If you build model trains, it's important to go for realism. And there's no better way to create a bit of the ambience of a real steam diesel locomotive than to create your own sound effects. Whether you want to capture the chugging of the engine or the iconic whistle, you can do so using simple at-home props and setups.
- Skill level:
- Moderately Easy
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Things you need
- Teapot with a whistle
- Pressure cooker
- Cooking stove
- Computer recording software or other sound recorder
- Audio editing software
Move or set up your audio equipment and recorders in the kitchen. Wire your microphone close to the stove. Take care that the wiring and recording tools are close enough to be effective but far enough from the heat source to prevent damage. If you can't move your equipment, you can also use a portable stove.
Fill your teapot and pressure cooker with water, taking care to not overfill. Place the pressure cooker and teapot on the stove. Turn the correct burners on and allow them to heat up.
Record the whistle from the teapot first. Adjust the heat for different effects. Keep the microphone at an effective distance, but far from the hot steam. Try this a few times, recording multiple tracks until you're happy with the results.
Once the pressure cooker is up to temperature, carefully release the steam. Keep the microphone close enough to be effective but far enough so you and it won't get burnt by the hot steam. Record multiple tracks if needed.
Open the recorded tracks in your audio editing software. Adjust the volume and pitch to get the desired effects. Adjust the tone of the whistle in different ways to mimic a train. Lower and deepen the bass of the steam escaping to give the effect of a large steam engine. Add a sound pulse to the steam to give the effect of the engine pumping and chugging along.
Save your files and give them descriptive names for later use. Keep an ear out for different sounds that can be manipulated or played with to build your steam-powered world of sounds.
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