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Plugin Review : BSS Sounds for the FlightFactor-VMax Boeing 777

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BSS B777 Header Title.jpg

 

Plugin Review : Blue Sky Simulations Sounds for the FlightFactor-VMax Boeing 777

 

If there is one aircraft I know intimately well it is FlightFactor's/VMax Boeing 777. Mostly it has been in the Freighter version and the many, many nautical miles have passed by our aircraft's nose. I like to create real world operations and one I have ran for years is the logistic aspect of moving the Formula 1 Circus around the world. The Formula 1 season is split into five sections, Early Flyaway races (Asia), Early European Races, Canada, (mid season break) Late European Races and Late Flyaway races (Asia/Americas/Middle East). The aircraft logistics are not required for the central European races because the race equipment is moved via the various teams own cargo road transporters, and "Flyaway" races are of course the seven or so armada of aircraft required to move the whole circus.

 

As most race weekends start on a Friday the equipment (and race cars) need to be on the ground usually on the Tuesday, with most departures from the UK (Heathrow - or East Midlands Airport) or Munich for Swiss and Italian teams. So all departures usually leave on the Saturday to fly over the weekend to arrive (or pop out the other end) on the Monday or latest Tuesday, late logistic deliveries usually show up on the Wednesday.

The first race is actually the hardest as it it is the longest route to Melbourne Australia (LHR-SIN-MEL) and you can be in the air for the whole weekend traversing yourself halfway round the world..   so as I said I have spent a fair few hours looking out of the B777F's windows and listening to the comforting hum of those huge GE90's toiling away outside and pushing me onwards to my destination. With the anticipation of the start of the long haul with the engine startup whine and the total relief of final engine shutdown on arrival.

 

For it's age the sound set of FlightFactors Boeing 777 Series is quite good, except for the usual diviners and complainers out there, that note it is nothing or anything like the real B777 aircraft. But as we have found with most aircraft that have been given the full Blue Sky Star Simulation sound pack treatment, in that it can transform the aircraft to a whole and complete new level. So try to fly JARDesign's or FlightFactors Airbus A320 Ultimate without the sound pack treatment installed and you are cast back into the dark ages once you have sampled the sheer range of the sound and the complexity it brings to the simulation.

 

So I was certainly excited and very wanting the fact the Boeing 777 has now the BSS sound pack available for it's own use.

 

Sound Pack Installation

I will be honest in that I have found Blue Sky Star Simulation sound package installations a bit of a challenge. In reality they shouldn't be as they are as easy as dropping or replacing the current sounds in the aircraft's root folder, but the FF A320 Ultimate install took a fair while to get working as did this install with the Boeing 777. The problem stems from the fact that most BSS installs tend to be different between the different aircraft, that is not BSS's fault as most developers have their own different system of how their aircraft utilises the X-Plane or custom sounds.

 

BSS have simplified the install process, but sometimes the manual can be a bit ambiguous, do you install the full folder or install the items in the folder, in then the various folders of sounds, and the certain plugin folders that require the plugin elements, but then also show in the X-Plane plugin folder..  so do they go in there?

BSS say just just drag and replace, but show no completed install images (there is text below) but again it becomes ambiguous to the install. I did install it right, but it still didn't work? (which made the whole thing even more confusing), but the FF B777 version needs to be v1.9.14 and although I only did a full FF B777 update only a month ago and I was using version v1.8.12 and the BSS plugin would not work with that version...  so you need to redownload the B777 and update it to v1.9.14 to make these sounds work.

 

Downloaded BSS package includes both Boeing 777 Worldliner (B777-200LR) Pro version and Boeing 777 Pro-Extended (-200ER/-300LR/Freighter) versions... 

 

BSS B777 Install 1.jpgBSS B777 Install 4.jpg

 

....  there are also notes included for the Flight Attendants Announcements Manual, Installation and main Manual.

Install of the Worldliner -200LR version is straight forward as it is only a one variant conversion. Inside are two folders: Plugins and Sounds...

 

Plugins folder has two items "sound3d-1" and ".xlua" and both are merged into the FF B777 plugins folder.

 

BSS B777 Install 5.jpgBSS B777 Install 6.jpg

 

The sounds folder is then merged with the same name "sounds" folder in the B777 root folder, but be careful as if you just move the custom sounds folder into the root sounds folder it may just sit there? Just make sure all the different sounds are merged correctly (it should ask to merge files?) into the various folders.

