Author Archive

May’s Theme

Back to basics this month as I choose the theme for the first time since Rain back in November.  ‘Car passes’ may not be the most exotic theme we’ve ever had but it’ll be a very useful one if it provides us all with a greater variety of this type of recording to reach for.

As the club’s sound collection develops, I’d really like it to become useful to people for specific jobs they work on.  In other words, if any members have a project approaching in the coming months for which they could really do with a fresh bunch of specific sounds (which are not location-specific) then give me a shout and I’ll try my best to make it a theme in time to deliver the goods for you.  

With this in mind, I’ve chosen this theme for myself because it may be useful to me over the coming months.  I’ve got a couple of relatively quick turnaround FX jobs coming up soon which are highly likely to contain many scenes which need background traffic passes covered.  When you don’t have much time to pick out these individual passes, it’s really handy to have a good selection of recordings of  a series of vehicles passing by, otherwise you have to compile the passes from an amalgamation of different recordings which is much more time-consuming and sounds less consistent.  

Two particularly important attributes that a useful car passes recording must have are:

  1. Enough spacing between passes to give you full depiction of each vehicle’s approach and drive away.  Two cars passing by together while another car passes by on the other side of the carriageway is of no use for this purpose (if at all).
  2. As with most types of recording, low background noise is important to avoid hearing a surge of noise as you fade the car pass in and out.  What’s more, it muddies the definition of the sound of the vehicle itself.

Apart from that, though, there are very few conditions to adhere to.  The vehicles must predominantly be cars but your recording may also contain bus / truck / motorbike, etc. passes too.  The car passes can be as close or as wide as you like – although don’t go so wide that the individual car passes lose their definition and become a more general traffic atmos.  

Think about definition:  If you monitor at a low level but can still hear interesting detail from the engines, the road or simply from the acoustics of the street then the track is likely to work nicely when ducked down low in a mix around dialogue.  If not, you’ll end up adding little more than surges of white noise to the mix.

A good selection of orthodox street / main road recordings at different speeds would be great, but I’m also hoping to hear some more unusual contributions too:  eg.  Cobbled streets, flyovers, speed bumps and manhole covers to name but a few variants.

Other than that, and as usual, I don’t want to tell you all too precisely what to record, but please feel free to comment below if you have any questions or if you think I’ve been unclear in any way; if so, I’ll provide more detail where necessary.

London Echo Space Meetup Anyone?

I’ve been mentioning my intentions for a recording meetup to a few people for quite a while now but haven’t had a chance to really give it much thought……until now!

I was having a quick scan of the internet the other day looking for interesting ideas for Echo Space, this month’s sound collecting theme.  My first thought was to find out about the Woolwich and Greenwich foot tunnels under the Thames but as far as I can tell from online comments these tunnels are closed for refurbs at the moment.

If they are, it’s a shame because I know the tunnels sound great.  A Chris Watson workshop I signed up to a few years back went around this part of London.  I didn’t make it in the end due to my first son turning up but I did hear some of the results (Uncannily, I also missed Chris’ subsequent workshop last year in Kew Gardens because of my second son arriving on the scene!  The lengths my wife will go to to stop me going out recording…..!):

thames_footpath_tunnel (copyright of Tom Lawrence)

(Apologies to Juan Gil and Tom Lawrence if i’ve misunderstood the licensing terms of the audio and image.  I’ve taken it as a typical creative commons agreement: i.e. usage is ok if non-commercial and author-attribution is given, but obviously I’ll remove them immediately if there’s any issues with that).

Anyway, if I’m wrong and these are open then it’d be great to go and get our own recordings if anyone’s interested.  However, if they are closed then there’s always that glamorous London destination, The Rotherhithe Tunnel, which I’ve seen described online by a non-soundie as ‘an acoustic hall of mirrors’.  Bingo!

