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  • David Phillips
    Editor And Chief
    David Phillips is a long-time contributor to print and electronic publications in the U.S. and abroad, including Racer, Autosport, AutoWeek, Motor Sport and SPEEDtv.com, oversees the daily updating of news stories and assigns, edits and contributes feature material for inRacingNews.com.
  • David Judson
    Contributor

    29 years old, Dave Judson lives in Mentor, Ohio. Dave has grown up with racing, watching his father win races and championships at the local go-kart track as a youngster and continuing his love of racing while watching NASCAR, Indycar, Formula 1 and sports cars.
    Judson has enjoyed a successful sim-racing career of his own in the IZOD Indycar iRacing Open and Fixed Setup Series. He has race wins to his credits as well as the Division 1 Championship of the Open Series in Season 1 of 2013 and the Overall Championship of the Fixed Series in Season 3 of 2013.
    Dave has a Bachelor's Degree in Business Administration from Cleveland State University and is looking to expand his horizons by writing for inRacingNews.

  • Matt A Kingsbury
    Contributor

    Kingsbury lives in Fairfield, Connecticut where he currently attends Sacred Heart University. He is a fan of any form of racing, from NASCAR to IndyCar, Formula 1, and especially endurance racing. The summer of 2013 saw Kingsbury attend IndyCar's return to Pocono Raceway as well as the ARCA race at Pocono which Corey Lajoie won and got some pictures (including the accompanying mug shot) in Victory Lane thanks to his aunt!

  • Raymond Kingsbury
    Contributor

    Ray Kingsbury is a motorsport enthusiast and full-time university student, born and raised in Connecticut. He started his own racing career in BMX, riding bicycles competitively on the state level. In eight years he claimed the state championship and was ranked nationally before moving away from the sport. This void of activities led him to rediscover sim-racing in the form of NASCAR Heat. After a championship in the game's most competitive league Kingsbury started focusing full-time on his involvement in Live for Speed. There he founded Last Lap Motorsports which today has more than 20 members worldwide.

    When a few Last Lap Motorsports members decided to give iRacing.com a chance to feed their desire for more oval racing, Ray teamed with his brother Matt, Nathan Lamothe and newcomer Jimmie Jones to enter the ETV! Live Team Series and claimed the title after a dominating performance at Watkins Glen. To this day the team continues in both Live for Speed and iRacing.com and Ray still takes much delight in his own sim-racing career. A reporter for his high school newspaper before moving to university, Kingsbury keeps-up his writing activities by contributing to iRacing News.

  • Jeff Jacobs
    Contributor

    Jeff Jacobs started autocrossing with the SCCA in 1990 while a student at the University of Florida. He has competed in the SCCA's National Tour and ProSolo series since 1995, winning a ProSolo National Championship in H-Stock in 2011 driving a 2010 MINI Cooper. Jeff completed his SCCA Club Racing drivers' school in 2012 at Roebling Road in a Spec Miata. He currently writes a column for the SCCA's Northeast Division in SportsCar Magazine and is the Region Executive of the Philadelphia Region SCCA.

    Jeff joined iRacing in October 2012. After starting with the MX-5 and SRF cars, he has been concentrating on the Ford Mustang FR500S, competing in the iRacing.com Mustang Cup series and the Continental Endurance Sports Car Series.

  • Jordan Hightower
    Contributor

    Jordan began sim-racing in 2005 with the NASCAR Racing 2003 Season sim and then joined the iRacing community in June of 2008. He hails from Fort Smith, Arkansas where he is currently enrolled at the University of Arkansas Fort Smith, after which he plans to attend the University of Arkansas to earn his MBA. Although he enjoys watching and playing basketball, most of Jordan's focus is on motorsports, particularly NASCAR: "Anything that burns gas and goes fast, I like."

  • Scott Kelly
    Contributor

    Born and raised in the greater St. Louis, Missouri area, Scott Kelly has had a love for motorsports ever since his father did the right thing by introducing auto racing into his life. No longer able to quench his need for speed by spectating NASCAR races on TV and watching dirt track stars slide around local tracks, Kelly eventually picked-up sim racing in his teens, wheeling cars found in Ratbag Games' "Dirt Track Racing" and "World of Outlaws: Sprint Cars" while also becoming introduced into multiple Papyrus sim-racing series. Joining the iRacing ranks in late 2011, Kelly set his sights on the short track racing he was familiar with, focusing on the sprint car, while also driving the Legends and street stock in multiple iRacing.com leagues.

    Kelly brings not just his enthusiasm for racing to the highest-rated motorsports simulation, but also his B.A. degree in English; he covers the action seen in the iRacing.com Sprint Car Series, while also placing the spotlight on various leagues within the service. Enjoying his start to a career in motorsports journalism, Kelly also doesn't mind visiting victory lane from time-to-time.

