I need to do some 'piston' style, air release foley moves next week. They have to be clean (ie no erroneous rattles from the props!) so was just wandering if any of you guys had any good ideas! The best I've come up with so far is a can of compressed air and a metal pipe (I'd quite like to get some metal to it you see!), which is kind of ok but not quite right. I'd really like some options to work with so could do with some brain on this one! Thanks in advance....

5 Answers 5


I would try a variety of bicycle pumps. I used to have an old metal one that would make an awesome suction sound every time I used it. A balloon pump, such as the one below, can work well too. They usually have larger nozzles so offer a different type of air flow sound to a bicycle pump.

Try to record at 192KHz 24 Bit, allowing better results when playing with pitch.

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  • Thanks Colin, I have a balloon pump in the studio - was thinking of cracking that out! also liking @noisejockey suggestion - really good idea with the spray pumps. I'm worried that bike pumps may add to much rattle, so thats a good alternative. Syringes are interesting as well - thanks iain.
    – Noiseboy
    May 27, 2011 at 16:56

Plastic syringes are great, especially veterinary ones as they come in a wide range of sizes. You can place different objects and fluids inside them to change the tone.


Pressure cooker !

  • Definitely a great suggestion! Some rice cookers also have purge valves, as do espresso machines, all of which may produce similar hisses. May 27, 2011 at 16:30
  • A cappuchino machine steam arm could work lovely! great idea.
    – Noiseboy
    May 27, 2011 at 16:57

To build on Iain's suggestion, also look into manual pump sprayers, available at most hardware/home improvement stores, the kind used to spray chemicals on plants. Their plungers are thick and sound pretty neat. Likewise, manual bilge pumps (of the kind sold to kayakers) are small, inexpensive, and also have a cool sound; Bilgemaster brand is probably the most interesting sounding.

  • To add to this you can also use small household and bathroom sprayers. You can usually find them at dollar stores or salon supply stores for pretty cheap. May 28, 2011 at 7:46
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    @noisejockey, I just love that you actually know the sound difference between brands.
    – g.a.harry
    May 31, 2011 at 23:33

Ballons i imagine would be pretty good for this, as you could vary the size of them, how fast you let air out etc, and process them as much as you like after!

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