the place of sound & noise

Hearing and Listening….

…are not the same.  We hear everything, all the time. We can’t stop hearing. But we have to choose to listen.

“Aité fuiam” – is the Gaelic phrase which means “Welcome to the place of sounds, the place of noise”. It seems like an appropriate name for a Sound Engineer’s website.  Be ready to get your headphones on to listen to the audio clips which appear on this site.  Read the blogs and updates too. And enjoy the “Fuiam” 

“All You Need is Ears” — George Martin

Sound Library and Audio for Video

A recent assignment from my Audio Engineering degree course at UHI Perth was to create a Sound Library and then use those sounds with a short silent movie. Following the links on this page will open new tabs or windows on your machine which will show the files as I have stored them on my OneDrive.

Sound Library
There are approximately 80 sound clips available here . I’m happy for these to be used by anyone who stumbles across them under a Creative Commons licence.

These were recorded using a Zoom H4n Handy Recorder. When choosing what to record I had in mind the sound design which I would be doing for the video. Many of the sound clips were recorded not to be used on their own, but because I could imagine how they would sound when I manipulated them with a software sampler. In this way, they were used as layers within sounds I created. The sound clips were ‘topped and tailed’ in PreSonus Studio One Pro. The image below is a screenshot of the clips being manipulated. A larger version of the image can be seen here.

Movie Clip

We were given a movie clip and asked to a) create a sound design for it and b) edit it down from it’s 3:50s duration to approximately 1 minute.
I chose to interpret the video as an advert. Not for any product in particular, simply to create a short and, hopefully, memorable video.
Click here
for it to open in a new window. It’s approximately 60 seconds, take from it what you wish.

An important stage in sound design is to create a spot sheet. This is a way of working out what sound is required at what points in the movie. My spot sheet can be found here.




I’ll be making a series of posts as a Project Log for an albums worth of songs I’m recording and producing. This post is a simple introduction and placeholder for those that will follow. The Album is to be called “Crystal Skies” and all future posts about it will be tagged with “Crystal Skies” .

The songs have been written and recorded by a friend, as demos using a Boss BR800 desk-top multitrack recorder. He has generously allowed me free reign to take the songs from his demos to fully produced, fit for commercial release songs. So no pressure there then! This project will also be used as part of my Degree studies at UHI.


Coming back to life….

It’s been a while since I updated anything on this blog…. But prepare for more!! Lot’s of interesting observations over the summer of 2019, many related to live music at the Rewind Festival @ Scone Palace and the Cognac Blues Festival. Others from helping a firned with the acoustic properties in her companies offices.

And… it’s back to University time for further studies in Audio Engineering.

Happy days!!

Game of Thrones & Sgt Pepper’s – How many tracks?

Back in 1967 The Beatles, along with George Martin and the technical geniuses at EMI’s Abbey Road Studios recorded Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Heart’s Club. At the time they used all the technology at their disposal – on the 4 Track tape machines which were in the studio. They used a couple of these machines so probably had 8 or 12 tracks available to them. Go back and listen to this work of genius and listen carefully to how many instruments, harmonies and layers you can hear. Recorded on 4-track tape….

Fast forward to now, and Game of Thrones on the TV. Watch this video…… https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m6-LQGmVmII&feature=youtu.be

720 tracks!!! Wow!!


Google vs Apple – The Future of Music Recording is in our Hands!!

Apple has long ruled the roost with lightweight recording tools with their Garageband. Now, it looks like Google are preparing to take the fight to them with their Bandlab application for Android devices. I’m not sure quite what it does though. Is it like Soundcloud? (Note – don’t do what I did and try running Bandlab in a Firefox browser. It’s a Chrome App) So, fires up Chrome……. And opens a full multi-track recorded with midi editing capabilities. Oh wow.

In two minutes I’d made a really simple drum part (loads of kits and sounds available) and two keyboard parts. The software autodetected my Impact LX midi controller keyboard.

You can see three tracks and the midi editor in the image above.

If you choose to add a track you get this –

So, I chose to add a guitar. It gave me choices…… for the effects I wanted to add.

Here’s the list of effects offered. And the list of guitar amps

There’s got to be some good sounds in there somewhere

I chose “Pop Rhythm” and got this –

Extraordinary !!

But It didn’t detect my Steinberg audio Interface. So no guitar signals going in….

