Placing Sounds

I’ve been cycling in London for several years now, a lot more actively since September 2016, about 9 months ago.

I’ve easily racked up 2000 kilometers in this time.

One thing I now realise I’ve become rather adept at is placing the location of sounds without a direct visual reference. When I’m on a busy road, my eyes are on the 2/3 metres in front of me, and whether I can fit in this gap, or whether that van is slowing down or indicating too late.

However, my ears hear the whole environment, and I can now with a fair amount of accuracy tell exactly what vehicle is where and which way it’s moving and whether it’s accelerating or braking – all from the sound.


Gamification and directional sound


As part of a safety campaign entitled ‘Track Tests‘,┬áso called ‘music artists’ (a rapper and a spoken word artist) were invited to play a game.

In a warehouse with 7 spokes of tracks mocked up, the player was set in the middle and asked to push the button corresponding to the direction they thought they could hear the train coming from.

“Sound engineers” (nameless, of course) “have created a 360 degree surround-sound system to recreate the noise of an approaching train with other distracting noises such as wind and traffic.”

They seemed to have rigged up what is described as a “360 sound system”, thought the behind the scenes video seems long gone. Neither Wretch nor George the Poet did well at all once the noise of wind and the distorting effects of buildings and structures were incorporated into the sound mix.