Location Noosa Beach Equipment Roland R09 and a zip lock bag
In further tests to see how useful the R09 is for recording underwater I tried two different approaches today. We decided to go for a quick swim because it was about 30 degrees. On the way we made a brief stop at a small area with lots of rocks and I got some quick samples of digging and using a pick on the rocks. At the beach I once again wanted to try the R09 in the water. First off I put it in a heavy plastic waterproof satchel. I wasn’t sure how well sound would transfer through the heavy plastic. The pouch was well sealed and I had no problem diving with the unit and swimming through waves. No water got in. Next I tried a small zip lock sandwich bag for the sake of comparison. I think a little water may have gotten in, or it might have just been my wet hands leaving some damp on the unit, either way there was no problem with either setup.
When I got home and compared the recordings there were several notable things. In both cases I had the recording level set to absolute minimum, but even with this the levels peaked out quite often. It seems that being in surf or infact any decent wave is just too much for the unit to cope with. There wasn’t a huge amount of difference in the quality of the two recordings. The both peaked out when waves hit, then there was a sweet spot just under the water where they captured some nice wave movement, but once they got deeper both units seemed to not capture much of anything. It looks like the subtleties of deeper water currents are not being transferred through the plastic.
I will need to analyse further what bits sound useful and see if I can try and do another session to grab some usable material. This is all very much trial and error at this stage, but it is a good way of understanding the limitations of the equipment under these circumstances.
I was also lucky enough today to have our next door neighbour outside working on one of his cars. Lu owns a 1983 Mazda RX7 series 3 with a series 5 engine in it, and he was flushing out the radiator getting it ready for a hill climb race next month. Lu also owns a 1956 Chevy as well as an old BSA motorbike and a Harley. Today I got to record the RX7.
While Lu was flushing the system he had the car idling for quite some time, so I asked if he minded me recording, he said “go for it” I made sure I got as much material as possible, recording near the exhaust, under the front end, from inside and under the bonnet. The constant idle sound of a car changes dramatically depending on where you position the mic. I wish I could always have the liberty to spend this much time with every vehicle I get near. When he had the engine off I made sure I go t the door, boot, glove box and popup lights. Finally when he was finished Lu asked if I wanted to come for a drive, well of course I did! J
Cars will continue to be a challenge, because you really need to have them in a studio up on rollers so you can record a constant sample in each gear etc. But while that is not possible I will continue to gather as much material as I can. I plan on going to the hill climb competition to record Lu’s car as he races as well as, as many others as I can.
Location Yandina Queensland Equipment Zoom F4 Sennheiser MKH 60 Boom pole array Today was a simple trip out to a botanic garden and plant Nursery at Yandina about a half hour drive away. I packed both recording rigs just for the sake of always having it rather than because I was expecting there to be much to record. I am well glad that I did because the bird life in the area was staggering and I have since found out there is a bird watchers club that meetsat the garden once a month because of how interesting the range of bird life is. I was also given a sheet listing all the different types of bird life in the area which is going to be really useful as a checklist as I go through and record them all. I spent about 30 minutes wandering around the park and nursery recording a large range of bird calls from various species. I have no idea what most of them are, but I plan on contacting one of the bird clubs to see if someone can help me identify them all.
I have found that often the smallest birds have the loudest and most exotic sounding calls, and apart from noisy kids in the background it was quite easy to record a lot of material.
Kookaburras however are proving to be an ongoing challenge. I have observed that they seem to call most often just after they have relocated to a new tree, so a bunch of them will fly in, land, make a lot of noise and then sit there silently. This of course means that by the time I have located where they are and got to them they are very unlikely to make any more noise until they fly off somewhere else. No wonder they are always bloody laughing. I think I am going to have to be fairly lucky to get a good sample of a kookaburra call.
