I needed to record some sounds at home today as well as work on an article I am writing, so I planned to get some recording done inside and then go for a short walk and see what was going on locally. There has been a lot of construction work in our area lately and as much as I hate waking up to it, it does provide a good opportunity to capture some new material. Firstly I recorded some water drip sounds inside. This is actually more difficult than it might sound. To capture a good neutral water drip sound, you need a room with no natural reverb, so a bathroom or laundry is not very suitable. A lounge room is probably the deadest space to record in, but then dripping water in the lounge room has its own issues. I eventually set-up a large bucket with several mics around it and worked from there. I did get some suitable material but it took some experimenting.
The walk outside proved to be far more fruitful than I imagined. There is a new apartment building being built right next door so there was plenty of construction machinery making lots of noise. I started with a young guy digging holes with a jack hammer. I was surprised at how many different sounds a jack hammer could produce. He would start by hammering through the bitumen which produced a harsh sharp impact sound, then he proceeded to dig a post hole into the dirt which was a completely different sound. Depending on the angle and speed at which he moved the tool, the sound would vary quite a bit. I was amazed however to see the guy wasn't wearing any hearing protection. Doing this job every day this guy is going to be deaf in less than a year at this rate.
Of course to power a jack hammer, you need a generator, so I recorded that as well. I captured samples from two different positions. The sound of the generator from its exhaust was quite different from lower down near its cooling fan. I have found that its worth moving around most mechanical devices as they produce different sounds depending on where you are positioned. Next I captured a waste removal truck that was parked nearby. It was just being used to pump something smelly out of the gutters, but it also produced a different sound from different positions.
It was actually really windy outside, but because all the sounds I was recording were of fairly loud construction machines the wind was not very noticeable. One exception was through the palm trees they have planted in the area. I have recorded wind sound sa few times, but this is the strongest wind through trees I have heard, so I tried to capture some of the sound with both the shotgun mic and the mics built in to the H4N. Unfortunately the stereo mics on the H4N didn't have enough protection for the strong wind and the samples were unusable. But I did get a fairly good sample from the shotgun mic.
I captured a surprising number of good sounds today without moving more than 500 meters from my front door. Good when you want to record sounds, but this area currently feels like a construction site all the time, which is not so good for living.
Stephan Schütze has been recording sounds for over twenty years. This journal logs his thoughts and experiences