D112 & Beta 58A
Boom pole and tripod
I love trips to the country. It’s great to get out of Melbourne, and even better to be somewhere quiet with lots of green. About three hours north of Melbourne one of my work colleagues parents own 400 acres of farm. Anna and I got to spend a day on the farm recording all sorts of interesting things. It was the most fun I’ve had in weeks.
This farm is what I see as a typical Australian working farm. Lots of sheds, lots of space and LOTS of stuff. I love rusty bits of machinery and junk, I think the rust looks interesting, and it often produces really good sounds. The main reason we went to the farm was to record the sounds of my friends off road buggy that they made, but I decided to start the day with some of the sounds around the farm. Chopping firewood, hammering railway tracks, and generally bashing and crashing metal, wood and a ton of other junk took me a couple of hours. Each time I set up the MKH60 on the tripod close to the source, as well as the D112 on a mini tripod, and the Beta 58A usually just lying somewhere close. (I need to get another mini tripod) This gave me great coverage as I also had the H4N’s inbuilt mics working.
The mix of microphones achieves several things. Firstly it means I will usually get at least one good recording of any source as the mics are set to different input levels and all have different levels of sensitivity. The other aspect is that each mic has its own distinct sound characteristics. The D112 is great for low frequency sounds, while the built in mics capture nice crisp high frequency sounds. When I come to editing I will often blend the different mic recordings together to get a good final sound to add to the library. If a mic has too much noise or some other issue it can be dropped from the mix. I am still getting used to this process and on a couple of occasions I did place the d112 and the beta 58A too far away from the source. They both have fairly short range pick-up patterns so I need to place them carefully or I waste them.
My H4N received a few more battle scares today as well. I placed it too close to the logs I was cutting and one of them fell onto it and cracked the screen protector. It still functions fully, but its starting to look a little fragile and I’ll need to be more careful with it in the future. If I lose the screen its going to be mostly useless for recording. One thing I still suffer from is that when I have a lot of things to record and I am going to be moving around a lot I sometimes get lazy with mic placement and this is bad. I find myself putting the mics just generally where they need to be instead of spending the time positioning each mic to get the best result. I often feel that if I am just recording metal going crash it doesn’t matter too much if the mics are exactly right. If I am recording animals or sounds that are less common to find I am usually really careful, so I need to extend that to all things I record.
On the subject of animals, the chickens refused to do anything but quiet clucks, even when they were picked up. (damn domesticated animals :-) ). And the Cows were also stubbornly quiet. We did manage to get a nice snort or two out of a beautiful quarter horse, but I think I will need to plan another trip out here specifically with animals in mind.
After a fantastic lunch we headed out to do some buggy recording only to have the buggy break after 3 minutes. My initial disappointment disappeared the instant I heard they would need to disassemble the buggy and grind and weld the parts to fix it. So instead of getting some buggy sounds I got a huge number of mechanical repair sounds. Grinders, hacksaws, arc welders and saws kept me busy all afternoon and I captured some great material. I think I could keep myself busy recording sounds on a farm for a couple of weeks, there are so many potential sound sources as well as a few challenges in capturing clean recordings of them all.
We both had a good day and it confirmed that I think I would prefer to live out in the country somewhere. I like trees, and I really prefer a quiet environment.
Stephan Schütze has been recording sounds for over twenty years. This journal logs his thoughts and experiences