  • George Wood
    Contributing Writer
    After beginning his racing career with go-karts at age seven, George then turned wrenches on street stocks until he could finally turn the wheel. Following the successes of his friends and family, George has since retired from real-world racing, where he is now a science and mathematics faculty member for several local community colleges. When George isn't grading laboratory reports or iRacing, he is performing at bluegrass festivals in the Northeast, making fishing lures, playing golf, and rooting for his beloved Baltimore Orioles.
  • Chris Hall
    iRacing.com Series Writer
    Chris Hall has been writing since the nineties and moved into motorsports reporting in 2005, covering series such as ALMS, British GT, FIA GT, Le Mans and 2CV racing for Full Throttle magazine, Motorsport.com, The-Paddock.net, GTGateway.com, L' Endurance and, of course, inRacingNews. During 2008 and 2009, he worked with the RSS Performance Porsche Carrera Cup Team (and former British GT(C) champions) as a data engineer for a variety of drivers and models of 997s.
  • Jason Lofing
    iRacing.com Series Writer
    Jason is 21 years old and was born and raised in Elk Grove. California. A big time NASCAR fan, he hasn’t missed a race on Sunday in years. Lofing is also a huge San Fransisco Giants fan and tries to take in at least a couple games a year. Other than sim racing, his biggest (and far more expensive!) hobby is photography. Although he is rather new to sim racing, Lofing has already accomplished some pretty impressive results, qualifying for the 2011 iRacing Oval Pro Series in Season 1, 2011, winning the inaugural Landon Cassill Qualifying Challenge and finishing runner-up in the second one.
  • Dylan Sharman
    Contributing Writer
    I was born in Adelaide and we moved-out for Angle Vale for a few years until I was about 7 years old, when we moved to the Barossa Valley where I live now. I'm 19 years old and currently traveling back and forth weekly as I'm studying for a Diploma of Furniture Design and Technology.

    I've always had a love for racing as my close family did some racing and we were always out at the local dirt track. I joined iRacing back in 2010 and slowly but surely got the hang of it as this is my first experience with sim racing and am loving it each time I race. I've won two SK Modified titles (almost had three in a row but finished P2 in 2011 S4), an iRacingNews Challenge championship (2012 S1 Mazda) and was also an AustralAsian Intel GT Series Finalist.
  • Katier Scott
    Contributing Writer
    I am a veteran sim racer who first started racing way back in 1993 on the SPRTSIMS section of Compuserve with a league who can trace themselves all the way to the present. Within that league I act as Chief Steward and try to bring the unique viewpoint that this experience gives me into my articles.
    I have a BA (Hons) in Journalism and Editorial design and have been writing for seven years and currently cover the Lotus 79 CTC and Radical series alongside my freelance work. Living in the UK, as well as motorsports I love Photography, Arts and Crafts and reading.
  • David Ifeguni
    Contributing Writer
    I was born in New Haven, Connecticut in 1988 and moved to Midland, Michigan when I was two years old. I stayed there until third grade when I moved to Farmington Hills, Michigan and now I currently live in Naperville, IL where I'm attending Metea Valley High School as a 9th grader. In the past, I have participated in soccer and this year I plan on joining swimming or water polo. My family includes my 15 year old sister, a 7 year old sister and my mom and dad. I have been writing since 6th grade and have participated in many writing contests in my school and have received several awards for writing.
    My fascination for motorsports began when I was nine. The first NASCAR race I watched on TV was the 2009 Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Infineon Raceway, won by Kasey Kahne. My favorite NASCAR drivers are Kyle Busch, Dale Earnhardt Jr, and Jimmie Johnson. I have watched all the races in the NASCAR Sprint Cup, Nationwide and Camping World Truck Series since 2010. I currently have three wins on iRacing, two of them in the Nationwide car at Daytona and one in the Street stocks at Charlotte. My favorite car and type of track on iRacing is the Nationwide Series (B Class) car and superspeedways.

Improving the Sound of iRacing

by Tony Gardner on December 7th, 2011

Although iRacing.com is constantly adding new elements to our online racing service there are always many improvements we would like to make to our current features.  One of those features is sound, which happens to be a very broad topic.

When we think of sounds in a racing game, most of us think of the cars’ engine noises, and that certainly that is a focus of our work.   We have some good ideas on how to improve those engine sounds and add more range.   Of course, our objective is to be authentic when it comes to engine sounds — or any sound for that matter.  That’s why we go to the track and record every car in iRacing, and also do things like taking sound meters to the tracks to measure all sorts of sounds.  In general, any racing sim/game publisher must decide whether to go with “hacked up” special effect sounds or let the real physics drive the audio components.    At iRacing we let the physics drive the sounds, which I guess is a matter of preference between realism and “drama.”  In other words, iRacing will sound different than a “racing video game” unless we move away from physics-based audio.

