GENERAL SOUND MAPGRIDWATERWAYSESTUARY

Recordings of background atmospheres and incidental noises from all over London. Many form part of a sound grid series recorded at evenly-spaced points across the city, each marking the centre of a square on the map below.

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1 1 1 1 6 5 4 12 11 3 8 1 1
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1 3 5 7 5 24 39 49 26 9 6 3 2
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Above: graphic based on a daytime satellite image courtesy of the Image Science and Analysis Laboratory, NASA Johnson Space Center. Each red grid square is 2.5 miles or 4 kilometers across.

Cheap hotel central London 3:30

Grid square: Knightsbridge, West Endf

Recording date: 19 March 2014

Time of day: Midnight

Location: Somewhere in London WC1.

Description: Ambience recorded at nighttime inside a bedroom in cheap central London hotel. A guest in the bedroom next door slams the door shut, traffic in the street below, muffled voices from the corridor, a clock chimes midnight.

Technical guff: ORTF stereo. 2 x Rode NT1A mics, MixPre-D preamp and Sony PCM-M10 recorder.

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: None.

National Gallery Room 32 7:00

Grid square: Knightsbridge, West End

Recording date: 13 February 2013

Time of day: 1.30pm

Location: National Gallery, Trafalgar Square

Description: Murmur of voices in several languages with some speakers more distinct as they move close by, footsteps, low constant rumble of air conditoning, doors slamming.

Technical guff: Stereo. 2 x Rode lavalier and mics and Tascam DR-680 recorder.

Recorded by: Jonathan Prior

Additional notes: Many thanks to Jonathan Prior for sharing these recordings. Visit his 12 Gates to the City website.

Cartwright Gardens 7:00

Grid square: Knightsbridge, West End

Recording date: 16 February 2013

Time of day: 4.20pm

Location: Cartwright Gardens, Bloomsbury.

Description: Aircraft drone, birdsong, sounds of a tennis match in progress close by, traffic.

Technical guff: Stereo. 2 x Rode lavalier mics and Tascam DR-680 recorder.

Recorded by: Jonathan Prior

Additional notes: Many thanks to Jonathan Prior for sharing these recordings. Visit his 12 Gates to the City website.

Bar Italia Soho 3:20

Grid square: Knightsbridge, West End

Recording date: 24 December 2012

Time of day: 2pm

Location: Bar Italia coffee bar, Dean Street, Soho.

Description: Atmosphere inside Bar Italia, one of the last old-school Italian coffee bars left in the West End. Voices of staff and customers, the radio plays in the background, continuous faint hiss from the espresso machine.

Technical guff: In-ear binaural stereo. Soundman OKM II Classic/Studio mics and Edirol R09-HR recorder.

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: None.

Running water Victoria tube station 1:30

Grid square: Knightsbridge, West End

Recording date: 18 November 2012

Time of day: 7.40pm

Location: District and Circle Line platforms, Victoria Underground station.

Description: The sound of running water emanates from beneath an iron grille set between the tracks at the east end of the District and Circle Line platforms. Could it be the Westbourne passing underneath? Voices of passengers, a train approaches.

Technical guff: In-ear binaural stereo. Soundman OKM II Classic/Studio mics and Sony PCM-M10 recorder.

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: None.

Paddington Station cab rank 2:00

Grid square: Knightsbridge, West End

Recording date: 13 October 2012

Time of day: 5.30pm

Location: Paddington station, central London.

Description: Loud roar of air conditioning vents at Paddington station's cab rank, sound of taxis moving slowly around the rank, a train leaves the station.

Technical guff: In-ear binaural stereo. Soundman OKM II Classic/Studio mics and Sony PCM-M10 recorder.

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: None.

Mayfair voices 1:00

Grid square: Knightsbridge, West End

Recording date: 18 August 2012

Time of day: 7.40pm

Location: Shepherd Market, Mayfair, central London.

Description: Voices of drinkers and diners in the evening in Shepherd Market.

Technical guff: Headworn stereo. 2 x Shure WL-183 mics and Sony PCM-M10 recorder.

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: None.

Church Street off Edgware Road 2:30

Grid square: Knightsbridge, West End

Recording date: 24 February 2012

Time of day: 8pm

Location: Walking westwards along Church Street, near Lisson Grove.