But….. I opened it on my phone and could edit it all there….

More reviews of this to follow on another day, This looks to me like Google are taking on Apple!

Sound Matters!!

Here’s a couple of links to articles showing gigs where there seems to have been major problems with the quality of the sound at live gigs.

The Spice Girls, the self proclaimed ‘biggest band in the world’ (maybe they are?), are having serious issues with the sound on their UK tour.


This really surprises me as there’s no shortage of skilled Audio Engineers and presumably, on a Spice Girls tour, no shortage of money, to fix this. So why is it happening?

And on a far lower scale – here’s an article written by Fish. He has plenty of experience of sound at gigs

“My sister was up this weekend visiting our mum here at the Studio which gave my wife Simone and I an opportunity for a rare night of R and R in Edinburgh.

I’d come across a fabulous review of #JonRonson in the Independent newspaper a month or so ago and decided, despite not knowing much about him to give it a punt. We hadn’t been at any show for a while and figured this would be an interesting step outside our designated comfort zone.

Described as a ‘Gonzo journalist’ and with a screenplay for ‘Men Who Stare at Goats’ in his CV as well as a list of documentary credits and of course a small library behind him I clocked a couple of You Tube snippets I was impressed enough and spent £55 on 2 tickets for the #EdinburghAssemblyrooms

It wasn’t just the show I was interested in but I wanted to get an idea of a one man performance which was a cross between a book reading, observational comedy anecdotes and a Q and A as somewhere down the line I can see myself taking that particular road. In short for me it was entertainment and research combined.

I drove into the city with Simone, timing it so we missed rush hour and glided into an empty parking spot in George Street just as the meters petered out. We were early for the show as we welcomed a chance for a meal together with just the 2 of us.

My wife wanted Italian food and I’d clocked the #BarNapoli as we drove up Hanover Street just down from the venue.The last time I remembered eating Italian in the New Town was with my dad in October 1974 when we came back from a family holiday at Crieff Hydro just before we went to Easter Road to see Hibs gubbed 4-2 by Juventus in the 2nd round of the UEFA cup.It wasn’t a great night. The pre match food however was great.

I’d made a good call with the Bar Napoli on this occassion.
The meal was wonderful in a cosy vibrant environment with the chefs busying away in the open kitchen.I loved the sign above the serving counter which said” we don’t have wi fi here, why not talk to each other and pretend it’s 1995″. We did and the minutes disappeared as we attempted to gorge our way through large plates of spaghetti Amalfitana and pizza Regina Margherita having already devoured a bed of mussels and gamberoni for starters. Showtime was getting close and the white flag was raised at our table with at least another 10 minutes of feasting remaining on our plates. The bill was duly paid and we sauntered off into the city dreich blowing vape reek in the rain like heavily laden steam engines.

I like the Assembly rooms as a venue and was really looking forward to the evening’s entertainment. I’d talked the show up with my wife who had slightly less idea than me of what was in store.

The staff were all helpful and pleasant and after avoiding the bar and the merch stall, which I planned to hit later we took our seats in the hall.

Production was pretty simple with the obligatory projection screen for the expected power point show. We were only waiting for 10 minutes before Jon ambled on stage with little fanfare apart from a muted intro track.

This is where I should wax lyrical about the performance but I can’t.

We were seated relatively close to the back and to stage right and had a decent enough view of the show although Simone had to squint round a mass of human who took his seat in front of her just as it all began. We had a little laugh as normally i’m the one feeling guilty when I sit in front of people and try and huddle down to avoid blocking sight lines and comments.

As soon as Jon started speaking I knew we were going to be in trouble.

Now I know my hearing has been savaged over the years from gigging and having studio headphones up too loud at too many recording sessions but it still works and I know bad sound when I hear it.The problem was I could hardly make out what he was saying because of a number of factors. The vocal mike was too quiet and it was a radio mike that I recognised benefitted from a directional source. Jon was speaking over the top of it so not all the frequencies were being picked up.With the PA being eq’d bottom heavy and favouring low mid end I could hardly make out anything he said. I thought at first it was just me but Simone couldn’t make out anything either.
When the recorded powerpoint presentations came on the sound was about 25% louder but still difficult to decipher.

