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Bogdan

Travelling kit for ambient recording (silent source)

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Bogdan   
2 hours ago, soundmanjohn said:

And here's another book for you to look at: Gordon Hempton's 'Earth Is A Solar-Powered Jukebox' written by the man who's been there and done that.

https://quietplanet.com/products/book

Thank you!  416 posts for you (at this point in time) and 30 for me... must be a sign :))

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daniel   
4 hours ago, soundmanjohn said:

Unless there's no wind at all, you may have problems. Foam windshields are fine in a studio, but nothing beats a properly designed basket-windshield when you're outdoors.

 

This is an interesting problem. Given the mic doesn't need to be moved when recording I wonder if it is possible to fabricate (or buy) an appropriately designed 'tent'? Eg. It doesn't make flappy sounds in the wind and is transparent enough for nice recording. Eg. 31jRCEpjZtL.jpg

Plus 1 of these for high winds (-:

$_57.JPG

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Bogdan   
13 minutes ago, daniel said:

This is an interesting problem. Given the mic doesn't need to be moved when recording I wonder if it is possible to fabricate (or buy) an appropriately designed 'tent'? Eg. It doesn't make flappy sounds in the wind and is transparent enough for nice recording. Eg. 

Plus 1 of these for high winds (-:

$_57.JPG

HAHAHA that made my...night.  

Not a completely bad idea though.....

Hahha still laughing at the blanket pic...

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quick thought on SDC's and LDC's: i think there's a misconception that LDC's have a better low end response when its actually the SDC's (specially omnis) that have an extended low end. i think also SDC's have better transient response too. all this being said, one of my favourite drum mics is the Sony C-37a which is a larger than normal diaphram and has a 'slow' feel to it. its all about taste i guess. i would stick to SDC's since they're more compact.

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quick thought on SDC's and LDC's: i think there's a misconception that LDC's have a better low end response when its actually the SDC's (specially omnis) that have an extended low end.

I don't think that's actually true. The bass response is more due to the polar pattern than the size of the capsule.
LDCs however have, as stated, a much lower self noise, a higher energy output, and are - arguably - more sensitive than LDCs. That might make them appropriate mics to use in this scenario.
Not a completely bad idea though.....

I think it would actually be very easy to mount an LDC mic in a standard Rycote basket. You just need one of the HG lyres, or very hard lyres. But the HG would work best. Mount the XLR and part of the mic, if possible, into this in the windshield. Just use the one hg lyre and mount the windshield upright. This is not suitable for booming, but it should work fine on a mic stand.

I have to say: I have never tried something like this myself, it's just an idea I had for your particular situation. You may find it won't work at all, or you may find it to be a great sounding solution which may set your recordings apart from others. I think it's worth exploring, especially considering the noise aspect.

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Well it's too complicated to try and quote individually now but I'll say I'm agreeing especially with Chris and John for this newly renamed thread. There is good (and I think compatible rather than contrasting) advice and ideas coming from all directions. I also don't want to 'kill' the thread as there may well end up being a lot of good advice for future browsers to be had here.

In the case of yourself Bogdan, being the original poster, I'm going to stick my neck out since I believe most here will agree with me. I strongly think the best thing you can do right now in preparation for the recording tour is to look around Edinburgh for a chance of spending the next couple of months learning and practicing recording technique from other people somehow. Look to see if any local studios do either evening classes or occasional days of instructional courses: the studio I worked at in the 90s held week-long courses two or three times a year for local musicians and anyone interested in beginning recording technique; I've heard of other studios doing similar to fill downtime days.

If this is at all possible you will experience far more in practical circumstances and it will help you begin to understand what techniques might suit your interests (pleasure in technique itself is important I believe), the kind of sounds you are interested in recording and in what environmental/acoustical situation, and finally, also importantly, the manner in which you are expecting or hoping to present or disseminate the recordings - or work further with them.

You've mentioned I think having friends of friends with eg MKH mics so they're a good starting point to ask about things. If you can't find a part time or evening course in a local studio or college (which I find unlikely) call up a few studios or try to find a local engineer, tell them of your plans and beg them to let you sit in on a few sessions (voice over recordings, bands, classical recordings, as much variation as you can). I think you'll probably get more from a studio environment as concerns experiencing a wide mix of recording technique than the likes of 'us' (since we're "filmmakers" and have many specialist concerns which come before stereo recording techniques) but say 'yes please' to any opportunity that arises.

After a few weeks of practice, say you managed to find a weekly evening class or sat in on occasional days, you'll at least be able to say, "I want to record mono and X-Y" (or LCR / quad / ambisonics / MS / WXY-MS / MSM / underwater / infinite screen) - and ask a new bunch of questions and be able to make your own qualified decision based on the answer(s).

