Beta 58A and MkH60
One of the things I love about my wife is, that not only does she tolerate me wandering around recording everything I can get my hands on, she actively encourages it. This weekend we stayed in a fantastic little hotel in the mountains to get away and celebrate our anniversary. We went for lots of nice walks in the forest and had some fantastic food at some of the really excellent restaurants in the area. But I also captured some good sounds because Anna insisted in saying hello to some dogs and making them play and bark, and we also found a few water birds in Emerald Lake. Anna even went to the café to ask for some old bread to feed the birds with in the hope it would make then noisy.
I learnt something, which on reflection should have been really obvious. Assuming you can actually get close enough to the animal in question a vocal microphone such as the Beta 58A is far better for recording animal sounds that the shotgun mic I use. Considering that many animals have similar vocal qualities in their calls to humans it should be very obvious that a microphone designed to record human vocals would be good for animals, but it was only after listening back to my captures that it really dawned on me. In Olinda I managed to record two dogs in someone’s front yard, a female Dalmatian and a male miniature Poodle. Anna would distract one of them from barking by throwing a stick for it so I could record the other and then we would swap. The dogs had a ball and I captured some really excellent clean recordings using the Beta 58A right up close like I was interviewing the dogs.
By comparison on Sunday I was using the MKH60 shotgun and we came across a beagle. Another really friendly dog, but she would bark every time you walked away from her. This allowed me to record plenty of material, but the shotgun was so sensitive that it picked up a lot of wind noise from the trees and other sounds.
I had decided to use the shotgun to capture the bird sounds around the lake as there was no way I was going to get close enough to record them with any other mic, but it really looks like I should keep the 58A in my pocket at all times as its far better for the rare occasions when I do get close. I carry my entire mic set-up in the new backpack I have in the car, but its a bit bulky to carry around everywhere when I am recording and I am also aware of the extra noise it might generate. There’s always a compromise somewhere.
Stephan Schütze has been recording sounds for over twenty years. This journal logs his thoughts and experiences