RC Jets Revisited

Getting out in the field and making recordings brings many joyful moments and surprises. I’m sure most would assume it is the wonderful sound I get to record that brings the most joy, but there are many other factors at play. It might seem odd, but I love research. I love searching for interesting sources to record, and digging for “unfound sounds.” I also tend to meet rather special people when I’m on the hunt for unusual material.[1]

REA_011 introduced me to a group of truly wonderful people: Soviet aircraft collectors, jet power enthusiasts, and radio controlled plane hobbyists. One of the most generous people I met while recording for the library was Roxbury Model Airplane Club’s Bob Karasiewicz.

My prior field sessions (San Diego, Brooklyn) were not only fun, they were also useful learning experiences. I was able to gather a tremendous amount of background about the variety of RC jets’ turbines and how the planes’ body types changed the pitch of the pass bys. Despite this wealth of new information and audio samples, I wanted to expand those sound files with additional material.

When I reached out to Bob, he had the turbine I was looking for and his plane had a different body type than the others I’d recorded, so I was really curious to hear what it sounded like. When I arrived Bob was all set up and ready to go.

Bob was incredibly generous with his time and explained every step of the flight process and which parts of the plane generate the most interesting sound. Because of his plane’s unusual shape, the pitches of the pass bys shifted dramatically during turns:

The straight pass bys were also quite nice:

As well as the take off:

So much of what I do relies on the generosity of others and their willingness to share what they love. I’ve learned that passion is driven by special people and their dedication is to be respected. My best moments on gigs are when an individual realizes I’m just as passionate about recording sound as they are about their obsession. Not only have I walked away from these experiences with wonderful recordings, but I’ve also learned a vast amount as well.


  1. Some of my recent favorites: Cambridge Typewriter, Jet Bike, New Years Steam  ↩
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Model Jet Plane

I’m still knee deep in propulsion sounds these days as I work on the next Rabbit Ears Audio Library. A recent recording session took me to the garage of a model jet airplane enthusiast. These planes might be small, but they pack a loud punch. Hobbyists who build these planes work with real jet turbines that are built to scale.

I performed a number of stationary runs of the turbine from several perspectives. This little turbine easily hit 115db at the exhaust, and I have no idea what kind of SPL it was outputting at the intake of the engine. IT WAS LOUD.

Here is the exhaust:

And the same take from the perspective of the air intake:

The intake has a much higher pitched whine to it, which I kind of dig. The SPL was so intense at the intake that I actually had to set that channel to line level to get useful material. I placed a DPA 4060 right in front of the intake, fed it phantom, but dropped it to line level. This can be a decent alternative to using inline pads.

I’m continuing to flesh out this collection and it continues to be ridiculous amounts of fun.

Recording Geek Note: Rig consists of Schoeps CMC5′s setup for MS, with the MK4 as the mid on the exaust and a DPA 4060 on the intake. It was all tracked to a Sound Devices 744T at 24/192.

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