Boom Pole Array
I am not someone that believes in a higher being, but if I did I would be seriously tempted to believe that this year has been put in front of me to test my patience, and I am not sure I am passing the test. I have had today on my calendar for about 8 months from the time when I found out there would be a large display of vintage cars and trucks at the race track in the town I grew up in. I never really expected to record a lot of sound at a big event like this, but I thought it would be a good chance to make some contacts and maybe get a few sounds. What we got was the highest rainfall for November in 5 years; this was 2 days after we recorded the hottest day on record for November and only a week before summer starts. Trying to hold my recording gear and an umbrella and take notes while I talked to people became a big challenge and everything ended up being soaked.
I guess I shouldn’t complain too much as I did get some good information and contacts and I did manage to record a few things, but it was so miserable, and wet and cold that it made it really hard to consider anything positive about the day. This was the first time for me using my new Rode NTG3 which I purchased last week. I didn’t even notice how it was going and forget I had installed it in the blimp cover until later in the day because I was so busy just trying to keep myself and the gear dry. I have not gone through the material yet so I have no idea how it coped with the day or how good it was. Keep an eye out for information about the NTG3 in the next few posts.
WW2 Sherman Tank
On the information side of things I have found out about a steam engine club in Melbourne that meet monthly and have their final meeting of the year next Sunday. I might try and get along to that one. Apparently they have a large selection of old steam and traction engines and plenty of things that make interesting noises which is exactly what I am after. I also grabbed the information for a few of the car and truck clubs and I plan to contact them and see if anyone would be interested in me recording their vehicle and doing a feature on it. Because recording a vehicle is such a big task to do properly I plan to do some feature articles on some of the more interesting vehicles. I spoke to some gentlemen from the military vehicles club and found out about a meeting in early December that I am going to try and get access to. Basically it’s a day spent driving tanks around a large property. If I can get permission to record at this event I am going to be very happy indeed. There where two tanks there on Sunday, but the awful weather meant they never got unloaded from their trucks. Hopefully the next meeting will be better.
What I did manage to record were a couple of nice old cars. The first one was a old Chevrolet lorry made in 1912. It was rusty and the wood was unpainted, but it ran alright and the engine sounded pretty healthy. The owner very kindly took me for a drive around the display area, so I got both idling and driving material as well as the old horn honking. It sounded so much more interesting than more modern cars. The cabin rattles and clunked because all the wood was starting to rot and the instruments mostly didn’t work. I was amazed at how well the engine was running considering the state of the rest of it. The owner must have done an excellent job of fixing it up. The second really old vehicle was a Thorneycroft lorry from about the same era. This one however had been beautifully resorted to almost pristine condition. I only captured it idling but it was still a great sound.
1926 Chevrolet Lorry
Another interesting truck was an old Mazda flat tray, but it only had one wheel at the front. It was designed to navigate narrow streets in Japan, and having lived there for a few years I can totally understand the concept behind it. Its sound was not that unusual for a vehicle of its time, but it was still good to capture some material from it. I guess this one was more interesting to look at than to listen to.
Another guy had restored an old engine and built it into a mini tractor for his kids to ride on. It was sitting on a trailer for the day, but he kindly started it up for me. It was an old “hit and miss” engine that popped and clunked away and had an awesome sound. The tractor itself was very basic but looked like it would be great fun for his kids.
Through all of this I needed to be aware of keeping my gear dry as much as possible, but it was very difficult to get into the best position to record things while juggling the boom pole and an umbrella, so often I would just put up with being wet when it was only raining lightly. The blimp cover actually does a very good job of protecting the mic inside from the rain as its fluffy cover stops most of the rain from getting through. You just need to be really careful to dry it our thoroughly afterwards. The Zoom H4N was another matter as I needed to keep it angled out of the rain and constantly wipe off any water than got onto it so it would leak inside and damage the actual circuits. Initially I was trying to keep myself dry as well, but this soon became pretty much impossible, so I just put up with being cold and wet. Not the best of days, but definitely not the worst.
