Archive for April, 2010


So my best friend Ben from 3rd grade all the way through college just got married last weekend! Awesome! I was in the wedding, so I flew up to NYC on Thursday morning to prep for the wedding on Saturday. Of course, I brought a 702T with me so I could record the wedding, and brought my NT4 so I could traipse around NYC and grab some sounds if I found some time. So Ben and Hannah got married. It was an absolutely wonderful time. I had one of the best weekends I’ve ever had.

Ben and Hannah

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

So the wedding was amazing (did I mention that?). I was so busy doing things and meeting people that I didn’t have time to do any audio work until Saturday evening. I had been building a list of things in my head that I wanted to record. Mostly trains, subways, planes, etc… I was unfortunately unable to record anything on the train from NYC into CT or on the way back because of how much luggage I had with me. Plus, I didn’t want to lose my seat. Next time…

When I returned to NYC Saturday night, I was walked out of Grand Central, up Vanderbuilt, and turned onto 47th to cut over to Park. As I was walking on 47th, with my suitcase, my garment bag, backpack, and still wearing a full suit, I hear the awesome sound of a massive diesel engine under me. It was a very loud and very impressive sound. There was a Diesel Train idling right under the sidewalk vents, and it was wonderfully loud! So I stopped, pulled my luggage off to the side of the sidewalk, grabbed my NT4 (which I luckily had the foresight to connect to my 702T and make accessible before hand). So here I am, a guy in a full suit, covered in luggage, huddling in the corner of a NYC street around 9pm at night, pointing an NT4 at a sidewalk vent. Wish I had a picture of that. I don’t. But I do have a sound of it…

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

BTW, I just realized that it sounds terrible over my laptop speakers. You need some speakers that have some low end range to properly here the engine recording. It has a lot of low end rumble in it…

Awesome. So that was the only recording I was able to get done on Saturday. Sad, but that was all my schedule allowed for. Anyways, Monday morning came around. Time for me to go home. I got up at 3:45 am (yech…) and headed out. I wanted to give myself time to go through the subways to the airport because I wanted to get Subway sounds and sounds of the Air Train. So I went down into the E station on 53rd and Lex. It was about 4:30am at this point. Obviously, there was absolutely nobody in the station. I was standing on the platform, waiting for the train and noticed a cool sound coming from the escalator. It sounded awesome. So I grabbed my mic and recorder and went over. I recorded this sample from about 2 – 3 inches away from where the escalator steps come out from under the grate at the bottom of the escalator. Unfortunately there was the automated talking in the background, which insisted on talking every few seconds, so it wasn’t a completely clean recording, but it still sounds really awesome. I love the intricacies of this recording. It’s such a complex texture…

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

So, unfortunately, the train took forever to come (I waited like 15 minutes), and I was going to miss my flight if I waited much longer, so I ended up running back upstairs and jumping in a cab. I told him to go to Jamaica station so I could catch the Air Train. He started trying to explain that it would just be easier to take me straight to JFK. I explained to him that I needed to take the Air Train to JFK. After about 2 or 3 minutes of him not understanding why I needed to go to the Air Train, I finally explained to him that I’m a sound editor and I really needed to get a recording of the sound of the train. That through him off a little bit, but he had no arguments left, except that he now tells me that he doesn’t know how to get there. So, I took out my Blackberry and had to give him turn by turn directions from Google Maps… Interesting times… Along the way, I made a few recordings of the inside of the cab, but they all came out rather boring. Also, the NT4 isn’t the quietest of microphones, so there was a lot of hiss, since I had to pump the gain.

Anyways, I finally get to Jamaica station, get up to the Air Train platform, and wait at the far back end of the train. Everybody likes going to the front of the train, so I figured I’d get the cleanest recordings at the back. There weren’t very many people on the train (more than I thought there would be for 5 in the morning, however). Luckily, they were all very tired and didn’t make any sound. They were all just kind of drifting in and out of sleep. This one woman kept eying me though, wondering what I was doing all huddled in the corner with a large metal cylinder in my hand. I can only imagine what she was thinking. Anyways, I recorded the entire trip in 96k (a little under 15 minutes). Here’s a 5 minute portion of it for you to listen to. This is from the start (at Jamaica Station) to the second station (Federal Circle Station). At the beginning, you can hear the automation and all, the train starting up, and some clacking as the train turns a 90 degree turn about 50 feet off the track. After that, its pretty much a straight shot down the center of the BQE and the train really picks up speed.

