Last week I had some chances to capture sounds of ice down by the lake, this time from some different perspectives.
First out is a recording I made last Saturday with my NT1-A’s in a stereo array. It’s recorded just after midnight. The conditions were good, with temperatures dropping to below -15° Celsius and no wind. The only disturbing element were an aircraft that just wouldn’t go away. I tried to wait it out for more than an hour but finally gave in and made the recording anyway, hence the low-frequency hum coming from the right. As in the case with my earlier ice recording this year I did some cut and paste this time as well, the original recording spans about 30 minutes. I really find some of these sounds to be very nightmarish.
The other three recordings were made yesterday. As me and Matilda were on our way home after a day of ice skating on the lake I noticed some intense ice movements. At home I switched the skating gear in favour of the recording gear and then headed back down to the lake. The sun was setting as I arrived and some guys that had been out ice fishing on the middle of the lake were leaving. So I went over there and used one of their holes to get below the sheet of ice with my hydrophone. These recordings are not manipulated in any way, the activity going on where so intense I could actually feel the ice moving underneath me.
First of is a short recording made with the hydrophone as a contact mic. As you probably notice the microphone’s self noise is very evident due to high gain:
In the second recording the hydrophone is lowered about 10 cm’s into the water, centering it in the 20 cm thick layer of ice. Be advised that some of the sounds in this recording are very loud.
Geek note: Aquarian H2a -> Sound Devices 702
In the last recording the hydrophone is lowered about 1 meter into the water, positioning it about 40 cm’s below the sheet of ice.
Geek note: Aquarian H2a -> Sound Devices 702
Of these three hydrophonic recordings I’m most fond of the last one as you’re able to hear distant sounds as well as close by cracks very clearly. It’s also a bit warmer to the tone than the second one. I just wish I had a second hydrophone for stereo recordings.
Going out to the countryside for a relaxing vacation can be an unexpectedly noisy experience. The barn in the picture below is where my grandparents sheep are housed at night during the colder seasons, but it turned out to be far from deserted even this time of year. Swallows flew back and forth, kittens were playing in the loft, a couple of pigeons was going about their business and flies buzzed around.
By the end of last week the weather got more dramatic with hard winds blowing in from Skagerak, gaining their strength from the Atlantic ocean. I headed up on crest west of the farm, from where you have a nice view of the ocean below.
On the top of the crest is an old cairn in which I placed my stereo rig in protection from the wind.
If you think that the stereo width sounds somewhat flat it’s because the placement within the cairns sheltering walls. This location was the only option for making the recording as the gusts where battering down hard from all directions. Despite this I must say that I’m pretty satisfied with the results.
Me and Matilda spent last week in and around Karlshamn where we took care of Stella, her parents dog, while they where abroad. The first couple of days we stayed at a friends place on a small island called Hallö, situated about 15 minutes by boat of the mainland. At first thought islands offer great opportunities when it comes to recording nature soundscapes as you don’t have to worry about cars ruining your set. On the other hand boats tends to be at least as noisy and sounds carries easily over open space. So to avoid disturbing noises I got up early one morning to record some dawn choruses as well as ambience down by the cliffs. The rumble that’s audible in the background in both recordings is waves that breaks further out at sea.
The recording of the dawn chorus below is made at the the south side of Hallö, where the vegetation was denser than on the rest of the island:
Geek note: 2 x Røde NT1-A’s (ORTF, 17 cm spacing, 110 degrees) -> Sound Devices 702
Down by the cliffs on the islands north side I got the opportunity to watch (and listen to) a fisherman emptying his nets some hundred meters out at sea. Trailing behind him where numerous of fish terns, herring gulls and sea gulls. This recording consists of some of the more common sounds that you hear when spending time in the Swedish archipelago.
Geek note: 2 x Røde NT1-A’s (ORTF, 17 cm spacing, 110 degrees) -> Sound Devices 702
Last Saturday a huge thunderstorm moved in over Copenhagen causing flooded streets, blackouts and demolished cell towers as 150mm of rain fell within a few hours. That amount of rainfall is extreme here as it usually takes a period of three months to get up to 150mm. On this side of the strait we could hear some of the thunder rolling in, so after getting home from work I placed my mics on the balcony and recorded for about half an hour. Here are some extracts.