Mazda 3 wheel flat bed lorry
Single hand setup
We went for a drive out to Warburton today, just to enjoy some countryside and good food. We stopped briefly at a place called The Peninsular Tunnel, which is a point where the course of a river cuts through a cliff face creating a tunnel. It was a nice area with a water hole where people could swim, and it produced a nice natural reverb as the water traveled through the tunnel. I recorded a little of this before we headed up to the Upper Yarra Reservoir. One the way back through Warburton they had a replica water wheel at the information centre so I recorded some of that as well. It was mainly just a day to relax, but it took so little effort to grab the couple of sounds that I recorded that it would have been very lazy of me not to.
The Penninsular Tunnel
Just a quick one on the way to work today. Some construction on one of the roads near Southern Cross station. There is an overpass I walk over almost evry day and they had a large machine driving concrete pylons into the ground. The overpass meant I was quite close so I used the H4N with my new wind cover to record some good material. Anna bought me a purpose built wind cover for the H4N’s built in mics. Its quite good and means I don’t have an oversized cover that falls off and looks silly. This one attaches properly to the mics and come4s in different colours. I write up a review for it soon.
Sinking concrete pylons
Boom pole array
Another early morning. Today we are flying up to Canberra for Anna’s father’s 60 birthday, I am not expecting anything specific, but it’s a day out of Melbourne so as usual I will be taking my gear with me. I have another reason to do so and that is because Anna’s father is also a sound recorder for television and he wants to check out some of my gear, so its worth taking it along. We are heading just out of Canberra on road to Yas to a little place called Hull. Its nice and quiet and will be a great place for a family get together. We arrived early so we could help out a bit, there was almost no one there when we arrived, but there were plenty of birds around so I wander4ed quietly among the trees and got some good bird sounds.
The first thing I recorded was some young miner birds. These are really common in Melbourne, but because of the amount of background noise in Melbourne I have never had the chance to get a good clean recording. Today I had a nice noisy bird low in a tree that seemed quite happy for me to get up close and most importantly there was no background noise. I also managed to get some sounds from a Plover. I don’t think its nesting season as these birds nest on the ground and are very defensive of their nests and very noisy. These ones weren’t too worried about where I walked, so I got a little bit of material, but I would have gotten a lot more if they had been territorial. There were a couple of dogs in the ar4ea as well so I collected some samples of them while I was wandering. I used the MKH60 on the boom pole for all of this. It was all pretty straight forward directional material as close as I could manage to each animal so the shotgun mic was about the best choice. I am a little upset that since I lost my Shure Beta 58A I have lost the best mic for close recording animals. It was really nice and clean whenever I was able to get up close to a noisy animal.
Next I went and played with the wood pile. There was a large pile of scrape wood behind the pavilion, mainly old broken cargo pallets. I still have a lot more metal sounds in my materials section of the library than any other section so it will be good to be able to add some more wood sounds. This stuff was all split and broken so it allowed me to snap and twist and spit it to get some very cool sounds that I don’t yet have. I spent about half an hour tossing, breaking, splitting and otherwise harassing pieces of wood. So I got an unexpectedly good amount of material from the day. I finished of with sampling a little bit of the jazz band that was playing and general party ambience sounds. Oh and the food was great
South Australia and Victoria
DPA 4061& MKH60
Single handed setup
I have to drive over 800 km today so I will be taking quite a few breaks. I plan on using a couple of those breaks to record the rest of the sounds for the Ford Focus. I quite like the sound it makes for its indicators; it’s subtle and modern without being too annoying like many internal car sounds. With the single hand setup I can jump in and out of the car easily to record the insides like electric windows, glove box hatch, gear shifts and handbrake; and then outside for doors, boot and bonnet. I record the horn both inside and outside the car that is when I remember to record the horn. I can’t believe how many times I have done car recordings and completely forgotten to record the horn. In fact now I write this I remember I didn’t record the focus’ windscreen wipers. I always seem to forget something. I guess I should start using those checklists I created to make sure I don’t forget any elements of cars recordings. I still consider myself to be learning how to record cars properly, even though I have now recorded about 5 cars. I still want to try and establish exactly the best method and the best placement for microphones before I try to record anything really impressive like a classic or high performance car. Because of this, hiring cars is really useful because I get to test out a range of different cars and get used to the issues over time.