In my opinion whatever mic or what recorder you end up buying is going to be of hardly any concern to the recordings (beyond your comfort) nor to me at least as a listener. "What mic did you use" is rarely my first question if I have questions at all.

Best, Jez

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constantin, you're probably right. i think i remember reading a couple of aes papers on the SDC's at some point in the past. definitely agree on polar pattern too. also though, the phrase low end can be kinda vague. i think LdC's along with certain SDC's that are between cardioid and fig 8 have the proximity effect which probably wont come in handy unless you get close to source. in my experience the proximity effect is also like a boost in certain frequencies. i don't know if it extends to low low end like an omni would. i guess i'm just thinking of orchestral recordings and ambience recordings where things can get pretty low.  

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23 hours ago, Bogdan said:

I will test the DPAs and compare them with some other omni mic as soon as I decide which one.

As I said, I left my budget mindset at the door. I've learned a lot since I started this thread...I adapted to new possibilities.

At the moment I am looking for 2 professional mics as a basic kit. I've already explained what I want to achieve. I expect them to cost up to 2k...preferably in the realms of 1.5k. But budget is relative at the moment. If I can invest in two amazing mics that give me enough flexibility for some years to come, then I would have no problem extending my budget. 

So far I haven't been recommended an awful lot of microphones.

The DPA 4060s are not 'like' anything else currently around. They are as I've said my number one choice for travel (and, for me, for FX and ambient recordings). They're not a substitute for other omnis such as eg MKH 8020s (although one could use them as a 'substitute'). They sound great, nothing their size sounds that good and natural, and you can hide them well if needed, and you can stick them in the wildest of places. They've been absolutely great in 40+ degrees C, below zero, 100% humidity and dry.

I don't really have much idea of what you're trying to record nor do I think do any of the rest of us - which is why the thread is bombarded with so many ideas (though that in itself is not a bad thing). I originally thought you were looking to record near silent environments (or at least those free of obvious man-made noises like traffic, aeroplane and city-hum). Now I kind of think the environment is perhaps irrelevant (for nature anyway) - you want to record interesting noises in an outdoor equivalent of an anechoic chamber ... but in stereo? My own experience of isolated noises (albeit for me generally 'unwanted') in super quiet environments were either natural (a bird call, a yak-past) or an annoyance (a chainsaw starting up several miles away and ruining yet another long careful setup). Interesting noises (prayer wheel, man made water mill feature, rush of air and bubbles in a geological fault) might just be recorded carefully to minimise unwanted noise. MS recording might well be ideal for you (even with an omni mid for certain sounds), but without understanding what you actually intend recording, in what manner (always ready? careful setups?) and what the final 'release format' might be, I cannot 'recommend' any recording technique over another. (I would certainly consider MS for eg ethnographic/song collection with 'side' for the casual listener and M for the expert ... And MSM for eg a music documentary with radio and tv versions in the works)? Then there's good old fashioned M ... without the S! I record a lot in mono, especially the interesting noises - perhaps 40% mono, 40% 2-track and 20% other, but don't hold me to that!

But with a further (!) £1500-£2000 to spend, I might recommend a pair of MKH 8040s. At least they work well for me. I didn't ask for recommendations when I bought them though - I got them as soon as they came out based on a long long familiarity with the MKH series (MKH50, 30 etc). They've also been faultless in hot/cold/wet/dry as above.

I'll recommend in addition the Countryman B6 microphone, in its 10mV/Pa version, for use as a hydrophone. Along with the DPAs it goes on most journeys, even though I have a real hydrophone. Another couple of hundred quid though, so only if you planned water recordings, which haven't been mentioned.

-

I'd probably look to try (or even just buy, and try whilst learning) a few pairs of much cheaper mics; maybe the wide omnis mentioned very early on, maybe octavas or se electronics with interchangeable cardioid, hyper and omni capsules. Or at least a pair, which can later become a spare/ surround/ danger set. Many might disagree with me here: it's up to you though. The (discontinued??) LSD 2 two capsule mic looks an interesting budget option (like a Neumann SM69) for a multi pattern (especially for MS or blumlein crossed 8s - or together with an omni for 3-channel ambisonic WXY) - but obviously only if you were sufficiently interested in these techniques - and I've no idea how it sounds, nor handling or whatever. A one-point stereo mic (I have the older AT822) can be a neat quick solution for lots of things too, even piggy-backed to a better mono third central channel. A multi-pattern LDC (like above LSD2 budget option) might be an option for 'occasional' fig8 use, as Constantin mentioned. One can recommend forever!

