My ears are always listening for any new, cool field recordings. I do have my favourite sound effects, though. One category that always captures my interest is vehicle sound clips.
Today I’ll explain why these sounds are interesting, and share a handful of free transportation sound effects with you that you can download to use in your own projects.
Why Vehicles Create Cool Sound Effects
Transportation sound effects are interesting because most of their sounds rely on their engines. Engines, of course, are intricate machines. How much expression can you really find in something mechanical?
Quite a bit, actually. I’ve written about finding expression in machines on my blog, Creative Field Recording. I am especially a fan of recording high-performance and custom engines. They’re always fun to record, and sound unique. They often find a home as not only transportation sounds, but in sound design, as well.
One example is transit trains. These machines are specifically designed to have high horsepower and torque. That always creates new, interesting sounds.
Capturing transit trains isn’t as easy as you may think. It’s hard to record them without overlapping crowd. Also, a field recordist obviously can’t control a subway or monorail, so you need to maneuver, and adapt to get the sound you want. That means recording the sounds as soon as the stations open, and the trains begin to run, often from hours as early as 0300 to 0600.
I was up for the challenge. Earlier this year I stalked Toronto’s TTC transit system to capture some of these cool vehicle sound effects.
Subway Sound Clips
Toronto’s subway trains were designed by Hawker-Siddeley (now Bombardier). The majority were made in 1974. Because they’re so old, they create some cool, rickety shudders, whines, and groans.
Toronto is slowly phasing out these trains with new versions, so I knew I had to record them to preserve these cool sounds.
The first subway sound effect is a recording of a train departing on the far side of the track. It’s recorded from the perspective of a subway platform. I like the combination of the whine, groan, and the echo after it leaves the station.
Here’s a sound effect of riding a subway train. You can hear the age of the car in the loose rattle as it rides over rail seams. I also like the thin skating screech of the rails.
Monorail or RT Sound Effects
Part of Toronto’s subway system uses a rapid transit monorail. It’s slower than the subway. However, it arguably has more character.
I recorded a sound effect of the monorail passing by at high speed. I like the intense chatter as it whips past.
This next sound clip is the monorail departing a station. You’ll hear the sound of the door chime, and the whine of the doors closing. I particularly like the loose, shuddering racket as the RT leaves the station.
Here’s a clip of an RT train arriving in the station. The rail sounds are interesting. I also like the clatter and bang as the train “shunts” and adjusts its cars together.
Here’s a recording of riding the RT. It begins with an idle, shunts, then rides through a curve in the track. I like the chunky, clattering sound as it takes the turn.
And, finally, here’s an atmosphere of an RT station. Various trains arrive and depart. There are a few voices, and an ambient PA.
Free Sound Effects Download
You’re welcome to download these sound clips and use them in your projects. Just visit the SoundCloud links. You can also click the download button (the arrow pointing downwards) on the SoundCloud players, above.
It’s no coincidence that these sounds follow a theme. We’ve been recording and polishing hundreds of sound effects for the release of four new sound effect libraries. We’re releasing them next week.
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Thank you for listening, and downloading the sound effects!
Owner, Airborne Sound
RT photo courtesy Adam E. Moreira.