 

The Pro-Extended version has three sound packs for all the three other variants (-200ER/-300ER/Freighter), but this where it gets tricky...  as you can only have one sound package for each variant? So you have to pick the one you want to use and then use the same two plugins and sounds folders to install the required package like you do above. Here I have picked the "Freighter" variant.

 

BSS B777 Install 2.jpgBSS B777 Install 3.jpg

 

So what to do if you want to fly say another variant. Well this is where it gets messy, because X-Plane does not allow allow different variants of the same aircraft within the one aircraft folder? So BSS advise to merge each variant that you want to use, but that is a bit messy and worse if the sounds start to get mixed together up in the "sounds" folder?

 

My solution (above right) was to create three different full merged and completed folders I could just switch around, still messy but at least the files are correct, if you want the -200LR version then just use the Worldliner Pro sounds.

In reality X-Plane has had issues of no variants within the same aircraft folder... think GHD (Ground Handling Deluxe) or the different numerous aircraft folders of the same aircraft clogging up your menu selection panel, maybe a solution may come in time from Laminar Research.

 

You know if the installation is correct if the plugins menu shows you the "Sound3D" menu.

 

BSS B777 Install menu.jpg

 

The "Volume" selection opens a panel to adjust the various sounds... the "Life" selection is set at 0%. This selection is the noise in the rear, say cabin crew or cargo loading... You have to turn it on or off as you please, and there is a set of positions to make it work... Seatbelt sign has to be set to auto, and the front left door has to be open... this is a confusing one, because the front left door on the FF 777F does not open? or I have never got it to open? So it doesn't work,   You can change the chatter by switching the seatbelt switch to "On" about midway in the boarding process, pushing the external beacon button will commence the "welcome announcement".

 

In the cockpit

If you are expecting huge noises when you push or move switches then you will be disappointed, yes they are all there, certainly if you turn the volume up to (extremely) high, but that is not what the sound pack is about...  each switch, knob and lever is totally correct as per the real aircraft, so if the click noise is low in here, then it is on the real aircraft. As you move over the panels and switchgear you do find that movement satisfying click as you do... more importantly is the background hum, it brings the aircraft alive in the feel you get when you board a real aircraft...  

 

BSS B777 Cockpit 1.jpgBSS B777 Cockpit 2.jpg

 

  There are 850 sound samples that you are accessing here, from the smallest movement to the larger "Alerts" and yes the alerts are loud and in the "jump in your seat" kind of realism. All system feeds are audible. Switch the environment buttons and you feel the bleed disappear, the same when you set the engine bleed for start, fuel pumps hum (quietly), but don't be fooled as it is pretty quiet up here, the B777 is not an old clanker like the Boeing 727. 

 

BSS B777 APU 1.jpgBSS B777 APU 2.jpg

 

External walkarounds are now also far more dynamic. With the APU (Auxiliary Power Unit) running it can be heard from the front of the aircraft, but gets louder and more dynamic as you go to the rear, yes the sound is 3d aware as you move around the aircraft...  sadly those huge GE90 engines fans don't windmill (yet), but I feel if they did you would hear them grinding (scraping?) when moving.

 

Engines!

Of course the engine start is always going to be an event... and the sound package does not let you down here. From the moment you turn the start switch (No.2 first) to the subtle start whine, you know it is the business, watch the n2 display climb till it is at 25% and then you click up the fuel flow and the engine start process accelerates.

 

BSS B777 Engines 1.jpgBSS B777 Engines 2.jpg

 

You feel (hear) the different start stages and the 4-stage LP, 9-stage HP compressor with the 2-stage HP and 6-stage LP turbine noises that are highlighted up to the full GE90 whine and then you have the full 110,760 lbf (492.7 kN) of thrust that each engine provides available.

 

BSS B777 Engines 3 LG.jpg

 

Oh yes! it is great, brilliant...

 

BSS B777 Engines 4.jpgBSS B777 Engines 5.jpg

 

The thrust roar from behind and the sucking air whine from the front, I must say they must have had a ball recording these engine sounds so close up to the donor Boeing 777!

 

Move your position to any degree and even adjust to high above the aircraft to hear the changing engine dynamics, nothing is repeated, all angles are covered and custom. I will note the external (realistic) high-pitch whine which is quite high, and it could give you a headache if you have headphones on for long periods or give the speakers a bit of a workout.

 

BSS B777 Engines 6.jpg

 

Main park brake off and with a little throttle to get the B777 moving and the engine pitch changes really well to any minute throttle movements, very impressive.

 

BSS B777 Taxi 1.jpgBSS B777 Taxi 2.jpg

 

You still get the annoying original FlightFactor concrete thunks, and bangs as you taxi? and they now seem even more absurd than before.

 

BSS B777 Taxi 3.jpgBSS B777 Taxi 4.jpg

 

Now comes the real test...   pushing forward the throttles brings the engine speed up to the takeoff settings. There is a nice pause then the power builds and the aural feedback is again very impressive. It is quite different than the standard B777 sounds, but you realise very quickly how good these custom BSS sounds really are, and your attention is divided in absorbing in the noise of that thrust power and watching the aircraft gain speed down the runway...

 

BSS B777 Taxi 5.jpgBSS B777 Taxi 8.jpg

 

...  externally it is a roar, but the right sounding roar that you are very familiar with if you have seen (and heard) a Boeing 777 takeoff in front of you, I am very impressed in the subtle changes in pitch and bass as you gain speed and finally gain lift, your mind is here, but you are hearing there and it is so critically important that the sounds reflect the actions you under take in flying the aircraft...  poor sound just doesn't do that, yes it sounds good, but you want active sound that changes with speed, movement and actions, these custom sounds do deliver well in that aspect... but that experience is what you pay for as well.

 

BSS B777 Taxi 7 LG.jpg

 

BSS B777 Taxi 9.jpgBSS B777 Taxi 10.jpg

 

I will be honest in an aircraft like the Boeing 777 you are isolated up here front cockpit and well away from most of the noise, but with rotation you have reached the critical moment of full thrust, wind and air flow action on the wings and the engine noises as well.

 

BSS B777 Taxi 11.jpgBSS B777 Taxi 12.jpg

 

Gear retraction noises are well present, but you soon realise the wind noises are not over done either...  too many developers love high wind noise sounds for some bizarre reason? Yes the wind is present but realistic, but more so is the environmental feel in the cockpit...  

 

BSS B777 Taxi 13.jpgBSS B777 Taxi 14.jpg

 

 

BSS B777 Flying 3.jpg

 

You now see and feel...  and hear the power....

 

BSS B777 Flying 1.jpgBSS B777 Flying 2.jpg

 

The cockpit is certainly far more dynamic than before, like noted I am very familiar with this cockpit and it's feel, and this is far, far better than it was without the sound pack, it an overall sensory thing and not just a few addition sounds. You could spend time and pick out each element that make up the whole, but it isn't that, that is actually effective...  it is the realism.

 

BSS B777 Flying 4.jpgBSS B777 Flying 5.jpgBSS B777 Flying 6.jpgBSS B777 Flying 7.jpg

 

Part of that realism is the sound pack also adjusts to the real world physics... as you go faster (and higher) sound is more diluted in volume and N1, N2 sounds and with some smart logic the volume changes depending on the speed of Mach. It does work, and again it highlights the realism.

 

BSS B777 Flying 8 LG.jpg

 

If you walk along the freight deck the sound dynamics do change to your position, not as much as I have heard on other aircraft (like BSS's A320s), but the sound dynamics are certainly in play...  strangely it does feel and sound as cavernous as it looks.

 

BSS B777 Flying 10.jpgBSS B777 Flying 9.jpg

 

You can adjust the individual volumes of course via the menu with a master internal and external volume, secondary settings are for APU, Bass (engine), Environment (In Flight), Environment (on Ground), External (Engines only), Life (cabin crew and passengers), Switiching (Switchgear) Systems (Noises) and Weather.

 

BSS B777 Menu 1.jpgBSS B777 Flying 11.jpg

 

Blue Sky Star Simulation's recommend not to change any volumes (except Life) and I agree, there is nothing that feels wrong or set to high or low.

 

I found FlightFactor's Boeing 767 sounds a year or so back the game changer in aural dynamics, but this is actually better, as no matter the noises you can access in the cockpit, and that is important, it is that overall environmental feel, that energy you feel in aircraft and the power and push of those huge turbines that is the most rewarding aspect of getting aircraft to feel realistic in a simulator. And finally I feel that sound in X-Plane has now caught up with the rest of the simulator in dynamics, the really hard part is that when you now fly anything else without this sort of aural soundtrack it all then feels a bit flat and empty, although I do admit the FMOD sounds thankfully do help in this case, otherwise it would have been unbearable.

