Although I don’t live in the noisy city – in fact, quite the opposite – there are plenty of times when I just want to zone out the chaos – or sometimes just the stupidity – of world and relax. Music does the trick some of the time, but for when I’m really wanting to just kick back and take my brain somewhere else after a chaotic day, my go-to resource is ambient noise, usually in the form of rainymood.com or other “white noise” generators.
Unless at some point in your life, you’ve come to associate storms with a negative response, I think it’s safe to say one of the most relaxing sounds is that of a thunderstorm. The raindrops on the rooftop, the thunder in the distance, and the lightning flashing sporadically through the window. It’s mother nature’s oft-fierce orchestra. And one which seems to do the trick for taking you away from the stresses of everyday life.
In search of finding ambient noise generators for when on-the-go, I have probably downloaded three or four different iOS apps onto my iPhone throughout the years. Often, the interface wasn’t well done and although the tracks were what I had come to expect from ambient noise recordings, they didn’t possess anything special.
Five months ago this changed when I was introduced to an ambient noise app, which not only looked great, but brought about an experience unlike what anyone else offered. Over the course of the past four or five months, I have been introduced to, tested a dozen betas of, and through it all, fallen in love with an entirely new ambient noise application.
The app is called Thunderspace. Created by Franz Bruckhoff, the creator of Haze, in collaboration with an Emmy-award winning audio recordist, Gordon Hempton, this app takes relaxing to a whole new level.
How the sound works
As with our eyes, we possess two ears. And just as we see in 3D, we hear in 3D. And although the dimensions in audio are more metaphorical, the dimensions are certainly there, albeit more akin to “depths” within the sounds. Ergo, almost any audio we hear from a recording is recorded in what would be equivalent to two dimensions, including all of the tracks on the ambient noise generators I’ve used up until Thunderspace.
Thunderspace uses tracks created with binaural recording. To create a track using this method, two microphones are used. Often put on a mannequin head, the objective is to record audio as we would hear it, by placing the two microphones on either side of the head, creating separate input sources.
Once pieced together in post production, you end up with a stereo audio track, capable of being listened to on almost any headphones. But, as you will find out with Thunderspace if you haven’t experienced it before, the results recreate the scene more realistically than you could ever experience through standard recording. However, the experience is one which won’t work with loudspeakers, so the headphones are a must.
Franz didn’t stop with the hyper-realistic recordings, though. Taking advantage of what Apple offers, he decided to add another layer of realism. Lightning.
As you can see in the promo video below, the app uses your iPhone’s LED flash to simulate lightning through synchronizing it with the recordings.
Gimmicky? I’m sure there will be a few who think so, but you can’t argue with getting creative with the hardware to immerse the user in the app experience even more. After all, if you’re hearing thunder, lightning somewhere created it.
With a Haze-like interface, Thunderspace sets itself apart visually, while the experience within the visual interface sets itself apart in every other regard.
As of release, there are eight total recordings, two of which are included and the remaining six being available as an in-app purchase. From a distant thunderstorm in the desert, to crickets and frogs creaking and croaking in the mountains of Asia, the variety is astounding.
As of this article going live you can download the app and two recordings which come with it now in the App Store for $.99; each remaining recording is $.99 as an in-app purchase.
For the incredible sounds from a number of continents – some sounds which may never be heard as-is again – it’s well worth the purchase. It’s the relaxing experience of a thunderstorm sans the hassle of getting soaked.
Their promo video is quite awesome in it’s own regard, so give it a watch and once you’ve given the app a run-through, let me know your thoughts in the comments below.