Getting Fit and Making Noise
Sennheiser MKH 60
Boom pole array
I finally had enough time to get down to the gym at the apartment and record some of the equipment down there. I had already done a proper workout and run today so I didn’t feel like pushing it too much; however I did get running on the treadmill at various different speeds up to 15KPH. I then did a short stint on the cross trainer, the rowing machine and the exercise bike, although I do have say the exercise bike made almost no sound. I did a few reps on some of the weights machines but I may need to go back and record some more. I didn’t feel like I got good enough material out of them.
Apartment building gym
The advantage of having a sound source location right next door means I can be really picky with the material I record and go back and do it again if I don’t like it. It also means I can experiment a little and see what I can learn about recording particular groups of machinery. Hopefully I can learn what there is to be learned in an environment I can make use of again and again. I wish I had such access to firearms and fighter plane sound sources. Typically it’s the sounds you have infrequent and limited access to that prove to be the hardest to sample cleanly.
Tennis and more
Boom Pole Setup
With only a couple of days left in Noosa I wanted to capture a
few last sounds before we left, so I went out for a walk with my
gear. I knew there were some tennis courts nearby so I
headed in that direction as I don’t have any tennis sounds yet.
It was juts the local tennis club and they were happy for me to
stand around with a microphone for a while. (You would be
amazed how uncomfortable some people get when there is a
mic around; these guys were cool with it)
I got some really good material because there were both men
and women playing so I managed to get some good sounds of
people exerting them selves as they went for shots or played
the more powerful shots. Of course I also got the impacts of the
tennis balls on the racket, court and net and the typical squeaky
shoes. I must have spent close to an hour there and I got into
watching a couple of the matches as the players were really
On my way out from the tennis courts I noticed a guy messing
around with the back of this unusual truck. The sign on the
truck read “Concrete mixing” so I guess that’s what it was, but
he was actually cleaning the system out after having used it. It
was making some cool grinding and clunking sounds as the
pump cycled without any concrete in it. He was also using a
long metal pole to dislodge the built up concrete. Very
interesting looking gear and made some good sounds. Once
again I just happened to be in the right place at the right time for
that one. Both the tennis and the concrete mixer were pretty straight
forward to record as I didn’t have much background sound to
worry about as they were in a quiet part of Noosa. It was really
just a case of position myself where it sounded good and point
the shotgun mic at the target. I wish all recording sessions were
First Time Recording Firearms
Yandina Queensland and Gold Coast Queensland
(yes that's a 600km round trip)
Sennheiser MKH 60
Boom pole array
Sony TCD-D10 DAT
with Shure SM58 Beta and AKG D112 microphones
As I usually update the journal a few days after the event I can write here that the next few entries were some of the best fun I have had in ages. I spent a very busy weekend and did quite a lot of driving, but the material I got to record was well worth the effort.
Firstly I had organized today to go out to the North Arm Rifle Club in Yandina to record some rifles being fired. I have for a long time wanted to add some firearms sounds to the library. I think its an important section to include in a sound library these days as so many games and film and TV use gun sounds. Also I knew there were going to be new challenges to overcome in recording firearms. The folk at North Arm had very kindly organised to bring along an old 1930 .303 rifle. This was the main weapon used in World War two by Australian soldiers and as such is an important part of our history. I plan on using the sound of the 303 in another project I am working on of important Australian sounds.
Australian 303 MK1 1942 Rifle
I wanted to be as prepared as possible for today, and having never recorded firearms I wanted to cover my bases as much as possible. I pulled my old portable DAT recorder out of the cupboard as I wanted to get as many microphones running as possible. I set up the DAT with a different mic going into each channel. I had a Shure SM 58 Beta up on a standard microphone stand behind the firing area, and an AKG D112 on a desktop tripod sitting basically in front of the muzzle of the rifles. The D112 is designed pretty much for bass drums and so can deal well with high sound pressure levels and has a fast reaction time. The Shure was simply to have another mic on sight. I also positioned the R09 on the ground but I had it much further back from the D112. The R09 was set to the absolute lowest input level that it could still receive a signal on. (Even with this it maxed out quite a lot) Finally I held the Boom pole with the MKH 60 on it and moved around as needed. I constantly switched the input level switches between high and low to capture as much as possible. When the rifle was being loaded or unloaded I increased the gain to capture as much material as possible. Whenever the weapon was fired I would switch the levels to minimum to avoid maxing out the signal. It was a little tricky at times to get this all coordinated and have the mic in the best position. Also I had to have both ear plugs in and my headphones on (and set to zero) to protect my ears, so I couldn’t really monitor much of what was going in.
