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Aircraft Addons : A320neo/A330-243 Sound Packs by Blue Sky Star Simulations Realism in sound is mostly taken for granted in simulation. It is mostly accepted that if you buy a high end aircraft then the sounds should be perfect and are of a very high quality. In most cases they are, or at least the quality is usually very good. But how good is very good? If you look through an expensive aircraft's sound library they are usually extensive, but getting extremely high quality sounds are a nightmare for developers and even then they don't live up to expectations, worse they can be downright awful no matter how carefully or how well they are created and mixed to perfection. But like the every other area that has progressed though unattainable high quality barriers in X-Plane over the last few years, sound has never really been front and center of major feature lists, but also they were mostly until now average in use. The breakthough is using third party developers who create (from real world sound) very high quality sound sets, in other words they specialise in just sound. So they have the time and the equipment to create sound packs that are levels above and far more comprehensive than any one aircraft developer can do alone. There has always been small specalised producers selling addon's for X-Plane, that is nothing new. But in the last year 2015 in X-Plane there has been the shift to a more commercial approach in the addon specialist being a designer house of their own quality and are heavily branded as a creator of certain products unlike the past hobbyist approach of filling in a gap in the market. In other words they are the new big boys in the game and they mean business. The developer has two choices with quality sound, buy them outright on a license (very expensive, which will be added on to the cost of the aircraft) or collaborate with the specialised outfit and then allow them to sell the sound packages as a separate addon to the OE (Original Equipment) aircraft. The first approach has been there for a while in simulation, but with the rise of specialised outfits the game is changing towards now the addon market that has been a much bigger factor in FS (Flight Simulator) than X-Plane. In fact now the addon to OE developers has broken big time in X-Plane in SimCoders developing addons for Carenado aircraft in the form of REP (Reality Expansion Packages) and here with sound Blue Sky Star Simulations with sound packages for JARDesign aircraft and coming soon for JRollons CRJ200 aircraft. No doubt this will be a developing story and it will be interesting to see where it goes. But the early signs are very significant and very good, and with the collaboration of the actual aircraft developers in hand with the specialised house (in this case sound) the amalgamation of both products are as we will see here is seamless and enhance each others products in operation. That means the results are a win-win for both parties. The hard thing with sound is that you have no really good base to compare them with except your own ears and your memory. In most cases what you remember may sound like that particular aircraft, but your memory is going to be fickle with you, it sounds right so it should be right. I had two test cases this year that showed me both ends of the equation... bad and good sound. Strangely enough it was the JARDesign A320neo that was the bad case. I flew my Tasman Sea route from YBBN (Brisbane) to NZWN (Wellington) When I left YBBN I thought the A320neo's sound was quite good, but by the time I was ready to drop down to land at NZWN I was completely over the buzz saw sounds that made up the sound package of the aircraft, add in a headache and I was not wanting to do that anytime again soon no matter how good the aircraft is. I realised the sounds are to a point average and there was a (significant) difference. I will make the point that after doing reviews for four or more years for X-Plane you see there is always an area that a developer can be weak. That is not their fault, it is just a human being thing of which I would be a hopeless long distance runner, it is just not in my physical or mental makeup. In developers cases if they are smart (which most are) they will add to their team other developers that are strong in the areas that they are not. But if they are control freaks (which many are) then it can come at a cost to their products in the areas that they cannot address. The good was the FlightFactor Boeing 767-300. This aircraft opened my ears to really good sound on an aircraft (FlightFactor were always good on sound) but here with the B763 they did something that now and even with that huge feature list on the aircraft is still that the one thing that stands overwhelmingly out and every time I use or if I come across the machine is that sound. It sounds like the Boeing 767, the real one, the one I have flown on many, many times. Sound is not a hearing thing it is a gut feeling thing and when the sounds are really good then you know it and revel in their feedback to recreate the total full environment of being (usually in the rear seats) of that aircraft. It is the whole experience factor and only then do you totally realise how important really good high quality sound is... The FlightFactor Boeing 767 had me crying while flying as I sobbed and wallowed in my memories of "It is just so like the real 767" and it is. JARDesign Airbus A320neo The JARDesign Airbus A320neo (which it isn't as it is the A320ceo (Current Engine Option)) comes with the CFM56 engines. There is one thing about the A320 Series, aurally it is very distinctive aircraft, certainly from the passenger seat. Ansett Australia had some of the earliest