-

Finally for now, stands or poles, bags (rucksack or covert or just comfortable), cables, windshielding and powering are all essential to plan thoroughly. Personally I like an AA backup for powering as I've said before, even if only a separate mini recorder, but I favour the Zoom F8 partly for this (over some more 'professional' options). Just make sure you'll not be found unable to record at all. And quiet clothing ... search this topic elsewhere here.

Jez

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daniel   

Re: AAs - you can make a AA battery pack for almost any recorder (whether or not the recorder takes AAs). You could also make a battery pack using D cells, which would arguably make more sense as phantom powering a few mics will flatten 8 x AAs quite quickly. For majority of the time a rechargeable li-on battery will be of more use (make a AA battery pack if you really think this will be an issue). Li-ons are light, long lasting, less self discharge, flat o/p and some even include a connector (D-tap) which will save you buying a 'shoe' etc. You could even make you're own li-on battery packs using 18650s which look like AA but have twice the voltage and are also quite ubiquitous, so making them relatively cheap (if not available world wide on the scale of AAs). Some of the chargers for the 18650 batteries are USB powered so it is feasible to recharge these with a hand cranked charger. And you wouldn't need to be away from civilisation that long before carrying a hand cranked charger would be a lighter option than carrying enough AAs to give you much recording time. Of course, multiple options and redundancy would make most sense (if you have the capacity to carry them). Btw the 'L' series batteries (SD 6 and 7 series compatible) are incredibly cheap and some charges are also USB powered (therefore potentially chargeable in the field)

DPAs are lovely mics (never heard this contended), but if you don't have to rig the mic on a human then the OKMs sound very close and maybe the phantom powered 'Clippy' similar. Not much stereo information at 60hz so could fill this part of the spectrum in with a single condenser mic if required eg. an 8040 or (LDC). The bigger size of the OKM (and Clippy) is not going to be a problem for ambient recording where you'll probably have to dress the mic in some way to protect it from wind anyway. But I'm guessing this will read like sacrilege to some. A pair of new 4060s is going to set you back 6-800gbp and as SMJ mentions in his article, lapel mics are to an extent "regarded as expendable" eg. they wont hold there value like a larger mic. This is good if you're buying S/H, not so good if you decide to resell a pair you bought new. If the cost of the DPAs rule out buying an MKH series (or similar) but the OKM allow you to get an MKH as well, then for me it's a no brainer.

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On 4/13/2017 at 6:05 AM, Bogdan said:

... There is one thing about it though. I hear this consistent low frequency hum, similar to traffic in the distance. Many nature recordings have this background hum. What is it and where does it coming from? 

And these frogs are very high frequency :)) I am more familiar with those low frequency frogs ...

 

Yes there are highways a couple of miles away ... I recorded with the 80 low cut on the Mix-Pre D and rolled off more in post, a necessary evil in high population Florida. As for the high pitched frogs, I don't know, maybe all the deep voiced ones croaked.

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Bogdan   

Love your comments! I'm getting closer and closer to taking action! 

Just a few quick remarks/questions before I fully digest your inputs.

I will travel in a van...live in it...sleep in it. I will have a roof full of dollar panels :p. So that means I will have 2 big rechargeable batteries inside. As for the portable battery...even though important, it's not a concern for now. Worst case scenario I open a window and record from the van... which brings me to the second remark...

Dan suggested a tent+blanket above. A funny concept at first, yet got me thinking a bit. It was my last thought before falling asleep last night ...Highly recommended! :))

Instead of using a tent I could use the van itself as a mic shield in bad weather conditions. Just open a window, cover the open space with a layer (blanket) for wind absorption.....point the mic at the window... et voila...

If I repeat the process and open all windows...

Or I can simply transform the whole van into a Rycote basket....

Joking of course... but for fun....imagine a fluffy "rycote van".jpg  lol

2 minutes ago, tomsalyer said:

Yes there are highways a couple of miles away ... I recorded with the 80 low cut on the Mix-Pre D and rolled off more in post, a necessary evil in high population Florida. As for the high pitched frogs, I don't know, maybe all the deep voiced ones croaked.

Good to know the highway...s were nearby. I was concerned you were deep inside nature. Hopefully there's no hum where I go :))

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50 minutes ago, daniel said:

Re: AAs - you can make a AA battery pack for almost any recorder (whether or not the recorder takes AAs). (the rest snipped but all good reading, thanks)

 

DPAs are lovely mics (never heard this contended), but if you don't have to rig.  (snip) ....

