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Recordings

The next best thing to being able to watch a train in real life is to capture it in pictures or, even better, on tape.  I'm certainly not alone among railfans in enjoying engine and horn sounds, and to let other people hear them without waiting for such a train to come is the main reason for uploading over a hundred of these recordings.  The first ones were made in May 2000.

A few older recordings (from before August 2000) are at 11025 Hz resulting in less clear sound, and a very few, all from before June 2000, are lower-quality sound without good bass tones.  The changes are from recording evolutions early on.  Starting in 2011, all recordings are made with a Roland R-05 digital recorder instead of on tape, creating a superior stereo sound.

2015-04-21 update

I've started re-sampling older recordings made with the tape recorder so that the sound balance is comparable to the newer digital recordings—although the old files will always be mono instead of stereo. I've made amplifications to reduce the effect of the mic limiter (particularly during horn blasts) and I've run an equalizer to approximate the frequency balance produced by the Roland digital recorder (the tape recorder was generally too high in the 2000-4000 Hz range and too low in the sub-200 Hz range).

To differentiate from older versions of the recordings, the updated recordings are listed as "Analog, 44,150 Hz MP3", to correlate with the "Digital, 44,150 Hz MP3" files from the Roland digital recorder. All of the tape recordings will eventually be updated and (except for the oldest ones) they will be posted solely as high-quality MP3 files rather than being listed as two separate files (MP3/WAV).

Recording Search

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North American Trains

The following are older pages that will be removed once these recordings are added to the database search.

Acadian Railway

Acadian Locomotives (4 recordings)

Other Information

Locomotive Air Horn Guide

European Trains

France

SNCF Trains (17 recordings)

Recording Equipment

2000-2010: Analog

I started recording trains with an old Radiola N2234 tape recorder.  The recording quality was pretty good for a 30 year-old recorder with a built-in mono condenser mic. On a summer 2002 trip to Europe, I bought a Sony Cassette-corder TCM-939 to record the trains there.  While at first the sound quality seemed adequate, I later found it to be much inferior to that of the Radiola recorder when the two were compared. The Radiola recorder was subsequently used for all analog recordings.

2011+: Digital

Similarly to what happened when I bought a digital camera in 2007, I eventually gave in and converted to digital for the recordings—without looking back. In May 2011, after three years of only sporadic recordings, I purchased a Roland R-05 digital audio recorder. This allowed me to finally create high-quality stereo recordings directly in a digital format.

Post-processing

Once the recordings are transferred to the computer (whether analog or digital), I edit them using a program called Audacity to remove imperfections, improve sound balance and reduce volume fluctuations.

 Copyright © Michael Eby - Page code last updated 2017-09-23