An Icon of the Open Highway

November 5, 2019
November 5, 2019 Max Lachmann

An Icon of the Open Highway

Recording Peterbilt Sound Effects

Iconic, massive and with an amazing engine sound – a few weeks ago Pole Position did a full recording of three different Peterbilt heavy-duty trucks on the Malmby airfield outside the town of Strängnäs in Sweden.

The Peterbilt heavy-duty truck is built not only to impress the eye, but also the ear. Whereas many European trucks are constructed to make as little noise as possible the contrary is true for the American made Peterbilt trucks.

– The engine sound is amazing. But not only that. Peterbilt trucks are a symbol of endless American highways and life on the road. They are quite exotic, says Mats Lundgren of Pole Position.

Crisp autumn weather made for perfect recording conditions when the Pole Position team set up their equipment on a Sunday a few weeks back. For the drivers however, the cool weather was a challenge.

– There’s no heating in the driver’s cabin so it was freezing cold in there. These trucks are made for much warmer conditions, says Mats.

All three trucks – a 1969 Peterbilt 359 with a 14,9L Cummins engine, a 1971 Peterbilt 359 with a 14,9L Caterpillar engine and a Peterbilt Detroit with a 2-stroke diesel V8 engine – were located thanks to the Swedish Peterbilt Club who gathers Swedish Peterbilt enthusiasts.

– It was really nice of them to come out here on a Sunday. One of them drove almost 300 kilometers to participate, says Mats.

During the session Pole Position recorded sounds from the engine, from inside the driver’s cabin and from the rear tires of a 12-ton trailer which the trucks where pulling to make the sounds they would on a real haul. Four recording posts were set up along the airstrip to record maneuvers such as slow driving, normal driving, full speed driving and reverse driving.

Peterbilt 359 web4

Recordings of the trucks braking were also made.

– Peterbilt trucks are known for their cool jake brakes sounds and we got really great recordings of that. The sound they make is like a mix between a machine gun and a Harley-Davidson motorcycle, says Niklas Olsson of Pole Position.

The team used five microphones in the engine bay, three microphones in the driver’s cabin (one of them a Sennheiser Ambisonic microphone), four microphones by the rear tires of the trailer and seven microphones on the exhaust pipes. With exhaust pipes rising a meter above the cab it took some time to get them mounted. – Fortunately, we had planned for this and brought a ladder, but it was still kind of tricky. We had to use a lot of cable ties and duct tape to get them in place but once we did everything worked smoothly and we got really good recordings, says Niklas.

Check out the Peterbilt libraries on our sound shop.


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