 

TOD (Top of Descent) and in a real aircraft you feel the tone change in the engines, as the power is reduced to go down... you hear and feel that tone change here very well, very, very real.

 

You are nearly whisper quiet on approach, there is just the hum in the background until you unlock the gear and then the noise and wind consumes the cockpit.

 

BSS B777 Land 1.jpg

 

I usually use XPRealistic Pro for this action, but except for the missing vibrations, the BSS pack does a brilliant job if not better at this dirty air phase.

 

BSS B777 Land 2.jpgBSS B777 Land 3.jpg

 

BSS B777 Land 5 LG.jpg

 

Finals and touchdown brings back in the mechanical aspect, yes you feel the gear and touch via your ears as much as the yoke...  then the bit you all wait for...

 

BSS B777 Land 6.jpgBSS B777 Land 7.jpg

 

...  full thrust reverse is excellent, as the thrust pushes out of the side of the engine cowlings, but you also hear the full power of those GE90's doing the work.

 

BSS B777 Land 8.jpgBSS B777 Land 9.jpg

 

Alerts and here with the "autopilot disconnect" are from the real B777, so they are authentic, but there are no altitude callouts...  APU is started on the taxi in...

 

BSS B777 Land 10.jpg

 

...  back comes the "thunk, thunk" with taxiing, but you sorta get used to it.

 

BSS B777 Land 11.jpgBSS B777 Land 12.jpg

 

Engine wind-down is actually very quick, but sounds authentic, and very good as well....  move around to the tail and in the quieter moments the APU sounds come back in to fill the void.

 

BSS B777 Land 13 LG.jpg

 

Summary

I am not going to make excuses for the FlightFactor/VMax Boeing 777 Pro. It is an old aircraft by X-Plane standards, and even if the aircraft has had an X-Plane11 update, it is in reality still an X-Plane10 aircraft... but still a very good one. A version 2 of the aircraft is overdue, but promised for 2019.

 

This review brings together two new elements to the aircraft, in X-Plane11.30 with the new particle effects and engine adjustments and the new custom sound package from Blue Sky Star Simulations, so can you make an old dog do new tricks?... well yes you certainly can as both do a simply magnificent job in making the B777 come alive.

 

The sound package is extremely comprehensive, 850 different elements make up the package and it has taken a full year to construct, but the results have been well worth all that considerable effort.

 

The sound package does transform the aircraft and brings it totally alive and really it is a must have if you already own the big Boeing twin, or even thinking of buying the B777

 

You totally feel the difference in every phase of flying the Boeing 777, and like I noted at the head of this review, in that I have spent more long haul time in this aircraft, than any other, and so I would know that difference. And yes the big effects in engine start (and shutdown), reverse thrust, alerts, system switching gear and wind noise are all exemplary, it is for me the sheer cossetting of the environment as you power along at a high mach through the heavens...  pure simulation, and sound simulation at it's best...  highly recommended!

 

There is a BSS video that goes through all the systems and sounds that are available in this sound package here YouTube...

 

______________________________________________________________________

 

X-Plane Store logo sm.jpg

 

Yes! the Blue Sky Star Simulation Sound Package  is now available from the X-Plane.Org Store here :

 

bss777_thumbnail.jpg   BSS Flight Factor Boeing 777GE Sound Pack

 

Price is US$19.99 ...  Yes! you do need the:

 

Boeing 777 Worldliner Professional - US$59.95

 

Boeing 777-200LR

 

or the extended version;

 

Boeing 777 Worldliner Pro- Extended Pack - US$89.95

 

Boeing 777-200 LR
Boeing 777-200 F (Cargo)
Boeing 777-300 ER
Boeing 777-200 ER

 

as one or both versions of the above aircraft is Required for the use of this BSS sound package

 

Download

The BSS sound pack is a HUGE 2gb download, so make sure you have enough storage space... Install instructions are at the head of this review.

 

______________________________________________________________________

 

Blue Sky Star Developer Site : Blue Sky Star Simulations
 

Plugin Review by Stephen Dutton

13th November 2018

Copyright©2018: X-Plane Reviews

 

(Disclaimer. All images and text in this review are the work and property of X-PlaneReviews, no sharing or copy of the content is allowed without consent from the author as per copyright conditions)

 

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