"'Sound improvements' could mean working on existing sounds like the noise created by crashes . . ."

When we talk about making “sound improvements,” we mean a lot more than simply engine sounds.  For example, we are also adding new environmental and ambient sounds.  Sound improvements could also mean working on existing sounds like the noise created by crashes, the crowd or cars scraping the wall, not to mention spotter messages.  Improvements could also refer to advances in the delivery, mixing and/or streaming of sounds, compatibility with third party products and software, latency, ease of use, adding adjustability and flexibility, access to 3D, supporting various hardware platforms and other audio systems and so on.   Of course, sound improvements could also mean simply adding range and depth to the sounds or adding new effects like echoes in tunnels, making the grandstands “ring” when cars go past or effects like reverb and distance attenuation.  There are all sorts of things that can be done in regard to sound and certainly it is a critical element to your experience in any racing simulation.

“Certainly (sound) is a critical element to your experience in any racing simulation.”

Another large consideration in regard to sound is how you create and then play back the sound, by which I mean the sound “engine.”   iRacing has developed its own proprietary sound engine in this regard.   As most of our members know, we also decided to try and offer a third party middleware or engine called FMOD to create and deliver our sounds from iRacing, and were considering that as a possible long-term “engine.”   We even launched an early stage release of FMOD to members as an alternative sound engine for feedback, testing and QA purposes.

It is important to note, whatever sound engine a publisher chooses, the engine is not magic.  The engine itself does not create any new sounds.   However, it can enable you to perhaps create a “higher end” sound sample or to work with a broader range of hardware and software.

What is FMOD and why did we consider it?   FMOD is a third –party audio product, library and tool-kit used for the creation and playback of interactive audio.  It has an advanced plug-in architecture that can be used to extend the support of a wide range of audio formats or to develop new output types (eg, streaming).  FMOD has many benefits that we hoped to leverage in order to speed-up our sound improvements.  It comes with a full-featured editor familiar to our audio engineer, “Aussie” Greg Hill (not be confused with our VP of Art and Production, Greg Hill.)    It also supports a wide array of hardware and is cross platform-compatible.  And finally, FMOD has a robust set of DSP-based effects that we hoped to take advantage of.

"'Sound improvements" could also mean . . . making the grandstands 'ring' when cars go past."

What have we learned from our test and research?   Like most plug-in software, F-MOD is developed to work with thousands of titles which, in a broad sense, makes it a great product.  However, there are trade-offs in making F-MOD  so widely applicable, namely what is lost trying to get it to work within an overall larger context or a system like iRacing.  There is a level of detail and compatibility that is unique to a particular product, especially a deep product (again, like iRacing) that a plug-in sound engine will not fully address.  In other words, we can’t get FMOD to do what our own sound engine does without even more effort modifying FMOD!

“Whatever sound engine a publisher chooses, the engine is not magic.”

As iRacing’s sound features have improved and matured over the years, they have been tightly-coupled to the physics engine.  As we moved forward on this project we soon realized that at a high level, we were doing things completely differently than the way FMOD operates.  In fact, we were doing things in our own unique way and no third party tool-kit would be able to fill our needs ‘out of the box.’

Without the high level interfaces in FMOD, it was no longer possible to directly integrate their sound editor into our sim . . . and this was one of the main features we hoped to leverage.  In addition, we found that at the low level, FMOD just did not add enough new functionality to justify the large changes needed to our sound system.  In the final analysis, we decided that we can bring over the few small low level improvements provided by FMOD into our own sound system without too much effort.  This will allow us to focus on improving the sound engine, instead of spending time on integrating a new engine, one that would still need extensive adjustments in order to be compatible with our physics.

So although FMOD is a great product, based on our research and actual tests, we concluded that in the long run our existing sound engine will be a better solution to giving our members the best experience possible.  So we are stopping our work on FMOD.

“In the long run our existing sound engine will be a better solution to giving our members the best experience possible.  So we are stopping our work on FMOD.”

One of our excellent software engineers — David Tucker — has been moved pretty much full-time on sound the last few months and is making great progress.  As you are probably aware, recently we improved our crash sounds, cleaned-up the spotter code and replaced missing samples, cleaned-up handing volumes and fixed a bug or two.  Currently in testing we have added 45 new spotter messages, ambient and pit road sounds and body noise, along with a limiter to microphones so those mics that are improperly set-up will not get too loud.