Generally the D112 handled everything well. The Shure picked up most firing sounds, but they are distant and lack much range. (This is totally understandable for this mic, but all the material will be kept and may be useful later for mixing) The R09 peaked out very badly initially as it was too close and the built in mics just couldn’t respond fast enough or cope with the SPL levels. It did however do a very good job of capturing the echo of the round going downrange. At the time of writing this I am still downloading the Zoom F4 material so I don’t actually know yet how the MKH60 coped.
Overall I got some good material on the range and I am sure when its all edited down there will be some good samples to add to the library.
Following the range recording I packed everything up and drove about 250KM to the Gold Coast to a brand new sports arena called Skilled Park for the World Cup Rugby game between New Zealand and Papua and New Guinea. I have never been to a rugby game, but it was a good opportunity to record large crowd sounds and to capture the ambiance of a big sporting event. I recorded close to an hour of footage of general crowd ambiance as well as cheers, boos and other audience sounds. The best sample was when PnG scored their first try in the second half. The crowd reacted as though they had just won the premiership, it was a really exciting moment in the game and the energy of that moment was well captured in the recording.
A Nice Day for Golf
Sennheiser MKH 60
Boom pole array
Today I got some help from the lovely people at Noosa Springs Country Club. Not only did they allow me to come and record some sounds, but they even allowed one of their touring Pros to hit some balls for me. This is definitely the best way to record gold sounds, having someone who really knows how to play hitting the ball for you. Its been probably 15 years since I hit a golf ball, and I was never any good at it, by comparison Dan was hitting like a champ and the resulting sounds were great. The course itself was nice and it was a fantastic day to be outdoors. I managed to get most of what I think you’d expect from a golf course. Hitting balls with irons and woods both off the ground and off tees, as well as miss hits, practice swings, chips and putting. Dan even suggested recording the sound of a golf ball hitting a palm tree. So that’s another sport with some representation in the catalogue. Several hundred sports still to go.
Noosa Springs Golf Club
The Sounds themselves were fairly straight forward to capture. A drive with a golf ball is pretty loud so I placed the mics back a bit. The new metal drivers have a very distinctive high frequency ping to them when they make contact with the ball.
For less powerful shots and putting I got in nice and close to get as clear a sound as possible. Golf courses are often pretty quiet which makes it easier to get clean samples. I wish all my sports recordings would be this easy.
Cold but beautiful
Anna's Father, step Mother and brother are over visiting us, so we went to see some snow. There are plenty of mountains in our area, but Hakone is one I had not been to either so she thought it would be a good choice. the weather was really nice and the view was great.
I managed to record the most obvious thing, walking through the snow, and in fact got some good material because there was very deep snow as well and the sound is quite different to walking through shallow snow. I also discovered another trick by accident that I am going to share. I had often wondered about recording skiing as it would be great to have some sounds, but it would be difficult because even if you could attach mics to a set of skis the wind noise would be terrible. Quite by accident today I discovered that moving your gloved hand over the surface of the snow sounds alot like skiing. Its makes sense as its just a surface moving against the snow, and its all essential a type of white noise, but when recorded it sounded very realistic. In fact if you move your hand quickly and change direction back and forth you can really simulate the sound of someone skiing and turning. Its a much easier method and probably safer than strapping microphones to someone as they fly downhill.
Stephan Schütze has been recording sounds for over twenty years. This journal logs his thoughts and experiences