What I love about this recording is the different harmonics that come out at different speeds. As the train speeds up over a one or two minute period, the original tones you hear get higher and higher in pitch, but once they reach a certain frequency, you start hearing a similar sound and octave below it, and those two start to rise together. It seems to do this cyclically as the train accelerates. Awesome sounds. I’d recommend listening to this sound over some good headphones or speakers in order to hear the full depth of the sound.

Because this clip is so long, I had to compress it to 192kbps mp3. Sorry :-(

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

So, that’s all the good stuff I was able to get this trip. Too busy this time… I’ll be up there again in August, so hopefully I can put aside some time to grab some more sounds. I also have a ton of subway recordings that I need to sort through that I did on my old Fostex FR2LE with my NT4. I should listen to them and post them soon as well. Hope you enjoyed my sounds and stories behind them!

Holy cow, so… it’s been a while since I’ve posted! I’ve never been so busy in my life! Which I guess is a good thing (since it’s all sound related work), but I feel so terrible that I haven’t been able to post in so long!

Since my last post, I’ve done a few sfx recording sessions, but none have been overly successful. I’ve done fire wooshes (long piece of wood with a dampened cloth at the end soaked in gasoline), but that was contaminated with bird chirps… I’ll have to find a quieter place to do it next time, or do it at night (and freak out my neighbors…). I tried a few binaural recordings, but I wasn’t able to come up with anything very interesting. Tried a few others as well, but nothing really ended up working out…

Anyways, this post is about shooting pennies out of slingshots. I did this session probably 2 months ago. I grabbed a large empty room (about 50 feet long), up a few mics, grabbed a box of pennies and a slingshot, and started shooting away.

My setup consisted of an MKH60 and a CSS-5 (in Normal mode), both half way down range, perpendicular to the penny trajectory, and an MKH70 behind me, pointing straight down range. I padded the two mics that were down range so that if I hit them I wouldn’t damage them (I actually hit my 60 a few times, so I’m really glad I protected them!). Everything was recorded into a 744T, using a Wendt X5 as my third and forth preamps.

I took a few test shots to figure out levels and all. The end of the room I was shooting at had hard walls that made a loud “Bang” when I hit them. I wanted to preserve the reverb tail of my sound as much as possible, so I set up some mattresses against the wall to dampen the sound. It helped a little, and it allowed me to turn up the preamps on my recorder as well.

I did pretty much everything in 192k. Here are some of the sounds in the original speed. They are only edited to take out space between takes, but I left everything else unchanged:

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Here are the same recordings slowed down to 96k:

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Pretty cool sounds, although I have to figure out a way to dampen the “snap” of the rubber band at the beginning so I can use more of my sound. The snap is so transient that the echo eats into a significant amount of the sound, making the usable part much shorter, as you can hear… Any suggestions are welcome! One of the ideas I had was to redo the session in a room twice the size. If I set up the mics a lot further away, and the penny has further to travel, the “snap” will be quieter and the actual sound will be longer. Will have to try it when I have a free night.

Here are the same sounds again, slowed down to a quarter of the original speed (48k):

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Almost sounds like a prop airplane flying by. I really like the sound of the pennies hitting the ground too. It almost sounds ammo shells hitting the ground. Again, I wish I had more of a usable sound in there, without the beginning and the end being a bit contaminated… it’d sound much more complete. But next time, hopefully…

So, I’m in CT right now for a wedding, but I’m spending a few days in NYC this weekend, so I hope to be able to grab some sweet recordings while I’m here for a blog next week. I hope to never again go this long without a new blog!

Thanks for stopping by!

This past weekend I went to Sarasota to spend Easter with my parents. My aunt and uncle live nearby (in Bradenton) and they invited us to go out on their sailboat. So we went out sailing on Saturday, and I thought, “Hey, I could get some sweet sounds out there”, so I brought some gear with me. And I did get some awesome sounds.