A partial list of our “to do” items includes more spotter messages and better overlaying of messages, placing crowd noises and other ambient sounds based on the actual location of 3D objects (grandstands for example), and adding tire “thump” sound when hitting seams or bumps.  We’re also looking at adding more headroom on our sound mixer (so sounds are not so quiet) along with special effects like reverb, echoes, ringing of grandstands and base thumps when cars are close to you, as well as better ways to handle crash sounds.   Also, we’re adding more user flexibility and control of sounds in order to enable you to add more bass, or just turn-up the sounds for example.

Perfecting the tire "thump" sound is high on iRacing's "to do" list.

Oh yea . . . and make the cars sound better.  In that regard, the biggest change we need to make, moving forward, is to streamline our sound editing process so that our audio engineer (Aussie Greg Hill) can create the stunning sounds he dreams of doing.

When it’s all said and done, the sound system is just a tool to be used and has some limitations.  But with some effort, and a lot of time, we can bring it up to speed and let the talent of the sound engineer come alive.

We have already begun rolling-out these improvements to our sounds to members and will continue to do so in the near and not so near future.  There is a lot of work to do.  But it will be well worth it, as any sim racer knows what a huge difference “sound” makes to the experience and even emotion you get in a sim.

Good Racing!!!

15 Comments or Trackbacks

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  1. Susan Rarick
    December 7th, 2011 at 9:30 pm

    One thing that would be good to incorporate is a way to use sound to replace the seat in pants feel of a car.

    Presently I set my feedback on full to get a better idea when I’m reaching maximum traction. It would be nice if there was some sort of audio to replicate knowing when the limit is reached like seat of the pants does in the real world.

    • Clayton Macleod
      December 8th, 2011 at 6:56 am

      Susan, you’ll get better feel from your wheel and be able to feel what you are talking about much better if you actually turn it down to 8 or so. Here’s an incredibly long thread that details why, and tells you how you can find out the optimal number for the current car and setup that you are using. But cranking it up all the way means you are losing tons of detail because you’re turning up the volume so much that it is clipping off detail from the signal. http://members.iracing.com/jforum/posts/list/1473510.page

  2. Alexandre
    December 7th, 2011 at 9:52 pm

    thanks for working on the sounds guys! it’s a great part of the simulation and iracing will benefit a lot from it! ;)

  3. jeff thomas
    December 7th, 2011 at 10:00 pm

    likes this

  4. Kieran Brughelli
    December 7th, 2011 at 10:19 pm

    Great to hear! I’d love to see a more realistic exterior sound update come for the Dallara Indycar if that’s on the list at all.

  5. Code Redd
    December 7th, 2011 at 11:01 pm

    Yes love sound. Glad to see spotter files on the way. Hopefully includes pace car location and wreck/incident location. Please!

  6. Alex
    December 7th, 2011 at 11:27 pm

    And what about the offloading to a third CPU core? Will the current engine be modified to be run on an other core if one is available? That was, to me, the most appealing feature of the FMOD promises…

  7. Bill
    December 7th, 2011 at 11:54 pm

    I would love to se a new late model soundset because to me the current sound set sounds like a sportsman or street stock. The street stock also shares the same sounds. To me the late model needds to sound more snarling and modern, really hope the new sounds will be amazing.

  8. Luis Babboni
    December 8th, 2011 at 12:52 am

    iRacing is a living thing!! Congrats and thanks to be like you are.

  9. Riches
    December 8th, 2011 at 8:58 am

    I am looking forward to some more realistic sound for such a long time.
    Most sounds are to flat, lack punch and some dirty roar.

  10. nicholas
    December 8th, 2011 at 10:58 am

    che schifo

  11. Goo
    December 8th, 2011 at 11:22 am

    Two things cockpit sounds are horrible and hearing the car in front! improve these two things and good luck to Greg Hill!

  12. Gary Spang
    December 8th, 2011 at 6:07 pm

    Sound is definitely one thing iRacing needs to work on. I have recently tried the Simraceway beta and its engine samples, transmission whines, and ambient sounds are tremendously ahead of iRacing’s at this point. Fortunately for iRacing, the rest of their game is still rFactor based and thus isn’t very realistic. But aurally, Simraceway’s cars sound a whole lot more like they would in a real car at speed and not just sitting on a dyno or being sampled in a garage.

    • ARG
      December 9th, 2011 at 1:11 pm

      iRacing “sounds” are good and will only get better. Good article!

    • uhhuh
      December 10th, 2011 at 9:57 pm

      SimRaceway’s sounds are the default ones found in rFactor… nothing special and you can hear the samples loop very easily.