Description: Dustcarts and street-cleaning vehicles pass close by and recede, faints voices and footsteps, a siren and traffic in the distance.

Technical guff: Binaural stereo. Sound Professionals MS-TFB-2 binaural mics and Sony PCM M10 recorder.

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: This binaural recording is best listened to using headphones.

Victoria coach station 2011 2:40

Grid square: Knightsbridge, West End

Recording date: 30 September 2011

Time of day: 7pm

Location: Outside gate 17, Victoria coach station.

Description: Coach engines idle as passengers begin to board one bound for Bristol, door slam, electronic beeping as one coach reverses, indistinct voice over a tannoy, one coach leaves the station.

Technical guff: Headworn stereo. 2 x Sennheiser MKE-2 mics and Edirol R09-HR digital recorder.

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: For contrast, hear this 1935 BBC radio recording of the sounds of Victoria coach station.

Regents Canal Lisson Grove 1:00

Grid square: Knightsbridge, West End

Recording date: 15 July 2011

Time of day: 6.40am

Location: Facing the St John's Wood electricity substation, Lisson Grove.

Description: Background traffic, birdsong, clattering sounds to the west, faint drone from the electricity substation.

Technical guff: Headworn stereo. 2 x DPA 2006C mics, Sound Devices MixPre-D preamp, Sony PCM M10 recorder.

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: None.

Grand Union Paddington Basin 1:00

Grid square: Knightsbridge, West End

Recording date: 30 June 2011

Time of day: 3.30pm

Location: Southern end of Paddington Basin, central London.

Description: Faint trickle of water, loud rush of air-conditioning units from surrounding office buildings, intermittent sound of a powersaw in use on a nearby building site.

Technical guff: Headworn stereo. 2 x 2006C DPA mics, Sound Devices MixPre-D preamp, Sony PCM M10 recorder.

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: None.

Westminster Abbey Chapter House 1:00

Grid square: Knightsbridge, West End

Recording date: 25 March 2011

Time of day: 1.15pm

Location: Inside the Chapter House at Westminster Abbey.

Description: Rumble of distant traffic, sounds of visitors walking and shuffling about and talking quietly.

Technical guff: Head-worn stereo. 2 x MM-HLSO mics and Edirol R09-HR recorder.

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: None.

Westminster Abbey Poets Corner 1:00

Grid square: Knightsbridge, West End

Recording date: 25 March 2011

Time of day: 12.30pm

Location: By Poets' Corner, inside Westminster Abbey.

Description: Murmuring of visitors' voices all around, sound of an attendant's walkie-talkie, footsteps.

Technical guff: Headworn stereo. 2 x MM-HLSO/Sennheiser MKE-2 mics and Edirol R09-HR digital recorder.

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: None

Piccadilly Circus at night 2:00

Grid square: Knightsbridge, West End

Recording date: 7 October 2010

Time of day: 10pm

Location: At the base of Eros, Piccadilly Circus.

Description: Heavy traffic, voices of tourists clustered around the Eros statue.

Technical guff: Head-worn stereo. 2 x AShure WL-183 mics and Edirol R09-HR digital recorder.

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: None.

Soho Square 2:00

Grid square: Knightsbridge, West End

Recording date: 10 October 2010

Time of day: 3pm

Location: Middle of Soho Square.

Description: Voices of people sitting on the grass in Soho Square, crunch of autumn leaves on the ground.

Technical guff: Head-worn stereo. 2 x Shure WL-183 mics and Edirol R09-HR digital recorder.

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: None.

National Portrait Gallery 3:09

Grid square: Knightsbridge, West End

Recording date: 13 October 2010

Time of day: 5pm

Location: Top floor, National Portrait Gallery.

Description: Recorded while walking around the Tudor Gallery. Escalator, footsteps and voices of visitors, sound of air conditioning units.

Technical guff: Head-worn stereo. 2 x MM-HLSO/Sennheiser MKE-2 mics and Edirol R09-HR digital recorder.

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: None.

Wong Kei Chinatown 1:00

Grid square: Knightsbridge, West End

Recording date: 10 October 2010

Time of day: 4.15pm

Location: Downstairs at Wong Kei restaurant, Wardour Street.