As you can hear there are some rattling sounds to be heard during the loudest thunderclaps, I’m not sure if this is the product of the NT1-A’s being overloaded or if it’s something rattling on the balcony. Do any of you with experience of recording with large-diaphragm microphones know if it might be an issue using these mics while recording loud noises containing low frequencys? Would I be better off using for example a pair of AT-4041?
Next to our laundry room this old beauty resides (alright it’s not the sexiest of all photos, but it’ll give you an idea of how it looks).
It’s a stone mangle made here in Malmö at A.T. Antonssons Mangelfabrik in the 1950’s. Antonssons mangle factory shut down in the late 80’s as the industrial decline had stomped down hard on Malmö for decades, so entering our laundry room is somewhat like stepping into a small museum displaying some of this city’s former glory of industrial pride.
I can’t help but being fascinated by it still standing there in working condition after all those years. Its weight at about 1500kg might be part of the explanation, but I doubt that anyone is actually using it today.
Some days ago I decided to give it a go in front of my mics. I love the sound of old mechanical machinery and I certainly didn’t get dissapointed by its clonks and creaks.
Finally back on track with ten more hours of upload time on Soundcloud.
I’ll start out with sharing some recordings made in the forests of Blekinge an early morning a couple of weeks ago. After walking on a hiking trail about half an hour from where I left the car I found a fallen tree in a small beech forest surrounded by grassland. The tree made these lovely squeaking noises when the wind took hold of it. Despite efforts of putting the mics in cover I still had to use the high pass-filter to remove some of the rumbling caused by the fairly strong gusts.
These two recordings where part of the first test run I did with a used Sound Devices 702 I recently bought. And yes, the 702 is the main reason I couldn’t afford the Soundcloud upgrade sooner. All in all I agree with Audiofieldrecorders thoughts about it, a lovely piece of machinery that you will definitely hear more from.
Me and Matilda went out on a short hiking trip last Saturday to Sunday. The ambivalence that shows itself in nature being dragged back and forth between winter and spring truly is fascinating and beautiful.
Arriving at Listersjön, a lake in the middle of Blekinge, we decided to set up camp and go for dinner after which we set out exploring the surroundings while collecting firewood. The area consisted of several small frozen lakes framed by coniferous as well as beech woods.
Once back at camp we went to bed for what on my behalf would turn out to be a restless night. I was awakened several times by loud cracks and strange sounds I couldn’t relate to in my drowsiness. After a while I realized that the sounds were coming from the frozen lake just 20 meters away. At about 5.30 in the morning I got up just as the sun started to rise. Those of you who have been following this blog for the last month knows that I recorded a few sessions of cracking ice, but nothing I’ve heard before comes close to the sounds that the ice on Listersjön emitted. Have a listen at these extracts (headphones recommended for best results);
When finished with the ice recording many of the forests inhabitants had awakened. Birds where singing as the sun was rising so I grabbed my gear and went up on a small crest just behind camp to record some birdsong, in the meantime I took the opportunity to warm up in the sunlight.
Spring will surely prevail sooner or later.
About load and carrying
This is what I brought with me:
-2 x Røde NT1-As
-Camera tripod with DIY-shockmounts for the NT1-As
-2 x DIY-windscreens for the NT1-As
-2 x Røde WS2 Windscreens
-2 x socket wrenches
-4 x 9v-batteries
-8 x AA-batteries
+Everything else you need not to starve or freeze to death when hiking in temperatures sub zero.
As you can see this gear is far from portable in the sense that you would not like to carry it with you for longer periods of time. However when out trekking for just a couple of days you’ll be fine, even during winter when you need to bring a heavier sleeping bag, more clothes and so on.
What I did was to distribute the weight like this: On my back I had the backpack containing everything excepts the audio gear which I carried in a camera-bag on my chest strapped to the backpacks shoulder straps. This somewhat evened out the load even though the strain on my shoulders increased some.