A pair of new 4060s is going to set you back 6-800gbp and as SMJ mentions in his article, lapel mics are to an extent "regarded as expendable" eg. they wont hold there value like a larger mic. This is good if you're buying S/H, not so good if you decide to resell a pair you bought new. If the cost of the DPAs rule out buying an MKH series (or similar) but the OKM allow you to get an MKH as well, then for me it's a no brainer.

Hi Dan! As you know I liked the AA powering (albeit temperamental with alkalines!!) with the R4 as I do with the SD 302 etc and the 633: all of course with 12V (main) external powering options. It really can be a life saver for travelling FX recording (where the machine may not be rolling for entire days draining 48V etc) even if one would preferably be using external power. I also like the choice of power for the new R4+ but would have loved a 'backup sled' to run the machine off AAs that fit the machine slot ... Although it's the first time I've mentioned it I think (and I would perhaps be its eventual sole user!)

If anyone knows of a (non DIY) AA to 12V box for hirose/xlr4 machines I would love to see one and probably buy one. Kortwich perhaps? I've looked but never found.

DPAs - for me the versatility - covert, binaural and spaced, lowered into daft places, etc. So, nothing really to compare (but I used other lavs before I finally went DPA, true).

Happy personally to consider anything second hand, including DPAs (which are common in ex-show sell offs at far less than the new price). Though I would look for microdot terminated, then buy the DAD xlr adapters and also the microdot extension cables (at least one of them) for wider arrays etc. The standard 'lav' length of the cable is too short often at about 2m for me.

You'll be using DPAs forever too (as granted you will MKHs) - so a good 'investment', new or SH.

Jez

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Bogdan   
4 hours ago, The Immoral Mr Teas said:

I don't really have much idea of what you're trying to record nor do I think do any of the rest of us.

I suspect a great deal of them are unknown because I have no idea what I will encounter in my travels. It's part of the surprise. 

What is certain is that at first (first months or years) I will look for the most quiet places in Europe and then Asia (any recommendations/suggestions welcome). I feel this need to reset my brain and escape the noise. I suspect these places are to be found in the miserable cold of the North...However I had enough of cold (UK I love you) so I will look for the most quiet places in the central/eastern/southern parts. What will come out of silence I don't know. Even birds can be too much for me... In fact they might be my main "polluter". I love birds...though....

Another certainty is that I will create sounds myself in silent environments (I like creating sounds in general wherever I go). I will create sounds with my voice...hit objects...experiment acoustics. Thuds are my speciality. I love using deep heavy sounds and create rhythms( base/drum). I also love high pitched sounds of course.

And because I will have no studio isolation... I will look for natural studios....experimental studios...such as caves and underground cavities. 

That's me basically saying I want a bit of everything....foley included :(. This is why my intention is to start with 2-3 mics which give me enough flexibility for a start....and free of noise. I would want to use them for about a year or so before I add more mics to my bag.

11 minutes ago, The Immoral Mr Teas said:

You'll be using DPAs forever too (as granted you will MKHs) - so a good 'investment', new or SH.

This sounds motivating enough to me. I will try to find SH DPAs, as Dan recommended. It makes sense. I will have more budget for MKHs or whatever I decide. Most likely I will come back to this thread whenever I decide to upgrade. 

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30 minutes ago, Bogdan said:

 Hopefully there's no hum where I go :))

If you're in a van others will be in vans too = traffic = traffic noise.

Even if you're well off road in a 4x4 others will be riding around on motorbikes.

Whatever, I would plan for some kind of 'away from the van' kit, if even a b-kit of small recorder with 48V mic pres and AA powering.

Jez

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Basic Microphone background info for beginners:

Low cost LDC and SDC mics are DC biased. This is fine for studio use, but out in the field, moisture in the air causes the biasing circuit to fail, resulting in low output or no output at all until they are dried out again.  The Sennheiser MHK series were the first to use a RF bias (very high frequency) which does not have this problem.   That makes them worth every penny for outdoor use.  The Rode NTG3 is the only other mic I know with RF bias.

Moisture doesn't cause failure straight away, so low cost SDCs with a couple of backups to swap in while the first set dries out is a solution.

Shotgun mics were designed mainly for dialog - the directionality is high in the frequency band of the human voice, and is much less directional at low and high frequencies.  So for sound effects, shotgun mics are less useful.

From the discussion so far, I'm thinking that a mic basket/windshield/dead cat is going to be the most important part of the kit to get nice sound in the environments you are considering. The second most important part is going to be battery power.  Mic choice 3rd and recorder choice 4th.

