This Week in Sound: Hippos, Destiny, Scooters

A lightly annotated clipping service

These sound-studies highlights of the week are lightly adapted from the January 31, 2022, issue of the free weekly email newsletter This Week in Sound (

As always, if you find sonic news of interest, please share it with me, and (except with the most widespread of news items) I’ll credit you should I mention it here.

“Warner Music Group is creating a performance venue in the metaverse.”

New research suggests “hippopotamuses can distinguish friends from acquaintances, and acquaintances from strangers, by the way they sound.” Writes Nicholas Bakalar: “They found that hippos make a lot of noise. Their ‘wheeze honks can be heard more than a half-mile away, and their verbal repertoire includes grunts, bellows and squeals. The wheeze honk is generally considered the way hippos announce their presence, but its social function is unclear.”
(Thanks, Mike Rhode!)

A “person’s gait, voice recognition and ultrasonic signals” could be used to identify them, based on a new Apple patent. “Various characteristics of the user’s ear provide an echo of the ultrasonic signal which is unique to the user,” according to the patent. “Variations in the surface of the user’s ear canal may cause the ultrasonic signal to reflect off the surface and generate an echo having a signature that is associated with the user. For example, a user having a larger ear canal may result in an echo having a longer reverberation time than a user having a smaller ear canal.”

Another Apple AirPod patent might “allow you to hear certain people but not others, and you’d be able to choose who made the cut.”

An electric scooter firm is testing the use of a hum (like a tuba) in order to “prevent accidents and improve their safety record.”

Sound supervisor/sound designer Robert Hein and re-recording mixer Robert Fernandez talk about their work on director Mariama Diallo’s feature film debut, a horror film titled Master. The movie “draws on Diallo’s own experience of social isolation and exclusion as an African-American student at a predominantly white college.”

This newsletter is always down for a good hum story: “A strange, low-frequency hum is being reported all around the neighbourhood, prompting complaints to the City of North Vancouver and an investigation by Vancouver Coastal Health.”

▰ A subreddit on the popular video game Destiny includes discussion of players’ favorite sounds from the game**, and it has over 1,500 comments. These include:

“It used to be the sound of Titans popping hammers in D1 and the immediate fear or relief it would cause.”

“A dragonfly rampage ringing nail was the best sounding for me.”

“The sounds of popping a fallen’s head off it’s very satisfying to hear”

“The whipcrack from the Chaperone reload.”

“The whistle of a Dead Man’s Tale hitting max stacks.”

“The sound when you select a shotgun.”

And there is a ton of colorful onomatopoeia: KAH KOWWWW, BRGHHHH CLANK, PANG PANG PANG, shhhuiiiing, BONK-DAFF-DAFF-DAFF, fiuuuuuuu, SCHING BONNNNG

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