I really need to go through my rechargeable batteries and sort out which ones are dying as I used up every last bit of power from all my batteries including any of the standard backups I keep on me. As I continued to drive home I felt uncomfortable not having any power for any of my recorders. It was like a photographer being out and about with no film in their camera. So at the next town I came to I stopped and ran into the supermarket to get some backups. I was glad I did because 10km later with the recorder primed and sitting on the seat next to me a long distance freight train speed past at full speed. I had just enough time to pull over, open the window and point the mic out the window before it zoomed past. This is why I will never travel with no batteries, even if I think I have recorded everything I came for. The rest of the trip was pretty uneventful and I got home safe but totally exhausted. So much for holidays being for relaxing and resting. But I have a ton of new material with some really interesting stuff to sort through and catalogue. Best trip in ages.
DPA 4061& MKH60
Boom pole array
One of my favorite places near Adelaide is a place called Victor Harbor. It’s a seaside town about an hour south of Adelaide that is usually cool and pretty quiet. On a day likely to be over 35 degrees a cool sea breeze was a real bonus. The thing I like most about Victor Harbor is the horse tram. Just of the coast of Victor Harbor is a small island called Granite Island that has a wooden bridge that crosses from the mainland. There is a reproduction of an old horse drawn tram than crosses from the mainland over to the island that runs everyday of the year. It just has a lovely relaxed feel about it as you cross over the ocean to the island and back. For me, it was a great opportunity to record some horse walking sounds away from the city or the sports track, and get a selection of sounds as the horse walks across gravel, concrete and wood. It was also just a fantastic day to be walking near the ocean.
I attached everything to the boom pole so I could hold the mic as close to the horses feet as possible without having to constantly bend over, and it also just gave me more flexibility as I moved around. The bridge itself has a lane for the tram, where the horse walks between the tram tracks and a lane next to it for people to walk along. This meant I could walk right next to the horse without being in anyone’s way. I also could record the tram trundling along if I went to the back of it as the horse was far enough away to only be able to hear the tram.
Horse drawn Tramcar
It takes the tram about 20 minutes to cross the bridge and make its way around the island to a little café. I decided to wait on the island for the next trip to return before walking back, this gave me time to grab some scones and a chocolate milkshake. (Almost the perfect combination on a day like today) I sat outside looking at the ocean wishing every day was this good. After my feed I went down to the pier nearby and recorded the sounds of the water beneath the pier. I actually have quite a bit of ocean sounds including water under piers, but I have also discovered that if you pay attention to the ocean on different days, with different strength winds and weather conditions there are actually a lot of different ocean sounds, and I don’t have them all as yet. The pier also had some cool old rusty chains holding old car tyres to it, so I recorded some material as I jingled and clanked the chains. Walking back I collected some more horse material. I usually record a lot more material that I think I’ll need, but sorting through 40 minutes of horse hoof sounds will give me a better chance of getting some nice clean good quality samples.
In the evening I decided to grab some sounds at my brother’s place. They have a baby grand piano and I have wanted to get some samples of a grand for a while. However it has been so long since it has been tuned that I am going to have to classify all the sounds as honky tonk piano because they sound like an old piano from a western film. Good quality sounds, and I am sure someone will find them useful, but not quite the piano I was expecting to capture. The billiards table was however exactly what I expected, and I recorded a good amount of material with that. Both the piano and the billiards table I recorded with my new DP 4061 mics.
