Thursday, July 20, 2006

The SoundSeeing World of Audio Travel

The SoundSeeing World of Audio Travel

A soundseeing tour is an audio recording of the sounds of a place. There is typically no narrative voice, so it helps to have a website that tells you what the file is about (or to have the file properly coded to show this in the file information). Soundseeing tours are a fairly popular form of podcast, though they usually supplement more traditional podcasts. At least that is the way I have used them in my Geography for Travelers podcast (listen, for example, to my Hawaii episode).

Below are the two best sources for soundseeing tours that I have found. If you know of others, please send me the links (

"SoundTransit is a collaborative, online community dedicated to field recording and phonography."

This is a database of soundseeing tours from around the world. gives you two ways of listening to soundseeing .mp3 files. The first is to search by country and place, which results in a listing and description of contributed sound files.

The second version is more of a random file generator, although that is not very obvious from the description. What it does is it allows you to "Book a Transit" by identifying a start and end place, and indicate 1 to 5 stopovers. The site then generates several sample itineraries of sound files that one might encounter by following this transit. It also creates a map showing the transit route and the locations of the soundseeing files. However, the transits actually make no logical sense. I entered Montreal and Cuauhtemoc, Mexico, and the itinerary included Portland (Oregon), Yamaguchi (Japan), and New Plymouth (New Zealand). The site design is very Web 2.0/Ajaxy, so I am guessing that this randomness is intentional. is a collaraborative website, and those who wish to post their sound files to the site submit it to the site owners by email with a description. As of this writing, some 225 different people had submitted sound files and were listed in the Artists section. There is no RSS feed, though there are plans to start one in the future.

Soundseeing Podcasts
from the

"This podcast is here to aggregate the best of soundseeing podcasts. There are so many great ones and their need to be a central place for finding these gems. Anyone can submit his or her podcast for addition to the feed."

This is more of an open source site for podcasters who play around with soundseeing tours from time to time. They can submit their soundseeing podcast episode here, and anyone who subscribes to the's RSS feed will get it. The result is an incredible diversity of sounds. It looks like there were 42 postings when I checked the site. It also appears to be a way for podcasts to broaden their name exposure, which means that these are experienced podcasters who are posting these audio files. As mentioned above, just hope that the file is properly coded so you can find out just what you are listening to, without having to always check back on the website.

UPDATES (17Aug07)
1- is a new US-based website for soundscenes.
2- I recently posted a soundseeing tour of Danxiashan in China

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