A320-211 build aircraft from Serial 022 - 030 (6,821 sold as Nov 15). As an aircraft tragic I was on one from OOL (Coolangatta/Gold Coast) to MEL (Melbourne) within weeks of the aircraft being in service. Used to flying on Boeing 737-377's it was like getting on board another planet. But the biggest change in the cabin was the way the A320 sounded. We are used to A320's today, but in 1991 it was very different in that yes the engine start up and when running the sounds were slightly modernly efficiently different, but it was noises coming through the floor that made the machine really unusual (It is the PTU which stands for Power Transfer Unit known as the "barking dog"). At the time it was the future, which is now. But back then 25 years ago it was a wide eyed experience. You can sit me now blindfolded in an A320 and start it up and I will tell you what version it is, so you can see why the original sounds just didn't cut it. Blue Sky Star Simulations have created a sound expansion pack for the CFM56-5 series engines and a optional extra pack to cover the IAE V2500 (sadly only the CFM engine is modeled). You also have to have the main CFM sound pack to add the extra IAE package. To expect just a new engine sound experience is totally understating the sound package you get here, as actually the engines are really a small proportion of the total package... In fact you get possibly everything you hear on a real A320 aircraft. First to note that the sounds are not just placed on or in the aircraft, but are significantly placed at their correct points on the aircraft in full 3-D surround sound. Which means as you move around the aircraft outside or inside you move within and out again of the range of the noise or sound. Covered items are all real hydraulic logic, you will hear all the hydraulic pumps when activated, real life conditioning systems inside and outside, and turn them on or off for the full cabin and cockpit areas. Notably the conditioning pack sounds are different inside and from the outside as the avionics air coming out from avionics bay, and inside you have logic to blower override changes. I will note that if you have the APU (Auxiliary Power Unit) running which its sounds are extensively covered here from startup to running. You will know when you board the A320 via the rear stairs of the aircraft they are very noisy buggers. Those sounds can of course override the fainter external sounds of the aircraft, they are still there though if you position yourself into the right places during the walkaround and are quite distant when nose on the aircraft. All switches, buttons, selectors, handles, levers are carefully mapped and all sound like in real thing as you press them, but some buttons are a very loud audible click (notably the APU switches) which I don't doubt are realistic, but they sound like someone is banging hard on the underside of the cockpit floor from inside the front gear compartment, you jump at every switch press so are they just a little too loud? In the cockpit environment you get a lot of sounds, small ones and constant ones in context of the aircraft sitting on the ground. Like all sounds Blue Sky Star has recorded (or someone with access to the aircraft) the real audio of the real moment of the activity or function of what the sound is to represent, all together they blend together of course to be really just background noise unless you do a certain function to activate an item. The sound is mixed and highly polished to be almost perfect and that is what these sound packages represent. Ambient ramp sound and internal aircraft people noise is very realistic, even if you do have to put on your headset to get through the checklist load. The base pack is for the CFM56 engines but the references here are for the IAE engines as well. In engine sounds JARDesign have adjusted the A320neo's logic to match the new engine sounds. The full engine start sequence is covered including the different N1 (Fan) and N2 (Compressor) sounds. N2 compressor sounds come in the start sequence actually first. vibration is created by high and low sounds and when fully running you have a full 360º sound variation of front, mid, back and inside sounds. The PTU sounds are all too familiar on start up as the system pressurizes the hydraulic system of the none starting engine as it cycles on and off, on and off, on and off, due to pressure fluctuations, even when both engines are running the PTU will still make noises until the system pressures stabilise, the PTU self tests on startup as well. Engine start up sounds actually can be heard better inside (different in the cockpit, but perfect in the cabin) than outside until you switch down the GPU/APU noise generators. Sitting in the passenger cabin you are overwhelmed by the realistic and perfect A320 environment. Flap extension is good and different from your perspective position on the aircraft, and when you set the seatbelt signs you get an announcement. That familiar A320 low level whine is perfect from the cabin and in taxi you get a perfect reproduction of the A320 sound volumes and movement. Sound is very different in the cockpit and you feel more isolated, but hear more background aircraft system noises. Sound volumes are adjusted via the MCDU interface. Blue Sky Star give you full sound preferences with the package, but like me you will find your own self balance that suits your own requirements. Taxi movement thuds (concrete joins) are excellent as many developers tend to over-emphasise these noises, and your actions in the cockpit are are well replicated with small details like the clicks with throttle movement as an example. You give the A320 50% N1 power to get the engines spooled up and than full FLEX or TO/GA detent to