Interview: Boris Vanian talks about his work creating custom aircraft sound packs for MSFS

Boris Vanian has rapidly emerged as a prominent figure in the MSFS community, celebrated for his remarkable craftsmanship in creating custom aircraft sound packs. His excellent custom packs for the SR22, C152, and C172 have dramatically enhanced the flying experience in each of these models, garnering widespread attention.

His talents have not only captivated simmers but also caught the eye of several development teams who have eagerly sought his skills to bring a new level of realism and detail to their aircraft sounds. Examples of his acclaimed work can be seen in the FlightFX Vision Jet and the ultra-popular FlyByWire A320, a project that served as the launching pad for Boris’ career as a sound design specialist for simulated aircraft.

This week, I had the unique privilege of conducting an exclusive interview with Boris, delving into the life and work of this very talented young enthusiast. We discussed his background, his latests projects, some recent teasers, and the intricate details behind his exceptional work. So, fasten your seatbelts and prepare to immerse your senses in some of the finest auditory experiences Microsoft Flight Simulator has to offer, as we learn more about Boris and his work.

Boris Audio Works Cessna 152 MSFS
The Cessna 152 Sound Set is the latest release under Boris’ own brand, Boris Audio Works.

Vasco Boris, could you start by telling us a bit about yourself and your background?

Boris – I’m from the US, mainly the Washington D.C. area. That’s where I was born and where I have resided for the last several years. Before this, I lived the first few years of my life in Moscow, Russia, and moved out in 2014. Since the summer of this year, I am studying at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana, and I will be here for a while.

I have always traveled several times a year, often internationally. Aircraft sounds fascinated me very much; they were always the most memorable part of my flights, strangely enough.

Boris vanian audio works msfs 2

Boris vanian audio works msfs 3

Then in 2020, when Microsoft Flight Simulator came out, I decided to start working on some sounds, mainly the Flybywire A32NX. Initially, it did not work out – I wanted to release some sounds into one of the first stable versions, but the community pushed back because the sounds were… quite bad, to be blunt! After a while, I got better and better, and the results showed this. I started to make a name for myself. All of it was self-taught, so of course, it took a while for me to get the hang of it, but it was a worthwhile process!

Boris has collaborated with FlyByWire, FlightFX, and other prominent developers in the community.

Vasco What has been your favorite project so far?

Boris – Ooh, tough one. There are a few projects that all have a special place in my heart. Mainly, we have the A32NX project – this is where it all started, where I got my place in the community, and where I met some of my best friends.

Then we have the FlightFX Avanti that I am going to be working on. This project led me to meet with the team, to fly on one of, if not my favorite aircraft, and to really experience what it’s like to be in such a professional environment.

Lastly, my favorite project in the short term is the CRJ – mainly because it is also one of my favorite aircraft in the real world. I love the aesthetic of the CRJ, and I love the sound of the CF34. I have been making a lot of progress on that soundset, and it feels very rewarding so far!

Vasco Tell us more about that project. Recently you have been teasing this new sound pack for the Aerosoft CRJ. What drew you to this aircraft?

Boris – Well, the CF34 is a very underrated engine – soundwise. I feel like it’s underrepresented in the flight simulation world. With me doing so much domestic travel in the US, it’s mainly either the Embraer E-jets or the CRJ series that I get to fly on. Since I already love the engine sound of it, me having the constant reminder of how good it sounds every month or two, it really pushed me to make the audio for this. I love the CRJ specifically due to its aesthetics, the T-tail, the way it is so low to the ground, and the CRT cockpit. I also love the E-jets though, since they also have a CF34 engine, and I might have to gauge interest on that soundset at some point.

Vasco Can you describe your process for creating these sounds? Do you record them from real airplanes?

Boris – Well, it depends on the aircraft type. For general aviation sounds, I mainly record on my own. I have to fly these aircraft for training or for travel purposes, and the recording of sounds is super simple, as I just clip the microphone on and don’t have to think about it. For larger aircraft, such as the A32NX, since I am not (yet) an A320 pilot, we have engineers or other sources record sounds for us for use in the simulator.

Vasco How time-intensive is creating a sound pack? Does an airliner give you more work than a GA airplane?

Boris – Absolutely – airliners are way more complex due to the sheer amount of systems there are. A GA sound pack still takes me a while, I don’t know for sure but around 30-50 hours of work would be my guess. As for airliners, it may be double that. Just depends on the complexity of the aircraft.

A very early preview of the takeoff sounds in the upcoming FlyByWire A380.

Vasco As you explained, you’ve worked on your own packs, collaborated with FBW and FlightFX… can we find your work somewhere else?

Boris – So far, I have worked with those companies, and I am working on the COWS DA-42 project – that one was quite hyped up a while back, but expect some news on that project very soon! Currently, I am working with 2 large developers under NDA which I cannot reveal, but they are very big names in the flight simulation space, and I am sure people will be excited to see them once it is revealed.

Vasco I understand you’ve also been working on the A38X project. Can you tell us more about that?

Boris – It’s a very ambitious project, and audio for it has been progressing. A while back, I shared a few teasers about those sounds, and I am still working on them.

A cold and dark start with some hydraulics sounds in the A38X.

Vasco Are there any other aircraft sounds in simulators that have impressed you?

Boris – Well, I have always been a huge fan of the A320ceo versions, the CFM56 and IAE. I am glad to see that Dave and the sound team from Fenix have really gotten the CFM sounds right, and I am a huge fan of their work. Otherwise, I have really loved JustFlight and their sound team – they made great sounds for their Piper aircraft and their airliners, the Fokker and BAE come to mind. Additionally, I am a HUGE fan of the KOSP sound sets for X-Plane – those are for the Toliss Airbuses, and the guy that runs that company is amazing, and I learned a lot from him, and we often share techniques and samples between each other to better our products.

Vasco: Do you see your hobby of creating custom sounds becoming a full-time job?

Boris – Well, I plan to continue my flying career to become an airline pilot in the future. To get there, I have to get a lot of ratings and certificates and gain a significant amount of flying experience. All of this really prevents me from pursuing this full-time – but I like to put a lot of effort into my projects so oftentimes I spend many hours of the day working on them. I definitely do see this hobby continuing over the next few years though, nothing really preventing me from continuing to pursue this passion!

Vasco What future projects can we expect from you?

Boris – Well, so far on the horizon I have a few things I can share. Mainly the CRJ and the Avanti – those are the primary projects. I also got some good recordings for the Beech Bonanza, and I think I will definitely work on that at some point. For the A32NX, there recently was an update that added the air starter unit, so I want to implement that noise (it’s very characteristic and painfully loud). Some secret sauce as well, that will become known eventually!