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Capturing nature sounds
Old 28th May 2015
  #1
Gear interested
 

Thread Starter
Capturing nature sounds

Hi all,

so I got a very interesting offer to join an art project to do the sound design and recording specific nature sounds as:

- City Soundscapes
- Seasides
- Waterfalls
- Forest noises and so on..

The projectleader suggested to equip myself with a field recorder, mics and stuff. Budget around 1000 Euros.

I thought about the whole concept of field recorders but I did not find a disadvantage of using my Apogee Duet with a Macbook Air and get a pair of decent matched mics instead, because I think the preamps of the Duet are better then any average field recorders pre's?

My second question is what do you guys recommend me reagrding the microphones?`

Very interested in "bang for the bucks" and the "best you can get" sub 1000 Euro..

Any help is highly appreciated!

Cheers,
S.
Old 28th May 2015
  #2
I've done a lot of field recording with my Laptop and RME Babyface. Since I already owned both, it was essentially a free field recording rig. It worked flawlessly for the first year, but in the past 6 months I've had problems with the USB connector wiggling loose and disconnecting the device, thus ending the recording. This is an issue for making field recordings while walking around with the laptop in my bag; if the laptop and interface are motionless (say, on the ground) it's not an issue. Reliability and ease of use are the main advantages of a dedicated field recorder, but until I can afford a Nagra I don't have any desire to upgrade; the audio quality of the Babyface is much better than a Zoom. Seems like you reached that conclusion too.

As far as mics - DPA 4060. They're miniature mics with a near-perfect omni response, so small you can't hurt them if you drop them, and rugged enough to wash with water. There's a top end boost which you can compensate for with EQ for a more natural sound. A stereo set costs about $900 USD, and if you're looking to make ambient recordings they're the best mics you can get in that price range, hands down. For outdoor recordings, Rycote makes a windjammer that fits them perfectly (use it over the foam). This forum has several posts where people have used them to record orchestras. Only downside is their self-noise, which is noticeable if you're recording very quiet ambiences.

Here are some field recordings I've made with my pair (DPA 4060's going into a Babyface):










Last edited by daniel@mineral; 28th May 2015 at 11:25 PM..
Old 29th May 2015
  #3
I use a matched pair of Beyerdynamic MC930s and I couldn't recommend them highly enough for nature recording; very neutral sounding to my ear, extremely sensitive and absolutely quiet -- almost zero self noise. I don't think you can do better for nature recording in that price range, honestly.

I've got a bunch of sounds on Freesound.org. Not all of them are recorded with the MC930s, but I've indicated which ones are.

Freesound.org - conleec
Old 29th May 2015
  #4
Here's a better link just to sounds recorded with the MC 930s:

Freesound.org - sound search

Also, another pretty good candidate for WAY less than your $1000 budget is a used Audio Technica BP 4025. Again, they're extremely sensitive and are extremely quiet. The stereo imaging is perhaps not as defined as a two-mic setup, but the XY setup is surprisingly good and the convenience of a single mic for field recording cannot be overstated.

Here's a bunch of SFX recorded with that mic:

http://www.freesound.org/search/?q=BP4025%2C+conleec&f=duration%3A[0+TO+*]&s=score+desc&advanced=1&a_description=1&a_username=1&g=1
Old 29th May 2015
  #5
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OzGizmo's Avatar
 

How is the end tracks going to be reproduced? Speakers, headphones, youtube etc.
Have you considered binural or even5.1 surround 3D sound?
3D Mic in action
Old 29th May 2015
  #6
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John Willett's Avatar
 

Exclamation

The best mics for nature recording are the Sennheiser MKH series as these are RF condenser mics and are not bothered with moisture like normal AF condenser mics.

Normal mics can go crackly if there is moisture in the air and the Sennheiser MKH series are immune to this.

Not saying that other mics won't be OK in dry air - but you are much safer with the MKH series.

I use the MKH 40/30 in MS for this recording, normally.
Old 29th May 2015
  #7
Gear Maniac
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by John Willett View Post
I use the MKH 40/30 in MS for this recording, normally.
John, what's your setup for mounts and/or carrying and deployment? I'm guessing you're not using a blimp or something like that with this setup are you?

Any pictures of the setup in use?

I'm curious too how you like the 80xx series Sennheisers. Form factor is obviously great, but MS is out since there isn't an 8030 (I think). An MS setup with 80xx capsules in a blimp seems like it would be a great setup...were it possible.

Maybe it is, and I'm ignorant of the solutions though.
Old 29th May 2015
  #8
Quote:
Originally Posted by John Willett View Post
The best mics for nature recording are the Sennheiser MKH series as these are RF condenser mics and are not bothered with moisture like normal AF condenser mics.