All this wasn’t helped by the door 3m behind us which when opened delivered long loud squeeks as the pneumatic hinges went to and fro. It actually drowned out the PA for seconds at a time as there was someone popping in and out on a regular basis. It started to become really distracting. I just couldn’t get a handle on the performance and Simone was struggling to make any sense of what was going on on stage.Not having any real idea of what the subject matter was, coming in relatively blind, it was making for an awkward long night.

Also not helping was the fact that Jon wasn’t exactly projecting. Maybe he had an ear monitor up too much so he thought he was louder than he actually was out front but his voice was what you’d expect from someone speaking in a lot smaller more intimate room.

The audience at the front of the stage were laughing away merrily as were a few people around us but in all honesty I just couldn’t get to grips with the show and was starting to feel distinctly uncomfortable.

I looked around for a sound engineer that I could maybe ask to tidy up the PA but I couldn’t see one.That’s not something I would ordinarily do but it was a one man show with one mike and a powerpoint input not a 6 piece electric band and this all should have been easy. Simone told me she didn’t understand anything that was being said and I asked her if she wanted to go. She nodded.

At the next power point video we exited by the squeeky door. We had lasted exactly 20 minutes.

I told the bemused Assembly Room staff outside in the bar area and the merchandisers what I thought and they agreed to pass my opinions to Jon Ronson’s team. It wasn’t their fault and I wasn’t angry, just disappointed.I didn’t bother asking for my 55 quid back and decided to pass on the merch stall..

I’m sure that if there was a bit more attention paid to creating a decent sound that I would have enjoyed the show but in all honesty I can’t provide any sort of review as I have no idea of the content.

We walked out of the empty foyer into a near deserted George Street and back to the car to head home.It was a bit of a downer on what had started of a promising evening and much like Hibs back in 74 we should have been satisfied at 2-1 up and been happy with the free and easy parking and the great meal rather than pushing for the extra goals and getting caught out..

We decided to pick up some wine on the way back and I bought some flowers for my wife. 30 Busy Lizzies for £3 at Tescos was a result and the romantic gesture was appreciated by my fellow gardener.

Over a glass back in the kitchen Simone put on a couple of You Tube clips of Jon Ronson.It was cool and funny and everything was clear and audible. He was wearing a headset microphone.He must have left it in the hotel last night.

It wasn’t a total failure of an evening. I learned a bit about what not to do if I was in that position.It’s easy to take the ticket money for granted but as a total solo performance you have to put in that extra effort to make it happen and pay attention to the detail as when it’s all on you that’s what makes it or kills it. Last night I felt that detail was missing.

Or maybe I just wasn’t in enough on the joke.”


Blogpost7 – end April ‘19


  • Ongoing working on “Connected”
  • SPOT chart and Plan submitted


  • Personal Development Plan
  • Extended SWOT analysis
  • Next week job interviews and 1-2-1’s


  • Guidance on assignment submission
    • Filenaming
    • Master the three songs to the same levels
  • EQ tips
    • 18dB/octave for high pass filter
    • 200Hz – boxy sounds
    • Compression 2:1 quck/fast release (below 80mS)
    • More EQ for vocals – 1.5dB at 2kHz boost
    • Limiter – set target for -12dB
    • Andrew_Sinclair_MTM LO file naming


  • missing

Blogpost6 – April ‘19



  • Ongoing working on “Connected”


  • Copyright & Contracts
  • Health & Safety at Work Act 1974
  • Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988
  • Control of Noise At Work Regulations 2005
  • Weathervane Music – Shaker Through


  • Critical Listening – Ana Calvi – “As a Man”
  • Mix practice
    • Select songs from Cambridge MT
      • Pray For The Rain – Nerve 9
      • Blues Is A lady – Peter White
      • Prodigal – Starnes and Shah


  • Reverberation
  • Absorption
  • Room Treatment
    • Sabines

Blogpost5 – end March ’19

HOLIDAYS !! Soon!!


  • Ongoing work on creating Sound Design for “Connected”


  • Public Liability Insurance
  • Noise Levels – Control of Noise At Work Regulations 2005
  • Employee Safety
    • Slips, trips and falls
    • Electrical safety


  • Critical Listening – Newton Faulkner – Teardrop
  • Ongoing mixing practice


  • Standing Waves and Room Modes
  • Flutter echoes
  • Rooms and targets
  • Flanking

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