Cars, Bikes and Mics
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.
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.
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Stephan Schütze has been recording sounds for over twenty years. This journal logs his thoughts and experiences