“Sound Cycle” is an audio experiment created by Newark, NJ based audio engineer and sound artist Melvin “Mello Mel” Jones. With his bicycle equip with microphones Jones was able to collect the soundscapes of a bicycle ride through the Ironbound, Central and Downtown sections of Newark, NJ. This experiment requires the listener to pedal on a stationary bicycle in order for the collected sounds to start playing though a cassette tape deck. His project was completed in multiple phases, in his workshop/studio at Solo(s) Project House.
Phase One: Building the Circuit
The first challenge was creating a circuit that can be controlled by a stationary bicycle when pedaled. The use of a bicycle dynamo which produces an alternating current up to 40+ volts was key, and the first step in building this circuit.
It was important to stabilize the voltage output of the alternating current that the dynamo produces. Therefore a rectifier was added to the circuit to send a 1 volt current to a relay inside a power strip.
The blue relay was spliced into the power strip in order to control the last four outlets of the power strip. When the dynamo is spinning and the relay willbe engaged power and will be supplied to the Pro Logic amp and the tape deck controlling the surround sound program.
Phase Two: Collecting and Editing Sounds of Newark
Microphones were placed on the bicycle, one in the front on the handlebars and one in the rear attached to the back tire. One of the challenges of recoding sound while riding a bike is bumps and other noises the bike frame can produce.
A suspension apparatus made out of EMT pipes and rubber bands to hold a Tascam DR-07 Mii handheld field recorder to capture the stereo image.
A Sennheiser ME66 shotgun microphone was use on the back tire to capture the sounds of the rubber meeting the road in a mono image.
Tascam HD-P2 field recorder, recorded at 24bits at 96 kbps.
Once the soundscapes were collected editing was next on the list. The use of little to no equalization was performed in Reaper DAW also fade ins/outs for smooth transitions.
After editing was complete re-recording to a 90 minute cassette tape for playback was next.
Phase Three: Standing in Place
The main objective is to immerse people as they get on the bike and listen to the sounds of a bike ride in motion. A stationary bike stand was made out of wood rather than buying a new one for this project, a few cuts of wood and screws hold this apparatus together.
The sparks flew while making the bike stand, two 2x10 pieces of wood and a 8ft 2x4 cut correctly and supporting bike pegs acts as a lift for the back tire.