The kit I purchased has a bunch of different connectors that allow me to mount the mics in various ways. I used a boundary mic mount and a hanging mount to suspend one mic so it dangled down over the strings of the piano and the second was attached right on the lid to capture reflective sounds. In both cases I sued the H4N’s internal mics to capture stereo samples as well. This is almost standard procedure for me now. Whenever I am using the H4N it is usually in 4 track mode with the internal mics active as well. I have grabbed some excellent material using a combination of its internal mics and whatever other mics I feel are appropriate. I placed tow of the 4061 mics on either side of the billiards table and rolled and hit some of the balls around. The room was well insulated and nice and quiet so I collected some very good material. Tomorrow I drive back to Melbourne, bit I am going to have a huge amount of material to sort through and plenty of new samples to add to the library.
St Kilda Mangrove Adelaide
DPA 4061& MKH60
Oh boy I must be insane! Its 4.00am in the morning and I am up to drive just north of Adelaide to record bird sounds. Years ago I came to the St Kilda Mangrove swamp and did some recordings, but it was much later in the day and there was a lot of background noise. I thought this time I would try to do it properly. I also discovered that I forgot about the half hour time difference between Melbourne and Adelaide, so it’s actually 3.30am!! Anyway this gives me lots of time to get out there, explore and setup. Thankfully the mangroves are accessible at all hours with a trust system of payment by the front gate. (Not that I noticed this until I left because it was so dark when I arrived. But I did pay on my way out. :-) )
I originally planned to use the one hand setup with my mics and carry them around, but I quickly realized it was going to be far more practical to mount everything on the tripod. This would allow me to not only work hands free, but to walk away from the recorder and leave it running which as I have said before can be a really good idea when recording birds and animals. It also left me hands free to deal with the bloody mosquitoes because for the first hour or so before sunrise they were terrible and it drove me nuts. Once the sun was up they disappeared so that was a relief.
Sunrise over StKilda Magroves
Even before sunrise there were some birds making sounds. I setup the gear in a couple of locations and walked away from it to make the birds feel more relaxed and less likely to want to relocate. In this way I captured some good footage. Later however I was to discover that sometimes startling a bird can be useful. Just after sunrise as I was moving back through the boardwalk area I startled what I think was a cormorant, as it took to the air it made a series of grunting sounds that sounded like it was very unimpressed at being disturbed, but it did give me some sounds I would never have gotten otherwise. I don’t like to disturb animals when I record them, but this was harmless and made an otherwise quiet bird somewhat vocal.
The range of birds, and as a result bird sounds, changed as the sun rose and the morning advanced. Conveniently for me they seemed to wake up in sequence so I could often get a clean recording of one species before the next one became active. This was obviously just pure luck for this environment but it was still really good for me. After about three hours of recording around the swamp I went outside the mangrove area and recorded a couple of other birds and someone’s grumpy blue heeler dog nearby. Then I packed up and headed down to the boat ramp nearby, it was going to be a hot day and a lot of people were heading out early to do some fishing.
Boardwalk through the mangroves
I set myself up on the little floating pier near the boat ramp. I pointed the shotgun mic at the ramp and attached my hydrophone to the H4 and dropped it off the side. This way I could capture the sounds of the engines both above and below the water. I got a fair bit of material, unfortunately there were several boats all leaving at similar times so some of the engines were difficult to record cleanly, but I did manage to get a couple of good clean samples. I should find a boat ramp back in Melbourne and dedicate a morning to boat engines. There is a very big difference in sound depending on the size. I captured several different sizes from a small 25cc right up to a fairly large 150 cc motor. It was half an hour well spent and the breeze from the water was nice and cool. Today was going to get very hot. Time for some sun block I think.
Note the cable trailing into the water
When I came here several years ago I also recorded some sounds in the nearby playground. I wish there had been playgrounds like this when I was young. It was huge and had tons of really cool rides and things to climb on, over and under. So after applying some sun block I walked over to the playground. As I was walking around I noticed a mother and daughter playing on a basic carousel, it was old and a little rusty and was squeaking so the mother took her daughter to the swings, but I thought a squeaky carousel would be a good sound sample, boy was that an understatement.
