Shure Beta 58A
Tripods, mic stands
Well Victoria is still conspiring against me as far as weather is concerned. Most of the two hour drive up from Melbourne was it he rain, but it does stop every now and then so I will probably be able to record some material today. Today I am working with the North East Muzzle loading club about two hours north of Melbourne. The club is a group of people who are all interested in historical firearms. This includes a variety of black powder firearms including pistols, rifles, shotguns and even canon. Some of the designs date back over two hundred years. Because of the technology involved they produce very different sounds from modern fire arms.
For an event such as today I brought all my equipment as I want to capture as many different versions of the events as is practical. Different microphones and different positions will result in different qualities of sound being captured. From previous experience I have a better idea of how I should place some of my mics, but every time I do this I learn new things, so its always useful to write down what I did and what was good or bad about the results. The shotgun microphone was setup on the tripod with the H4 attached. I was happy to use this as an off target mic for the day. The shotgun is far too sensitive and directional to point directly at firearm when its discharged, and I find it is generally better when placed further back. I often point it “up range” in the direction of where the firearms will be shooting. This allows it to capture the echoes of the distant hills and trees, while still capturing some of the initial bang sound. The MKH60 is very good at capturing the low end frequencies and I find when I mix in the echoes it gives me a good warm aspect to the sounds.
The rest of the day I managed to record a variety of old firearms from pistols to rifles and shotguns. I moved the mics around occasionally to capture different aspects of the sound. I always think about the idea of marking exactly what mic was in what position at what time, but invariably these events become disorganised and I am often struggling just to find out what model of firearm is being used, setting my levels appropriately and making sure everything is working as expected. I was lucky enough to be given the chance to fire a “Brown Bess” which is the nickname given to the long arm musket used by the English in the Napoleonic war and the American war of independence by both sides. I was very surprised to find it has no recoil at all. It was very interesting to fire such an old weapon and I got a good recording because I could position myself well in relation to the mic. I also got to fire an old cartridge rifle which was fun, but showed I am way out of practise as it has been over ten years since I last fired a rifle. I know it was very windy, but my aim was terrible.
The final lesson of the day was to check off my gear thoroughly when I am packing up. Since I got home for the day I have discovered my Shure Beta58A is missing. I really cannot imagine myself putting it down somewhere and not seeing it, but I must have been distracted when I was packing up. I have since contacted the club and maybe it will turn up, but I am really annoyed at myself for not being more thorough with my pack up. If it does turn up it will have spent two weeks out in the weather which may not do it any favours. I am quite disappointed about this as it was a good study general purpose mic, and I certainly cant afford to replace it right at the moment as I am planning on getting some hi input mics to use on car recordings. So it looks like I may have learnt a good lesson, but at a fairly high price.
I would like to thank everyone at the club as they were really friendly to both Anna and I, and I was really happy to get a chance to fire a couple of rifles. John who had organised the initial contact and mike who taught me how to fire a musket were especially helpful. I hope to get up to Taminick in the future and maybe try and record some more canon and maybe some ricochets by placing my mics up range. I am sure that will be full of interesting challenges as well.