Hollyrood Park is one of my favourite spots to spend time either walking or recording. It not only sounds very different on different days but is made up of a variety of sounds: wind, distant traffic (and sirens), birds, people jogging/walking with their dogs and swans, ducks, sea gulls and other birds.
This first one was at Dunsapie Loch, right behind Arthur’s Seat. It is an excerpt from a 20 minute recording featuring a good blend of mute swans, greylag geese, gulls, city noise and people. I sat at the edge of the pond with gulls flying above and around me and people jogging behind me. At 1:25 a swan gets out of the water and at 1:50 a dog goes after the ducks.
Recorded with a Neumann KM184 pair (ORTF) and Sound Devices 702.
This second one was right below Salisbury Crags at about 9am on a Sunday – birds, little traffic, distant bagpipes (Scotland!) and people walking around the park.
Recorded with a Neumann KM120 and KM184 (MS) and Sound Devices 702.
Salisbury Crags on SoundCloud
As always, the cool things in sound are found by accident. Featuring a radio, lightbulb and two computer monitors:
It’s been about a month and a half since I started using Max/MSP and it’s been a whole lot of fun with many sound revelations. It’s also been responsible for the lack of time to do anything else!
After the ‘Design Toolbox – Flangers’ post I put together for designingsound.org and further inspired by Steve Urban’s comment about trying to find something similar to Logic’s Signal Generator in Pro Tools, I decided to make an application in Max/MSP. What started off as an idea for a simple signal generator – which I planned to have ready in a day – ended up as a signal generator + mangling tool + recorder + rewire application. I had to force myself to stop work on it (for now) because I would add a new feature/fix every time I played around with it – the pitfalls of being both the user and creator. On the whole, it’s a very simple app. Ideally I would like to compile it into a VST/RTAS/AU plugin, but that is currently beyond my grasp. I primarily designed it to work rewired with a DAW, although, it can run standalone.
So, to cut to the chase:
What does it do?
It’s a signal generator that generates sine/triangle/square waves and white/pink noise. It also does sweeps anywhere in the audible frequency range over a custom time period with any of the three oscillators. Read more…
The other day, as I finished a can of Coke, I shook it to listen to the sound it made and then tried to make as many interesting sounds as I could out of it (obviously). I found that on filling half of it with water and then striking it with my finger and wobbling it, it sounded cool. And, definitely cool enough to be recorded and then pitched down (pretty much the reason why we record sounds don’t we?).
So here’s the recording of the can at three different speeds, recorded at 96k with a Sennheiser MKH416 and Neumann KM184 stereo pair (ORTF) feeding a Sound Devices 744t with my USBPre2 as additional preamps. I’ve compressed them (a bit) to bring out the sustain.
Feel free to download the full res files off SoundCloud and do what you want with them – other than sell them of course!
an earnest desire for some type of achievement and the willingness to strive for its attainment.
If I would have been told six years ago that I would be writing blog posts about sound editing/design in the future, I would have laughed. Post production and sound editing did not interest me. All I wanted to do was record and mix music, and that is how I began to take my first (and small) steps in the professional world of sound.
I began by assisting in the music industry. There was obviously much to learn and reconfigure in my understanding and expectations of the world. After six months, out of necessity (better working environment/need to pay a rent and bills), I began work in a studio that primarily worked on television commercials. It was there that I began to understand and learn the power of voice, music and sound effects in communicating and connecting with an audience. I also learnt about learning from both good and bad technique. I had the opportunity to work with and assist a variety of engineers/directors/artists/musicians and eventually handle projects of my own – not without an equal share of achievements and failures.
From there I moved to another studio as a full time in-house engineer – a larger variety of projects, people, gear and experiences. More to learn and steady steps up the never ending ladder of experience and professionalism. Over this period I’ve been lucky to experience a variety of work across a range of audio visual mediums – sound editing/designing, field recording, music recording/mixing, ADR, dialogue editing for television, film, radio and games over hundreds of projects.
verb (used with object)
to acquire knowledge of or skill in by study, instruction, or experience.
verb (used with object)
to develop gradually.
I spent a few days last week recording a variety of rural ambience – part of a larger effort to document as many rural sounds as I can in the next two weeks. I spent two days trekking around villages outside the city and recording as much as I could. The sound below is a collection of recordings at the same location at different times of the day. It’s interesting to hear how the soundscape changes with time.
Gear: Audio Technica BP4025 > Sound Devices USBPre2 > TOSLINK > Sony D50
In my spare time I have been editing and cataloging all the sounds I’ve recorded off the Zoom H4n with the hope of catching up with the months of backlog. A lot of the sounds were recorded impulsively and then forgotten. Out of what I’ve ploughed through so far, I found two that felt interesting enough to share.
Early one morning I decided to walk down to the nearby Mosque and record the morning prayer. While the recording did not come out as clean as I would have liked, the combination of the prayer and the sounds around creates an interesting vibe. Something about this recording makes me feel humbled – every time I listen to it.