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1 hour ago, daniel said:

 [...] so it is feasible to recharge these with a hand cranked charger.

hmm, interesting thought, but wouldn't it take a *long* time of cranking to get any meaningful charge? I'd thought it would be difficult to generate more then 5W on a small hand crank, so personally I'd rather carry a 20x30cm flexible solar panel and charge the batteries in between (could even be done while hiking if you mount the panel on the outside of the backpack)

chris

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daniel   
19 minutes ago, chrismedr said:

hmm, interesting thought, but wouldn't it take a *long* time of cranking to get any meaningful charge? I'd thought it would be difficult to generate more then 5W on a small hand crank, so personally I'd rather carry a 20x30cm flexible solar panel and charge the batteries in between (could even be done while hiking if you mount the panel on the outside of the backpack)

chris

I've not used this: https://www.k-tor.com/hand-crank-generator/ 

1 maybe better off with a wind-up nagra:

http://sounds.bl.uk/Sound-recording-history/Equipment/029M-UNCAT10XXXXX-0001V0

 

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daniel   
engaudio   
On 14/04/2017 at 9:45 PM, Bogdan said:

Thanks Grant for your input! Very useful.

I see you use the M/S MKH 30/40. How did you decide to use this setup?

I use the mkh series because they can handle pretty much any weather. I loved the sound of the Neumann but it was too noisy for a lot of my locations..

You may want to check out the AT4022 omni, very popular with the nature recording community as the self noise has been measured at around 7dB, not so good in the humidity (like most) but otherwise a great mic and cheap. 

some reading for you, on Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/groups/258610517559455/

https://www.facebook.com/groups/field.recording/

yahoo group:   naturerecordists@yahoogroups.com

DIY mics etc.  http://caperteebirder.com/index.php?p=1_17_recording-gear-1

ebook: https://quietplanet.com/products/book

 

Grant.

 

Grant.

 

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Bogdan   
2 hours ago, engaudio said:

You may want to check out the AT4022 omni, very popular with the nature recording community as the self noise has been measured at around 7dB, not so good in the humidity (like most) but otherwise a great mic and cheap. 

Cheers Grant!

Already familiar with the AT4022 (the sneaky update of the legendary AT3022). Very tempting for the price.

I need to research a good way to protect my mics from humidity though...

If I chose to travel with fragile mics....such as LDCs...it would be because I discovered a good way to wrap them in a waterproof condom which doesn't interfere with sound waves too much. 

yahoo group:   naturerecordists@yahoogroups.com

Already part of the yahoo group. I find it hard to navigate and hard to find the info I need, but definitely a popular rendez-vous point for nature recordists.

 

Also found this relevant to the multi recommendation of Earth is a Solar Powered Jukebox....

Seems interesting! Watched 6 minutes and I'm hooked. These kind of videos/audios complement the "evening classes" Jez recommended. If you know more relevant clips like this please let us know!

 

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I need to research a good way to protect my mics from humidity though...
If I chose to travel with fragile mics....such as LDCs...it would be because I discovered a good way to wrap them in a waterproof condom which doesn't interfere with sound waves too much.

You can store your mics in dryboxes (such as a Pelicase) with bags of silica gel. This helps to dry your mics while not in use. You could use something like Remote Audio's Rainman while recording. This will help with actual rain, but not humidity.

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daniel   
2 minutes ago, Constantin said:


You can store your mics in dryboxes (such as a Pelicase) with bags of silica gel. This helps to dry your mics while not in use. You could use something like Remote Audio's Rainman while recording. This will help with actual rain, but not humidity.

Obviously a pelicase is waterproof in a way a wooden box cannot be but i've sometimes wondered if the reason mics have been historically (and are still often) sold in wooden boxes is because the wood can absorb some residual moisture or condensation the mic may have on some of its surfaces in a way a plastic case will not? 

 

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Obviously a pelicase is waterproof in a way a wooden box cannot be but i've sometimes wondered if the reason mics have been historically (and are still often) sold in wooden boxes is because the wood can absorb some residual moisture or condensation the mic may have on some of its surfaces in a way a plastic case will not? 
 

Hence my suggestion to add silica gel into the case...

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daniel   
Just now, Constantin said:


Hence my suggestion to add silica gel into the case...

Yes, I know. Silica gel packs have been around since i was a kid and are very important when putting kit in hermetically sealed cases. I was just thinking out loud with regard the historical use of wooden mic boxes. Probably not so relevant but the humidity resilient MKH series has been supplied in plastic boxes for long time. 

 

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Yes, I know. Silica gel packs have been around since i was a kid and are very important when putting kit in hermetically sealed cases. I was just thinking out loud with regard the historical use of wooden mic boxes.

Oh I see. Maybe it's a perceived prestige thing

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