When we met up with Betty and Ed (my aunt and uncle), the boat, The Jlua (pronounced Ja-lou-uh) – a 1982 41′ Morgan, was anchored out in the middle of Bimini Bay (at the north end of Anna Maria Island), tied to a group of their friends’ boats. My aunt picked us up in the dingy and took us over to the boat. Once we boarded the Jlua, we hung around for a good hour chatting with their friends and watching the dogs play (there were four of them between all the boats) before we headed out.

When we finally got ready to make way, the Captain (my aunt, who is actually a licensed captain) fired up the engine. It sounded awesome, and I instantly wished I had recorded it. It took a few minutes for us to get the anchor free, get the dingy out of the water, and untie from the other boats, but we were soon on our way! We motored out of Bimini Bay and into Tampa Bay. My aunt and uncle listened to the weather broadcast and deliberated for a while over where we would be going, and routes and all, and decided not to go out into the Gulf, but rather stay in the Bay for a while.

So, anyways, after we got the engine started and were under way, I went down below and recorded the engine drone. Sailboat motors sound a lot different from power boat engines. A typical sailboat motor is around 10 – 20 hp (a far cry from my Dad’s twin 400hp cruiser), and putts around a bit, and sounds a bit like a diesel engine (I believe it is a diesel motor on their boat).

Here’s the motor while motoring out of the canal.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Once we finally got clear of the canal, we faced the wind and hoisted the sails (all three of them!), then cut the engine and we were sailing! Well, almost… The wind was being blocked by a nearby island, so the breeze was being a bit squirly, and we were only getting about 2-3 knots – if we were lucky. But it was nice and relaxing as we putzed along. Eventually, we cleared the tip of the island and the winds really picked up. Once we got in the groove, we were probably doing around 6 knots over land, which is decent for a 40′ sailboat with a 4.5′ draw on a not-so-windy day… I was down below right when the wind started picking up, and I was able to get a cool recording of the ambience of the inside of the forward berth. The boat has a fiberglass hull, so you can really hear the water hitting it as she cuts through the water:

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Around the same time (I don’t remember if it was before or after I recorded the berth), I wrapped my mic in a towel and sat it inside one of the storage cabinets. If you’ve ever been inside a boat, you might notice that most of the big storage cabinets down below don’t really have backs in them, they just are backed by the hull. This means that there’s not much between the water and the inside of the cabinet, so you really hear a lot of water sounds. So, I had my mic in there and shut the cabinet and recorded a bit:

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

At this point I’m starting to get hot, since none of the hatches were open, so I headed up on deck, and out on to the bow. I sat under the Jib and grabbed the best stereo ambience I could from the front of the boat. I have no wind protection for my Røde NT4, and all I had was a towel with me, so I kind of made a makeshift wind baffle out of the towel, and engaged my High Pass. To my surprise, I actually got a decent minute or two of sound (not straight…), and if I spend enough time with it, crossfading between good sections, I think I can get a solid sound out of it. Also, I think I am going to invest in the Røde blimp, which can hold the NT4, but I’m not sure yet, because I still don’t completely love the NT4. Anyways, I digress…

Here’s the stereo recording from the bow, facing foward:

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Here’s a picture I took from the stern looking down the starboard side of the boat. For some reason the only pictures I took were from when it was cloudy that day, which wasn’t for very long. Oh well.
Under Full Sail

While I was out on the bow, I switched from the NT4 to the MKH60 (which I actually had a rycote softie for…yay for real wind protection!). I wrapped the cable around my wrist for safety, and held the mic over the edge of the bow (with a pistol grip), close to the water, and got some cool sounds of the boat cutting through the water. I love this sound so much :-) The sound of a sailboat crashing through the waves under full sail is one of my favorite sounds ever! Next time I hope to get a good balance between the sound of the wind rushing through the boat (which I couldn’t get this time – not enough wind protection) and the sound of the boat cutting through the water, all in a single recording.

Anyways, here’s the recording of the water:

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

So, while I’m getting all of these sounds, I hear my Aunt joking about blowing the horn to scare me (which I’m extremely glad my dad talked her out of doing, since I had a mic in my hand attached to headphones on my ears, which were turned up fairly loud to hear the details of what I was recording…) So anyways, I decided I wanted to try a few recordings of the horn. So I turned my preamp and headphones way down, and asked her to blow the horn. Complete distortion. I turned the pre down more and asked her to blow it again. Still hit 0, but I didn’t notice clipping. Third time was the charm. Great levels. In post later on, I found that even though I hit 0 on the second one, it still sounded fine and was usable, so I ended up with 2 good takes! You may notice that there is absolutely no reverb. This is because we were in the middle of Tampa Bay with nothing for the sound to bounce back off of!

