Skip to content

Sound of the week #1

This is the start of a new series of posts, which will hopefully give some tips and ideas, inspire and encourage to record and modify sounds. These are not definitive guides, only random approaches and ideas which might be useful.

The first sound is related to widely ubiquitous thing: the washing machine. But this time it’s not about the usual sounds a washing machine makes when it’s working. For these sounds you don’t even need to power on the machine. Because of their construction, washing machines are able to produce very usable and strange sounds.

Basically there is a chassis, some electronics (which is not important now), and the main thing is the rolling drum. There are two different models: front-loading and top-loading ones. Both have it’s advantages, but for today, my choice was to “abuse” a top-loading type as it gave a better sound.

This discovery came from a happy accident. My son was playing near me (as Batman apparently), and suddenly he hit the washing machine. As he hit the machine, a beautiful boomy sub sound emanated from the machine.

In the first modicum of peace I started to “generate” sounds by beating our washing machine. You have to be careful though. If you hit it too hard, two things will happen:

  1. you’ll ruin your machine (or at least the side of it)
  2. the sound will be weirdly metallic, rather high-pitched instead of the nice low thump.

If you hit it too weak, you won’t get any real good sounds either. But if you nail it, you’ll get a nice boom.

have a listen:

Slowed down and manipulated:

I tried to record it from different positions, from outside the machine, from inside the rolling drum, but for me, the perfect was from the sides and from inside the rolling drum. When recording from inside, I placed the Sony PCM-D50 onto a towel. With little pitch shifting, or slowing down or up, this can be useful for making explosions bigger, or making some earth-shaking rumbles, or giving weight to some hit or impact sounds, monsters, gates, etc.

The sounds are freely downloadable and usable, you are free to manipulate and use them. I only ask two things in return: 1. tell more people where you found them 2. never ever distribute them for money.