In early 1989, sound production for motion pictures was just beginning the transition to digital technology. Sound recordists would be sent out into the field to capture new recordings of the specific type needed for each film, but typically on portable analog tape machines. Sounds with wide dynamic range (loud impact transients but low average level, such as gunshots) were the most difficult to record because the initial impact would saturate the magnetic tape (creating distortion) and the low level trail-off would fall close to the tape noise floor.
Sound producers were still leery of digital as it had acquired a reputation of sounding "thin" while big movies demanded big sound. During this period of time, many movies needed access to an extensive collection of "bigger-than-life" gun sounds for the confrontations between action heroes and their nemeses.
In early 1989, sound effects designer and recordist Ken Johnson approached Don seeking a way to solve this digital recording dilemma; was it possible to capture gun sounds with both a "beefy" impact and the more subtle trail off without sinking into the noise floor? If a solution could be found, Ken felt that motion picture sound editors would be anxious to get and use the effects. Don's previous experience in digital music production led him to believe it could be done.
sound qualities and they formed Sonic Boon® Digital Sound Effects to market the results. The first library to be released consisted entirely of gun effects, and taking inspiration from the concept of combining digital recording with guns was titled Dynamic Range. Multiple shots from 22 different weapons were featured, recorded from both interior and exterior perspectives. Also included were silencer shots, sounds of bullet impacts on various materials, ricochets, gun-handling sounds for foley use, and a set of custom-designed automatic weapon volleys.
Dynamic Range made its debut in Lethal Weapon II, followed quickly by Die Hard II, Hard to Kill, and Terminator II. Then more movies and television; Hunt for Red October, RoboCop II, Delta Force II, Halloween 5, B.L. Stryker, True Blue and even Star Trek: the Next Generation. Rave reviews and endorsements came from top industry names such as Richard Shorr, Alan Howarth, and Academy Award winning sound designers Gary Rydstrom, Cecelia Hall, Alan Murray and Steven Flick.
The library was right on target and became an instant hit, quickly setting a new standard for "movie guns" and becoming the first all-digital sound effects resource for the audio production industry.
Don produced two more all-digital effects libraries with Ken; The Works (sounds of Motion, Action and Force), and Blow Tools (Wind and Air Movement Effects) before selling the company. Today, Sonic Boon sound effects continue to be an industry staple and are available online through multiple distributors.
After a few weeks of experimentation, Don and Ken successfully perfected a method to capture the desired