Description: Hubbub of diners' voices in the basement dining room.

Technical guff: Head-worn stereo. 2 x MM-HLSO/Sennheiser MKE-2 mics and Edirol R09-HR digital recorder.

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: Wong Kei is famed for having rude staff, chucking people out as soon as they've finished eating: "You go! You go!" That afternoon they didn't seem rude, just briskly efficient.

Gerard Street Chinatown 1:59

Grid square: Knightsbridge, West End

Recording date: 10 October 2010

Time of day: 3.30pm

Location: Walking westwards along Gerard Street in Chinatown.

Description: Voices of Chinese speakers, constant roaring or rushing of extractor fans from kitchens, faint clatter of cutlery from restaurant doorways in passing.

Technical guff: Head-worn stereo. 2 x Shure WL-183 mics and Edirol R09-HR digital recorder.

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: None.

Libertys department store 2:00

Grid square: Knightsbridge, West End

Recording date: 30 October 2010

Time of day: 6pm

Location: Inside Liberty department store, Great Marlborough Street.

Description: Voices of customers and staff, footsteps on Liberty's creaking floorboards, muffled noise of air conditioning overhead.

Technical guff: Head-worn stereo. 2 x MM-HLSO/Sennheiser MKE-2 mics and Edirol R09-HR digital recorder.

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: None.

New Loon Fung supermarket 1:00

Grid square: Knightsbridge, West End

Recording date: 4 September 2010

Time of day: 1pm

Location: Gerard Street, West End.

Description: Ambience inside a Chinese supermarket recorded near the tills, with voices of customers and staff.

Technical guff: Head-worn stereo. 2 x MM-HLSO/Sennheiser MKE-2 mics and Edirol R09-HR digital recorder.

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: Thanks to Wang Fei of BBC World Service.

St James's Park 9am 1:10

Grid square: Knightsbridge, West End

Recording date: 4 September 2010

Time of day: 9am

Location: Towards the east side of St James's Park, central London.

Description: Saturday morning in St James's Park with chiming of Big Ben and the bells of at least one other church nearer by, calls of waterfowl.

Technical guff: Head-worn stereo. 2 x Shure WL-183 mics and Edirol R09-HR digital recorder.

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: Thanks to Wang Fei of BBC World Service.

Cardiff fans Oxford Circus tube 1:00

Grid square: Knightsbridge, West End

Recording date: 22 May 2010

Time of day: 2pm

Location: Northbound Bakerloo Line platform, Oxford Circus tube station.

Description: A small group of Cardiff football fans sing and chant on a tube platform before heading to Wembley. Tube announcer's voice and distant sound of a train arriving at an adjacent platform.

Technical guff: Head-worn stereo. Sonic Studios DSM-6S/EH mics and PA-3SX preamp, Edirol R09-HR digital recorder.

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: Chanting football fans are a fairly common feature of the auditory scenes of central London tube and train stations, hence this recording has been added to the Sound Map rather than the Sound Actions section.

Westminster Music Library 2:00

Grid square: Knightsbridge, West End

Recording date: 5 May 2010

Time of day: 6pm

Location: Westminster Music Library, Buckingham Palace Road, Victoria.

Description: The librarian scrumples up some paper and uses a stapler, faint humming of air conditioning, traffic.

Technical guff: Head-worn stereo. 2 x MM-HLSO/Sennheiser MKE-2 mics and Edirol R09-HR digital recorder.

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: None.

Charing Cross Library 2:00

Grid square: Knightsbridge, West End

Recording date: 5 May 2010

Time of day: 5.30pm

Location: Charing Cross public library, Charing Cross Road, West End.

Description: Constant voices, footsteps along the library's upper gallery, squeals of an automatic door opening and closing.

Technical guff: Head-worn stereo. 2 x MM-HLSO/Sennheiser MKE-2 mics and Edirol R09-HR digital recorder.

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: None.

Mens toilets Victoria station 1:04

Grid square: Knightsbridge, West End

Recording date: 14 April 2010

Time of day: 5.15pm

Location: Men's toilets, Victoria train station.

Description: Recorded inside a cubicle. Sounds of hand driers, plumbing, a man struggles with the toilet paper dispenser in the cubicle to the right, in the cubicle to the left another man snores without interruption.