commence the takeoff roll. The sound of engine changes are far more finer (more pronounced sound changes are noticeable on landing), and runway position callouts with V speeds are excellent. There is a certain more quality and fullness to the sound which is noticeable and the building wind noise is more bufferer. This is because you have to change (if you want too) the core "wind.wav" file in the X-Plane/resources/sounds/weather folder. I don't like changing core root files (messy when updating X-Plane), but here it is a significant change for the better, the "wind.wav" file is provided in the package. Wind noises calm more when the undercarriage is retracted, so it shows that the lowered gear is creating turbulence sounds, yes the noises are usually sometimes present on landing (FlightFactor are again the master of such sounds) but it is again a significant aspect of your aural spectrum that creates the full simulation realism factor. BSSS climb and cruise sounds are excellent, certainly as good as FlightFactor's sounds that reduced me to tears, and even then a smidge better in the cockpit/cabin sounds that are perfect as they are slight changing all the time slightly in tune just as really aircraft does, it is subtle but clever and of course if get up in the aircraft to walk around the sounds move as you do and change as you The Route today for both the A320 and the following A330 aircraft is the same KRSW (Southwest Florida) to KDFW (Dallas) and both in Delta colours. After takeoff and climb to cruise, sound is really a background noise, a good one mind you but still a background noise, the good test on sound is in the landing, reduction of thrust, wind changes and speed, change of flap and the undercarriage sounds. You always know the point of TOD (Top of Descent) as the engine sounds change and the speed starts to wind down. So the subtle changes are the most profound ones, the difference in landing is there is no sound, by the point that engines are at a lower throttle position and the wind noise is dying (or slowing) down and that highlights everything else in the aircraft. So by the time you get to the approach phase the speed is low and every change like the lowering of the flaps, power changes (which are extremely fine and good here) and actions in the cockpit are pronounced and highlighted more so than at any other segment of the flight. Gear noises, speed brake noises, flap noises, ultimate real wind sound, touchdown sounds, vibrations are all very well done to perfection as are the landing callouts. The reverse thrust is highlighted because it is not a reverser higher engine sound but that hard air rumble sound (not to be confused with ground rumble) that you realise on how real this simulation of sound really is. A final finale is the CFM engine spooling down that goes on for ages.... glorious! Installation Installing the Blue Sky Star Simulation package is really easy. In the JARDesign plugins folder there is the "sound3d-1" folder which is replaced by three sound (3d) folders 1-2-3 that come in the package. To highlight the detail of sound you get, just one folder (cockpit) has 86 wav sound files, and there are 45 wav sound files for the engines alone and the default JAR engines sounds are only covered with just 11 wav sound files. That is a big difference in sounds. The IAE engine optional pack is harder to install. You have to replace 43 engine sound files in the engines folder but remember to keep the older CFM files in case you want to change engines or do what I did and create a separate IAE_Engine folder and CFM_Engine folder and swap them over as you need them. There is an mp4. install video supplied with the package. Another Blue Sky Star video below highlights the A320 aircraft sounds ______________________________________________________________________ JARDesign A330-243 In this case the A330-243 sound package is not a complete mirror of the A320neo, as it is not quite as expansive but still very comprehensive. Biggest difference is that you have three engine options in the default Trent 700 (main pack) and two extra optional packs for the: Pratt & Whitney 4000 Series General Electric CF6 Series Installation Installing is a little trickier as well. In this instance you add the files in to the 330_JARDesign/plugins/sound3d as a "Custom" folder and you have the option of adding in the optional GPWS sounds as "sound2d". The process of changing over the optional engine sounds are the same as the A320 packages. There is an "install" video included. But as the KRSW to KDFW flight proved the Trent sounds were excellent, detailed and a huge advance on the default sound files. Certainly I would like the GE CF6 option to be more of just a RR engine sounding like a GE engine and would I pay more for that option, the answer is yes. Hopefully that option will come in time. A final note on this A330 package is that an new sound package is coming from Blue Sky Star Simulations and I would expect it to match the extensive systems of the A320 version, it will be probably priced accordingly as well, but that would still be good value. ______________________________________________________________________ Summary First I will admit I was sceptical that purchasing an extra sound package and certainly one priced at nearly US$20 would make that much difference. But these packages have been a real change in my thinking in how they fit into the full X-Plane landscape. They prove that even the top aircraft developers can not deliver this sort sonic level of detailed sound (except maybe FlightFactor, but then again they do have a dedicated sound engineer on their team). So only a specialised house that is dedicated to truly innovated sound can deliver performances of this level. It is also