“You Can Feel the Pressure In Your Whole Body”: How Pole Recorded Indoor Gun Sounds

May 3, 2023 Paul Virostek

“You Can Feel the Pressure In Your Whole Body”: How Pole Recorded Indoor Gun Sounds

Is there a difference in sound when a handgun is fired outdoors compared to indoors? Of course there is. Some time ago Pole walked into a building and fired away. End result? Fairly exhausted eardrums but most of all a massive weapons library with beautiful recordings of assault rifles, a Mossberg shotgun, and a Glock 17 fired indoors.

This month we are releasing sequel to one of most popular sound effect libraries: The Indoor Gun Acoustics 2 Library! It’s a collection of over 700 indoor gun sounds that feature 6 types of firearms shooting in 5 distinct indoor spaces.

In today’s post, we talk with Max, Sebastian, Daniel, and Robin who together explain why we recorded an acoustics gun library, and how we got the job done.

How Pole Recorded Indoor Gun Sounds

Indoor shooting, that sounds dramatic. Who came up with this idea and why?

We were working on a game project and found that we didn’t have enough material for interior gunshot tails, and this inspired us to once again collaborate with our friends at Embark and pursue another indoor acoustics recording. Given the positive reception of our previous recording by our customers, we were eager to record more.

There is quite a difference between the sound of a gunshot indoors vs outdoors. Indoors, the sound of a gunshot is usually much louder and more intense than outdoors because the sound waves bounce off the walls, ceiling, and floor, creating a “reverberation” effect that can increase the sound pressure level.

Outdoors, the sound of a gunshot is generally less intense because the sound waves can travel farther and more freely. The environment can also play a role, as natural barriers such as trees, hills, or buildings can absorb or reflect sound waves in different ways.

Where was this recorded?

We looked for a while to find a good location for this indoor shoot. We checked out old, abandoned hotels etc., but found that very often these buildings have broken windows, which make them sound less indoor, and quite often birds and other wildlife have taken over the buildings. Not to mention safety for staff in abandoned buildings that are half collapsed sometimes. Eventually we checked out a TV studio where they record some of the bigger shows in Sweden, and figured it would be a good place. They have it all, the big hall, lounges and living rooms, kitchens, bathrooms, storage spaces and so on. The only issue we had was a very low frequency rumble in one section of the building, that was caused by ventilation on the roof. But once we had people up on the roof to switch it off, we were good to go!

I heard you used an AK-47, were there any other weapons recorded?

We did fire a few different weapons with different characters and calibers. We fired an AK4 and AK5, both 7.62 mm, the AK47 and an MP5, both 9mm, a 12-gauge Mossberg shotgun and finally a Glock 17, 9 mm.

Where did you get the guns and who did the actual shooting?

We collaborate with the eminent Anders Lexne, from Lexne Movie Guns, and his crew, who have the license for a huge number of weapons to use for film shoots. We have worked together on several occasions, which helps, since Anders knows what we need, and all the circumstances that goes for recording audio.

Was it loud?

Firing weapons in small, closed spaces is extremely loud, and very fatiguing on your ears after a while. You can feel the pressure in your whole body. It’s also a big difference between the weapons, the Glock pistol has a very snappy and transient rich sound, while the Mossberg shotgun has a more low frequency fluffy sound. On a long distance it almost resembles the tone in a kick drum.

Did you use live rounds?

For obvious reasons, since we can’t pay for repairing the whole place, we fired blanks. Blanks are, in my experience, a bit louder, but not as snappy and transient as live ammo. But it also depends on how the blanks have been prepped, how much powder and which kind of powder that goes into them.

What equipment did you use?

As usual we at Pole follow our mantra “more is more”. You never know what kind of interesting sound you can capture with a wide range of different placements, recorders and microphones. Because of this we use quite a lot of microphones, making sure we don’t miss anything interesting.

In this case we recorded a total of 30 tracks across 14 recorders. Some highlights might be, the two MixPre-10 II’s we used, recording in 32-bit to enable more flexibility post when editing the library for release where it is converted down to 24 bit. My favourite mic setup on these recorders where the Sennheiser 8040’s in ORTF, having a really nice stereo width in my opinion. Another highlight might be the Sound Devices Scorpio which had the Holophone 7.1 and the AMBEO hooked up to it.

Who put together the library after the recording?

Daniel and Robin worked on the editing of this library. The first thing that you need to do is back up all the recorders and sync them with each other and make sure position and names of all the mics and recorders are correct. This was Daniel’s part of the work. Then Robin took over and started work on editing the whole thing. This was a huge undertaking, firstly he narrowed the whole recording down from around 300GB to around 13GB. A lot of silence in there. Next step is to remove unwanted sounds within the tails of the guns. Sounds like shells dropping, voices and other unwanted hums and noises. Here iZotope’s RX is the savior, it makes this work easy and fairly quick. Last step is to package it. Then it’s all about finding a good descriptive name for each location and mic position. After that it is off to Paul and for him get the final eye on things as well as taking care of keywords and making the library release ready.

Read more about how to edit gun sounds.

Is it easy to find what you are looking for?

Yes! Our team has worked hard to ensure your easily find what you’re looking for.

Every sound in the library has been described with individual, detailed text. The model, manufacturer, country of origin, and similar model matches are all listed, paired with synonyms for performance as well as soundalike keywords. The character of each room, microphone distance, and much more are embedded in the metadata for accurate – as well as descriptive – search results.

Later this year you are also releasing the urban shooting library. What other handgun libraries do you have in your catalog?

We have over 70 weapon libraries including bundles. Everything from the classics like Thompson 1928A1, Desert Eagle .44 and SPAS-12 to the huge Warfare 2 Library which showcases 627 field recordings in 19.82 GB from a genuine military exercise.

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