A long weekend is a nice break from work, but when it’s raining most of the time it does make it a little less fun. It’s still good to get out of Melbourne though. We hired a car and headed down the Great Ocean Road in Victoria's south west for a few days. There is some great scenery in the area and it was a nice way to relax. I usually carry all my gear even if I don’t have anything specific to record. I did keep an eye out for a good example of an Australia windmill (technically a wind pump) but its seemed that any that were close to the road were not moving. I didn’t really want to go wandering across someone’s property to record one, and I think I need one that doesn’t work properly anyway. I did get nice and close to one once but it was almost completely silent. I need to find a nice old rusty one that’s going to rattle and clank for me.
On Sunday we found ourselves in Portland which is one of the western most towns along Victoria’s coast and apparently the first town in Victoria established in 1839. Portland used to have a cable tram network, the cables are gone and I suspect the tracks that still exist are not the original route, but there is still a diesel operated tram for tourists. The engine car sounds pretty much like a small truck, but it was quiet enough to allow me to stand at the back of the passenger car and record the wheels on the track. I was very happy that I was able to record the tram without the motor being audible as this is pretty much how the original tram would have sounded. The cable pulley would have made some noise, but generally the tram would have only made the sound of its movement on the tracks. I’d love to record a working cable pulley system, but I suspect I might have to travel to San Francisco one day to achieve that. I don’t know how many other functioning cable cars there still are in the world.
I didn’t have my boom pole with me so I needed to use the tripod as a pole. It was not a bad substitute, but the tripod is much heavier than the boom pole and so it was more tiring to hold it off the back of the tram for half an hour. I had a minor issue with the H4 so quickly switched across to the H4N. I’m not sure if the H4 has a more serious issue as I have not been able to test it properly yet, It was switching between indicating full batteries and then wanting to switch off because of lack of power. I am hoping the rain hasn’t shorted the unit out. It only got slightly wet, but there might be a problem with it. I will test it sometime this week. I’m glad I took the H4n on the tram because it gave me an alternative.
Being a tourist tram there were lots of people on board and they were as noisy as most tourists. The advantage of a 60 minute round trip is that it gave me a lot of time to capture footage so I hope there is enough material without noisy tourists in the background. Funnily enough the children were all pretty quiet, it was the adults in this case that were noisy. I did have the microphone positioned almost underneath the tram for most of the journey so it should provide some clean samples. I also made sure to capture the sound of the brakes squeaking and the bell ringing.
Lastly on Monday I recorded the engine bay of the Toyota Camry we had hired for the weekend. I didn’t want to do a full recording of this car at this stage. I just wanted to capture the engine bay sound so I can compare it to the Hyundai I recorded a few weeks back. I can record a Camry at any time if I decide it's worth it. I did a few more tests with the hydrophone down at the beach on the weekend, but I am still seeing what it is capable of before I do some serious recordings.
Stephan Schütze has been recording sounds for over twenty years. This journal logs his thoughts and experiences