Normal mics can go crackly if there is moisture in the air and the Sennheiser MKH series are immune to this.

Not saying that other mics won't be OK in dry air - but you are much safer with the MKH series.

I use the MKH 40/30 in MS for this recording, normally.
While I haven't used the MKH series myself, I know they're highly recommended for field work. That said, I don't think moisture should be a concern unless you're recording in a rainforest. I've recorded rivers, waterfalls, and rainstorms, and humid forests with my 4060's and without any issues, and I've heard the same from other users. Back-electret mics like the DPA's seem to be more rugged than externally biased condensers for this application. More importantly, unless the OP is looking to record in mono the MKH series will double his budget.

Last edited by daniel@mineral; 31st May 2015 at 12:07 AM..
Old 29th May 2015
  #9
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johnsound's Avatar
I don't know about John W, but I use the MKH30/40 Mid-Side set-up in a Rycote windshield, with Manfrotto stands and sometimes with a Manfrotto Super Clamp & Magic Arm. However, I also use the Core Sound High End Binaural set of DPA 4060s (Core Sound — Core Sound High End Binaural microphone set (using DPA 4060/4061 capsules)) as a spaced pair and my own version of the same thing using ex-theatre DPA 4061s and a home made battery box for sounds with higher spl. In fact I have a pair of 4061s permanently attached to the outside window of our apartment in London, where they've been, in all weathers, for a number of years, now. They have Rycote Mini Windjammers sewn on to them and serve for everything from thunderstorms to birdsong without me having to get the main rig out. They're really too noisy for the quiet stuff, but you'd be surprised at how loud a robin can make at close quarters, let alone an angry jay. I also use a Soundfield ST450 and have now acquired a DPA5100, but these are a bit out of your price range, I think.

I mainly use Sound Devices recorders for external work, having gone the laptop/interface route for many years, but if you can make your system weatherproof, then it's certainly an option, although not ideal, and it does mean you can spend your money on microphones.

Regards,

John

The short sound file is one of our local birds having a quick chirp. Bear in mind that we're pretty near central London, under a flight-path and in the middle of a whole bunch of building sites: sometimes it gets quieter...
Attached Files

robin.mp3 (1.43 MB, 2149 views)

Old 29th May 2015
  #10
Gear Guru
 
John Willett's Avatar
 

Smile

Quote:
Originally Posted by pieter k View Post
John, what's your setup for mounts and/or carrying and deployment? I'm guessing you're not using a blimp or something like that with this setup are you?

Any pictures of the setup in use?

I'm curious too how you like the 80xx series Sennheisers. Form factor is obviously great, but MS is out since there isn't an 8030 (I think). An MS setup with 80xx capsules in a blimp seems like it would be a great setup...were it possible.

Maybe it is, and I'm ignorant of the solutions though.
I normally use the 40/30 in a Rycote stereo windshield - I designed a Lyre mount for it by connecting existing Rycote parts in a different way, that Rycote liked so much they changed their stereo windshield to my version.

In one situation, where I had to travel small, I handheld the pair and covered them with a Windjammer - it worked as the wind was very light.

I do like the 8000 series, but the only way for MS is to use an MHH 30 for the mid - or, for smaller, the Ambient EMESSER (but the EMESSER is not an RF condenser). But the 8030 should come eventually.....

A lower cost option would be the EMESSER with the Gefell M300 - but both of those are AF mics, of course.
Old 30th May 2015
  #11
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I'd rather have 1 great mic, then two ok mics. To get a "clean" nature recording, I've been surprised how far out of the city i need to get before i can start using anything but a shotgun because of general city rumble (i.e. 20 miles out).
Old 30th May 2015
  #12
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I bought a pair of P48 MKH 104 omnis for 500 quid (forerunner to MKH20)
I mount these back to back in the Senny Basket
Bullet proof.
Old 30th May 2015
  #13
Gear Guru
 
John Willett's Avatar
 

Question

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rolo 46 View Post
I bought a pair of P48 MKH 104 omnis for 500 quid (forerunner to MKH20)
I mount these back to back in the Senny Basket
Bullet proof.
The MKH 104 was the very first RF condenser on the market - released in 1962 (see here).

My understanding is that the 104 was never available with phantom power at all ???
Old 30th May 2015
  #14
Lives for gear
 

Typo Johnnie Boy!
MKH 106 P48 matt black XLR pair
Lovely mics , excellent condition, almost as good as MKH 20s, date from the late 70s
Keep an eye out on German EBay for bargains
US EBay has a pair for $975 at this moment
Old 30th May 2015
  #15
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You mentioned the recordings were for an 'art project' if that is the case do you want it to sound like 'real life' or are you trying to create a WOW with the recordings, if you are after the WOW factor you may need to try non conventional ways with mic techniques, things like spaced omni's or spaced cardioids for example.

