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Hi,

I'm currently doing a documentary film, and I'm stuck in a sequence featuring a wind farm / wind turbines. Do you guys know how do these things sound like? Anyone have any recordings?

Any help will be very appreciated,

Thanks,

Gon.-

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Good timing with this question as I was recording 80 meter tall Windmills at a windfarm of 133 turbines, a couple hours north of Toronto, just yesterday. This farm supplies 52,000 homes with electricity. I think the city must have been drowning out the sound of the mill @AirbourneSound was referring to as it is near a couple major highways. The ones I was recording are in the middle of farmers fields with no other sounds at all.... other then of coarse lots of wind. As a result they are hard to record because by necessity they are built in high wind areas. I strapped on my Rycote and furry and was still getting a lot of wind in my recordings. They make a whoosh sound quite similar to what I expected they would. Due to complaints of locals near these mills, the little room at their base have been sound proofed so they make basically no noise (this is where the wind energy is processed and added to the main power grid) Here is a sample on my soundcloud page: http://soundcloud.com/azimuthaudio/windmill-with-low-cut Due to the wind I had to put a high-pass filter on these recordings. Both samples are the same Mill. Depending on the speed and angle of the wind there was quite a variety of pitches and tones.

A few years ago I mixed an episode of W-Five (Canada's 20/20 kind of) with a story about people complaining of Windmills near their houses making them ill. There are a couple of audio clips in it to also give you an idea. You can watch it here.

http://www.ctv.ca/CTVNews/WFive/20081223/wfive_windmills_081227/

  • Very cool recording @AzimuthAudio. Yes, I didn't hear anything at all like that down by the lake - and this was when the highways were shut down for the Indy so I assume there would have been something! – Paul Virostek Jul 11 '11 at 22:28
  • @AirborneSound I bet the turbine downtown has some noise dampening built into it because it is located in such a highly populated area. They would not bother with the ones I was recording since they are in open fields. Did you get any good sounds at the Indy? – AzimuthAudio Jul 11 '11 at 23:44
  • Thanks a lot AzimuthAudio! Those samples are great. Do you have any recording from afar? – GMatijas Jul 12 '11 at 0:20
  • @GMatijas The ones I was recording are in a really windy area and as you get further away the turbines sounds get drowned out by the rushing wind pretty quickly so I found getting recordings from a distance was not very useful. As an example the recording I made was of a turbine sandwiched between two others in the same field not too far away but there was never a time where I could hear more then one of them at a time. – AzimuthAudio Jul 12 '11 at 1:49
  • @AzimuthAudio yes, dampening would definitely explain it. I did indeed get some good sounds at the Indy, will be writing a blog post about it soon. Cheers – Paul Virostek Jul 12 '11 at 12:16
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The Sonic Science 'Blow Tools' library has four fantastic windfarm recordings, albeit buried with an obscure naming scheme - just search 'wind generator' and you should find them. And you can purchase them on Sounddogs I believe. On a side note, they serve as a great ambient tone for designing an airport tarmac background.

BLOW02_19_01 - Loop: power generator propeller... BLOW02_20_01 - Loop: power generator propeller... BLOW02_21_01 - Loop: power generator propeller... BLOW02_22_01 - Loop: power generator propeller...

From visiting some wind farms in Southern California for some recording, I'd say these Blow Tools recordings are highly accurate as to what they sound like (on a calm day when you can cleanly record the turbine drone). The day I visited a windfarm there were some amazing, constant 50+ mph wind currents with freak gusts somewhere in the 65 mph range - nice sound in its own right, but not as clean of a situation to capture anything like these Blow Tools files have.

I highly suggest looking into those 4 files as a starting point.

If you're doing closeups of the blades and need an exaggerated 'cinematic' sound, most likely you'll need to design a constant 'rotating' whoosh sound, layering whooshes and carefully spreading the L/R side of your source files to design an appropriate stereo spread which feels wide enough that it has a perceived circular motion. Blow Tools has great source material for designing such large whooshes (by pitching down), as does Tim Prebble's swishes set - especially his hose swishes because of the metallic resonance.

Good luck!

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Where do you live? In the UK it's possible to visit them. Dammit, I clearly need to go to one now and record it.

Here's a paper on the noise they create if that gives you any help at all. http://www.bwea.com/pdf/noise.pdf

Ian

  • I live in Buenos Aires, Argentina. I think we don't have any wind farms nearby...so, can't visit them. – GMatijas Jul 12 '11 at 0:18
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Hi,

Actually just a few days ago I passed by the solo wind turbine they have here in Toronto.

I was a bit surprised. There wasn't any apparent noise from about 50 meters away. I expected to hear blade whooshes, thumps or something similar for blades of that size.

The only sound that I did hear, just beginning to be apparent when I was about 10 meters away, was a fan coming from the base behind a vented door - I assumed for cooling the interior machinery. But nothing from the huge blades themselves.

If you need a reference tone to recreate something similar, send me an email and I'll grab a recording this week. Can't promise it will be clean as there is traffic close but if it is helpful let me know.

-Paul

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Was lucky to attend a short lecture by Chris Watson and he played a number of windmill recordings he had done from various distances, including at the base of the generator. They sounded radically different. One to keep in mind.

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