I am asked often..."How can I add sound to my props?", I get emails asking this over and over (see example below)so rather than keep writing the answer over and over I thought I'd create this web page and then I just have to send the link.
"Hi there! I come to you in hopes that you might be able to help me with one of the most important parts of a haunt...sound! I am a relativity new haunter and this year is my second year and I want to add different sound f/x to different parts of the haunt instead of just having nothing but the background music. I have made my motion sensors (security light sensors with screw-in adaptors) but I can't figure out how I am going to hook up an mp3 player and/or voice recorder to speakers, and then both of them to the motion sensors! The internet is full of information but I'm sick of going in circles and I can't figure out how to do it. You seem like you are very knowledgeable on this type of stuff, is there any way that you might be able to point me in the right direction or perhaps you know of a website with step-by-step directions? Please respond as soon as possible, Halloween is getting near!!!"
In general there are 3 different uses of sound in the haunt. Each requiring a different solution.
1: Background Sounds: This is the simplest use of audio. You can use almost any source that typically plays as background audio. It runs continuously and can be played using a boom box, CD player or any stereo, including any mp3 player and a set of computer speakers.
These sounds might be thunder and lightning, wind, rain, haunted house sounds, moans, groans, etc. There are many CD's that have these background sounds. One of my favorite places to get great Halloween audio is from the Hedstorms web site.
Similar to Background sounds are continuous audio. This is a prop that makes a speech, but just is set on auto pilot and just plays over and over. I have a number of talking and singing props that do this. My greeter and my singing pirates do this. (Watch the short video and you will see both props.)
I use a CD player Sony walkman type (only because I started using them before there were mp3 players) and computer speakers that just play over and over.
Audio that activates with a prop comes in 2 different forms and requires different solutions at different costs.
2: If you just need a scream or evil laugh...some audio that activates when a prop does, but does not required the audio have a start point in the audio. The audio starts when the prop activates, but you just join the audio track in progress.
I use this method with a number of props that scream, laugh or don't make a speech of any type.
This is done by placing the scream or evil laugh on an mp3 player, setting the mp3 player to repeat that track or sound. You let this run all the time. BUT you don't hear the audio until the prop is triggered. You do this by using computer speakers and plug the power from the computer speakers onto the power that activates the prop.
In the example in the email above, plug an extension cord ($1) into the screw in adaptor in the motion sensor. Then plug your prop and the computer speakers (and a colored flood light?) into the extension cord. When the motion sensor is triggered, it will turn on the power to activate the prop, shine a light on the prop and turn on the speakers connected to the mp3 player (which is playing all the time, but you don't hear the audio until the speakers get power). <You can also use the other socket on the security light to hold the colored flood if the placement is right.>
Since you join the audio track in progress, at any point, you cannot have a speech start (that's the next type sound) but if you are only using something like a scream or evil laugh, you can join in just about anytime and it's ok.
You can also use a CD with a short track that is set like the mp3 player to repeat.
One of my favorite places to get great Halloween audio is from the Hedstorms web site.
3: Now we move to more advanced audio needs. These options include a prop making a speech that starts when the prop is activated, but the speech must start at the same point (the beginning) each time.
Methods include using a chip corder. I use a number of these from Cowlacious .
These are a little too advanced to explain here (now). I may try to expand this after Halloween.
I hope it helps!
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