Or even something MORE radical.
http://anthonylukephotography.blogsp...-acoustic.html

Last edited by OzGizmo; 30th May 2015 at 11:10 AM..
Old 30th May 2015
  #16
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JamesClark1991's Avatar
Go for it!

I think the main hassle with single man location recording is the portability of your setup and workflow, it's not a controlled environment like working in the studio so you need to be rough and ready. That's why I personally wouldn't consider carrying a laptop around, even if the quality is better.

For stereo ambience I just use a Rode NT4 inside a Rode MK1 blimp and a little Fostex recorder with a shoulder strap (and a mic stand of course! ). At 96k 24 bit I get around half an hour recording time with four AA bateries, and an hour in mono.

Simple little setup, not the best quality in the world but cheap, fairly low noise floor, limiter on demand, phase issue free stereo and most importantly very useable. You get a lot for your money these days so don't worry too much about 'perfect' quality.

I'm no expert so take this advice with a pinch of salt, here's a short clip of my setup in use.
Attached Files

Traffic Ambience.mp3 (1.55 MB, 2019 views)

Old 31st May 2015
  #17
Quote:
Originally Posted by PatrickFaith View Post
I'd rather have 1 great mic, then two ok mics.
If this was for a vocal recording application I'd agree wholeheartedly; however, for field recordings we're talking mono vs. stereo, which is not a subtle difference. In my opinion, field recordings of ambient soundscapes (as opposed to individual sound effects) absolutely require stereo.

Quote:
Originally Posted by PatrickFaith View Post
To get a "clean" nature recording, I've been surprised how far out of the city i need to get before i can start using anything but a shotgun because of general city rumble (i.e. 20 miles out).
And then there's country roads, hikers, and the ever-present airplanes. I'm lucky in that I can quickly disappear behind into the mountains; god-knows-how-many-tons of rock and earth is a very effective acoustic barrier. You might like this:

Gordon Hempton — The Last Quiet Places: Silence and the Presence of Everything | On Being
Old 7th August 2015
  #18
Here for the gear
The recordings are great. How did you set them up for recording? On a mic stand or a spaced A-B bar? I'm dying to know!
Old 8th August 2015
  #19
Lives for gear
 

I was recording ambiences around an old familly farm that has just been sold
Two MKH omnis back to back in a Rycote Blimp
Sounded lovely (especially creaking and banging corrugated iron on a covered yard , very creepy)
However MKH 40/30 is much more focussed and controlled, especially when also recording dialog, splitting the image with omnis is not as good as pointing the Mid at the victim imho
Roger
Old 1 week ago
  #20
TJP
Gear Maniac
 
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Hi guys. I´m a sound designer that want to go a little bit into field-recording. I already bought a Zoom H5 and a MKH-418s. What would be a nice addition to this specially if I want to record soundscapes? Are two Shure Km141 any good out in the field? Are they good with harsch weather conditions? Would the Sennheiser Ambeo be good (I do game audio)? Or could I even use a Neumann TLM-107 inside a blimp? I know it´s a large diaphragm condenser, but it´s super versatile and I think it could work well for soundscapes in omni or fig.-8 mode. Or maybe two dpa 4060? What do you guys think???? Any help/thoughts highly appreciated

Last edited by TJP; 1 week ago at 12:04 PM..
Old 1 week ago
  #21
TJP
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Just ordered two beyerdynamic MC930 Hope they will work nice in a ORTF setup for ambience recording
Old 1 week ago
  #22
Gear Maniac
 

Interesting! Tell us your finds, maybe even post a recording? What suspension are you using, a Rycote ORTF?
When using Baby Ball Gags, check that the microphone switch doesn't pass thru any wind (some do). If so, they need to be taped-off..
Old 1 week ago
  #23
Quote:
Originally Posted by TJP View Post
Just ordered two beyerdynamic MC930 Hope they will work nice in a ORTF setup for ambience recording
I'd be interested in hearing some of your demos. I'm new to field recording but I'm using the Rode NTG3 & NT4. I'm extremely pleased with the performance and build quality of these two mics. I'm also using the Zoom H6 recorder.
Old 1 week ago
  #24
Gear Addict
 

It may be a tad noisy for nature recording.
Old 12 hours ago
  #25
TJP
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How do you guys record your 5.1 ambient nature recordings?
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