One of the main purposes of building a flight deck is to increase the realism and immersion levels when simulating flight. You want to move real yokes, flick real switches and spin real rotaries whilst maintaining focus on real instruments within a modern glass flight deck.
Simmers go to exuberant lengths to create the illusion of flight. Purpose built flight decks, aircraft shells, real aviation equipment and stunning external visuals all add to the immersion effect. But, what about sound – in particular realistic aircraft engine sounds.
But what about sound……
All of us have had that dejavoo feeling when we have smelt a certain smell or heard a certain noise and are projected back to that event and time. Vietnam veterans often have vivid flash-backs when they hear news helicopters flitting overhead. We all can recall a song within out romantic past which conjures up images of a past partner or event. The power of sound and smell cannot be underestimated.
If the engine sound of your chosen aircraft is perfect or near perfect you will barely notice it – the sound will blend with everything else. However, if the sound is not correct or is video arcade game-like, you will always be thinking how it can be improved. This is especially so if you’re using the standard stock FS9 (FS2004) or FSX aircraft engine sound.
I feel confident saying that: “with decent sound, your one notch higher concerning realism and immersion”.
Sound makes a huge difference to the simulation experience. When on final approach, concentrating on flight adjustments and jigging with the throttle to obtain the correct thrust, the sound you hear, if realistic, will make you forget you’re sitting in your spare room! It’s like that smell or sound I mentioned earlier – you’re mentally transported back to the source. I recently trialled the PMDG 737-800NGX in the simulator, and the first thing my girlfriend in an adjoining room exclaimed was “that sounds like a real plane”.
The recently released PMDG 737NGX has an exceptional sound package; however, not everyone flies this aircraft model. What is available to augment or replace the default flight simulator sound files?
Turbine Sounds Studio (TSS)
Turbine Sounds Studio (TSS) produces a variety of different sound packages that are direct recordings of the real aircraft engine sounds. The sounds have been professionally recorded from specific aircraft types and in my opinion are exceptionally good and eons ahead of anything supplied by Microsoft.
The package to purchase for the B737NG is the: Boeing 737NG CFM56-7B HD Sound Pack for FSX. If you fly the older classic series B737, TSS also produces a sound package specific to the 300,400 and 500 series aircraft. To actually hear a sample of the sounds, I recommend your navigate to their website at http://www.turbinesoundstudios.com/
TTS – Software Installation
The software provides you with an executable file, which when selected, will download to your desktop a “sound” folder containing a number of engine, instrument and ambient sounds specific to the aircraft type. It’s just a matter of backing up your original sound folder in the aircraft of choice and copying the TSS sound folder in its place.
How To Add Custom Sounds
If you’re not happy with every sound in the package, it’s quite easy to remove or replace a particular sound with another favourite. Search for the sound folder, usually located within the aircraft folder (FS10/sim objects/aircraft). Within this folder you will discover various sounds and a sound.cfg file. If there are no sound files within the folder, they maybe aliased to another folder in another aircraft. Open the sound.cfg file and note the folder/file location. Follow the trail until you actually discover where the .wav files are stored.
It's important that when you replace sounds, that the replacement sound is in the same format and has the same file name as the file you are replacing. If the file name is different, you will need to alter the specific parameter in the sound.cfg file to reflect the file name change. The same is for the location of the sound (if this if different). The sound.cfg file must have the correct name, format and location of the actual .wav sound.
Always back-Up Before Editing
Always back-up the folder and files you wish to edit BEFORE editing anything. If you make a mistake or something is not quite right, it's then easy and straightforward to put your system back to where it was beforehand.
In my set-up I am using the base NGX sound pack installed into the FS9 737-800; but I have customized a few of the sounds to those that I prefer.
If you want a more or less accurate sound set for the B737, but don't want to go to spend the time hand-picking, renaming and customizing your sound files, then either give TSS a fly or use the PMDG NGX sound set, which is a tad more realistic than the set provided with the PMDG FS9 B737. Whichever set you choose (or combination thereof), it will be far better than the default sound that comes packaged with flight simulator.
In a future post I’ll tackle the issue of separating sounds to different speakers on different networked computers. This allows you to have ATC through the headset, engine sounds left and right of the flight deck and other sounds played through another pair of strategically placed speakers..
Well, I’m more or less pleased with my sounds. Should I throw some avgas on the carpet to get that aviation smell….