The Treadmill

Things have been busy this week. Hence, this will be short. A few years ago, I belonged to a small, local gym. I loved the place. It was within walking distance to my house, was never too crowded, but more than anything else, had the most awesome sounding treadmill I have ever heard! After speaking with the manager, I arranged to come out one evening after the place closed and spend an hour with said treadmill.

This is a short recording of the machine going from off to full speed and back to off again.

Treadmill by dsteinwedel

You can hear certain points where it’s just amazing, I’m especially enamored with the low to middle speeds. When I first heard the machine, I knew one day I would turn it into some sort of vehicle sound (preferably a spaceship). I took about an hour to record, collecting each speed setting, acceleration and deceleration between speeds, and full runs up and down like the one above.

The only disappointment was the squeaking noise made by the belts & bearings heard at some lower speeds (especially in the startup). While I tried to get the machine to run perfectly smooth, it was not to be. However, the interference hasn’t prevented me from making good use of the recordings.

The stop/off has come in particularly handy as it’s a great representation of a machine slowing to a stop. The treadmill has also stood in for a turbine engine at times. However, after years of waiting, I was finally able to recently turn it into a spaceship. Being able to record steadily at each speed setting allowed me to collect a set of sounds perfectly suited for use in a game-audio-engine-design-tool. After EQing the sound to taste, I took loops from my favorite sections (I only needed 4 of the 20 settings to make a believeable engine) and used FMOD’s engine designer to create the necessary pitch bending and crossfades. I added a second, low end throbbing sound to supplement and round out the sound of the craft. (I found it nice to have the flexibility by using multiple layers for an engine. I used different blends of the two sounds at different engine speeds and otherwise affected the layers differently based on in-game parameters.)

Recording geek note: Shure SM57 -> Sound Devices 744.

One last note: I’ve been having trouble picking recordings to use for this blog. Not due to a lack of material but because I don’t know what you want to hear (fire, props, electricity, metal, whooshes, animals, toys, glass, dirt? You name it I got it). So next week I’m taking requests--post yours in the comments section!