Ambiences Revisited

It has been quite a while since I contributed anything to this blog, but self-discipline can be fleeting. Life has slowed down a bit over the last few weeks due to an injury and I’ve been somewhat homebound. The time at home has provided me with the opportunity to review some old recordings and to generally feel like a caged animal.

I recently dug back into some winter ambience recordings I made back in 2012 and 2013. The recordings ultimately ended up in a sound effects library I created for Rabbit Ears Audio. When I started sorting through the recordings, I was surprised by how much good material I left on the cutting room floor.[1]

This first recording never made it into the library:

I suspect I didn’t include it because the library was made up of quad ambiences and a close stream doesn’t make sense in 4 channels. The above recording is from the front facing pair.

The second recording is from an area near a frozen lake. This location did make it into the library. This material is from an unedited section. I love the distant woodpecker and tree creaks. The attack of the woodpecker really provides a sense of the space.

Field recordings, like music have the power to transport the listener. For me, these recordings take me back in time and space. I feel the cold on my fingers, I smell the air, and feel some of the fear of getting stuck out there.[2]

I’ll never forget how peaceful and quiet Algonquin park truly was that winter. We managed to get to areas of the park that weren’t cleared and it looked as if the only foot traffic the snow saw was from moose and otters. After working from home the last 4 weeks in a tiny brooklyn apartment, I long for adventures like these. Until then, I have these recordings to escape within.

Recording Geek Note: Rig consists of Schoeps CMC5′s with MK4 capsules setup for double ORTF. It was tracked with a Cooper CS 104 feeding a Sound Devices 744T

  1. I guess I’m picky.  ↩
  2. Luckily has had pals in both Canada and Minnesota with serious vehicles. Thanks Rob Byers and John Loranger.  ↩

Feeling the Underpass

Yesterday was a day to slowly meander around Berlin. I took my time and moved without a real sense of purpose. Later in the day I came across a train underpass that seem to have it all. It was surrounded by trees, distant construction, cyclists rolling by, and several different trains moving over head. There is even a distant street trolley somewhere in there:

At first glance the location seemed like it would be relatively quiet, but once 5pm hit, there was an influx of activity. I was drawn to the location because the different trains had a lovely mid-range quality to them. Even the brake squeals seems relatively mild-mannered.

Recording Geek Note: Rig consists of a pair of DPA 4060s tracked to a Sony PCM-M10 with a Sound Devices Mix Pre as a front end.


Some folks take lots of pictures when they take vacation and others make recordings. I definitely fall in the latter camp. I limited the amount of gear I took on this vacation, but I couldn’t help myself from taking a few pieces. I’m glad I did. Berlin is the vacation destination and our hotel is down street from a beautiful old medieval cathedral, Marienkirche (St Mary’s Church). If you are into murals of the black death, then that is the place for you!

I put out a pair of DPA 4060s on our terrace just as the church bells started to ring out against the din of Karl-Liebknecht-Straße, which is a fairly busy street.

You can hear the old bells ringing out against buses, motorcycles and the general din of the city. I think it is a fitting juxtaposition since the 13th century church sits against a now defunct television tower.

Recording Geek Note: Rig consists of a pair of DPA 4060s tracked to a Sony PCM-M10 with a Mix Pre as a front end.

Plane Concètre

This week I sat down to a 8.5 hour flight, and in my exhausted state I was looking forward to plowing my way through a series of bad movies on the inflight entertainment. Sadly when I sat down I was met with the following sound in my headphones:

Sure, give the soundguy that seat assignment!

The ghost of Iannis Xenakis invaded my armrest. So much for hours of really bad movies. I’m sure some would argue that the dulcet tones emanating from my arm rest would be an improvement on most soundtracks, but I present them here without bias.

Recording Geek Note: I plugged the line input of a Sony PCM-M10 right into the noisy armrest.

Spring has Sprung

Almost ever year I toss some microphones in the window to remind myself what I love and hate about my surroundings. Some people put doggies in the window and other people put mics in the window. This winter was long, but it finally feels like spring may have sprung.

The above recording was made around 1:00 PM on Sunday April 19, 2015.

Whenever winter passes I get startled by the amount of bird-life that thrives outside my window. It is true that “a tree grows in Brooklyn,” but days like Sunday make it feel like an aviary grows here. You get a little bit of everything. There are tons of songbirds, a dog barking (probably at a squirrel), distant voices, an ice cream truck, and some car horns. It is striking how few cars pass by. Maybe Sunday is truly a day of rest?

I suspect I’ll continue to have a love/hate relationship with this city, but days like Sunday can take some of the edge off.

Recording Geek Note: Rig consists of Schoeps CMC5′s with MK4 capsules setup for ORTF. It was tracked with a Cooper CS 104 feeding a Sound Devices 744T.