A few months ago I spent a Sunday walking around Mumbai discreetly recording sounds. This one was at Nariman Point, which is one of the southern tips of Mumbai by the sea. It’s usually crowded with people on weekends – families, loners , children, hawkers and beggars. The sea is usually calm (there’s no beach) and the little sound it makes is masked by traffic and the people around. Being a country with a hugely diverse culture there about 29 recognized major languages and hundreds of dialects. You can hear a variety of languages being spoken in this recording – although it’s dominated by Gujarati and Hindi. Also keep a ear out for the hawkers and the little drum used for monkey dances (although it’s banned, it still exists). This was recorded while I walked down the stretch – with the microphones pointed at the people for stereo spread. It was late evening.
There’s nothing more daunting and challenging than working with limitations – especially when recording something as complex as a car. On Sunday, Amit Barde and I decided to record Raghu Kannan’s modified Swift. This is what we were up against:
- Limited equipment - my Sennheiser MKH 416, Audio Technica BP4025, Cold Gold buffered contact mic, Zoom H4n, USBPre2 and Amit’s Zoom H4n and very useful Fat Gecko Suction Mount
- A city with only live sound rental companies – limited choice of equipment
- A limited budget
- Lack of quiet locations (everybody in this country feels it is their fundamental right to sound the horn every few seconds)
- NO GAFFER TAPE! (extremely tough to source gaffer/duct tape here)
- NO GAFFER TAPE!?!!!! (High speed -> MKH 416 -> DANGLE -> DRAG -> SCRAPE -> OUUUCH!!!)
What we did have on our side was:
- Some equipment (refer point 1, previous paragraph)
- Some choice of rental microphones (2x Shure SM57, 2x Shure PG81, 1x Shure PG52)
- Recording early on a Sunday outside the city
- Rolls of cellophane tape, cloth tape, paper tape, insulating tape, string, wire
- Lots of orange coloured foam
- 1x silver Maruti Swift (Modified: K&N Free Flow Filter, shortened first and second gears, stiffened suspension + frame & other automobile mumbo-jumbo)
- 1x Very good driver
We had a total of 8 microphones and 6 inputs – 2 on each of the H4n’s and 2 on my USBPre2 if I recorded to my laptop. With previous experience I knew that using DAWs outdoors only complicated things (takes longer to name the track > record enable > locate record point on the time line > hit record > stop > drop marker with information/name the file). I decided to use BoomRecorder which functions like a location recorder – scene/take metadata, time code stamp, comments and a detailed field report at the end of the session.
After my previous post on recording and mangling IRs, I decided to find a way to use the sweep I recorded for Altiverb in other convolution reverb plugins. I also thought it would be a good opportunity to compare the sound of these plugins and listen to how differently they deconvolve sweeps. The list of plugins include:
This is not a comparison of their features but of how each one of them sound.
The Altiverb sweep generator produces a sweep with a start and end beep (which it uses for identification). Since most other deconvolution tools don’t recognize these beeps, I created two versions of the sweep – one with the beeps and one without and normalized them to -0.3dBFS. The recorded sweep at the venue also included broadband noise and AC hum, which Altiverb’s processor did a good job of neglecting. The other plugins weren’t as good and included the noise along with the impulse. To make the comparison easier I used some amount of noise reduction on both versions of the recorded sweep.
1. AudioEase Altiverb:
AudioEase’s IR Pre-Processor needs to be used to deconvolve a sweep that is usable in Altiverb. The process is very simple – select a folder with the recorded sweep (make sure they are stereo-split SDII files), an output folder (your Altiverb preset folder), an input description file (in this case, “Sweeps, not to be equalized”) and hit “Process”. Re-scan your IR directory in Altiverb and it should show up.
Here’s what the sweep recorded at the venue for Altiverb sounded like (with beeps, noise reduction and normalization). Make sure you aren’t monitoring too loud:
Back in March, on my last day at Blue Frog, my colleague Ishan Naik and I decided to record an impulse response of the studio lobby – a large space with a wonderful reverb. We had the choice to either use Apple’s IR utility (ships with Logic) or Altiverb’s own sweep generator and IR pre-processor. We chose Altiverb.
Preamps: SSL AWS900+
AD/DA: Prism ADA8XR
Microphones (near & far stereo config): Pair of Earthworks TC25 and AKG C414
Monitors (playback of the sweep): Dynaudio AIR 15 (stereo setup)
SPEAKER & MICROPHONE SETUP:
The first stereo microphone pair (C414) was placed about 5 metres away form the speakers (in line with the tweeter – AB stereo config). The second pair (TC25) were placed about 5 metres from the C414 pair.
We used a 10 second long sweep with 7 seconds of silence at 96KHz. The monitors were set at a comfortable level with no audible distortion and the preamps were set at a level that allowed for a few dBs of headroom.