When going out trekking later on this year I’ll probably try to fit my audio gear into the backpack as I think this will put more of the pressure on my hips where it doesn’t feel so burdensome. The downside of this will be a bulkier backpack as well as the fact that it will be harder to reach and assemble your gear quickly when needed.
Some of you reading this probably have vast experience trailing different kinds of gear around and I’d be more than happy if you want to share your experiences with me.
Despite bulky equipment I’m glad that I made the decision to bring all the gear with me as the memory of this audio intense spring hike will live on forever.
Geek note: Both recordings made with 2 x Røde NT1-As (ORTF position, angled 110 degrees 17 cm apart) -> Rolls PB224 -> Sony PCM-D50
Close to Matildas parents place are some fairly large substations located, they’re connected to a cable for exporting/importing electricity which is transported underneath the Baltic sea to and from Poland. I walked up there when the sun was setting and ended up recording in complete darkness. After recording about ten minutes I was almost scared to death by two deers that suddenly appeared on the road about five meters in front of me. I had my back turned against the microphones while still monitoring the recording so you won’t hear them on the recording and neither did I when they approached. They didn’t seem to notice me at all.
I went up to this place once before to record in mono with my Sennheiser ME64, but I wasn’t satisfied with the result and have ever since been longing to capture it in stereo with a pair of low self-noise microphones.
Unfortunately I forgot my camera when leaving Malmö so I don’t have any pictures that will give you an idea about what it looks like there.
In the first recording I centered my stereo rig in front of two pylons and directed my microphones up towards the power lines. The crackling sound is coming from two sets of coils, one hanging under each pylon. About 1:30 you’ll hear some kind of machinery starting in a building to the left to which the power lines connects.
The second recording is made at the place where the electricity is transferred from the cable under ground to power lines above ground. For some reason I get an error message when trying to put two players from Bandcamp in the same post (“TypeError: Error #1010”, anybody knows why?) so here’s the link to the second recording:
The other day I went down to Öresundsbron, the big bridge that connects Sweden and Denmark. I set my rig underneath the bridge on the Swedish side with the microphones directed towards the strait and Denmark. You can hear the traffic passing by on top of the bridge and at the end of the clip a train approaching on the midsection of the bridge. There were some birds presents and of course water lapping gently against the rocks underneath the massive construction. You can also hear the drone from a close by air duct.
I had to cut the clip just before the train passed by as I’d set the gain to match the traffic on the highway above the train section. Obviously that was far too high as the sound of the oncoming train almost blew my eardrums away.
Geek note: 2xRøde NT1-As (ortf position, 17 cm spacing, angled 110 degrees) -> Rolls PB223 -> Sony PCM-D50
So, while being at my grandparents place this weekend I took the chance to use their numerous tools and workbench to build a stereo array for my pair of Røde NT1-A’s.
Press here to see Tom Williams nice guide that I followed. I must say that I’m kind of proud that I actually managed to put this together.
Attaching the metal plate to the tripod quick mount.
Adjusting the plastic tubes to the length of the NT1-A’s
Voila, shock mounts completed
Here you can see how the suspensions for the mics are attached
My grandmother showed how to go about sewing the windscreens
Here the completed rig is seen under my test. I’m going to cut of an additional 10-15cms from the windscreens.
The pre-drilled holes in the 20cm long metal plate that the microphones are attached to makes it easy to play around with different distances between them, 17cm apart being the ortf-standard. This gives me plenty of in-field options for my rig when it comes to experimenting with different stereo images. So from this day on I’ll always bring a wrench.
As the weekend indeed have been very windy at the Swedish west coast I was offered the perfect opportunity to try out my new gear. The recording found below captures the wind taking hold of trees, bushes and leaves in the forest next to my grandparents backyard just minutes before a light rain began to fall. The low frequency thumps that can be heard is the product of me sloppily leaving one of the mic-cables hanging freely in the wind, resulting in it repeatedly hitting the tripod that the NT1-A’s were mounted on. As I was stressed by the oncoming rain i decided to keep on recording, it just being a test and all.
Geek note: 2xRøde NT1-A (ortf-position, 17 cm spacing, improvised angle) -> Rolls PB223 -> Sony PCM-D50 (low cut filter on to reduce the effects of the wind)