I'm going out into the city to do some recording on Christmas day, just because that's one day that the city sounds completely different.

I plan on getting some downtown amb, maybe some commuter trains, and other stuff like that.

If you're going out to record that day, what are you looking to get? Even if you're not, what opportunities should I seek out?


blog post with pix and downloadable sounds posted here Enjoy!


Impulse responses of all the built up areas, so that you can use them to worldise other sounds later.

  • uhmm whats an easy non starter pistol way of doing an IR ?? EVery article I've ready uses 22 blank .. – studio13 Dec 24 '11 at 2:11
  • Portable loudspeaker and burst of white or pink noise, you need to remember to subtract the colouration for the louspeaker, rather than use the same file. – user80 Dec 24 '11 at 21:56
  • 1
    I used a balloon. – Rene Dec 26 '11 at 15:34

I would worldize explosions and animal roars and other transient effects from my library under a freeway overpass or other echoey bridge or tunnel or acoustically odd public space where there isn't much people traffic that day. Large concrete spaces = lots of 40 Hz and below !!!

I would also get Subway stop idents (when the conductor or computer voice says "Next Stop.. Hollywood Blv." etc. and I would also seek out traffic pedestrian crossing signals (the beeps and notifications for the blind to cross a city intersection) Those are very difficult to come by a really clean recording of and I would imagine they would be valuable to people who do films in city environments.

  • Just wondering: What are the legal ramifications of using pre-recorded stop idents? In Chicago they've all been recorded by a voice actor. – Joe Griffin Dec 21 '11 at 7:00
  • That's true here in Dallas as well (I know because I recorded them) Probably some legal hurdles there in general wrt stuff that I can use in productions. – Rene Dec 21 '11 at 14:54
  • Dunno - but choose a street that every city has and I'm sure you'll not have a problem - like Cesar Chavez Blv :) – Utopia Dec 22 '11 at 2:27

If Dallas is quiet enough and you bump up your gain loads then you might just be able to pick up the faint sound of sleigh bells as Santa makes his way back to Greenland after a long and hard night's work.

Failing that, it's all about the urban slap acoustics really isn't it?: shouts, exterior doors, distant sirens.....the usual suspects that are normally swamped by the fog of noise that is modern city life.

Only other thought is interior public spaces which are normally overrun with people: ticket barriers, ventilation units or escalators on the subway, perhaps?

  • I thought Santa lived on Iceland? :) – Utopia Dec 22 '11 at 2:28
  • Santa is from Finnish Lapland - – RedSonic01 Dec 22 '11 at 11:03
  • No, they're just his holiday homes. The factory is in Greenland. – Michael Maroussas Dec 22 '11 at 21:06

Hi Rene,

Great idea! Christmas + winter (i.e no birds) + a Sunday... likely quietest urban day of the year.

What about church bells? Cathedrals or basilicas?

Most church bells these days are usually buried in rush hour traffic.

Good luck!


  • I love that idea. there's a huge church downtown that's impossible to record for that reason. this is probably number on on my list now. – Rene Dec 21 '11 at 14:55
  • +1 for church bells, Paul. Might do that myself actually. Nicer than wondering the streets by yourself on Xmas day too. I feel a future club theme coming on....! – Michael Maroussas Dec 21 '11 at 15:18
  • You both have me inspired now. I think I may actually try this as well. Good luck guys! – Paul Virostek Dec 21 '11 at 22:27
  • @Rene Act like a child on an airplane and ask to see the "cockpit" (bell tower) and they might let you get up next to them :) – Utopia Dec 22 '11 at 2:30

Sweet! This makes me wish I wasn't traveling for Christmas. A train station or bus station would be a great place to record. A bit dead I'd imagine, but fun nonetheless.

Are there any abandoned buildings or houses? If there are any near usually busy roads, that might be a pretty sweet place to record.


I'm going to be in the woods, so I'll probably record some ambiences. If I were in the city though, and it were as quiet as you're suggesting, I'd go out and try to get stuff that would otherwise be mangled by traffic noise.

Are there crosswalks that have those audible indicators for crossing? Those might be useful when building ambiences. Can't think of any other examples at the moment, but I'll edit this if I do.


Water fronts, apartment building foyers/stairwells


So tell us what happened - what did you record?

  • blog post coming. I'll link to it here. xfering now.... – Rene Dec 27 '11 at 15:21

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