 JRollon - Sound Packs by Blue Sky Star Simulations

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Aircraft Addons : CRJ-200 JRollon - Sound Packs by Blue Sky Star Simulations

 

One of the biggest impacts on X-Plane in recent memory has been the coming of Blue Sky Star Simulations and their excellent immersive aircraft sound packages. X-PlaneReviews covered their first releases for the JARDesign A320/A330 series early at the start of this 2016 calendar year. And I was overwhelmed on the complete and expansive way these sound package totally change your flight simulation experience. There is a before and after flying experience with the packages installed and you never ever usually use the older original aircraft again after using the expansion packages.

 

At the end of the A320/A330 review we noted the next project for the Blue Sky Star Simulations (BSS) sonic makeover was Javier Rollon's venerable CRJ-200...  and here it is now available in this latest BSS sound package release.

 

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Originally released in January 2012, the JRollon CRJ-200 was a landmark release for the X-Plane simulator. Four years on and it is still not showing its age except for a few bugs around the cockpit. The release was significant for X-Plane because it started a revolution in design that is although mostly commonplace now, was unheard of back in 2012. Yes X-Plane had already a few 3d virtual cockpits, but not to this high quality and functionality, and yes Phillip Münzel's incredible FMC is still very good and again a forerunner of all the FMC's we now fly with everyday.

The CRJ-200 was the most complete aircraft as well with a full cabin and lighting effects, but it was the sheer immersion of the flying experience that made this aircraft one of the very best in the X-Plane simulator for years until the FlightFactor Boeings came along. And yes the sounds were very good as well, even exceptional for the period...  but like everything else in life, in simulation things are done better and differently and that is the basis of this sound package for the aircraft.

 

We will start the review by noting the installation of the sound package files.

 

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The package consists of two sets of sound files. One set is the original "Sounds" files that is part of the X-Plane basic sound sets. The second set of files are the 3d "Plugin" files. There are no text installation notes with the package which is a bit of a mystery?, but a video (mp4) on how to install the files. In reality it is very simple to do and I would recommend as I did to make a duplicate of the full aircraft file as too keep that original aircraft as a backup for any future needs.

"sounds" replace the "sounds" in the aircraft's root folder, easy...  and the three "sound3d" files go into the CRJ-200 "plugins" folder, and that is it...  simple.

 

Ground sounds

 

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The CRJ-200 comes with it's own built in GPU (Ground Power Unit) and at first loading you can hear the better sounds from the unit if it is attached.

 

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Go one better and start the internal APU (auxiliary power unit) and you not only get the rush of air on startup but the full startup sonic procedure, when fully running you can move around the rear of the aircraft and hear the various 3d feel of the auxiliary power unit from very noisy to just noisy.

 

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With the three installed 3d plugin files they are available from the X-Plane drop down "Plugins" menu. Each plugin has a menu that has volume adjustments for the area the plugin is responsible for "Sound 1" is for Cockpit sounds, "Sound 2" is for Engine sounds and "Sound 3" is for APTCAB (Cabin sounds), APU, FLCTRL (Flight Controls), LDGEAR (Landing Gear) and WIND.

 

BSS recommend to switch off on the master X-Plane "sounds" menu for both contact and weather sounds to get the full sound effects.

As noted above I adjusted the APU output down to 10% which I felt was more realistic, I know APU's are noisy, but this was too noisy.

Cockpit

 

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Even by today's standards the cockpit of JRollon's CRJ is still one of the very best virtual cockpits you can have, Javier Rollon can be a bit heavy with his texture work, but it is very good here and almost perfect. The aircraft's age shows with just one working FMC display, and the blank right display now looks odd or broken. But the working one does pop-out for use, which was setting the standard in 2012.

Every single switch, button and action in the CRJ cockpit was recorded for authenticity. And you know the difference when you use each item as required. That also includes unfortunately the alarms which are quite frequent in their actions.

 

You can activate certain items to play like GPWS test - Copilot RMI left, Systems Test - Copilot RMI right, Oxygen test - ADF 2 flip stby
and People boarding - ADF 1 flip stby. Airport sounds can be activated by - toggling the emer exit light switch (volume can be controlled by APTCAB plugin sound slider - sound3d-3) and finally the people on the airplane - toggle by seatbelts signs in "on" position" with Auto or off functions which turns their speaking off.

 

But I had a problem with the pedestal radio in that it didn't work correctly and I had to use the FMC "Radio" functions for frequency inputs. I don't know if it is a BSS issue or an original JRollon issue, but remember the CRJ-200 has not had an update for awhile, I am hoping after the Laminar Research v10.50 update the developer will give the aircraft an up to current date revise.

 

CRJ200_BSS_Cockpit 6.jpgCRJ200_BSS_Cockpit 3.jpg

 

Sounds in action

 

There is a huge range of sounds being available when working around the cockpit. Like electrical system with self tests on init, relays on bus change, EICAS warnings/cautions, avionic power up, avionic air inside/outside, avionic air sound depending on if door is open/closed.

The Hydraulic system is fully programmed and all hydraulic pumps work and have specific locations of sound as they would in real aircraft. ACMP system fully modeled, AC motor pumps come on when flaps are other than 0 position with either of IDG connected. ACMP modulating sound when flight controls move to the full position and ACMP auto shutdown sounds.

Systems and fire test aurals are very good and realistic.

 

Starting and closing down the engines are the real tests of a great sounds in an aircraft.

 

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Using the ECS (Environment/Aircon) panel display you can see that APU "bleed" routes are correct for starting. I recommend using all these excellent EICAS pages for making sure the aircraft is correctly set up for flight. The CRJ-200 is quite complicated to use and fly, and these EICAS pages to a point simplify the system processes. The complete bleed system in sounds is completely modeled here and yes it works.

 

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You know how good it is by not only the whole start up process is highly replicated here, but the 3d sounds are magnificent in catching the various degrees of tones of the engines. move your position around and you can hear the different aspect of the start up plus which engine is being started.

 

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3d sound movement around each engine is phenomenal, brilliant stuff and remember these sounds are authentic real General Electric CF34-3A1 turbofans.

 

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Move around the cabin and the sounds are exceptional and again in 3d dimensions. Another set of great cabin sounds are the Environmental Packs, that if you switch on or off the hissing sounds are perfectly clear. I really like the point of non-movement like when the aircraft comes to a stop and you a great change in environmental sound to a more whine forced air sound. 

 

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If it is raining you get the pitter/patter of drops of water on the glass and the wipers when turned on clack over the windscreen and sometimes scrape and screech on the glass...  ew!  All rushing air and rain sounds are excellent when flying, and highly realistic.

 

Flying

 

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You have to find the right sound balance, either with the menu sliders and the main overall volume. You want to hear all those discrete movements and sounds but when the power goes up so does the volume to loud.

 

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You get great thumps and bangs with the aircraft movement, but in a very realistic way and not over done, and as you move the thottle you get all the relative movement noises including hitting the detents and gates.

 

Throttle up and those CF34-3A1 turbofans come to life and they roar and blast you down the runway. The bangs and crashes make you grit your teeth as you gain speed are then replaced by the wind roar as you leave terra firma.

 

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Your thoughts are "well you get most of these sounds anyway with most aircraft today" and in context that you are correct, but the differences here are the quality of the sounds, and the realism that is returned as you use the aircraft. Everything with these sounds are heightened, they are far more fuller, deeper and the sheer HD (High-Definition) feedback is overwhelming...  in other words it is Bl**dy brilliant.

 

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The CRJ-200 is not the easiest aircraft to fly in X-Plane. It needs an awareness of its flying profiles to get the very best out of it, and slow speeds require a lot of care to get them absolutely correct to keep any stalls at bay. At speed you need again to understand the right manual throttle speeds to stop the aircraft pitching and hunting under and over your set altitude, but time and practice will gain your confidence in your ability to get it all right, you work hard in there as it is a very physical aircraft to fly and manage, certainly over a short sector or route. But again that is why you want to be tested and put through the wringer in meeting the needs of the aircraft, get it all right and you will be punching the air with enthusiastic "yeahs" and smile for days after.

 

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Cruise sounds are the hardest of all to get right. The problem is you have a constant loop file and get the loop rhythm wrong and you get a drone effect that can be seriously tiresome and in worse cases give you a headache. Even the very best developers get this wrong and it affects even the most expensive and best of X-Plane aircraft. Not that case here as with the BSS A320 sound package the internal sounds are a revelation not only in the cockpit but in the cabin as well. Total realism is the key, and lo and behold you can enjoy the flight even more as you power along in the sky.

 

Blue Sky Star have noted that turbulence sounds are also coming soon as well to the package which will be interesting...

Changes in engine sound are also above the usual quality, but the raison d'être is the undercarriage.

 

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First you get the door and mechanical movements as the undercarriage unfolds out of the fuselage, the the wind effects and "thump", "Thump", "thump" as the gear locks into place. The aural symphony is not over, with the wind and even clanking sounds as the wind moves through the gear doors and wheel legs creating great realistic sounds. This higher level of quality of aural feedback make the flying more responsive and automatic, in the fact you can hear what is going on in the unfolding (and folding) and lock processes than needing a glance at the panel to see visually that the operations have been completed...  in other word the process is natural and realistic, and you are using another source for information on flying the aircraft, your hearing.

 

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Flap and airbrake movement is also heightened. Flap extension and retraction is excellent in the cabin and externally it is very good as well. So for the punters in the back it is great to watch and hear any landings on replay. Slowing down at speed and using the airbrakes and you hear in a 3d direction the buffeting wind sound coming off the wing extensions. I thought there was something wrong the first time I used it, as the sound was so realistic, but cleaning up the wing again and I realised how good that aural feedback was.

 

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Ground contact noise is excellent (note to turnoff the X-Plane default version) and as I have Simcoder's "Head Shake" installed (free) you get the full aural and physical effects of the landing. Reverse thrust is also above par, as you rattle and pound your way to a taxi speed. As landings go you certainly get the full drama of the event.

