A set of very exciting projects has come my way. I’m in South Africa for a few months recording and designing sound effects for three feature films. I’ve temporarily left New York (hopefully I will find my way back there soon) and its harsh winter for South Africa and its beautiful summer.

bye bye boom boom

Before boarding my plane, I had to choose between paying £40 to check in my boom pole or attempting to get it through security. I chose the latter.

Security suspected my pole could be used to tickle the pilot’s head from my seat at the back of the plane, so I had to leave it there. When I kindly asked the flight attendant if they could take care of it, she said, “It’s going in the trash.” Nice and sensitive.  I don’t really mind though, as it is time for a new one. I’m thinking of getting the RØDE Mini-Boompole as it is light and good for traveling. Also, thinking of getting a boom pole mount to hook up to a tripod.

how loud is the interior of a plane cruising at altitude?


I got a nice Sound Pressure Level (SPL) meter for the iPhone, it’s apparently accurate to 3db but can be off by 6db when not calibrating the iPhone’s mic. If you’re interested, you can check out the app SoundMeter. The max SPL of the airplane cabin is 89db, which is the loudness of a motorcycle, subway or lawn mower. And apparently, at a continuous SPL of 89db, the permissible exposure time before damage can occur is four hours. The London to Johannesburg stretch is 11 hours long. Scary!

Plane Interior Ambiance
I was so absorbed in recording this ambience that I didn’t even notice a man had passed out against the bathroom door right next to me until I turned to go back to my seat. Quite a shock. He was fine.

Download Airplane Ambience in HQ [loop; 24bit; 96kHz; 61MB]
This track is loopable. Recorded on the Zoom H4n with on-board mics.

and its toilet?IMG_0660

At its loudest point, the peak db level of the plane toilet flushing is 106db — the equivalent of a car horn or a timpani. They’ve designed the toilet perfectly though, you press the flush, and you have a three complimentary seconds before it actually goes off, the perfect amount of time to cover your ears!

Plane Toilet Flushing 01
Plane Toilet Flushing 02

Download both Airplane Toilet Flushing in HQ [24bit; 96kHz; 4.6MB]
Recorded on the Zoom H4n with on-board mics.

9 Responses to “No Flight Without A Fight {+blog }”  

  1. 1 Brian Green

    hope all goes well on your trip sir, cant wait to see post from it.

  2. 2 Andrew Spitz

    Thanks Brian! It’s been a while, hope you’re keeping well. It’s interesting to see how all my Twitter relationships have changed when moving to the EST timezone. But now I’m closer to GMT, so hello again!

  3. 3 Nathan

    Can’t wait to hear some of what you’re up to

  4. 4 edu

    loud loud plane, Valencia is also loud at this time of the year, we are getting into town fest and it’s fireworks time,
    have a nice time down there,….

    great that you are back on blogging, keep on!

  5. 5 Miguel

    Hey Andrew, good to hear from you!

    Good luck with your trip. Looking forward to those recordings ;-)


  6. 6 Andrew Spitz

    Thanks everyone for the nice comments!

  7. 7 Alexandra

    hey! loved this, did i hear right that you are coming back to SA?

    Lets us know!

    Godd luck :)

  8. 8 sam greene

    I normally wear molded ear plugs on the plane. Not only does the sound damage your ears, but it also causes fatigue over such long periods. You can even put some over-the-ear headphones on for some tunes. See your local audiologist :)

  9. 9 Andrew Spitz

    Yeah, most the time I wear in-ear headphones without even playing music, just to cover the noise a bit. In a weird way, I’m glad that the planes aren’t quiet, imagine hearing 400 people going by their business. The noise gives me a sense of privacy.

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