So, here’s the horn: (Warning!!! Very LOUD!!!!)

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

So I’ve saved my favorite recording for near the end. Somewhere around half of the way through our sail, we were going down wind and the Aunt Betty decided to Jibe (a Jibe is basically the same thing as a tack – you’re taking the wind from one side of the boat to the other, so the sails switch sides – but it’s used when going downwind instead of upwind or crosswind. It can actually be more dangerous that a tack because it’s less controlled and the sails and booms can swing across the boat very fast – remember to duck!) Anyways, I happened to be down below at the time fiddling with my gear (which unfortunately wasn’t in a state capable of recording at that moment). They performed the jibe, and I heard some of the coolest sounds ever. Now, this is a sound I’ve heard probably hundreds of times, but I’ve never been recording, so I never really noticed exactly how cool it was. When you jibe or tack in a sailboat, a ton of things happen at once. You have sails luffing, lines running, pulleys spinning, chains clinking, ratchets, etc, and I think you even hear the bell in this one (which for some reason I didn’t record by itself). Plus, when you’re down below, you hear everything in the cabin shift, and the whole boat starts to creak and crack. Really amazing sound. Luckily, I was able to get them to tack twice more during the trip, and I was able to successfully record one of them.

So here’s the sound of a tack from down below, in the galley, facing towards the forward berth:

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

At the end of our sail, we were about to enter the ICW (Intracoastal Waterway). The winds were dying down, and navigating the channel can be tricky sometimes, so the the captain decided to pull down the sails and motor the rest of the way in. I remembered the awesome sound the engine made when it started before. I was ready (almost) for it this time, and caught the engine firing up from down below (barely! I spaced out for a second and I’d have missed it if it wasn’t for my pre-record!)

Here’s my “lucky” recording of the motor starting up:

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

All in all it was a very enjoyable trip. Very relaxing, great weather, nice time with family. I spent most of my time hanging out talking and playing with the dogs. It’s always a great time sailing with Betty and Ed. Betty is a licensed sailboat captain, and Ed was a Navy Seaman (he used to pilot an aircraft carrier!), so we always get to listen to tons of crazy stories about boating and all. Always a good time with lots of laughts.

I only ended up actually recording for about 30 minutes total. I’ll being going on a few more sailing trips before the fall, so next time I’ll be bringing a bunch of wind protection and all with me, and I’ve already made a list of other things I want to try. Included are trying to get some better outside ambiences, getting a tack from outside, including all the calls any everything, playing with my contact mic (maybe attaching it to the sail, the hull, the engine room, mast, etc…) and maybe even playing with a hydrophone (dragging it behind the boat in the water or something). Also, I’ll be bringing a binaural rig next time!

Anyways, I hope you enjoyed this post. Its a little departure from the normal post, but I thought I’d share as much background as possible to add some context to the recordings. Thanks for stopping by!

So last week I posted a cool post about rain recordings. I got a lot of great feedback from it, especially from the binaural recording. So I dug up this binaural recording I made about a year and a half ago from the inside of a car wash. I’m obsessed with binaural recording and mixing. I’m actually working on a few projects right now that feature binaural audio. I hope to be able to get one of them up on my blog later this month. More about those projects later.

Anyways, this is the same setup as the last recording I posted (Countryman B6 mics installed into earplugs, Lectrosonics LM-400 wireless (I don’t have the XLR adapters for the B6s), and a 744T. Pics of the setup can be found in my previous post.

Here’s the audio: (This is a binaural recording – you must wear headphones to listen to it!)

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

In case you’re interested, I recorded video of the whole ordeal as well (on my tiny point and shoot camera). It’s most definitely not the best quality video, but it’s kind of cool to see while listening to the recording. (Same recording as the audio only one)

Here it is:

Binaural Car Wash from Colin Hart on Vimeo.

Powered by WordPress and Motion by 85ideas.