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Super Bowl XLVII

God, Grunts, And Gridiron Guff: Hear The Top 10 Sounds of the Super Bowl

Listen to the 10 big sounds of the Super Bowl, as determined by a couple of pro sound mixers, and get your ears in tune for Game Day.

  • 01 /10 | Grunts

    There is perhaps nothing more savage on the field than the involuntary grunts emitted by bodies under duress. The sound of grunting in a football game is much more pronounced than that of its lesser counterpart: that dirge from the gym-rat bro who has bitten off more than he can chew on the the bench press.

    "Along with the helmet-to-helmet hits, I think the 'grunt’ sounds are probably the most iconic football sounds," Jucarone says.

  • 02 /10 | Whistles

    Whistles are a near-constant presence in any football game. Even though you may hear the sound anywhere from at a crosswalk to the chorus of a Supertramp song, hearing it in the context of a football game thrusts you right into a game day mindset.

    Although the sound typically comes from the game’s refs, New Orleans’ horse-riding cops have a tendency to pop up when you least expect them.

  • 03 /10 | Cheering crowds

    Sometimes the sound of a crowd cheering amps the cheering crowd up even further so that the hype basically turns in on itself and creates a transcendent moment of communal exultation that even the viewers at home can feel.

    "In a surround 5.1 mix, I like it when you can really feel the stadium around you--the crowd, the announcers, everything--with the on-the-field action in front of you, bringing you closer to really being there," says Sayers.

  • 04 /10 | Trash-talking

    Football players are not exactly known for their manners. When they want the opposition cowed, they will throw out every verbal vulgarity within reach, some of which inevitably gets captured and played in the stands and to the audience at home. Listen above for what it sounds like to be on Ray Lewis’ (s)hit list.

    "Easily the most annoying sound of the day," both mixers agree.

  • 05 /10 | Emotional God-thanking

    As Tim Tebow has amply demonstrated, faith in God is not uncommon among football players. The sound of victorious players giving it up for God is among the most prominent you’re likely to here all day on Super Bowl Sunday. Listen above for Ray Lewis showing how it’s done.

  • 06 /10 | Helmet to helmet hits

    That crunch on the field is never so pronounced as when two players helmets make contact. Well, "make contact" is a generous way to put it; they basically collide like rams locking horns. This brutal noise can be rather unsettling because it forces the person listening to imagine the concussions that could come as a result.

    "There’s a, uh, I hesitate to say 'quality’ to this sound that is somehow pleasing within the context of the game; whereas other sounds are iconic but can also be abrasive," says Jucarone.

  • 07 /10 | Air-horns

    Along with the constant whistling, air horns are another common signifier of action on the field. These sound off whenever any big play is made, creating a pavlovian association with first downs for some players, probably.

  • 08 /10 | Quarterbacks calling audibles

    Plans change sometimes, and it’s important to be limber and adaptable and roll with the new. When something about the opposition’s setup forces the quarterback to think on his feet in the huddle, he’s going to have to bark at his team for a moment, and we’re going to hear it all.

  • 09 /10 | Big wet kisses

    Bet you didn’t see this one coming. It’s true, though. Although most of the Super Bowl-associated kissing takes place after the game when everyone’s in celebration or wound-licking mode, even during the game, you’re likely to hear some lip-smacking action. Listen above for Colin Kaepernick laying one on… his own bicep.

  • 10 /10 | Beyonce's singing voice

    Forget all the controversy surrounding whether her inauguration vocals were lip synced or not, Beyonce has pipes for days and they will be on full display during her no doubt anthemic halftime show. Despite all the memorable noises generated by the players and those in the stands, it is the Queen Bey’s voice you will likely walk away from the game with in your head.

Sound plays a pivotal role in the football spectator experience. Hearing the primal crunch of heavily padded bodies slamming into each other brings an immediacy to the proceedings that registers on a deeper level than merely watching. Some of the sounds most heavily associated with the Super Bowl, however, have less to do with the action on the field than the surrounding commotion it inspires.

One person who’s keenly aware of what the Super Bowl sounds like is Tom Jucarone, and that’s because it’s his job to know. Jucarone is a partner and audio mixer at Manhattan-based production house Sound Lounge. Along with mixer Rob Sayers, he is one of the go-to sound experts for creatives, working with many of the major brands on their ads for the big game. One year, in fact, 12 of the game day commercials were mixed by Jucarone. It’s this familiarity with the sonics of the Super Bowl that give him and Sayers the authority to declare what will be the top ten sounds of the show.

Although a lot of sports contain iconic sounds, perhaps none register in the same way that gridiron sounds do. "A great sound mix can really enhance any sport production, no matter the environment," Sayers says, "although there is a bigness about football that’s unique."

From the grunts and trash talk coming from the field to the fans’ cheers when Beyonce takes the stage, game day will be enveloped in a rich field of sounds that instantly identify just what it is you are taking in. Go through the slide show above to find out what the ten sounds are and get an early earful.

[Referee Image: Flickr user Lee Winder, and Football Players Image: Daniel Padavona via Shutterstock]