A hot day and a trip to the beach is a pretty normal way to spend a Sunday. I wasn’t planning on doing any recording specifically, but as always I brought the R09 with me just in case. After spending an hour or so in the water I realized it had probably been ten years since I had been swimming at a beach. Explains why I was so out of practise. While having a rest on the beach I thought I would try an idea that had been floating around in my head for some time. I have been somewhat disappointed with the Hydrophones ability to record underwater sounds and I have heard of other people who have just used ordinary microphones wrapped in a water proof bag to record underwater. I realized that the new range of handheld devices might make this even easier.
I took the R09 out of its normal slip cover I have for it and switched it on, set the levels and then put the whole thing in a zip lock sandwich bag. This all may seem extremely low tech, and I limited my test to about knee high water and only lowered the unit underwater for about 30 seconds, but the results when I listened back were infinitely superior to the purpose built hydrophone. Even with some initial noise from the bag itself when lowering below the water, once underwater the quality of the recording was pretty good. The advantage with the R09 is that it is a small totally inclosed unit of mics and amps etc. all in one, so it was very easy to bag it and carry it swimming. I am now planning to go snorkelling somewhere appropriate where I can take the R09 with me and record a range of underwater sounds. Obviously I do need to be careful as if the bag leaks I am likely to completely destroy the unit, but I think the potential for material is worth the risk. Stay tuned for more on underwater recording.
Location Noosa Queensland Equipment Zoom F4 Sennheiser MKH 60 Boom pole array and Roland R09
Today as planned I went out to the Noosa Museum in Pomona. The people there were really friendly and helpful. The old guy Bob went through the place with me switching on old machines and using old tools so I could record the sounds. He also gave me a heap of info about various things, how they worked and some of their history. I love this work.
So I spent about 20 minutes trying out old telephones and an old telephone exchange, I recorded a Morse code transmitter and thanks to a help sheet that indicated the codes for the entire alphabet I recorded all of the alphabet and numerals, so once they get catalogued people will be able to recreate actual Morse code messages which could be fun.
I couldn’t ignore that one of the most interesting sounds in the place was not any of the exhibits, but the old wind blown air vent up on the roof. It circulates air into the building just by spinning in the wind, and there is a shaft down from the top of the roof into the interior. One of those was making a great squeaking sound as it spun, so I extended the boom pole right up into the roof to sample it. Downstairs I recorded the old industrial butter churn as well as a whole bunch of old hand operated house appliances, then I recorded some old adding machines and another old typewriter. Bob also started up an old rotary plough from the 1950’s. It only took him three tries to get the thing started; I remember my mum’s old lawnmower being harder than that to start! In all I recorded about an hour of really good raw material that’s going to add some really interesting material to the library. I’m also thinking I might want to create another category for historical sounds so I can differentiate between a 50 year old car or typewriter and newer ones. www.noosamuseum.spiderweb.com.au/
It appears to be the time for tradesmen and work around here. Today it was the house in which we are staying which is having a new retaining wall put in. The two gentlemen were busy sawing up very hefty beams of wood to use as the main support posts. Again being distracted from work by loud power tools I thought it a better use of the time to record said power tools than to bemoan them preventing me from hearing the nice quiet local bird sounds I was trying to catalogue. I had a brief chat to the two of them and then sampled a circular saw, plain and two electric drills. I even remembered to write down what brand they were so I could be unnecessarily specific when I catalogue them. I am sure someone somewhere will appreciate that they know what brand of power saw I recorded. Maybe I can start advertising power tools on the webpage.
For the last two days someone over the road has been using a small earth mover to transfer a large pile of sandy dirt from out front of their house in the driveway around to the back of their house, one load at a time. For most of Thursday I studiously ignored the constant sound of this small piece of machinery trundling back and forth like some little robot. Today I decided that when I am presented with something so obvious and easy it would be awfully lazy to not walk across the road and record it. So I did.
The unit itself is so small it doesn’t even have a seat. The operator clings to the back and operates it standing up. It ran on rubber caterpillar tracks and so was fairly quiet. I recorded a few minutes of the guy running back and forth a few times. (stopping of course to ask what on earth I was doing, and then resuming contentedly when he found out I was not from the council or EPA). There was not a huge variation in sound between loaded or unloaded and even turning only produced slight variations. The sounds seem to downplay the amount of power this little thing must surely have.
