Domus Mixtape #9: The Sound of Las Vegas

A binaural immersion into the environments of winning, and losing, in the gambling-as-spectacle capital of the world.

Mixtape series curated by Daniel Perlin .
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Photo by Pedro Meyer.

We hear a room full of hundreds of slot machines making their appeal. Occasionally we hear the machines paying out in the clinking of coins. My path was guided by the sounds of winning. In this recording I would get as close as possible to the people and machines that were paying out. I recorded this piece with a pair of tiny homemade microphones hidden in a hat while walking around the casinos in Las Vegas. One microphone on each side of my head in front of my ears. The technique is called binaural recording. My head becomes an obstacle for the sound so that a sound coming from the right has to travel a greater distance to the left ear, creating a slight time delay which our brains use to locate the source of the sound. The shape of our ears allows our brains to figure out if a sound is coming from the front or behind of us. With this recording technique—which is ideal for reproducing the "live" sensation of a concert hall or any type of ambient or naturalistic recording—my ears become reflectors and obstacles for the sound before it hits the microphone, which creates a very detailed and immersive stereo field.
Noah Sheldon
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Noah Sheldon is a photographer and artist based in Shanghai, China, and Brooklyn, New York.

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