Sonic Images: An Abandoned Classic Sample Library

Lately, I’ve been hunting down the instruments and samples used in my favorite video game soundtracks. One sample library that’s come up a few times in my research is Universe of Sounds: Sonic Images Vol 1 by Optical Media International.

The Sonic Images CD cover next to a stretch-faced Mario from Super Mario 64

What Is Sonic Images?

Sonic Images was the first volume in the Universe of Sounds line of sample CDs by Optical Media International. They were released in the 1980s for multiple samplers like the Emulator II and Roland S-770. Sonic Images mostly included synth samples while featuring some simulated acoustic instruments and FX.

Listen to Some Demos

Paolo from SynthMania put together this demo featuring some of the sounds in Sonic Images. Take a listen:

Is Sonic Images Still Available?

Optical Media International was eventually acquired by a tech company called Microtest in 1995 (Software Equity Group). Since then, the OMI brand has been retired and all of their music products are discontinued.

But thanks to some dedicated preservationists, many of those sounds have been saved.

Archived Roland Version

First, you can find archived files of Sonic Images on the Internet Archive. These samples were taken from the Roland S-770/S-750 version of the product. Keep in mind that the sounds might not be cleared for commercial use.

OMI Sonic Images Universe of Sounds Vol. 1 (Archive)

An archived collection of OMI's Sonic Images sample CDs for the Roland S-770 and S-750.

This product is considered abandonware and may not be authorized for commercial use.

Emulator II Sample Library

If you want the full, high-quality versions of the Universe of Sounds series, take a look at the incredible Emulator II collection by Rhythmic Robot Audio.

These Kontakt libraries feature instruments from the Universe of Sounds collection. Each one was lovingly and meticulously resampled using a real Emulator II synthesizer.

Emulator II OMI Universe of Sounds: Vol 1

A vintage sample library from the '80s and '90s, reborn for a new generation of producers and composers! Everything was meticulously sampled from a real Emulator II keyboard.

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Sonic Images and Super Mario 64

Sonic Images was one of the sample libraries Koji Kondo used to make the Super Mario 64 soundtrack. In fact, the first musical note played when booting up the game comes from this pack (not counting sound FX).

It’s the Steel Drum patch that plays the iconic title theme while stretching Mario’s face.

Aside from that, the game sourced the Monk chanting sound for Big Boo’s Haunt, and various drums and percussion used throughout the rest of the soundtrack.

Learn About Other Discontinued Sample Libraries

We’ve covered other classic sample libraries used for video game soundtracks. Here are two of our other favorites from the Nintendo 64 era: