Location Melbourne CBD Equipment Zoom F4 Sennheiser MKH 60 Boom pole array and Roland R09 Handheld I had previously missed out on recording the flame towers at Crown Casino on the day I recorded the bells at St Paul’s Cathedral. The weather had been very ordinary and they generally don’t bother activating them in poor weather. To explain to people who have never witnessed the towers; Melbourne’s casino is situated on the banks of the Yarra river with a promenade running along the river banks. Placed at intervals along the promenade are towers approximately 10 meters high that at night time on the hour spew out giant gas flames. Its quite a visual spectacle albeit a huge waste of gas. But more importantly from my point of view the igniting of that volume of gas makes a very impressive and bloody loud noise.I arrived about ten minutes early and decided to record a bit of general city ambiance while I waited. When the actual show started I was alerted by the sound of gas being pumped under pressure into the towers. This gave me time to set my levels and get into a good position. I decided to use both rigs to maximize the material I recorded. I have recorded these in the past on older equipment, but I thought it was well worth getting newer samples. The show as I remembered it was spectacular and I captured a fair bit of good material.
Casino Flame Towers
After the casino I had organized to meet a friend at the newly upgraded and newly named Southern Cross Station at the edge of the CBD. This is Melbourne’s main train Station for country and interstate travel. I was actually pretty impressed with the new layout and wandered around recording a few of the trains. I was disappointed to miss the start-up sound of the train to Sydney. I was just unwrapping my gear when it fired up, but I couldn’t get the F4 up and running fast enough. I did record the train idling and heading off, but I think the start-up was the most interesting part so it was annoying to miss it.
My friend works on the station driving a small buggy around helping elderly and disabled passengers, so I spent a short while with him recording the general ambiance of the station as well as the buggy sounds specifically Again I got some good material.
Location Williamstown Equipment Roland R09 Handheld
Its funny how packing to move interstate and organizing a wedding can get in the way of your normal routine. Most of August has been so busy I have been very limited in how much time I could spend on recording, now that we are packed ready to go and wehave had the wedding I can at least spare the mental space to consider recording. Today we caught a water taxi across from Southgate to Williamstown just to spend the day relaxing and enjoying the weather. I did record a small amount of the boat as we travelled across, but I was not too worried about capturing heaps as it was very similar in nature to the tour boat I recorded at Tazawako in Japan back in May.
Today wasn’t a day I intended to record much, but as usual I had the R09 on me just in case. As luck would have it a local man was out riding his BSA goldstar motor bike which is a rare old bike from the 50’s with a really interesting sound. I didn’t capture much of it as he seemed quite busy, but I did record a good sequence of it idling. I also managed to record a large flock of seagulls making plenty of noise as they fought over chips being fed to them. It was helpful that it was us that was feeding them the chips as it placed me right in the middle of the scrum. Again this was not done for the sake of recording but more just for the fun of feeding the gulls. They were however making so much noise it seemed silly to waste the opportunity.
Location 35000 feet somewhere over the pacific Equipment Roland R09 Handheld
Only I would wake up in the middle of a ten hour flight in a darkened plane and have the first thought of “hmmm, everyone is asleep, there is no sound but the sound of the plane, where is my recorder?” As a result I captured some good general ambiance of the plane interior as it cruised, as well as the sound for the toilet door opening and closing and flushing of an aeroplane toilet. I am not sure who might ever find these useful, but as always when a chance arises I am loath to miss it. Oh and I know it was 30,000 feet because I checked the in-flight information before I went to bed. I might be crazy, but I also try to be accurate in my information
Location Aomori City Equipment Zoom F4 Sennheiser MKH 60 Boom pole array
As one of her last official duties in Japan, my partner needed to travel to Aomori for a farewell function. I also needed visit Aomori city as well so it was a convenient occasion forus to travel up and stay over night. While the official function was on I had about 3 hours with which to walk along the Aomori foreshore and see what I could find of interest. I recorded some fairly interesting wave sounds beneath a large concrete fishing wharf. Some good natural reverb as the waves hit the concrete was an interesting result. I needed to explain to some local fishermen exactly what I was doing and why, which was slightly tricky with my broken Japanese, but they either got my point, or just put it down to me being another crazy foreigner which pretty much amounts to the same thing.
Like Hachinohe there are a lot of industrial and shipping areas along the coast near Aomori City, but because it was late in the day most of them had shut down for the week. The highlight of the walk was a large tugboat sitting idling next to one wharf. The engines on those beasts must be massive because I couldn’t get close to it without maxing out my recording levels, even with the levels set very low. In the end the sample I added to the library was one taken still about 5 meters away. The tug had a great low end rumble to its engine sounds so I was really happy to have a chance to record it.
In all, I walked almost non stop for three hours recording as I came across things of interest. I probably covered about 15Km and it occurred to me that if I could spend most of my time just walking around and recording sounds it would be good way to pass the time for 10 to 20 years. The only really excellent sound for today was the tug boat, but if I get one sound of that quality and interest out of 3 hours of walking and recording then I consider it a success. There will always be lots of more common sounds that I will capture along the way, and I am never going to run out of material to add to the library, but one really good sound makes he whole day worthwhile.
Location Sannohe Japan Equipment Zoom H4 Edirol R09 Hand held
This is another entry from memory as it dates from before I started keeping a regular log.
I have only owned the Zoom H4 for a short while now. I bought it from my favorite audio shop when I was down in Tokyo for a few days. Now I am back up in Sannohe I have the time to do some tests with it and see what it can do. I am still slightly limited on gear currently, one of the main things I need to pickup is a wind jammer I can use for recording outdoors, but today is quite still so I'll see what I can record.
I really love wandering around Sannohe, it is such a beautiful little town. The buildings and houses are all drab and gray and functional, so they are not very nice to look at, but the town is surrounded by mountains and full of rice fields and orchards so it always looks alive. I thought one of the best ways of comparing the two recorders (The Zoom H4 and Edirol R09) would be to record a passing train and some ambient bird sounds around town. For the ambience both units performs pretty well and very similarly, it was the train that really illustrated the difference.
Sannohe local train line
I stood right next to the level crossing on one of the back lanes in the farming area and activated both recorders as a train approached. I also wanted to take a picture so I placed both recorders on a fence, this would also remove any handling noise. The train passing was quite loud, especially as I was only about 4 feet away from it. Listening back to the two different recordings it showed one main difference. The R09 actually did a better job of recording the fast moving train because its microphones could cope better with the wind generated by the trains movements. I think this might be because the R09's diaphragms do not point straight out and so did take the full force of the wind, whereas the Zoom H4 mics are far more exposed and its recording was very badly effected by the wind. Normally I would never record without a wind cover, but it is still interesting to see what each unit can handle and which one is better to use should a fluffy cover not be available. I think that in general the Zoom H4 has better and more sensitive microphones, but the R09 is more capable of coping with some wind, so it’s probably a better unit to carry around in case of emergencies.
A few days back in Tokyo to wrap some things up and I had to take this photo. For me, it really typifies Tokyo and the Japanese lifestyle. Trains are essential to the Japanese and nowhere more so than in Tokyo. This shot was taken int he middle of the day so the train is not very crowded, but it is amazing that even in a completely full train I could record the sound of the train with very little unwanted noise as almost everyone travels in complete silence,
A typical Tokyo train
I'm actually going to miss the Tokyo trains; even though they are often crowded I always find them enjoyable because they are clean, on time and everyone is polite. One day I am going to come back to Tokyo and record everything I can get my hands on. that should only take a centruy or two.
A trip down to Tokyo means a ride on the Shinkansen or Japanese bullet train. Shinkansen translates to mean Main trunk line, and they are one of the best and most efficient transport systems in the world. I have never had a three hour journey be so comfortable and go so quickly. The trains travel at around 250kph (around 150 mph) and if they are scheduled to arrive at 3.33pm then they usually arrive right on 3.33pm.
Train travel in Japan is really amazing, they have so many train lines and so many different types of trains, yet they all seem to run really well. I wish I had started recording material here earlier because I missed out on capturing so much material from trains alone (not to mention all the other things I missed). One of the issues is I have only just recently purchased my first hand held unit the Edirol R09 which is really amazing and makes recording more frequently much more convenient as I can carry something with me more regularly. My old portable DAT recorder is getting very old and is too bulky to carry regularly.
Shinkansen arriving in Tokyo
Happily three hours is long enough on a train that I did think to record some material inside the train. I have captured a couple of samples of interior ambiance as well as a couple of exterior passing sounds. They were trickier to get as a train moving at over 150kph(they slow down near stations) generates a fair bit of wind, so it was a balance between capturing a clean sound and protecting the recorder against the wind. I will need to get a wind jammer for the R09.