(Topic ID: 304489)

Aural Signature of EM Games

By JudeRussell

12 days ago


Topic Heartbeat

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  • 20 posts
  • 10 Pinsiders participating
  • Latest reply 8 days ago by gdonovan
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#1 12 days ago

Some Sunday morning musings -

One of the things that has drawn me to older EM games (I was tire kicking a Genie when I was sucked down the EM rabbit hole) is that the individual games seem to have an an aural or sonic signature, based on the manufacturer as well as the individual game design (layout, scoring choices, etc.)

For instance, my Duotron has a lot of 500 point scoring, so you get a lot of ding-ding-ding-ding-ding, often punctuated by an occasional 1000 pt chime as the digit carries. Domino, similar (bells, not chimes, but lots of 50 point scoring)

#SkyRider, on the other hand, has no multiple chime scoring, but does have a spinner which has it's own signature sound. For whatever reason, the Williams chimes that were installed in this particular game when I bought it bothered me and I sought out / installed CC chimes (with lovely wooden resonator boxes) to restore the original sound.

And of course, the sound is going to depend on design / layout choices - how many pop bumpers or slingshots or scoring rubbers, places you can get a lot of rapid scoring, etc.

The times I've played the games without the chimes connected, just something missing. Similarly, I don't like to play without the glass because there's too much mechanical noise that the glass mutes somewhat. And part of the reason I seem to like Gottlieb EMs is the chimes and the sound design.

I imagine that someone visually impaired, and perhaps a bit more aware of or dependent upon sound than most of us, might be able to identify a specific game via scoring patterns. And I imagine that at least some part of the allure of a certain game is how it sounds, on top of visuals and gameplay.

#2 12 days ago

You can have a room full of EMs all playing simultaneously, and they sing in harmony.
Try that with a room full of more "modern" games!
I know what you mean. I can identify many Gottlieb EMs by their start-up sounds; particularly the add-a-ball games. They all sing their own three note song, with thumping and clacking as the rhythm section.

#3 12 days ago

JudeRussell
I've come full circle from SS back to late 50s and early 60s ems especially games with 3 bells 1pt 10pt and 100 pt gong - the sounds of my childhood. I'm not a big fan of chimes especially the Williams chimes - even after rebuilding a chime unit the chimes don't do it for me like the bells.

#4 11 days ago

I can certainly identify which of my EM's is being played from another room. The reset sounds, sound of drop targets, especially when someone is dropping a series of 5000 pointers, the particular sound and pattern of a bonus countdown, the machine gun sound of particular pops with either their neighbors or a critically placed nearby rubber, flipper differences, the "ting" of some of the coin return doors as the machine is being nudged, the preferences of the person that walked into the gameroom to play (OK, that's cheating) and probably a few others that might require some experimentation. Do chime units for a given manufacturer have large variations, does the cab size affect the sound (the deeper post '75 Gottlieb cab vs the shallower cab it replaced), ...?

But I just know which machine it is, most probably because I've spend hours myself in front of each particular machine (both playing and servicing) subconsciously associating the sounds to the gameplay.

#5 11 days ago

My favorite EM sound “sequence” is on Lucky Hand when you roll over the 1110 switch. The “dIng ding DING” is unmistakable. The designers did a lot with what was given to them.

#6 11 days ago

Nothing more beautiful than the Gottlieb chimes on my Top Card. Especially when you hit any of the card deck standup targets and you hear the 100 point chime 5 times in succession.

I was an early solid state guy until I bought my first EM. Now my EMs outnumber my SSs 10-2.

#7 10 days ago
Quoted from MeNaCeFiRe:

My favorite EM sound “sequence” is on Lucky Hand when you roll over the 1110 switch. The “dIng ding DING” is unmistakable. The designers did a lot with what was given to them.

That definitely is a unique sound, and anyone who knows it, knows that it's a "Lucky Hand" playing.

#8 10 days ago

I've often wondered if machines of the same name left the factory with identical chime bar sets. My Gottlieb Atlantis has chimes tuned C, Eb, and G (low to high), a C minor chord. Did every Atlantis have these? Or was it just what was on hand on a particular day? The parts catalog only lists by size, so replacements would have been random.
Checking a few other games, one has a D minor set, and three have a minor with diminished 5th (C,Eb,Gb and C#,E,G). Curious if the tuning was part of the design, and is there only one "correct" set of chimes for a given title?

#9 10 days ago

I wonder if the chimes had been tuned to major chords, would the players have been happier while they were playing?