Image of Rotherhithe Tunnel from diamond geezer's Flickrstream under the Creative Commons Attribution License

The tunnel’s right near to some nice pubs on the river so perhaps we could meet up at one of them and then have a quick recording sortie into the tunnel (don’t  personally fancy walking right the way through it!) before returning to one of the pubs for a couple more jars.  Let me know if you’re interested; leave a comment here or DM me.  I finish my current film project next week so from then until early May is best for me.  One thing’s for sure – if no-one comes I ain’t going down that tunnel by myself!


‘The Knowledge’ Directory is now active!

Welcome to ‘The Knowledge’ – The Sound Collectors’ Club directory where members can add any tips and general info they care to share relating to field recording and sound fx acquisition. 

The idea of the directory is not to just create a wiki for all things sound-related.  It’s intended purpose is to aid us all in tracking down specific sound fx and atmos recordings.

We can achieve this by using Evernote to accumulate our collective knowledge of, e.g., locations, organizations, speciality forums and contacts and leads as well as info regarding particular recordings of our own that we’ve made that we’d be happy to trade or sell.

For example, I might add the details of a proving ground in the UK, that is a great location for recording vehicles, as one note.  Another note I could add would be a note relating to recent Scottish loch recordings I made.  I also might add a note about a new sound library or samplepack giveaway I hear about, a contact I know who owns old military vehicles….you get the idea.

If we all add bits of info such as this and tag the notes efficiently then bit by bit I feel we will end up with a really useful resource for sound collecting.

Also, one of the big pluses of using Evernote is it’s geo-locating functions.  Consequently, if you’re out and about and make a find – say, a cathedral with amazing acoustics, for example – then you can simply take a snapshot on your Evernote phone app, title and tag it and save it to The Knowledge notebook with location info automatically loaded.

I’ll be posting a fuller explanation here on the website (hopefully a vid) very soon but I thought I’d let you know that this facility is now active for all current members.

Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions / if anything is unclear.


April’s Theme

Finally a new theme!  Feels like ages since the start of the ‘Wind’ theme back in February – thanks for bearing with me these last couple of months while I’ve set up the new membership system for The Sound Collectors’ Club.  As a result, we can now keep our collections of sounds online permanently  so that they can continue to grow indefinitely, so I hope you’ll agree with me that it was well worth the wait.

Please have a thorough read through of the amended How to Upload your Sounds to the Club and Legal pages in the menu at the top of the page.  Also, the summary in my last post may help bring you up to speed on the changes too.  Essentially, everything’s the same except for a couple of important things:

  1. You will need to make a small payment to get membership to the Club for the year so that you can get access to the sounds.
  2. Vocal idents within all submitted recordings are now compulsory.

If, having read my uploading guide and legal page, there’s anything that still seems unclear then please feel free to e-mail me and I’ll try to help you out.

Right, now for the much more fun bit;  April’s theme.  Our latest winner who gets to choose a theme is Angel Perez Grandi, who has contributed some stunning Argentinian field recordings over the past few months.  In his words:

My suggestion for a set would be “natural echo spaces”, that is, spaces or sounds with inherent (natural) reverb. Diffused, decay, blurry background activity are words that pop to my mind. From canyons to temples to claustrophobic spaces as long as we get a strong sense of space. The resonance can be forced but not created through processing – a loud bang inside a tank would qualify too for example.

So; echoey sounds in a variety of interesting acoustic spaces – exterior or interior.  This could include anything from footsteps in a stairwell to voices in a cathedral to gunshots in a valley to door slams in an industrial lift.  As is often the way with my briefs, the main requirement is ‘character’.  Can’t really add much to that – sounds like a great theme to kick off the new club setup.  Enjoy!

Club Changes Coming in April

If all things go according to plan over the next couple of weeks, The Sound Collectors’ Club is going to change slightly, starting from April 1st.

Full details will be revealed between now and then here on the website but I just wanted to let you know now the basics of what will be happening next month.

In a nutshell, from now on, all sets will stay online and will remain open to new contributions so that they can continue to grow indefinitely.  We will still choose a new theme each month to focus on and, now that there is no deadline as such, there will be no more need for themes to be carried over into the following month to cater for latecomers.