The carousel itself was made of strong iron pipes with wire mesh to sit on. tI was probably ten foot in diameter and as I mentioned, it was getting old and was rusty. This meant that when it was rotated there was friction between the carousel trunk and its base, however as the rate of rotation increased the level of vibrations increased dramatically. With any other piece of equipment this would probably just produce loud scrapping or squeaking, but the carousel was a large round object with supporting beams angled down to the base. It effectively looked like a ten foot speaker cone and when it started vibrating it acted in much the same way. Once I got a some rotation speed up it started to generate noise about the same volume as a loud car engine. This was all from the vibrations being amplified by the shape of the carousel and the vibrations spreading through its structure. It even had a natural reverb effect when it stopped moving like a spring reverb in an old guitar amplifier. I spent ten to fifteen minutes just rotating this thing and recording the samples, it was one of the most amazing things I have ever played with. After a while I worked out that I could alter the pitch dependant on the rate or rotation, so I varied the speed as I was playing with it. If I could have picked the thing up and taken it home I would have, it was fantastic. (and also about a ton of steel I suspect) I think I will need to include this material under the “unusual” category of the library because I really don’t know how else to catalogue it. This has been one of the most productive recording trips I have had in ages, and I still have two days to go.
Built in mics and
DPA 4061 pair
4 days, 2000 km, 5 sets of batteries and about 10 gig of raw material. With Tuesday the 3rd of November being a public holiday I decided to take the Monday as well and have four days straight to go on a recording trip. Anna has a business trip up in Sydney anyway so it’s a good use of the time. I drove to Adelaide to visit my brother and sister in law and capture a range of different material over the four days.
I drove to Horsham on Friday night (about 300 km from Melbourne) The first opportunity for the day was at the hotel I was staying at. They had a large birdcage with a few unusual birds in it, the most distinctive was an Indian Ring Neck Parakeet, which was a very unusual blue green colour. It was quite noisy so I thought I would record some samples. Of course as soon as I went near its cage with the recording gear it stopped completely. A lot of animals and birds are very wary around people in general and even domestic pets can be worried about people they don’t know. The simple solution to this was to rest the H4N on a pot plant next to the cage and go for a walk. 10 minutes later I had collected a good collection of material. I could here the bird from where I was sitting out of view around the corner. I realised some time ago that often the best way to record something was to not be around. I plan on doing a similar thing on our balcony back home, set up the recorder, drop a bunch of birdseed, and then go inside and wait for the birds.
As usual I had hired a car for the trip. This time I got a Ford Focus which I have not driven before. It was also the first trip since I picked up the new DPA microphone set I had purchased, so it was a good opportunity to get some sounds from the Ford and test out the mics. After breakfast in Horsham I set up the mics on the car. One clipped close to the exhaust and the second one clipped under the bonnet to a coolant pipe. The leads on the DPA mics are very fine and quite fragile so I made sure they were tapped down securely. I also had an issue with some of my rechargeable batteries going flat very quickly; I think they might be nearing the end of their usable life. I’ll swap them over and use them for my XBox controllers instead. Once the mics were in place I did some basic tests at low speeds around the streets of Horsham to get my levels right and test for wind noise. The DPA set comes with some small foam windshields, but I also bought two Rycote fluffy wind covers as I plan on using these mics for a lot of vehicle recordings.
DPA 4061 mounted in engine bay
I got some good material driving along the highway, a long country trip is a good time to do car recordings as highways usually have consistently higher speed limits for a long distance, also the roads to Adelaide are often not very busy so I was able to capture a lot of material with no other vehicles on the road. I did stop regularly while I was recording to check the position of the mics and how they were coping. After spending over $1500 on new mics the last thing I wanted to was for them to fall off while I was driving at 110km p/h. I am going to record some more sounds of the Ford Focus over the weekend to try and get a full set of sounds for it including doors, horn controls etc. I am also thinking of starting a new review section where I review a car from the sound point of view and a score it based on how good it sounds when recorded. Completely useless for most things I know, but it might be fun once I start to get access to things like sports cars and classic cars.
