Can You change the Mac Start Up Sound?

The Mac startup sound wasn’t a $$$ marketing exercise. It was a hack that was quietly dropped into the machine by an engineer with a home studio… can you change the sound? As far as I know… no. here’s more.>> This [mp3] famous Mac startup sound (still installed in every new Mac) was recorded Jim Reekes, and first used on the Quadra 700, which launched in 1991 costing $7,000. >> Jim’s most famous pop-culture moment was the scene in Jurassic Park where the park’s computers are all rebooted with his sound. But it’s most awesome musical use is as the bassline in Transformer di Roboter’s ace cover of ‘Stranger in Moscow’ – here [mp3] 

>> Jim ‘came out’ about creating various Mac sounds (most famously Sosumi) to Boing Boing last month. But he’s never before revealed how he actually made them: >> “The startup sound was done in my home studio on a Korg Wavestation. It’s a C Major chord, played with both hands stretched out as wide as possible (with 3rd at the top, if I recall). This just sounded right to me. I wanted something really fat, heavy bass, high notes, and a sharp attack. The chiffy sound was from pan pipes and something like a stick hit (I’m testing my memory here). I wanted lots of evolving timbres, stereo phasing, and reverb for further richness.” >>“Mac people are very familiar with the sound, after restarting their machines too often. In fact, that was one of the issues I was conscious of when designing the sound. Turning the Mac on is one thing, but being forced to reboot from a crash is a totally different experience. I wanted to avoid a sound that would be associated with the crash. I wanted it to sound more like a “palette cleanser”. >>“After I changed the startup sound (which required much persuasion and working around the system) the ROM engineers continued changing it with each new machine. Some of them were weak, such as the Stanley Jordon guitar strum used on the first PowerMacs. I objected to it, because that sound had no “power”. The engineer wasn’t a recording engineer, and not familiar enough with audio. The sound was hallow and without depth. When Steve Jobs returned in 1997, I heard he wanted only one sound for all Macs. He wanted the “good one” which was the one I created. At least that’s how I heard the story, and I was still working there at the time.” >> If you’re concerned that you don’t know enough about vintage Mac Startup sounds, I can recommend Mactracker, which runs on Mac or PC. Don’t show it to your girlfriend. (Source)

8 Responses to Can You change the Mac Start Up Sound?

  1. tiger says:

    it’s interesting to me that this article doesn’t mention *why* you can’t change the startup sound. that startup chime is not just a cute sound designed to delight you – it’s actually the result of a battery of diagnostic tests the Mac runs on its various systems – RAM, motherboard, video circuitry, etc. – at startup. if everything checks out, you’ll hear the familiar startup chord; if anything fails, you’ll hear…something else. exactly what the failure sound will be depends on which model of Mac you have; some of the things i’ve heard are minor chords and arpeggios (way back on my old Mac II) and the even more unnerving sound of screeching tires followed by a horrendous crash. so just remember, if your Mac won’t start up and you use any means of silencing the startup chord, you may be missing out on some audible feedback that could alert you to the nature of the problem.

    on more recent hardware it’s also possible to mute the startup chord on a startup-by-startup basis by holding down the mute button on the keyboard until after the chord would normally have sounded.

    • Max says:

      “audible feedback that could alert you to the nature of the problem”…?

      No, you’re only alerted to the fact that there is a problem, not to the nature of it. If something fails at startup and you hear some strange sound other than the startup chord, so what? How many users would know exactly what failed based on the sound… few, if any.

      Don’t make this sound like some brilliant technical feature that enables users. To many people, the sound is only slightly less annoying than the difficulty with which it can be permanently silenced.

      Fabulous to see all this interesting content that has almost nothing to do with the title, but at least the question was answered immediately. 🙂

  2. Jane says:

    The sound was used in the animated movie Wall-E as well. Not that that’s in any way relevant I just thought I’d share.

  3. well, what do you know? I still have to check that out!

  4. […] Can You change the Mac Start Up Sound? « Thunk Different..Mac Startup […]

  5. Alan says:

    Well Jane, Pixar IS somehow owned by Steve Jobs, so… it would make sense =)

  6. rottweiler says:

    thnks for sharing

  7. Heya i’m for the first time here. I found this board and I find It really useful &
    it helped me out a lot. I hope to give something back and help others like you
    aided me.

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