January 21, 2019

Road Trip Special: Recording at The Garage

After we finished up recording Gareth’s Yamaha R1, we all decided to go out for pizza and drinks. While we were sitting there talking about our plans for the week, Gareth mentioned that we should come by the transmission shop where he works. It sounded like a great idea. We planned everything out and then showed up around 11:45 the next morning. We timed it so that we would show up right before everyone went on lunch, so we had the whole place pretty much to ourselves. Pretty sweet!

Johnny grabbed a stereo package (CSS-5 into a 744T) and I grabbed a mono package (MKH60 into a 744T) and we headed into the garage. We met up with Gareth, who pretty much told us that whatever sound we wanted, he would help us get. He turned off music, fans, had people do tool performances for us – everything. We were pretty much treated like VIPs the whole time. Thanks Gareth!

So Johnny and I spent a few minutes wandering around the garage getting a lay of the land and figuring out what we wanted to record. Unfortunately, there was road construction right outside the lot, so that somewhat limited us to what we could record (no really quiet sounds or anything). We did, however, get some really awesome stuff we’d like to share with you.

Let’s talk about the Arc Welder in the picture at the top of the page. First of all, let me preface this by saying that I am now deathly afraid of having my Rycote S-Series blimp around anything that emits flames or sparks, after a certain incident that happened with a certain recordist on a certain gig in a certain location of which I am certainly not allowed to speak of – yet. Long story short, a spark touched the Rycote, which, for lack of a better phrase, pretty much exploded (there’s video of this somewhere), leaving only a charred piece of hard plastic blimp behind. Luckily, the mic was fine, but it cost about $170 to repair the blimp. Needless to say, I wasn’t too thrilled about putting my Rycote anywhere near this Arc Welder.

But it made such a cool sound!!!!!!!

I winced, and got my Rycote as close as I could bring myself to do (I did approximate about how far the sparks were flying and held the blimp a few inches further away than that). I hit record and we started. In hindsight, I’m glad I got the sound, but it still makes me nervous thinking about it! If I had to do it again, I would make sure I had a backup cheap wind foam in my bag so that I could use the mic without the Rycote for a sound like this. After all that, Johnny’s recording with the CSS-5 (in mono) came out better than mine did. That mic has crazy rejection in mono mode!

Here’s Johnny’s recording:

Next up is a Cut Off Wheel. One of the mechanics had stayed behind from lunch and was working with a Dremel on something that was apparently a part of a car. Looked like a hunk of metal to me, but I also don’t know the difference between a drive shaft and a cam shaft… Anyways, he kindly did a little Dremel performance for us, and here it is (MKH60):

We wandered around a bit more, got a few recordings here and there. We noticed this really dirty, dingy old compressor with a wicked looking motor on top of it over in the corner. Gareth came over to help us with it. Because it was a fully manual compressor, there was no auto refill or anything, so we had a lot of control over the sounds it made. You had to operate all the functions manually with switches, valves and whatnot – which was awesome for us, because it sounded great! We got a few REALLY cool sounds from it.

The first one here is actually the only recording like this I was able to get. Once the tank is near empty, you run the pump, which pressurizes this line, then you can open this valve that fills up the tank, making this amazing sound! We tried to get multiple takes of the sound, but the tank was so large that it would take a long time to empty, so we were only able to capture this one recording of it (MKH60):

Next was the actual motor on the compressor. Once the pressure in the line went down, you were able to turn on the motor to refill the tank. It was fairly old and clunky, so it made an awesome sound starting up! Here’s a recording of the motor starting, running, then stopping again (MKH60):

This is one of my favorite sounds. There was this little old forklift in the corner, with tons of random parts piled around it. Gareth kindly stopped what he was doing to come over and start it up for us and play with it. It had this really cool rattle and knocking sound too it that was really unique. It took a few tries to get the mic placement just right, since there was a lot of low end to the sound, and I was trying to balance that out with the rest of the intricate rattles and whatnot, but I finally got one that I’m pretty happy with. Again, this one was recorded with the MKH60.

I was wandering around looking for some more cool sounds and I came across this big industrial fan that was really loud, so I decided to get some sounds of it too. Nothing incredibly special, but always good to have some fan sounds around!

Last but not least! The cutting torch!

I had seen these two tanks around, but I had just assumed they were some other hydraulic tank or something. Apparently not! Gareth brought us over to the tanks and introduced us to the Cutting Torch. It made some really cool sounds while trying to light it (including this one wicked little squeak, which I’ve included below – we couldn’t replicate it though!).

It made a whole variety of different sounds, but again, I was mildly afraid of it with my Rycote! At least this torch was more controlled, as all the fire went in the same direction and it didn’t scatter sparks everywhere!

Here’s that one (MKH60 again):

So, all in all, despite the construction outside, we were able to get some pretty cool sounds from the garage!

I would like to send out a special “Thanks” to Gareth and all the guys at Advanced Transmissions in Greenville, SC. Totally awesome guys! Thanks for being so accommodating! These guys are the perfect example of that Southern Hospitality!

And if you haven’t noticed yet, I have enabled all of the tracks in this post for download (for now) through SoundCloud, so they are free for you to keep and use! (As always, these sounds are subject to the HartFX License Agreement)

All downloads linked from this page are available in 96k/24b.


Stay tuned for Thursday’s blog on Recording Waterfalls at Falls Park!


  1. Great post Colin! Awesome recordings and great to hear the stories behind them. I LOVE that cutting torch – great stuff! And thanks for making them available for download!!

  2. Steve Urban says:

    I can’t believe you got all this with road construction outside, great recordings. Once again, great to hear your road stories. Keep ’em comin!

  3. FInally catching up on your adventures! That stuff is great, Colin. The photos are also very evocative. Sounds amazing!

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