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The Making of Iconic Sound


INFLUENCER: GCRS' George Castle on his experiences recording one of the most iconic sounds in advertising - car engines

The Making of Iconic Sound

There is something about the roar of a huge engine that never fails to excite me. I think about F1 - would the thrills and twists of Silverstone, Monza and Spa be as captivating if the cars went round the track in silence? 

Would Prius’ have been branded boring and unsexy had their eco-friendly engines thundered into action? 

Would the Ford Mustang have become the world’s bestselling sports car of 2016 without its legendary roar?

Even the most passive of petrolheads cannot deny the lure of an impressive engine. When it comes to selling cars one of the most important things a manufacturer must consider is how the car sounds when you press the starter button. We need to bring that sound to life on screen - placing the viewer in the driving seat and letting them feel that roar in their gut.

Just by hearing the engine roar, a real car connoisseur can determine what kind of engine it is and fantasise about how much horsepower it has. Emotion is everything.  A car can sell itself just by the way it sounds.

Conveying that emotion is what we seek to achieve when designing sound for car commercials. We let the car speak for itself. This is what we did for the Jaguar F-Type SVR.

The campaign ‘The Art of Sound’ puts the voice of the engine in the spotlight. 

We let the power of the engine dance with the poppy seeds bringing the visuals and the sound together.

We took the Jaguar F-Type to the Jaguar Land Rover test track facility in Banbury- a world of its own. There are four test tracks: I enjoyed a quick spin in the car with the Jaguar driver who was doing laps at top speeds of 160mph. To say I was both scared and impressed is an understatement. 

The core recordings were made in the test track’s semi-anechoic chamber. The chamber itself has one metre thick acoustic panelling, with a rolling road in the centre of the room. 

The chamber is acoustically very dead which means that you cannot hear any reverb. It is designed so that there are minimal sound reflections which allow the engineers to measure the noise that the car makes without any external interference.

Arrays of microphones run parallel to the car allowing the design engineers to firstly analyse and then emulate the sound of the car as if it was passing by.

As any car nut knows the sound that a performance car makes as it accelerates, decelerates and changes is the soul of the car.

The rolling road and anechoic chamber allowed me to intimately capture the barks, the growls and the spits and the breathing of the beast through the sonically tuned outstanding exhaust system.

After a long day, I left with all the sounds of the car that were needed to come back to GCRS to build the soundscape,

Sound completes a performance car and thus completes the experience of a thrilling car commercial.

George Castle is a Sound Engineer at Grand Central Recording Studios

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Categories: Cars, Automotive

Grand Central Recording Studios, Mon, 26 Jun 2017 14:12:18 GMT