The downside of this is that obviously the extra storage space required on Soundcloud costs more money, so I’ve decided to introduce a very low annual membership fee, in the hope of recovering at least some of my expenses.

The good news for some is that people who have regularly contributed since I started the club will continue to enjoy the club for free for the coming year.  Users who’ve contributed just the once only have to pay £10.  New users who haven’t contributed to the club before will pay the full annual membership fee of £20.

Obviously people aren’t going to pay for something unless they can see what they’ll get for their money so I have also started to create ‘browser sets’ which the general public are able to access from the club website (see “BROWSE THE COLLECTION” in the top right hand corner).  Essentially these sets mirror the main collections but they’ll only contain 10 second (or perhaps less when relating to spot FX) MP3’s rather than the full tracks.

In order to start things off with a set of recordings already in the bank, I’ve made our ‘Wind’ collection, which has been active for the past couple of months, the first set that I leave online and create a browser set for, so you will still be able to contribute to, and therefore access, this set in future months.  However, in order to do so, I’m afraid I need you to pay your appropriate annual membership fee as outlined above (a payment button will appear in the sidebar of the website towards the end of the month).

One important new condition going forward is that vocal idents are now mandatory on all uploaded recordings so do please remember to do this otherwise I won’t be able to accept your future contributions.

I hope you’ll agree with me that, for the sake of a very small fee (which will, on current form, see you getting access to many tens of gigs of FX over the coming year) these changes will be massively for the better.  I hope to hear your recordings in the club soon.





P.S.  Another change I hope to introduce is making the site less wordy!  Where suitable, I’m hoping to start using videos more as I think I do chuck a lot of info at you times which might be a bit of a drag to take in solely in written form.  Let me know what you think.



‘Wind’ Deadline Moved to End of March

It’s becoming a bit of a habit this!  Some great tracks are still coming in and a few people have told me that they have tracks they want to share but are struggling with getting them in on time, so I’m simply not ready to close the doors on this theme yet.

It was a great choice of theme by Dan Gallard – I think this may turn out to be the most useful set of sounds so far – so to get the most out of it I’m pushing back the deadline to the end of March now.  Hopefully, those of you who thought you’d missed the deadline or have just not had much success with the weather in February will now take the opportunity to get involved.

p.s.  I know it’s not exactly ideal to keep running themes over into the next month so I just wanted to reassure everyone that this will be the last time this happens.  Some changes are afoot  for the club, hopefully in time for the start of the next theme at the end of March so it suits me on this occasion to let the theme runover in order to give me time to set up my new ideas as soon as possible.  Bear with me…..



February’s Theme

The result of the vote for the ‘Night and Day’ theme was a three way tie, so I’ve decided to give all three contributors the chance to choose a theme over the coming months.

First up is Dan Gallard of Sonik Boom Sound in Australia who has chosen ‘Wind’ to be February’s theme:

“My theme would be wind through different items be it trees, windows, doors etc. There have been a few times recently when I wish I had more wind to choose from.”

I don’t want to take over Dan’s idea (and feel free to comment to the contrary if this isn’t your wish, Dan) but one thing that I think would be good to try and focus on for this theme is capturing ‘atmospheric’ wind tracks (interior or exterior) and maybe trying to avoid anything that’s too similar to white noise.  Obviously wind can convey all kinds of moods and emotions – everything from eerie whistles to relaxing breezes – and tracks like these can be priceless when it comes to needing to create interesting ambiances for films.   Clearly, this is a tricky one as we will be at the mercy of Mother Nature but let’s see what we can all get together over the next few weeks.

