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Hello Sound Designers!

I'm currently working on a sound design for a live theatre show. One of the challenges I have is to create a cue that imitates the experience of covering you ears and listening to.... yourself. My more uninspired thought is to just EQ some pre-recorded material, but I'd like to try to capture something more organic.

My plan is to experiment cupping a small diaphragm condenser mic with my hands or perhaps sealing the mic to the skin. I'm not sure if this will produce the entire effect or any at all, but hopefully provide some sense of human innards. I've also been looking into a stethoscope and makeshift mic attachment. I'd love to hear some more thoughts if you have them.

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Interesting idea. So i guess the main thing would be to simulate the loss of high frequencies and the emergence of the lower frequencies that are vibrating through our bones to our ear. I tried it out just then, i noticed that it sounded like something very close miked, and my breath stood out and had a lot of texture.

So you could try a really close mic (large diaphragm condenser) and eq. And you could try putting a contact mic on the recordee's throat or skull somewhere to augment your recording. I'm not sure whether a contact mic will pick up the breath that well, but you'll probably need to blend a few things together.

The other important thing is that the audience knows what it's meant to represent; otherwise, not matter how meticulous you are, they might not really get it.

Hope that helps, good luck!

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I've had great luck with contact mics for this sort of application. You can make one yourself, buy a cheap guitar-pickup kind, or something more professional like an Aquarian Audio H2a. Simply attach it to the body somehow (think tape or velcro) and let the fun begin. You'll more than likely pick up a lot of low frequency information, so you'll probably want to have a filter in line, just in case.

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    The H2a is great for this. I have problems with lactose, so when ever I need bodily sounds I eat a bowl of ice cream wait 30 minutes and throw H2a on my stomach. I feel like crap for a couple hours but the sounds I get are amazing. – AzimuthAudio Aug 26 '10 at 14:41
  • That is hilarious. I applaud your devotion! – Jay Jennings Aug 26 '10 at 16:26
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This would be two processes for me. Firstly to process the ambience sound before cupping the ears. And another is to create sounds that are present when you're "listening to yourself".

Processing the ambience could be either just an eq or with a combination of a convolution. You can only try recording the sound through something like a long PVC pipe. That would get your filtered sound. I would making it quite binaural, because the direction of sound is quite lost once you've cupped your ears.

The other sounds would be a low rumble, some filtered noise to create this wind like sound. Its pretty much messing with psycho-acoustics and making a dream-like atmosphere. There's also body movements and the heartbeat. Mostly muffled or just the lower frequencies. These could be made up of foley material for body movements and processed.

Unless you're going for scientific authenticity, its more important to be convincing than realistic. The best sound effects in cinemas don't even exist in reality anyway.

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reamp thru a seashell?

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I have never tried it myself and I can't remember where I heard the idea from, but try using headphones as an input device. Put them on your head run it into your recorder (maybe thru a DI)

If you try this let me know. I haven't had the time to attempt it.

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Sounds like a good idea to me. I'd be curious to hear about your results.

While I always gravitate towards the organic solution, Speakerphone by Audio Ease also has a setting called "cover" which simulates an object inside of something. That may work as well. Perhaps you may want to add a low rumble (water with everything rolled off above 80khz) to your results to simulate the sound of rushing blood.

Good luck.

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