DPA 4061 mounted near exhaust
Single handed setup
Today I got to meet Edgar. Edgar must weigh over 150 kilos, he’s so big he has trouble walking in the morning. Edgar is a very large, but very friendly pig!
Edgars Mission is a farm setup by a woman called Pam Ahern as a sanctuary for animals. Pam, with help from some volunteers and her mum run the farm and take care of all the animals there. Many have been rescued from bad circumstances are given a last minute reprieve from being sent to an abattoir or knackery. Pam’s love of her animals is so apparent in the hard work and care she puts into caring for the animals. It’s also apparent in how happy most of the animals appear. There was very little of the guarded cautious nature of the animals, most of them would rush to meet Pam every morning and instantly knew her voice. These animals would all live out their lives naturally with no threat of being eaten.
While I do now eat meat, I spent over ten years as a vegetarian so I can really understand Pam’s desire to care for the animals. The farm itself is designed to encourage people to understand the lives of the animals without being preachy or judgemental. Pam wants the experience of visiting the farm to be positive for everyone. From my point of view it was a great way to spend the day and I got lots of really good animal sounds. Edgar alone is very conversational, and pigs have quite a range of different sounds that they make.
Edgar the pig, Stephan the not pig
I followed Pam around for the first couple of hours of the day while she fed the animals. (I got up at 6am to get out to the farm for feeding time, I HATE getting up early.) Feeding time is probably the best time to get animal noises because they will all generally be fairly vocal when they are hungry. Pam’s relationship with her animals resulted in them being even more vocal a lot of the time. Most herd animals will communicate with other members of their herd. Taken out of the herd and isolated many animals will be much less vocal. I think most of the animals on the farm treat Pam as one of the family so they “talk” to her as she goes about her days work.
The pigs were definitely the highlight of the day for me, I don’t have any pig sounds in the library so far so it was good to get some material, but what I got was a ton of grunts and snuffles and long groans and grunts. There is enough material from the pigs alone to create entire conversations. Not to mention that a lot of the pigs vocalisations will be great for creating monster and giant beastie sounds. Pigs are also quite noisy when they eat so I will have plenty of sounds of munching and crunching beasts. The pigs were also really friendly. A little one called Hamish was very happy to chat to me and wanted me to scratch his shoulders. Pigs are really smart animals and it was great to get up close and be able to observe some for a while.
Next was a couple of young sheep, and some baby goats who were of course all hideously cute. Lambs and kids can sound really bad when they are panicked or really hungry. Their call is almost desperate and sounds like a child screaming. Most of what I recorded was fairly friendly “come and play with me” calls. Although like many animals when you put a microphone close to them they decide to be very quiet. I think its because they are curious of the fluffy cover and animals seem to ponder quietly when they are curious.
Baby goats are cuter than kittens!
I used the H4N strapped to the blimp cover of the MKH60 for the day. This single handed setup allows me to record with several mics simultaneously while still only using one hand. Since I lost the Shure Beta58 :-( I have been adding the D112 to the setup, but it is essentially useless unless I am recording loud output sounds. I include it simply as a backup, if something explodes then I have an active mic that will pick up a loud sound without distorting. Until I can organize to replace the beta58 it’s a best use of the free channel. I have just ordered 2 of the DPA 4061s so it will be a while before I can replace the Shure.
The great thing about being able to get right up and close with the animals was that I could get really clean recordings directly from their mouths rather than across a paddock or through a cage like most other animal sanctuaries. This was especially good for recording the eating sounds as they munched and snuffled through their food. Event he lambs and baby goats sucking on their milk from baby bottles. These sounds would not have been possible without getting this close to the animals. It was also really great to be able to get so close and to pat and talk to the animals. It was not all perfect though. The turkey stubbornly insisted on only making sounds when the mic was off or I was too far away to get a good recording, and the cows were also very quiet. Cows in general seem to not make a lot of noise in my experience, or maybe they just don’t make noise when I am around.