Just a couple of ‘updates’ to mention regarding the club this month:

  1. This month, I was going to completely close the door on any entries which don’t have a vocal ident but, considering the difficulty of the theme, I will be a little bit flexible for one more month.  However, vocal idents are still preferred if possible.  Otherwise, as usual, your recordings must contain some form of imperfection (mic bumps, shash, etc.) to prove that they are not taken from some FX library CD.  Once again, please don’t take offence if your perfectly manicured contribution is not accepted; I’m just trying to cover my arse.
  2. Lastly, due to a very low vote this past month, I think I’m going to put less emphasis on voting and winners.  Essentially, I don’t think all that stuff really matters – I presume everyone’s main interest is simply the collecting.  Therefore, once the ‘Night and Day’ winners have chosen their themes, I’ll just choose themes myself unless there happens to be a strong vote one month for some reason or if a theme  gets a lot of requests in the poll widget in the sidebar of the club homepage.

Good luck!


‘Night and Day’ Theme Coming to an End

There’s only a week to go now until our current theme draws to a close so I thought I’d give everyone a nudge to get voting for their favourite sounds.

I’m going to stick with the idea of a winner choosing next month’s theme so please do all try to take a second to quickly ‘favourite’ one or several recordings from the set on Soundcloud – however many you feel are really standout sounds – so that we get an accurate reflection of the group’s opinion.

Also, if you still haven’t contributed a sound then now’s the time if you want to get your hands on everyone else’s recordings!  There’s a great mix of material in this month’s set; recordings from as far afield as Canada, Argentina and Australia.  Well worth adding to your FX library.  So, if you have a couple of spare moments, grab a quick recording out of your window one morning and one night this week and get involved!

‘Night and Day’ Deadline Moved to End of January

Apologies for the late notice on this – I’ve been away for a while over Christmas in one of those increasingly rare places that have no internet.  Some of you may have noticed my tweets a while back concerning my decision to change the deadline to the end of January but just to make it properly official I thought I’d do an actual post to confirm to everyone.

Obviously December is not your average month and many people (myself included) are unbelievably busy on the run-up to Christmas and are then away for the holidays, making an end of December deadline tricky to say the least.  I feel that extending the deadline to the end of January will get the most out of what is a great theme suggestion.

Lastly, I’d just like to take this opportunity to wish all club contributors a terrific New Year – all the best for 2011!


December’s Theme

November’s winner, Alastair Sirkett, has chosen the theme of ‘Night and Day’ for December’s theme.  I’ll let him explain further:

“On the topic of the next theme. Maybe something like ‘Five minutes outside your front door’. Then you’d get a good range of sounds, countryside/city/people, etc. And then maybe they could record twice, one day/one night, more useful that way. Give people the opportunity of work or home, whichever is the more interesting?”

I like this idea as it’s really easy (you can’t get much simpler than sticking your mic out the window) but also by getting one recording during the day and then one during the night the sounds should come in really handy as atmos fx for when you have a location in a film or tv programme that you return to at different times of day.

I’m not going to set any restrictions on what the recordings should be but bear in mind the idea that your recordings should be useful for showing a transition or contrast between night and day at a specific location – they shouldn’t be two completely unrelated subjects.  As Al explains, feel free to simply record outside your house or workplace but more adventurous locations further afield are obviously very welcome too.

A few things to mention for this month:

  1. I’m afraid I’m going to be a lot stricter about the necessity for a vocal ident on your recordings this month.  I haven’t been able to lockdown the legal side of things just yet so the vocal ident idea is my insurance policy for now.  Please help me out with this as much as possible.  I may still consider accepting entries that don’t have a vocal ident as long as they are obviously not library fx but I can’t guarantee it.  Please don’t take offense if I have to reject your submission(s) for this reason.
  2. From now on, I’m going to set a minimum sample / bit rate requirement of 48k / 24 bit, and  I encourage you to record at higher sample rates whenever possible.  This is directed at myself as much as anyone else as last month I submitted an old minidisc recording which was at 44.1k because I was short on time to get new recordings.  However, I really want everyone to feel that they’ve gained a pro-quality collection of sounds at the end of each month so I think this is a necessary new standard to set.  Likewise, although I’ve been an advocate of them for lo-fi ‘guerilla’ recording, phone recordings don’t belong in a professional sound collection like this either so will not be accepted.
  3. We’re fortunately already in the position of it being quite a task downloading all the submitted tracks!  Apparently, Soundcloud are planning a ‘Set Download’ button that’ll save you having to click on each track, so that’ll eventually make life much easier.  However, in the meantime, bear in mind that Soundcloud preserves any metadata that you load into your wav’s – at least it does when you load your metadata in Pro Tools which is what I tend to do (if you don’t use Pro Tools, don’t worry, just enter your metadata as you would normally and we’ll see whether it survives or not).  Consequently, if you make the file name the same as the title you give the track on the Soundcloud upload page and then you make the ‘description’ box in Soundcloud show the same info that appears in ‘File Comment’ in the Pro Tools workspace then we won’t have to do any cataloguing at the end of each month, i.e. the info related to a track that appears in Soundcloud will already be contained within the file when it is downloaded. Conveniently, in this way your files can carry your contact info should they be needed by someone.

Good luck!

‘Rain’ theme now closed. And the winner is……

Alastair Sirkett’s (sound01) recording, “Heavy Rain Inside Metal BBQ” got the most votes this month.  A few words from the winner…….

My name is Alastair Sirkett, I’m a London based, freelance sound editor/designer, mainly working on feature films (Morning Glory (Roger Michell), The Debt (John Madden), Mamma Mia). This year I’ve also been working on some iPhone applications (Charles Peattie’s Animal Alphabet) and am currently working on a couple of episodes of a TV drama series (‘Primeval’ for Andy Walker at Crossfade). I also complete work for Giles Martin and Apple Corps, last year sound designing the Intro’ and Outro’ for ‘The Beatles – Rockband’ video game and very recently, sound designing trailers for The Beatles iTunes launch (The Beatles through the Years).

Like most sound editors, I’m always on the ‘listen out’ for interesting sounds and the BBQ had been sitting just outside my patio doors for a couple of years being regularly rained on. Even from the outside it had made a great sound due to it’s curved lid, so I decided to pop my Zoom H4n inside to see what I’d get. It turned out well, so I got my Sanken CMS-7 and recorded what you’ve all heard. I think I left it running for about 30 minutes, with the rain eventually fading away, so I have various intensities in my library. Unfortunately, I still don’t think that I’ve been able to use it any jobs I’ve done. Thanks for voting for it and thanks to Michael for putting this ‘Collective’ together.


Well done Al and thanks everyone for the tremendous level of involvement and the high standard of submitted recordings.  The set ended up with 50 recordings in it in the end, which is brilliant.  Not a bad return on as little as one contribution, eh?

Al’s chosen a new theme which I’ll announce later today – in the meantime, here are some end of month stats from Soundcloud that may be of interest to you:

Rain Coming to an End

Just a short notice to remind everyone that the ‘Rain’ theme will close at the end of the month so if you intend to contribute then please make sure you do so over the next few days.  I will be taking the ‘Rain’ set offline so it will no longer be accessible to anyone.  No more contributions will be accepted and no more downloads will be possible.

Also, please all have a think about themes for next month so that you are ready with an idea should you win this month.  It’d be great if we could have a new theme up and running quite promptly at the start of the month so the winner won’t have too much time to deliberate!

I’m sticking to the original plan of having the winner choose December’s theme but for January and from then on I’ve decided that the theme should be decided by a poll, which you’ll find in the right sidebar.  I’ve made a couple of suggestions to start the list off but obviously feel free to add your own ideas in the ‘Other’ box.  Any suggestions that don’t win I will add to the poll list for subsequent months.

I’m changing this so that more people’s ideas can get an airing.  It’s struck me this month that someone could contribute every month but never happen to win and therefore never get the chance to put an idea forward which kind of goes against the idea of getting everyone involved.  Also, I think we may also come up with better ideas as a group rather than just one person, who may not even have any strong preferences, deciding.  We’ll see how it goes anyway….