Technical guff: Head-worn stereo. 2 x MM-HLSO/Sennheiser MKE-2 mics and Edirol R09-HR digital recorder.

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: None.

Westminster Reference Library 2:00

Grid square: Knightsbridge, West End

Recording date: 10 April 2010

Time of day: 2pm

Location: Ground floor of the Westminster Reference Library, St. Martin's Street

Description: Sounds of traffic from the surrounding streets, a man vigorously turns the pages of a newspaper, coughs, sniffs, faint footsteps.

Technical guff: Head-worn stereo. 2 x MM-HLSO/Sennheiser MKE-2 mics and Edirol R09-HR digital recorder.

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: None.

Harrods ground floor 2:37

Grid square: Knightsbridge, West End

Recording date: 13 March 2010

Time of day: 5pm

Location: Ground floor of Harrods department store, Knightsbridge.

Description: Recorded while walking from the cosmetics and perfume departments through into the food halls. Voices of customers and staff, intermittent piped music.

Technical guff: Head-worn stereo. MM-HLSO mics and Edirol R09-HR digital recorder.

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: None.

Dawn Berwick Street 1:00

Grid square: Knightsbridge, West End

Recording date: 1 March 2010

Time of day: 7am

Location: South end of Berwick Street, Soho, central London.

Description: Clattering of market stalls, barrows and shop shutters as traders begin setting up in Berwick Street. Coughing and sound of a man hawking up phlegm, distant traffic noise.

Technical guff: Stereo. Audio Technica BP4025 mic and Fostex FR-2LE digital recorder.

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: Thanks to Ed Lawrenson.

Rush hour at Victoria 1:00

Grid square: Knightsbridge, West End

Recording date: 1 March 2010

Time of day: 8.30am

Location: Crouched just outside the entrance to Victoria station.

Description: Announcement tones and voices from inside Victoria station, footsteps of passing commuters, trundling of wheeled suitcases.

Technical guff: Head-worn stereo. Sonic Studios DSM-6S/EH mics, PA-3SX preamp and Edirol R09-HR digital recorder.

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: Thanks to Ed Lawrenson.

White Hart pub Drury Lane 1:12

Grid square: Knightsbridge, West End

Recording date: 11 November 2009

Time of day: 7.45pm

Location: In the White Hart pub, Drury Lane, Covent Garden.

Description: Busy, warm-sounding atmosphere on a mid-week evening in the White Hart pub near Covent Garden. Animated conversations from the clientele and the sound of glasses being collected.

Technical guff: Stereo. Tascam DR-07 digital recorder.

Recorded by: Dave Ackrill

Additional notes: The White Hart claims to be the oldest licensed premises in London, dating from 1216.

Oxford Street 2:39

Grid square: Knightsbridge, West End

Recording date: 28 June 2009

Time of day: 2pm

Location: North side of Oxford Street, walking eastwards from Oxford Circus.

Description: Crowd hubbub with footsteps and snatches of passing conservation, constant traffic noise along Oxford Street, a street sweeping vehicle passes alongside for a while, music plays from inside shops.

Technical guff: Head-worn stereo. Sonic Studios DSM-6S/EH mics and PA-3SX preamp, Edirol R09-HR digital recorder.

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: None.

British Museum 1:44

Grid square: Knightsbridge, West End

Recording date: May 2008

Time of day: Not known

Location: Inside the British Museum, Bloomsbury, central London.

Description: "The ambience of the large spaces of the British Museum in London. Begins with the creaking of a chair. There are voices and lots of natural reverb due to the vast size and hard surfaces. There is also a general background noise from ventilation and heating systems." – ERH

Technical guff: Minidisc recording.

Recorded by: ERH

Additional notes: Recording by Freesound Project contributor ERH. License: Creative Commons Sampling Plus 1.0.

Edgware Road cafes 1:33

Grid square: Knightsbridge, West End

Recording date: 13 June 2009

Time of day: 11.45pm

Location: Walking north from Marble Arch along Edgware Road, past the North African and Middle Eastern cafes.