We have an arcade nearby with 8 or so EM's, and I love the sound of those EM's starting....all those score reels clacking away....love it! There's a "Fast Draw" and "Royal Flush" at the arcade - and I have the 2 player versions at home. I'll check the chimes and see if they're tuned the same. I suspect there was some element of randomness at the factory.

#10 10 days ago
Quoted from Sea_Wolf:

Nothing more beautiful than the Gottlieb chimes on my Top Card.

Gottlieb had the best chimes in the business with Bally close at their heels.

Chicago Coin had generally better chimes than Williams but that will vary by year. My Hi Flyer had a great "wooden box" chime set but I understand final year CC pins were saddled with actual doorbell sets to save money.

Spent a lot of time trying to make Williams chimes sound better, no matter what they still sounded janky.

#11 10 days ago

I've always assumed the chimes were just chunks of metal with specific dimensions and they then just put a set in each machine. I guess there could have been some type of effort given to matching up sets. Anyone know?

#12 10 days ago

Oh, it's gettin' crazy out here!

My Card Whiz chimes on B / D / F# Minor triad, but lower than pinbee's.
Quick Draw chimes on C# / D# / F#...definitely not Phrygian, Lydian or Lochrian. I'll need a 4th chime to lock it down....

Were those designers music majors as well? Is there a puzzle in the pitches they used...a secret message perhaps? Maybe if I play the game backwards...

#13 10 days ago
Quoted from paulace:

definitely not Phrygian, Lydian or Lochrian.

Modal scales! Love it!

#14 10 days ago
Quoted from Pinbee:

I've often wondered if machines of the same name left the factory with identical chime bar sets. My Gottlieb Atlantis has chimes tuned C, Eb, and G (low to high), a C minor chord. Did every Atlantis have these? Or was it just what was on hand on a particular day? The parts catalog only lists by size, so replacements would have been random.
Checking a few other games, one has a D minor set, and three have a minor with diminished 5th (C,Eb,Gb and C#,E,G). Curious if the tuning was part of the design, and is there only one "correct" set of chimes for a given title?

Nice to hear you "chime in" (hah!). Haven't heard from you in a while.

#15 10 days ago

Thanks,JR. Maybe someone at that shop you frequent can shed some light on this.
Didn't mention these in my first post, but...Baseball, C#,E,F# and Sky Jump D,Eb,Ab.

#16 10 days ago
Quoted from Pinbee:

Thanks,JR. Maybe someone at that shop you frequent can shed some light on this.
Didn't mention these in my first post, but...Baseball, C#,E,F# and Sky Jump D,Eb,Ab.

I don't know how musically astute Mr. Young is!

#17 10 days ago

You're blowing my mind with all those pitches, Pinbee! I suspect either complete Gottlieb genius messaging (which we haven't figured out yet) via chime pitches...OR....just random.

#18 10 days ago

I can generally tell the manufacturer of whatever pin my wife starts up downstairs when I’m upstairs by the start-up sequence sounds. The Gottliebs pulsing through the player unit, the Chicago Coins resetting the score reels 3 pulses at a time instead of 5, and my only Bally in the working lineup right now, Nip-It, seems to have it’s own identifiable “clickety-clack” sound. The rest are the Williams pins, including my only Woodrail, with the sound of the 5 balls being let go into the ball lift queue and at least one of the bells ringing.

And I heartily agree with jrpinball that a bunch of the machines played simultaneously is a beautiful sound!

#19 8 days ago
Quoted from gdonovan:

Chicago Coin had generally better chimes than Williams but that will vary by year. My Hi Flyer had a great "wooden box" chime set but I understand final year CC pins were saddled with actual doorbell sets to save money.

There's been a Hi Flyer on Craiglist locally, wonder if it was yours. I actually picked one up for friends a while back (hot air balloon pilot and his partner) that's still in my basement (waiting for a long delayed garage / workshop to get built) - it had Williams chimes and they bothered me so much I ordered some wooden box CC chimes. Love the warmer tone.

At some point someone was cranky about the cheap CC chimes and I dug up a youtude video with the doorbell chimes - and yeah, what were they thinking?

#20 8 days ago
Quoted from JudeRussell:

There's been a Hi Flyer on Craiglist locally, wonder if it was yours. I actually picked one up for friends a while back (hot air balloon pilot and his partner) that's still in my basement (waiting for a long delayed garage / workshop to get built) - it had Williams chimes and they bothered me so much I ordered some wooden box CC chimes. Love the warmer tone.
At some point someone was cranky about the cheap CC chimes and I dug up a youtude video with the doorbell chimes - and yeah, what were they thinking?

Last I knew it was for sale on Maine CL a year or two ago, the coin door and cab has lock bar holes so easy to spot.

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