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What an imploding building sounds like

Dallas, Texas. Our newest contributor Rene Coronado provides evidence that sometimes amazing field recordings can cross your path just as you’re on your way home – here, he tells the story of recording and reimagining the sound of a building being demolished. An extraordinary sound…

“My wife and I were driving home on Saturday night when we saw signage showing that the highway we were on was going to be completely shut down in both directions the next morning. We were curious as to why, so we looked it up and saw that they were going to implode an old Xerox building that was right off the highway at 8am the next morning!

“I didn’t have enough time to really go put together a big recording rig from the studio I work at, so I spent some time building a rig from my personal mic and recorder collection instead. What I ended up with was a pair of line audio CM3s in ORTF configuration running into a Sound Devices mixpre and then into a Sony PCM M10. I also had a Sure SM7B and a Rode NT5 both running into a second mixpre and then into a Sony PCM D50.

IMG_7128“I double checked all my settings, making sure that my hi pass filters were off on all of the mics, preamps and recorders, and then pre-setting my gain levels VERY conservatively.

“Then I set my alarm for 6am and went to bed.

“In the morning I packed the gear up and headed out to scout a location. Access to the building itself was pretty limited in all directions. There were police and construction workers out with many of the best spots already blocked off. I saw a parking garage that looked like it would have excellent access if I could get to the roof of it, but unfortunately the garage was for a residential apartment building and I could only get up to the 3rd floor before being gated off.

“After scouting around even more, I settled on a spot across the street and caddy-corner to the building. I got out and got set up. At around 7:30 a crowd started to gather around me and my mics.

“Hating that situation I hastily picked up and moved over to a spot with obstructed vision, but still a clear audio path. At 8am sharp the TNT was detonated and the building collapsed.

“After heading back to the studio I found that my levels were indeed set VERY conservatively. My peaks were sitting down around -15 to -20. Not a problem since I was recording in 24 bit, but it did require me to gain everything up a fair amount before aligning them all and mixing them down.

“My final mix consisted of the CM3s at unity gain, the SM7b low passed pretty dramatically and centered up to add heft, and the Rode NT5 hi passed up pretty high and panned a little just to add more reverberation

“To decontextualize, I decided to slow it all down, add rain and create a thunderstorm. The slowed down crowd reacts afterwards make it sound like cows out in the rain. Enjoy!”

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