Author Archives: Blake Larkin

Libra Complex Machine Shop – March 4th, 2017, 4 PM




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This recording was taken in the machine shop in Harvey Mudd College’s Libra Complex. The Libra Complex is Mudd’s series of tunnels and halls that lie below the academic half of campus. The halls are filled with classrooms and labs. Specifically the room of this recording is an Engineering machine shop filled with student workers and high-end machines such as computer-led lathes and presses. The shop itself lies underground which separates the sounds in the environment from the areas around them. This also adds an interesting soundproofing between many of the rooms as the noise has to penetrate earth walls between rooms. The room has machines lining the walls, spaces for shop proctors (read: instructors) and for students to work, and a radio on a table at the far end for music.



I made this recording using the TASCAM DR-40 Sound Recorder by putting it on a small tripod that I set on the ground next to an unused machine. The recorder was in the middle of the room and faced a machine about 7 feet away that a student was working at.



This clip begins with a prominent soundmark of the machine shop: machines whirring. This noise is presented in conjunction with music from the radio, another soundmark of the machine shop, and student chatter, a keynote for the hallways of the Libra Complex. At roughly 3.4, we hear the clang of a lathe stopping. This is a signal in this soundscape as it alerts others that something important is happening with a machine. The general chatter and whirring continues until we hear another signal at 37.7, the laughter of one of the students. This is a signal of the student’s feelings. At 47.7 we hear another keynote of the Libra Complex’s, explanation from a supervising student, in this case a shop proctor, to another student. This dynamic occurs frequently among students working in the different rooms of the complex. At 59.7 we again her the signal of another machine stopping, and after this point the recording is much quieter, leading us to hear more of the background music and conversation. The final noise of the recording is the song changing and the shop proctor reacting to change the song at 84.3 on. This is a signal of how the shop proctor responded to the new sound, as well as a soundmark that characterizes the space of the machine shop itself, as music changes are quite common.

Platt Music Practice Room






Music practice room found in Harvey Mudd College’s Platt Campus Center.


Description of Space:

The practice room is a small room, about 7 ft by 10 ft, that has sound-reducing padded walls. The space contained a few chairs, as well as a book shelf and a piano on one side of the room. The floor is carpeted, and the walls have a kind of carpet on them as well.


Recording Setup:

The recording was done with the TASCAM DR-40 Sound Recorder placed on a short tripod on top of the piano, facing the middle of the room. I stood 6 feet from the recorder holding the recorded 18-inch balloon roughly 5 feet above the ground.


Reverberation time:

30 dB decay 0.32 seconds

50 dB decay: 0.72 seconds

Decay to Background Level: 2.98 seconds

Minimum: 3.64 seconds


Acoustic Description:

The padded walls of the practice room cut down on resonance, as the walls tend not to vibrate with the sounds, but they seem to add some reverberation, as can be seen by the second peak after the balloon pop at roughly 0.02 seconds. This is very soon after the pop, but it shows an echo of some sort all the same. The sound took a relatively long time to decay as it remained in the room throughout the recording.

The Village Mutt – March 4, 2017, 11 AM






Picture of recorder setup and washing stations at time of recording.

The Village Mutt is located in a shopping center on Foothill Blvd. In Claremont, right across the street from Harvey Mudd College. It is a pet-wash located right next to an animal orphanage and child day-care. These unique buildings all near each other form a very interesting segment of the greater 5C soundscape. The store itself is filled with animals waiting to get washed and a lot of equipment to clean them. My recording takes place at about 11 AM, so the shop had just started running for the day.



I made this recording with the TASCAM DR-40 Sound Recorder by setting it on a small tripod placed on a table about 3 feet off the ground. The table was placed near the middle of the main lobby of the dog-wash, facing toward a sink/hairdryer machine that a dog was being cleaned on. The recorder was underneath a speaker in the ceiling playing music.



When the recording begins, we can hear a few people talking in the wash and music lightly playing from the aforementioned speaker. Starting at 12.9 we begin to hear a large dog wagging its tail on the ground. This is the first sound that marks the soundscape as something special: a place for pets and animals. This wagging is thus a soundmark of the location of the recording, but at a more general level this is an audible signal from the dog about how it feels at that moment. At 24.0, we hear another small squeak, namely a dog playing with a dog toy. This too is a soundmark for a location such as ours, as it is not usual to hear such a noise in any place without pet prominence. A pet-shower begins running at 30.4, another soundmark for a pet-wash, and at the same time we hear a small child talking with her dad. This was an interesting and unexpected addition to this soundscape recording, but I believe it acts as a keynote for the greater area, showing the interactions between the area and the daycare nearby. Though the exact sound itself may not be common, a set of very similar sounds pervades the area. 36.9 on to about 54.0, with a final instance at 69.2, introduce a routine dog bark that acts as not only a soundmark, but again a signal to the trained ear as to how the dog is feeling or perhaps even the breed of the dog in question. The recording wraps up with another listen in to the father and daughter, and hear the inflection of their voice can be used as a specific signal to help listeners understand the feelings between the two in the recording.