Is the sound of TV darts actually a triggered bass drum sample?

There’s a lot going on in the world right now, but one of the most unusual news to emerge this week involves the replacement of sound in professional darts broadcasts.

Tony Churnside, who describes himself on his Twitter profile as “Radio maker. Immersive/interactive audio expert. sound doctorate. Sound Design.” took to the social media platform to claim that the sound we hear through our TV speakers when a dart hits a dartboard is actually, in fact, a sample of bass drum.

Tony made the revelation in response to a tweet from UberFacts, which asked “What company secrets can you reveal, now that you no longer work for the company?”

His tweet read: “When watching darts on TV, the sound when the dart hits the board is made with a contact mic mounted behind the board that triggers a sample of a bass drum. You may not have had your head this close to a dart board before, but a small dot that goes into the felt doesn’t “pop”.

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The tweet found its way to BBC Radio 1’s Greg James, who discussed it on his show, tweeting a clip of him reading Tony’s tweet along with the caption ‘This is the biggest scandal of the day’.

James then continued his own “investigation” on air Wednesday, reading an email from Dave Allen, media manager for the Professional Darts Corporation, who disputed the claim.

“Unfortunately, it’s not true that it’s a bass drum.” Allen said. “There are four holes in the wooden back panel and these have microphones to pick up sound. They are behind 20, 19, 6, 11. If people listen carefully, they can hear the difference between his i.e. triple-20 is different from double-18, for example.

However, James also contacted the original tweeter, Tony Churnside, who directed James to a Radio 4 documentary, where BBC sound supervisor Andy James is quoted saying:

“Darts are all about fun, so you know, we like to have a little fun with sound. So what we do is we use the actual sound of the dart hitting the board to trigger samples.

“We play kick drums, snare drums, falling trash cans, whatever we can find. It just adds a bit of fun, really, to what can get a little repetitive.”

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Meanwhile, Greg James has pledged to continue his so far inconclusive investigation.

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