I went on that shoot today that I will be supervising the sound of.

We were in an L.A. metro station. (BTW did you know it costs about $20,000 for a shooting permit in a subway?? I'd rather buy microphones and shoot everything inconspicuously on a Canon 7D or something... Anyway, I digress)

Coming down the escalator I noticed it made an awesome rhythmic mechanical sound which could be pitched down and used as a large machine or some other contraption that has a rhythm to it.

I'll upload some later when I get a chance, but whenever you're around escalators with a mic, I suggest sitting at the bottom of one and record very close-miced to the steps going under - it sounds awesome.

  • Funny I've recorded the escalator from the LA Metro to Union Station before. I've used that recording to sweeten tank treads before...
    – Justin P
    Apr 7, 2011 at 22:33
  • @Justin Small world. What mic did you use?
    – Utopia
    Apr 7, 2011 at 22:53
  • Schoeps MS pair recorded close. I dig the sound of escalators and have recorded a bunch of them. The best sounding ones are usually outside, because the elements haven't been kind to them.
    – Justin P
    Apr 8, 2011 at 17:47

4 Answers 4


I have a recording of an NYC subway station escalator floating around my blog somewhere. I think it was from last April.

Lots of cool sounds any rhythms from an escalator, and of course, my favorite - tons of sympathetic harmonics from metal on metal vibration! Wonderful source for recording at 192 and forcing to a lower sample rate :-)

Would love to hear it!


I tried to pick up the sound of the sand blowing across the beach the other day with my Zoom. Havn't checked out whether or not I win yet!


I've never recorded an escalator, but I was at my local Ikea a week or two ago and discovered that the elevator to the parking lot made a lovely whooooooooorumph kind of noise as it came in for a landing. Found that it sounded best in one of the low corners and spent 20 minutes riding it, totally weirding out the other customers.


Hey guys,

I cut together some sounds I got.

First 2 are escalators I recorded. One had a nice squeeky belt and the other had an awesome rizzing light near it. Both I think could make some good machine or mechanical rhythm for something.

Next are some train departures which have a great migraine inducing whine and then some good whistling wind afterwards.

Then, I put a take of a full ride from one station to the next complete with station announce and door closing - I wanted to get the full ride in one take and get all the sounds I needed.

Hope you enjoy!


I really like those escalators.

  • 1
    I ride subways every day. When the get above ground there is often a tensioned steel cable sound from above after it passes that i want to grab. The strange sound also comes from the tracks and I'd like to capture it especially with contact mic's.
    – Chris
    Apr 7, 2011 at 21:14
  • @Chris Yeah, careful with those contact mics and the third rail. Sure I don't need to tell you that though. I did once however record the metal tension of the Williamsburg Bridge JMZ line in the middle of the night with Contact mics. They turned out really awesome. Apr 7, 2011 at 22:11
  • Never touch the third rail. That's actually not part of the plan. The subway in SF only uses overhead wires for power, the BART train uses the third rail and they have signs posted in case.
    – Chris
    Apr 8, 2011 at 0:00

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.