a huge factor in how an optional 3rd party can totally enhance and even change the basic aircraft performance in a significant way. The way these packages change the already excellent A320 Series from JARDesign is so significant that it creates a very much more user experience. Blue Sky Star Simulations has here totally changed the landscape in good quality sound, and the optional packages are a very worthy investment and that is because Blue Sky Star Simulations just do good sound, source and mix the sound at a level that is far beyond the usual high quality sound files you find in your aircraft. It is with these sounds in the end just another extension of the simulation experience, the full package. But until you have heard really good sound then you realise how much more a deeper level detail you can have in a different dimension for other than just the obvious aircraft features and good aircraft modeling. No doubt in the future more specialised brand developers will bring more excellent options and detail to the X-Plane simulator, if they are as good as Blue Sky Star Simulations are in sound, then the simulator experience is going to get even more exciting but more importantly even more realistic to the real aircraft we use and fly. ______________________________________________________________________ Yes! the Blue Sky Star Simulation Sound Packages by Real Pilots is available from the new X-Plane.Org Store here : Airbus A320neo JARDesign A320 CFM Main Sound Expansion Pack Price is US$19.99 (JARDesign Airbus A320neo US$59.95 is Required to use this sound pack) JARDesign A320 IAE Sound Expansion Pack Price is US$7.99 (JARDesign Airbus A320neo and CFM main Sound Expansion Pack is Required to use this sound pack) ______________________________________________________________________ Airbus A330-243 JARDesign A330 Main Custom Soundpack (Trent700) Price is US$9.99 (JARDesign Airbus A330neo US$60.95 is Required to use this sound pack) JARDesign A330 Pratt & Whitney 4000 Series Soundpack Expansion Price is US$7.99 (JARDesign Airbus A330 is Required to use this sound pack) JARDesign A330 GE Soundpack Expansion Price is US$6.99 (JARDesign Airbus A330 is Required to use this sound pack) ______________________________________________________________________ Blue Sky Star Developer Site : Blue Sky Star Company ______________________________________________________________________ Review by Stephen Dutton 12th January 2016 Copyright©2016: X-Plane Reviews Review System Specifications: Computer System: - 2.66 Ghz Intel Core i5 iMac 27”- 9 Gb 1067 Mhz DDR3 - ATI Radeon HD 6970M 2048 mb- Seagate 512gb SSD Software: - Mac OS Yosemite 10.10.4 - X-Plane 10 Global ver 10.42 (final) Addons - Saitek x52 Pro system Joystick and Throttle : Sound - Bose Soundlink Mini : Headshake Scenery or Aircraft - KRSW - South West Florida Intl by Aerosoft (KRSW - SouthWest Florida Intl - X-Plane.OrgStore) - US$24.95 - KDFW - Dallas Fort Worth by Brian Godwin (KDFW-Dallas/Ft. Worth X-Plane.Org) - Free
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... .... 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. 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. 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. 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... 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. 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. 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. Oh yes! it is great, brilliant... 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. 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. You still get the annoying original FlightFactor concrete thunks, and bangs as you taxi? and they now seem even more absurd than before. 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... ... 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. 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. 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... You now see and feel... and hear the power.... 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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... ... 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. 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... ... back comes the "thunk, thunk" with taxiing, but you sorta get used to it. 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. 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... ______________________________________________________________________ Yes! the Blue Sky Star Simulation Sound Package is now available from the X-Plane.Org Store here : 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)
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. 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. 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 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. 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. 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 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. 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. 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. 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. 3d sound movement around each engine is phenomenal, brilliant stuff and remember these sounds are authentic real General Electric CF34-3A1 turbofans. 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. 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 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. _______________________ 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 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. Blue Sky Star Developer Site : Blue Sky Star Company _______________________ 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