 

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Concrete and bad ramp edges come back as you taxi around to your stand, as with the start up process the engine wind down is long and very realistic, you should even hear the engine crackle with the heat, but we have not got that far yet, but I would expect it in the near future...

 

Summary

 

First thoughts are always going to be that sound is sound. Most X-Plane sound is very good these days, so why pay more to get more sounds.

It goes far deeper than that really. These Blue Sky Star sound packages create a very different and far immersive simulation than it is really believable. The sheer depth of the sounds, the quality and the 3d surround effect is totally immersive and actually makes your flying far more realistic and you communicate and respond with the aircraft better and more naturally. Once used, then going back to the standard sound packages is impossible, you feel empty and notice the blandness of the original aircraft very quickly.

 

There is a great video below that explains all the sounds that I can't show you, so it is well worth a few minutes of your time to watch it through and relate to my comments.

 

It is hard to believe that JRollon's CRJ-200 is over four years old, the aircraft does not simply feel that old and out of date and it is in fact the opposite in how great an aircraft this is. I don't doubt a small nip and tuck is needed to bring it up to current X-Plane standards and features, but may it never fade into X-Plane history and I very doubt it will.

 

So combining the JRollon CRJ-200 and this excellent Blue Sky Star sound package not only brings the aircraft alive in a manner that goes beyond belief, it certainly is a great simulation of what you get today in immersive flying. If you already have the CRJ-200 then you need the Blue Sky Star sound package as well, that is simply a no brainer. If you don't have the JRollon CRJ-200 then allow to buy the Blue Sky Star sound package with the aircraft, either way you are getting something very special.

 

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Yes! the Blue Sky Star Simulation Sound Expansion Package for the JRollon CRJ-200 by Real Pilots is available from the  X-Plane.Org Store here :

 

BSS CRJ-200 Sound Expansion Pack

CRJ-200 BSS logo sm.jpg   BSS CRJ-200 Sound Expansion Pack

 

Price is US$20.00 (JRollon Planes CRJ200 JRollon US$49.95 is Required to use this sound pack)

Note the CRJ-200 by JRollon is at this time on sale for only... US$30.00 a saving of $19.00!  So be quick for this great deal!

 

 
Installation: The process of installing and what you get in the BSS Sound package is noted within the review above.
 

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Blue Sky Star Developer Site : Blue Sky Star Company
 
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Review by Stephen Dutton
14th May 2016
Copyright©2016: X-PlaneReviews
 

Review System Specifications:

Computer System: Windows  - Intel Core i7 6700K CPU 4.00GHz / 64bit - 8 Gb single 1067 Mhz DDR4 2133 - GeForce GTX 980/SSE2 - Samsung Evo 512gb SSD 

Software:   - Windows 10 - X-Plane 10 Global ver 10.45

Addons: Saitek x52 Pro system Joystick and Throttle : Sound - Bose  Soundlink Mini - Simcoder's Head Shake

Scenery or Aircraft

LSZR - St. Gallen–Altenrhein Airport by Aerosoft  (X-Plane.OrgStore) - US$22.01

EDDF - Enhanced EDDF Frankfurt am Main Airport V 1.4 by jusku (X-Plane.Org) - Free

 

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"the aircraft does not simply feel that old and out of date and it is"

I disagree. While the exterior modeling still holds up to today's X-Plane standards, the cockpit, instruments, FMS, knobs and switches are dated, poorly modeled, and can look downright funky. That said, I would love to see this aircraft updated. I've enjoyed many hours of flying, but after a flying the JAR A320 or 330, the Saab 340A one can easily see the aging of the CRJ200. Probably the Blue Sky sound pack is one of the  best things going for it.

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I agree Your disagreement, Breadwild. CRJ200's Cockpit does look dated, really! There are Ages between her and FF, JAR or rotate interior. Nevertheless the Sounds of BSS are worth the Money, for A320, A330 and CRJ. Adding that good sounds lift the whole experience to another Level. And You dont have to be audiophil at all to enjoy it.

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As a FO on the 200 I can tell you that the APU is LOUD on the ramp and even from the flight deck with the main cabin door open. 

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Hi Stephen, thanks for this review. I bought this pack along with the latest version of the CRJ200 (1.7) but am having no success in getting them to work. If you've upgraded your CRJ to the latest version for XP10.5, can you please confirm the sound pack works? I suspect there is going to be a version problem between the two.

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On 06/12/2016 at 8:28 PM, Guest Skiman said:

Hi Stephen, thanks for this review. I bought this pack along with the latest version of the CRJ200 (1.7) but am having no success in getting them to work. If you've upgraded your CRJ to the latest version for XP10.5, can you please confirm the sound pack works? I suspect there is going to be a version problem between the two.

 

No I haven't upgraded yet the sound packs to v1.7...  just make double sure they are correctly installed, their are no comments on the forums of them not working so I would start there...

 

An add-on note here....

 

In X-Plane11 b2 there is this note in the bug list "Custom engine sounds in aircraft folders work again" Reload the beta to b2 and update and recheck if the update fixes the problem...  SD

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