August 30, 2014
Feb 4, 2013
03:29 PM

The story behind one of the TTC’s most distinctive sounds

The TTC chose the best of 10 sounds for its pre-announcement chime (Image: TTC/Mike DeToma)

After hearing that the newest TTC Rockets will be getting exterior door chimes along with some other tweaks, we got thinking about another well-known sound that every TTC commuter knows very well. It’s a sound that grabs our attention — or tries to, at least — during even the most chaotic and loudest of rush hour times: the TTC pre-announcement chime.

The chime, which can be heard throughout the TTC before recorded announcements are played, was designed to cut through the clutter of TTC noise and be pleasant enough to listen to over time. It was a project that was spearheaded by Stephen Granger of Granger Digital, located in the Yonge and Summerhill neighbourhood, which specializes in video production and post-production. The TTC approached Granger in 2005 with the task of creating a sound that could be heard through high levels of traffic and noise; a sound that could also be played in locations with poor acoustic quality.

To get the right sound, Granger brought in professional musicians and sound experts Jillian Lee and Marco Del Degan (the latter’s previous work includes sound design for Bravo and CTV).

“It was with their talents that these sounds could be created,” says Granger.

The duo created 50 unique, electronically-produced sounds which were then narrowed down to a top 10 list. The list was then forwarded on to the TTC. From there, the 10 sounds were tested in the PA systems at various locations to get a sense of what worked best, and the TTC eventually decided upon the chime we love (and loathe) today. The chime was implemented in 2006.

Of the project, Granger says that it “was not only unique and challenging, but a lot of fun as well. Every time I ride the TTC and hear that distinctive chime, a smile appears on my face as I think back to this project with great satisfaction.”

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