Is the sound of televised darts actually a triggered kick drum sample?

Is the sound of darts hitting the board actually a bass drum sample?
(Image credit: Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)

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

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

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Tony made the revelation in response to a tweet from UberFacts, which asked “What company secrets can you reveal, now that you don’t work for the company anymore?”

His tweet read, “When watching darts on TV the sound as the dart hits the board is made with a contact mic mounted behind the board which triggers a sample of a kick drum. You may not have had your head that close to a dart board before, but a small point going into felt doesn’t go “thud”.

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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 accompanied by the caption “This is the biggest scandal of the day”.

James later followed-up with his own on-air ‘investigation’ on Wednesday, reading an email from Dave Allen, Head of Media for the Professional Darts Corporation which disputed the claim.

“Unfortunately, it’s not true that it’s a kick drum." Allen says. "There are four holes in the wooden backboard and these have microphones in them to pick up the sound. They’re behind the 20, 19, 6, 11. If people listen carefully they can hear the difference between his, ie. the triple-20 is different to the double-18, for instance.”

However James also contacted original tweeter, Tony Churnside, who pointed James towards a Radio 4 documentary, where BBC Sound Superviser, Andy James is quoted saying, 

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

"We play around with kick drums, snare drums, dustbins falling over, anything else we can find. It just adds a bit of fun, really, to what can get a bit repetitive.” 

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

Stuart Williams

I'm a freelance member of the MusicRadar team, specialising in drum news, interviews and reviews. I formerly edited Rhythm and Total Guitar here in the UK and have been playing drums for more than 25 years (my arms are very tired). When I'm not working on the site, I can be found on my electronic kit at home, or gigging and depping in function bands and the odd original project. 

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