I have never expected to go out and capture every animal that exists at any one location I visit, generally if I get some good material from one kind of animal on the day I consider it a successful day. Today was just like that, I got lots of excellent material from the pigs and also got some good stuff from some of the other animals. Going by my averages today was a very successful day. Patience is a main part of what I do and so I will wait for some other day to captures some noisy cow sounds. It was just really nice to be out in the country on a beautiful sunny day recording animals. If I could do this everyday I’d be very happy.
One final recording for today was back in Melbourne, Williamstown to be exact. I have passed by the refineries down near the ports on several occasions when they have the burn off flames at the top of the very high exhaust towers, but I have never had my equipment with me when I have seen them burning. Today I got the chance to record some material as they were burning off as I passed. I could only get within about 200 meters for safety reason but the sample is still quite good. I think if I was able to get closer there would be more texture to the sound as the flame fluctuations would be more noticeable, but still the sound was quite powerful and sounded like a very large jet engine.
DPA 4061 pair
The main test for the DPA mics was to see how they coped with high power levels like engine exhausts and machinery. The main reason I have been considering acquiring these mics is because their small size and high power level capacity make them excellent for recording cars, bikes, planes etc. The first test today was to attach them to a motorbike and see how they handled it. One of the guys I worked with has a Honda CBR 600 which was a perfect subject for what I needed. I attached the first mic to one of the rear indicators about two inches from the exhaust. (The CBR has a single central exhaust that comes out from under the seat.) I really wanted to push these mics and see what they could handle. Even though I wanted to capture some bike samples I was happy to risk not getting anything useful to see just how good these were.
The second mic I attached to one of the front indicators. The weather was pretty bad on the day so I didn’t have the luxury to really work out a good location for the front mic. Considering this was mainly a test I was more interested in how the mic coped rather than positioning it perfectly. The leads for both mics were taped down with basic electrical tape and attached to the H4N which I placed a backpack which the rider wore while riding. I then sat and read a book while my friend went for a ride. The results were better than I had hoped for. The rear mic captured pure exhaust output with no tyre sound and no unwanted sounds from anything else. The front mic was slightly less perfect. It captured excellent samples, but even with a foam cover and a Rycote fluffy wind jammer it still picked up some wind noise. I think this was largely due to its positioning. The fairing on the front of the bike was deflecting the wind past the bike, but I think it was directing it straight over the mic. It was a good lesson for the future, next time I will place the mic closer to the engine itself. Both mics however captured excellent samples and proved they could do what I needed them to.
DPA 4061 mounted on a motorbike
The second test for the day was to rerecord my friends Nissan 350Z. He has had some new exhausts installed and was quite keen to get me to record it with the new sounds. Last time the biggest issue I had was mounting mics on the car itself. The beauty of the mics I was using is that they are so small I can pretty much tap them to anything. I mounted one near the exhaust and one under the bonnet. Another issue was that the 350Z is such a smooth design that there is nothing past the exhaust and no way to attach anything near its output, so the mic itself was about three inches back from the end of the exhaust. Again the results were pretty good. The mics did what I needed them to, any issues with the material captured was from placement. I think the DPAs have proven that they can do what I need of them, so I plan on ordering a couple.
The next step will be to get access to a car I can spend some time on. The make and model is not the issue, its having the time to try a range of mic positions and see what different results I can get. Whenever I have someone help me out by offering their car or bike or nuclear powered tractor to record I always feel awkward if I take too long. Setting up mics correctly and finding the best position can sometimes be very time consuming. The more time I spend on my own finding the best method and mic placements for recording a car generally, the less of someone else’s time I will take up when I get the opportunity to record something new. This won’t always work, cars come in lots of different shapes and sizes, but I should be able to at least come up with some basic guidelines for car recording session. It might be worth putting some of these into a tutorial once I have some good general concepts. I’m travelling to Adelaide in a couple of weeks, I might spend a day recording the hire car in different ways and see what I can come up with.