Location Cooroy Queensland Equipment Zoom F4 Sennheiser MKH 60 Boom pole array and Roland R09
1956 FJ Holden
Wow what a day!I met up with one of the gentlemen from the Noosa show today to record his old car, only to find out that in fact he owned several old cars. What I thought might be a good opportunity to record a few samples of a classic Australian car a 1955 FJ Holden became a two hour session where I recorded most of the sounds of the FJ as well as a 1965 HD and a …. As well.I also learnt lots about the old machines. Mr. Kenzler is a keen collector of old cars and passed on quite a bit of info and he was also very patient and very helpful with getting the recordings done. I have created a checklist for myself for future vehicle recordings where I can document make, model and year of the vehicle, and then work through a checklist to ensure I get a consistent sample with every vehicle. Today was pretty good, but I did forget a few elements of each vehicle. For instance I didn’t get the windscreen wipers or the hand break on the FJ, but I did on the HD. It can sometimes get a little hectic with trying to weld two recording devices, and take photos to document sound sources as well as explain what I am doing to the people who may be helping me, so I am hoping having a checklist will make the process more consistent in the future.
1957 FE Holden
I also popped down to the Noosa museum because it was only 10 km further down the road from Cooroy. I thought they might have one or two things worth recording, maybe some old machines etc. What I found was a wonderful resource of old hand operated machines, like old phones typewriters and adding machines, as well as some old mechanical engines and machines that they are prepared to start up for me. Because of the range of material there (and because my unexpected range of car sounds basically left me with flat batteries and full memory cards) I have organized to return to the museum next week and make major trip out of it. I think I am going to need to be fully prepared for this one as there is so much material to capture. I’m pretty excited about the possibilities.I will update the journal with my trip next week.
We decided to go for a walk further into the national park area nearby. I took my gear just in case, but as I have noted above there really seems to be far more birdlife in the suburban areas than deep in the national forest. I did manage to record a few birds, but ti was not until we came out near the beach at the car parking area and picnic grounds than we found lots of birds, and naturally lots of people, cars, surf noise etc etc. I think I will need to go for a wander around the Noosa suburban area sticking to some of the quieter streets to try and get some of the bird life in the area.
A trip to the Noosa Country show today was more for curiosity than for recording. I did take my gear with me but as expected between all the announcements, bands and crowds there was no chance to record anything other than announcements, bands and crowds. There were several old cars on display and I did take the opportunity to talk with several of the owners and I may have organized some future recording session which will hopefully provide some excellent material, so keep watch for updates this week.
A walk this evening through some of the new development areas near the Noosa River provided a bit of material. Some isolated night insects and frogs were good to sample as I am sure I will be able to get group sounds of these creatures at a later date, but it is often hard to record a good clean isolated samples. I was somewhat surprised that the swamp in the new development area did not have more frogs in it. That’s always a bad sign as the frogs are the first thing to leave when a area is contaminated or just generally not a good environment for creatures.
I have sorted through a lot of the material that I have recorded over the last month or so. It is the first opportunity I have had to do so since returning to Australia. There has been a lot of new material catalogued and added to the library. This is the first specific trip out to get some new raw material. The national park is only a few minutes walk away from where we are staying so I naturally thought this would be a good source for bird and animal sounds. It appears I am wrong on that count. For some reason there seem to be far more birds living right in the heart of the populated areas. I am not sure if the types of trees are more suitable or if the birds have better access to food from people, either way the more remote an area I find, the less birds there seem to be. This is somewhat frustrating as it means all the best bird sounds will be mixed in with traffic, people and general background noise.
I did get some material today. A few good insect sounds and a couple of very clear bird calls, so I would still call the day a success. I also managed to sample some good rock sounds from a small land area that was used to pile up several different grades of rock and stone.