‘Autumn Storms at Saham Hills’

Composed from natural field recordings, the sound track and film to  ‘Autumn Storms at Saham Hills’ were captured 16 September 2016 at Saham Hills, Norfolk, England.

The nearby lightning strike heard at the 11:00 min. mark tripped the electric power circuits to the property and also destroyed the telephone handset. I think this must be one of the closest strikes that I have managed to record so far without distortion.

Recording Gear Used:
x1 Sennheiser ME67 Long Shotgun Microphone with its K6 Powering Module tripod-mounted above the mid-side stereo microphone array.

The mid-side stereo array contained within the tripod-mounted large basket windshield blimp:
x1 Rode NT1A Microphone (mid)
x1 Rode NT2A  Microphone (fig 8 pattern side)

All with long cable feeds direct to an Edirol R-4 recorder (no preamp necessary on this occasion!), and powered with an external Yuasa NP7-12FR SLA battery pack.

Not forgetting my old faithful Slazenger umbrella which I discovered now leaks and needs either replacing or reproofing,  this is mounted to the same tripod as the large basket windshield blimp.

 

Awoken By This Mystery Sound

I was awoken just before midnight on 4th September by this Mystery Sound coming from the adjacent harvested stubble field, so I grabbed the Sony PCM-D100 recorder and managed to capture this handheld field recording through the open window. I could not risk going outside to record as the security lights would have triggered, scaring the animal or bird away.

The call sounds a bit like a deer, but it appears to vary as if moving back and forth across the field, any thoughts about what this could be would be greatly appreciated. The other call heard in the background appears to be from a Tawny Owl which appears to be joining in on the conversation!

  • Weather fine but breezy
  • Original audio format: 48KHz, 24-Bit
  • Sony PCM-D100 Settings: S/N=100dB, Gain 8.5
  • Inbuilt microphones 120 deg. X/Y with x2 layer faux-fur
  • Handheld through open window
  • Location: Saham Hills, Norfolk, England

 

‘Harvest Time’ A Natural Field Recording

HarvestTime 2016

‘Harvest Time’ is a natural field recording edited down to just under 1 hour, from 3 1/2 hours of recording carried out during the early evening periods of 13 and 14 August 2016, when the wheat was being harvested.

Location, Saham Hills, Norfolk, United Kingdom.

Best heard with headphones:

 

‘Straw Baling’  A Natural Field Recording

This natural field recording captures the hypnotic beat of a tractor and baling machine combination working a previously harvested wheat field ( See this post ), to collect and bale the cut straw.

Recorded 25 August 2016.

Location, Saham Hills, Norfolk, United Kingdom.

Best heard with headphones.

The Changing Face Of Sound

There appears to be a recent resurgence of interest in the more ‘subjective’ aspects of field recording, prompting me to repost one of my earlier (now archived) ‘Sonic Fields’ blog posts dating back to 2011. My concerns back then about certain aspects of field recordings are still relevant today, possibly even more so, given the relatively cheap and widespread use of DAWS, together with other readily available AV processing software.

Apologies for the non-active page links in the article, as the original archived .mht web page file format had to be converted to .pdf for use in the link below.

The Changing Face of Sound

A Defiant Song Thrush

Song-Thrush

My intention was to record a Song Thrush  (Turdus philomelos) happily singing away on his perch in the trees adjacent some barns about 75 metres away,   but I had to wait as USAF F-15 fighter jets from nearby RAF Lakenheath decided to start reconnaissance flights overhead.

USAF F-15 Audio

They were quickly followed by two Army Air Apache attack helicopters from nearby RAF Wattisham as they practiced their low flying skills from across the fields.

Apache-Gunship

Apache Gunship Audio

Once things had quietened down a bit, I was able to increase the recorder gain controls to capture an unperturbed Mr Song Thrush who had stood his ground and defied them all, making himself heard above the background noise of traffic and aircraft.

Song Thrush Audio

 

 

The Frustrations of Field Recording (3)

Recording thunderstorms can be very difficult, with the level of difficulty being inversely proportional to their distance away; with the prize capture and most difficult being a direct strike on the microphones, only joking of course!

In my previous post ‘Summer Storms’ I mentioned the fact that my field recording sessions covering the period 14th, 15th, 16th, 23rd & 25th June 2016 at Saham Hills, Norfolk, England did not all go to plan, so I will explain.

The storms during the course of those 5 days mentioned were very sporadic and unpredictable, with them suddenly appearing and disappearing just as quickly. The 23rd June however turned out to be the most productive day, with numerous intense storms accompanied by torrential rain, hail and frequent cloud-ground lightning strikes, but this is all in hindsight; the problem beforehand was of predicting when and where they would appear, or as with the previous days would they merely ‘pop-up’ and pass by some 5 – 10 miles away. Nevertheless, I was prepared and waiting with the Edirol R-4 recorder and RME Quadmic preamp connected to the mid-side stereo microphone array and Sennheiser long shotgun microphone via long cables and also the ‘drop & recover’ field recording package containing the Olympus LS11 with its external XY microphone array of Soundman OKM II Classic capsules and A3 preamp, so what could go wrong – I was completely covered?

What I failed to predict was how quickly the thunderstorm would appear, its intensity and its distance away. As mentioned previously the level of difficulty in recording thunderstorms is inversely proportional to its distance away, and in this case the distance away was zero miles as it appeared directly overhead with cloud – ground lightning strikes within 100 yards, so the level of difficulty was ‘difficult’.

Unfortunately the recordings of the closer thunderclaps captured on the ‘drop & recover’ package were completely distorted as the Soundman Classic II microphone capsules are only rated to 103 dB and I would estimate these close strikes being in the region of 120 – 130 dB; so whatever gain levels, pads or limiters* had been set on the A3 preamp or  Olympus recorder , the signal had already been distorted at the microphone.

‘Drop & Recover’ Audio Clip  (warning it’s loud!)

However, the mid-side stereo array, RME Quadmic and Edirol R-4 recorder handled the loud thunderclaps much better, although still with some slight distortion, as the Rode NT1A large capsule microphone can handle up to 137 dB.

Edirol R-4 Audio Clip

Despite the frustration of failing to capture those prize close thunderclaps at maximum dynamic range with no distortion, I do prefer the overloaded track captured by the ‘drop & recover’ package, as it’s exciting, full of life and guaranteed to remind me in later-life of what happened and the excitement of that particular day!

       * I never use limiters whilst recording as they kill the dynamic range, producing a dull, lifeless recording, and it’s so much more fun trying to get the gain levels set just right!