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Posted by on Apr 21, 2010 | 17 comments

Chuck Russom Special: Slingshot Recording

Slingshots can be a great source of sound recording fun. You can use them to record sound like flying debris, bullet bys, dart bys, spear bys, all sorts of cool flyby sounds. All you really need to do if find an open area where you can fire the slingshot, set up a mic, and shoot various objects at the mic. Try not to hit the mic, if you can!

I needed some bullet whizbys for a project I was working on. You can record real bullet bys and ricochets, but it takes a lot of time, some money, and often you don’t get the results you are looking for. I was looking for a controllable solution that would be relatively quick, easy, and cheap. I went out and fired various metal objects and found that pennies were my favorite (and the least expensive too!). I also got some good sounds firing bullet shells and washers of various sizes.

Unless you have access to a sound stage or an empty warehouse, it is difficult to find an indoor location that is large enough to fire off a slingshot. I did the recording outside in the mountains. It was the largest, open area that I could find that was away from the bulk of city traffic. I still had to deal with the occasional car and airplane, but that is what you always have to deal with when recording near a city. Recording outside you will also have to contend with the sounds of nature, so a lot of editing and EQing will be needed. These flyby sounds are very quiet, so it helps if you use a clean sounding, low noise microphone and preamp. I ended up recording on two occasions. The first time I used my Neumann 191 stereo shotgun and I felt the mic added too much noise into the recording. I went out a second time with my Sennheiser MKH800. The MKH800 is a really low noise mic, and I felt it gave me much better results.

These samples were recorded to a Sound Devices 744T recording at 24bit 96K.

Slingshot firing pennies:

Slingshot firing bullet shells:

Slingshot firing washers:

17 Comments

  1. Cool! Were these pitched down and/or time stretched at all? If so, how much?

  2. I would love to see video of this recording.

    How close to the mike was the whizz-by? How close was the slingshot?

    How much processing did you do?

  3. The only processing on these is EQ and compression. I think we we around 15 feet back from the mic. We fired as close to the mic as possible, sometimes hitting it.

  4. Interesting. I asked, because I’m surprised at how slow the by is. I expected it to be much faster. LOTS of compression?

  5. Very nice! Sounds slower than I expected, but then again I can picture you 15 feet away and it seems right! Thanks so much Chuck!

  6. Huge thanks for posting these! Inspired me to get out my slingshot and record some myself today.

  7. man, cool sounds. The pennies and washers sound similar to what can be achieved recording motorcycles and big trucks by on a highway (with eq and fades, etc.) – but the shells – really cool. The video idea’s a good one!

  8. I need to start recording video when I am recording sounds!

  9. Those sound rad! Nice present recordings with a low noise floor, some good pres and mics there :) I’ve done similar slingshot sessions- try aiming those at pavement, and you’ll get some wicked ricochets as well. Also try quarters and nickels for variety, and a bungie-cord hook makes a good whoosh-by :)

  10. Ya I used chain links in my session the other day and they turned out pretty cool too!

  11. Great stuff, very inspiring. Video would be a big plus.

  12. Nice tonal whizzes!!!

  13. Nicely done, Chuck. Lots of detail and articulation, and the bullet whizzes were very unexpected. Great stuff – and yes, video please kthxbye! :-)

  14. Great stuff, but it seems to be playing tricks on me. Like the person who asked above, I would have assumed that the sound would not have that much sustain and decay. I will have to do this myself to make sense of it, thanks for the inspiration Chuck!

  15. Wow, I didn’t even see this post until today or I probably would have blogged about a different topic this week! Oh well, that’s what I get for not staying on top of things!

    Great job though!

  16. Those are nice recordings
    I tried doing this recently in a smaller space and wasnt able to get far enough away from the mic to avoid recording the sound of the the slingshot snapping back.

    Firing metal objects towards an MKH800 would be a major concern to me!
    I would definitely not risk doing this with expensive mics without putting up some sort of shield to block direct hits on the mic

    Have you tried any other ways of launching objects, crossbows? :D

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