Lastly, if you haven’t done so already, please don’t forget to vote for your favourite track(s) on Soundcloud next time you visit the Club.


Choosing a Winner

I’ve been keeping an eye on the stats page on Soundcloud and have noticed that most people are hanging on, presumably until the end of the month, before downloading all the tracks.  Consequently, I’ve decided that the best way to decide the winner is by making use of the ‘favourite’ function:  Whoever has the most favourites at the end of the month will get to choose the following month’s theme.

No-one’s really made use of this option yet so I invite you all to do some ‘favouriting’ the next time you visit the club.  You can favourite just one or as many tracks as you wish, i.e pick your winner or favourite all the tracks you particularly like – it’s totally up to you.

If everyone votes I think this will give a much more accurate reflection of a track’s popularity than going by number of downloads.  So get voting!


Upload Update – PLEASE READ!

I just thought I’d put a quick note in flagging recent updates to the legal declaration and to the upload process before the weekend comes, when many of you may be planning on getting out and doing some recording.  Please have a re-read of the current Upload Process and the Legal Declaration (both links in the top right hand corner) as soon as possible and check you are knowledgeable of, and happy with, the arrangement as it stands.

A couple of friends within the online community have kindly pointed out areas of the club setup where legally I am left a little exposed.  As I’ve mentioned elsewhere, I’m in the process of nailing down a proper legal declaration we can all agree to proceed with but in the meantime there is one thing in particular that would help me sleep a little easier at night.  From now on, could all recordings fulfill at least one of the following criteria:

AT BEST:  It’d be great if we could all start putting a vocal ident, i.e. say your name, on the start of any recordings we make.  I’m sure most of us normally do a verbal ident at the start of our recordings anyway in order to describe what we’re about to record so it won’t hurt to quickly add your name into that info as well.  Obviously this just displays your presence at the recording so, although not foolproof (clearly tracks could be doctored but I think this displays a much stronger intent by the contributor to deceive which makes me feel a little less vulnerable to someone uploading a licensed sound by mistake), it gives a much stronger guarantee that you created the material and therefore have ownership.  Also, it directly links you to the material rather than it being a nameless file that I’ve uploaded.

AT LEAST:  If that isn’t possible please try and leave some sign of imperfection on the start or end of the recording to give us some reassurance that this is not a sound ripped off of an FX library:  some shash, mic bumps, wind buffet – you know the sort of thing.  I’m not saying upload messy tracks that will need loads of editing to clean up; just don’t manicure the top and tail of them to perfection.

Although I may accept sounds that only fulfill the latter criteria if they’re obviously not library sounds, I cannot guarantee it;  if I’m in any doubt that the sound has been recorded by you, I won’t upload it to the set so please try to remember to start identifying yourself at the start of your recordings to make sure your time isn’t wasted and to avoid any offence being caused a result.


Many thanks,



How to Upload your Sounds to the Club

First off, you need to have a Soundcloud account in order to participate in the Club, so if you don’t already have one please organize that first then follow this procedure:

  1. PLEASE READ THE LEGAL DECLARATION BEFORE YOU UPLOAD ANY SOUNDS. The link is up in the top right hand corner.
  2. Click on the Soundcloud dropbox in the sidebar on the right which says ‘Share your rain recordings’.
  3. You will be taken to a Soundcloud page.  If this is the first time you have contributed to the Club, please log in to your Soundcloud account and then click on ‘Start following’ The Sound Collectors’ Club.  This is important because this is my point of contact for sending you the secret link to the set once you have made a contribution.  Obviously, you only have to do this the first time you upload a track to the Club.
  4. Once that is done, PLEASE MAKE SURE YOU ARE LOGGED OUT OF SOUNDCLOUD otherwise the uploading process won’t work properly (I’m afraid you will need to return to step 2 once you have logged out).
  5. Once you are back on The Sound Collectors’ Club dropbox page, click on ‘Choose a File’.  Select the file you want to upload from your computer.  Try to upload .wav files if at all possible.
  6. The track will begin to upload.  While it does you can type in as much info as possible about the recording in the appropriate boxes, upload a picture to go with it, etc.  The most important piece of information that you should give me is your Soundcloud name included in the track title as this will be the only indication that it’s your track once it’s uploaded to the club. I can then click on your name in the ‘Followers’ list and message you the secret link.  I don’t want to be too specific about any other info that you should load (or how much) but it would be nice to let the club know what equipment was used and at what sampling / bit rate it was recorded at.  Also, feel free to add any contact info like Twitter names or blog addresses in with the track description.
  7. THE IMPORTANT BIT!!!  In Section 3 of the form; ‘Your contact info’, PLEASE PUT MY E-MAIL ADDRESS , i.e. (if you put your own e-mail address it will just get added to your own account and I won’t be able to add it to the private set and people won’t be able to download it).
  8. Near the bottom of the form, Selected License should be set to ‘No Rights Reserved’, ‘Private’ should automatically be selected and ‘Downloads Enabled’ should be ticked.  (Selecting ‘No Rights Reserved’ does not lose you ownership of your sound(s).  The agreement you enter into is laid out on the club’s ‘Legal’ page that you are advised to read in step 1 of this process; not by any Soundcloud licensing agreement.  As the club is private access, no-one will go directly to Soundcloud and see ‘No Rights Reserved’ without having first been through this upload process on this page and been advised of the club’s legal agreement.  Consequently, uploading sounds signifies compliance with the club’s legal agreement).
  9. Click ‘Share Track’ and that’s it!  An e-mail will then be automatically sent to me containing a confirmation link.  When I click on that link your track will be uploaded the club account where I can share it with all those who have contributed.
  10. Once I’ve completed uploading your track to the private set then I will send you a message through Soundcloud with the set’s secret link in – so keep an eye out for incoming e-mails.  It might be worth you bookmarking this link address to save you routing through old e-mails every time you want to visit the set.
  11. Once you have access to the set via this link you can audition and download tracks, comment on them, favourite them – whatever you would normally do on Soundcloud.  The contributor whose track gets downloaded the most gets to choose the next topic (if it’s a tie then the number of favourites decides it – so please do use this facility).

One thing I would like to add to this is regarding your actual recordings.  Please bear in mind that with a setup such as this there is obviously a danger of someone trying to upload a sound that isn’t theirs.  To minimize my paranoia, there are a couple of steps we can all take:

AT BEST:  It’d be great if we could start putting a vocal ident on the start of our recordings.  We all normally do it in order to describe what we’re about to record anyway so it won’t hurt to quickly add your name into that info as well.

AT LEAST:  If that isn’t possible please try and leave some sign of imperfection on the start or end of the recording to give us some reassurance that this is not a sound ripped off of an FX library:  some shash, mic bumps, wind buffet – you know the sort of thing.  I’m not saying upload messy tracks; just don’t manicure the top and tail of them to perfection.

I’m pretty sure that this is a watertight description of what to do but if you’re having any issues please feel free to contact me and I’ll guide you through it.  As soon as I get a chance I’ll probably put together a visual guide of this process using Screenflow and post it here too.


November’s Theme

So to get things started, I’ve picked the theme for this month.  Hopefully  it’s something that’s pretty accessible to most people – it certainly is here in the UK at the moment!

Rather than just ‘rain’, I should perhaps say rain on surfaces, i.e. rain on windows, roofs, pavements, etc. – whatever sounds interesting. Rain on surfaces such as corrugated iron or greenhouses can sound great but in some ways I think it’s a bigger achievement to simply get a great recording of the sound of rain on a window which doesn’t just sound like white noise.

The club is primarily meant to be a stimulus for people to go and make new recordings but please feel free to dip into your archives (as long as they’re recordings made by you, of course!) if it’s as dry as a bone where you live at the moment but you’d still like to get a copy of this month’s collection.