Description: Traffic, voices of passersby, and of the customers of several Middle Eastern and North African cafes, who sit outside at tables set up on the pavement. There is the sound, once, of hookah pipe bowls being tapped empty and refilled with hot charcoal. A homeless woman's voices is heard towards the end, as she argues with her companions over something.

Technical guff: Head-worn stereo. Sonic Studios DSM-6S/EH mics and PA-3SX mics. Edirol R09-HR recorder.

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: None.

Outside Charing Cross 1:45

Grid square: Knightsbridge, West End

Recording date: 13 June 2009

Time of day: Around 10.30pm

Location: Outside Charing Cross train station, at the top of Villiers Street.

Description: A busker sings and plays acoustic guitar to a reggae backing. Sounds of night-time crowds in Villiers Street, traffic, and a police siren.

Technical guff: Head-worn stereo. Sonic Studios DSM-6S/EH mics and PA-3SX preamp. Edirol R09-HR recorder.

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: None.

TQ 2835 8067 1:00

Grid square: Knightsbridge, West End

Recording date: 5 June 2009

Time of day: 4.50pm

Location: OS grid reference TQ 2835 8067. South Audley Street, near Grosvenor Square.

Description: Sound of traffic, mainly taxicabs, from Grosvenor Square and going along South Audley Street, faint voices of passersby, a taxi sounds its horn, light pattering of raindrops.

Technical guff: Head-worn stereo. 2 x Shure WL-183 mics. Edirol R09-HR digital recorder.

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: None.

Trocadero Centre 2:01

Grid square: Knightsbridge, West End

Recording date: 2 April 2009

Time of day: Around 8pm

Location: Upstairs in the Trocadero Centre off Piccadilly Circus, central London.

Description: A cacophony of electronic noises and recorded music in the amusement arcade and bowling alley sections of the Trocadero Centre. Sounds of skittles knocked down in the bowling alley, cheers of the players, noises emitted by video game machines, including the one where you have to match the dance steps indicated on a lit-up floorpad, and a sharp thwack as someone bashes a test-your-strength machine with an outsize mallet.

Technical guff: Head-worn stereo. Sonic Studios DSM-6S/EH mics and PA-3SX preamp. Edirol R09-HR digital recorder.

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: None.

Covent Garden midnight 1:52

Grid square: Knightsbridge, West End

Recording date: 23 July 2008

Time of day: Around midnight

Location: Walking south along Neal Street into Covent Garden.

Description: Hubbub of inebriated West End revellers, a woman warbles briefly in a mock-operatic style, followed by the sounds of successive buskers, including the ubiquitous outdoor bongo drummer.

Technical guff: Head-worn stereo. Sonic Studios DSM-6S/EH mics and PA-3SX preamp. Edirol R09-HR digital recorder.

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: None.

Rickshaw bells Soho 1:17

Grid square: Knightsbridge, West End

Recording date: 23 July 2008

Time of day: 10.30-11pm

Location: Old Compton Street, towards Moor Street

Description: Sounds of the night-time crowds thronging Old Compton Street and Moor Street in Soho, central London. The bicycle bells of pedal-powered rickshaws are heard, their owners circling the area whilst looking for custom, and growing louder towards the end of the recording.

Technical guff: Head-worn stereo. Sonic Studios DSM-6S/EH mics and PA-3SX preamp. Edirol R09-HR digital recorder.

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: None.

South Ken underpass 1:00

Grid square: Knightsbridge, West End

Recording date: 11 February 2009

Time of day: Mid afternoon

Location: Walking eastwards along the underpass from South Kensington tube station to Brompton Road.

Description: Echoing sounds from the long, wide underpass at South Kensington. A busker begins playing and a crowd of schoolchildren whoop and cheer.

Technical guff: Head-worn stereo. Sonic Studios DSM-6S/EH mics and PA-3SX preamp. Olympus LS-10 digital recorder.

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: None.

About sound map recordings

Sound map recordings fall into two kinds, shown by the filenames they're given.

A sound grid recording has a filename beginning with the letters 'TQ', followed by eight digits. These are the Ordnance Survey co-ordinates for where the recording ought to be made. Each is part of a regularly-spaced series of recordings covering London. More about them, including graphics showing the resulting city-wide patterns of sounds, can be found on this page.

Other recordings have more descriptive filenames and these are simply of curious or distinctive sounds heard in different places.