More progress on audio

Last week, my second order for Dream Player Pro sound units arrived from Pricom Design – and over the weekend I installed a third ambient audio player on the layout. This unit drives speakers located at either end of the run-around track in St. Williams.

As with the first two players, bird song is the dominant sound effect I’ve used: It carries well at low volumes through the speakers I used, and I feel it provides just enough ambient sound without becoming overwhelming. (I suspect this is because we hear birds all the time when outdoors so our brains are really good at filtering out the noise so it doesn’t become distracting. And yet, we would notice an absence of bird calls – perhaps not consciously, but we would feel that something was not right.)

When I added my second Dream Player Pro to the layout, I had to do some fine tuning to the sound files – adjusting levels and the left-right balance of sounds between the first and second units. So it comes as no surprise that now that I have a third unit running in the layout room, I must once again do some of this fine tuning. But it’s not difficult:

– I listen to the environment in the layout room;
– I make notes on needed adjustments (eg: “move ‘sparrows’ more to the right in St. Williams” or “Cut the volume of the cardinals in the Lynn Valley”);
– Make the adjustments on my computer;
– Reload the tracks onto the appropriate SD cards;
– Listen to the result and repeat the above steps until satisfied.

I’m really pleased with how this project is working out. I have a fourth Dream Player Pro unit, which I may use to add sounds at the road crossing in St. Williams and along Bay St. in Port Rowan. Or, I may keep it in a safe place in case I need a replacement. We’ll see…

(A special thanks to Steven Scheffler at Pricom Design for great customer service, too!)

By the way, this update marks a blogging milestone: This is my 500th post. I appear to like blogging… 🙂

3 thoughts on “More progress on audio

  1. Hey Trevor,

    You ‘could’ plug directly into your layout system(s) and do your mixing in real time (eliminating SD card loading until you have everything tweaked to perfection:).

    The thing about birds cueing/signalling ‘outdoors’, and about an operator/visitor subliminally tuning out the birds as they do in the prototype, and about the fact that on some level folks will percieve that something is ‘missing’, are all wondeful insights!

    Understanding how the prototype works (and in this case, that includes the prototype listener!) is always key in good modeling.

    Really nice work Trevor!

    Jim

    • Hi Jim:

      Thanks for the kind words!

      Yes, I “could” plug directly into my layout systems. But my desktop machine, my editing board, and all that cool stuff is two levels away from the layout. I’m happy doing my mix in one place and listening to the results in another – frankly, it’s not taking that much effort to get the mix right. But it’s an excellent point for others considering adding ambient sound to their layouts.

      Keep up the great work at Fantasonics, too!

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