I haven’t had a chance to go out recording yet but didn’t want the tank to be empty if and when people started uploading so I’ve just uploaded a token offering for now until I get the chance to make a better quality  contribution over the next week or so.

Let’s see what we can get together!

Join the Club!

Recent improvements in Soundcloud’s private sharing features have enabled me to put into action an idea that I’ve been wanting to set up for quite a while now but which I haven’t felt able to in quite the simple and fuss-free way I envisaged.

The Sound Collectors’ Club is basically a private account I’ve set up on Soundcloud.  The idea is that people can upload their recordings on a given monthly theme to this account via the dropbox above.  Once the recording or recordings have been transferred into that month’s private ‘set’ (by me) I will then e-mail you a private link which will give you direct access to all the tracks which that set contains and which you are free to download and use within commercial projects without any restriction (other than you obviously mustn’t go and sell them on as sound effects – individually or as libraries).  Hence, from contributing just one recording you could end up with a small arsenal of sounds to add to your library.  However, a contribution is necessary in order to even be able to audition any recordings within the private set.

Part of the big appeal for me of using Soundcloud for this venture is that some of it’s ‘Stat’ features come in really handy.  Once you’ve gained access to a set you can comment on each other’s recordings and ‘favourite’ a sound – all of which I’m hoping will soon be able to be automatically documented on Twitter for people to follow (and, hence, within the ‘Activity’ feed above).  The creator of the track that gets the most downloads (decided by the number of ‘favourites’ that a recording gets if download numbers are tied) gets to choose the theme or topic for the following month.  In this way, participants get a chance to supplement their libraries in the way that best suits them rather than me dictating the subject matter every month.

As is probably evident from this idea, I’ve been very inspired by the flurry of activity that has occurred over the past year or so within this global sound community that is currently thriving online.  The Sound Collectors’ Club borrows ideas from several of the products of this community that have come before it but tailors them into a package which best suits me and my interests.

In a nutshell, the club is basically inspired by 4 things:

  1. I love the (potentially) phenomenal productivity of crowdsourcing (nod to Tim)
  2. I love the idea of field recording workshops but I’m always a bit frustrated that the pooled results are just for listening purposes and cannot be used on commercial projects.
  3. I like the concept of Shaun Farley’s Sound Design Challenge but I want to participate in a field recording version of this.
  4. Soundsnap.  I’ve begun to dip into this from time to time over the past year or so and have grown to quite like using it for grabbing a couple of fresh sounds here and there.  In this way, I don’t envisage the club providing definitive collections such as Tim’s Hiss and a Roar ventures; rather an occasional supplementary boost to the palette of fresh sounds at your disposal.

My current priority is just to get this idea out there and see if anyone’s interested in joining in.  However, if people are interested, I do have a lot of ideas that I would like to try out in this format.  One such idea is to do a larger worldwide version of Noise Jockey and fieldsepulchra‘s Project MoMa collaboration that they did back in May and then pool the results. Also, I’d like to try and make this not just a virtual club but also organize field recording meet-ups with other local sound enthusiasts and then once again use the club account to bring all our efforts together.

The whole basis and appeal for me of this idea is it’s simplicity but please do bear with me if there are any rough edges that crop up over the coming weeks that I may have overlooked.  I’m no web wizard:  I have no idea how to set up a website (hence I’ve stuck with and have no real intention of learning as I prefer to focus all my attention on my primary ambition which is to keep getting better and better at sound editing.  This is still a work in progress:  I’ve made a point of avoiding the inaction that overdeliberation can produce but as a result I will need to continue fine tuning things over the coming weeks.  Having said all that, in theory the club should need very little supervision other than accepting submissions so I’m hoping this is a very straightforward yet fruitful venture!

Feel free to offer up any comments or suggestions within this blog or through Twitter.  With a bit of luck, there’s a few of you folks out there that are keen on this idea too and we can start getting a few sounds together!

Look forward to hearing from you –


Michael Maroussas