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    cjvitek's Avatar
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    Default Review: Custom Sounds of Nature

    For some reason, I am on a ambient sounds kick right now. Maybe I just feel like I need to relax more.

    I reviewed the application Easy Relax a while back, and now I have looked at the application "Custom Sounds of Nature".

    Like Easy Relax, the idea is that this is a customizable ambient sound machine - rather than simply playing a background sound, it tries to generate a mood with various themes. The themes included in this app are calm ocena, thunderstorm, night sensation, moutnain stream and rain forest.

    Unlike Easy Relax, where you have a background music and up to three sound effects (and the ability to generate your own), the theme here are fixed with 4 different sounds in each. You can control which ones are on or off, and the volume of each.

    So, for example, in the calm ocean, you can have waves, seagulls, wind chimes, or foghorn. You can turn each of those on or off, and at varying volumes. So for each theme you can have a number of possible combinations.

    This program is less complicated than Easy Relax, which is both good and bad. On the good side, it is a little easier to customize various sound options, and faster to generate variosu themes you may want. On the down side, because it is not as complex, there is less variability, less customization available.

    The app attempts to address this concern in part by having a "customize mode". In that mode, you can go into each theme and turn on (or off) the various options. When in regular mode, when you go back to the main menu, the sounds stop. But in customize mode, the sounds keep going, so you can combine the various sounds from the different themes (have a campfire with waves in the distance, for example). When you create a combination you like, you can save it as an audio bookmark.

    This option does add a little variability into the mix, so you can have a few more choices when mixing the sounds. But it seems to be a clunky implementation, making it more difficult to customize a sound. I would prefer to simply see a "theme" that has all the sound options on one screen, and letting you save a configuration.

    The sounds themselves are nice, and I like some of them more than the Easy Relax themes (I used the ocean with chimes last night to fall asleep). But in my experience, the sounds are pretty generic, and are going to be pretty good quality in any of the programs.

    This app has a timer mode, but like the customization mode, its implementation is a little clunky. You have to go into options, turn on the timer, and then choose the timer length. Once you turn it on, you then have to go back to the main menu to activate the theme (or the audio bookmark). So again, the inclusion of a timer is nice, but the implementation needs work. One nice feature the timer does have is that you can activate a "slow fade" over the last minute, so that you get a gradual reduction in the sound (rather than just suddenly turning off). Presumably this will be a little nicer (and more relaxing?).

    Pros: Easy to use interface, nice sound combination, some customization options
    Cons: Customization and timer options aren't designed to be easy

    All in all, this is a good program that tries to combine ease of use with customization options. And for the most part it succeeds at a good price of $.99. However, when using the timer and the audio bookmarks, it is just too complex and takes away from the "ease of use" that this program seems designed around. 3 out of 4 stars.
    Last edited by cjvitek; 11-03-2008 at 10:31 AM.

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