Steam Pipes Revisted

In October of 2009, I published a blog post with recordings of my rather noisy steam pipes.  It is that time of year again.  The temperatures have dropped, and the old-school radiator and steam-based heating is back on.

Our steam pipes are full of character – they gurgle, hiss, clank, and make a host of other noises that I can’t begin to describe with adjectives.  Last year, I recorded my steam pipe with a Schoeps MS pair on a boom, but this year I staked out my subject with a DPA 4060 taped to the wall next to the valve.

Every time the pipe started vocalizing, I punched record.  With darkness arriving earlier and earlier, it is nice to add some excitement to my day by imagining I’m capturing the rare call of the Brooklyn steam pipe.  Eat your heart out Attenborough!

Recording Geek Notes:  DPA 4060 tracked to Sound Devices 744T at 24/96.


I grew up studying classical percussion and ever since I was a little kid I’ve been enamored by hand percussion instruments. Often it is the small hand-held instruments that we first pick up that first grab our attention. Remember your first set of toy bongos?

When I hit high school age, I was lucky enough to have a great teacher who had a tremendous collection of unique instruments.  I’ll never forget the assortment of goodies that he would bring to class all the time. One of my favorites, and more common percussion instruments, is the ratchet.


Some of my favorite percussion heavy classical pieces were written by Edgard Varese and the ratchet is all over his work (and so is a ton of other percussion). After hearing the New York Philharmonic perform Ionisation and Amerique on the same night, I called up my former teacher and asked if I could drop by to record some instruments.  I ended up recording a variety of gurios, ratchets, and even a big metal truck suspension that gets rented out on certain gigs.  This ratchet below is my favorite of the day:

The above recording is an unedited performance from my former teacher.  I just love the character of the instrument.  It is not just some cheap piece of wood grinding away, but it has a real depth and dark quality to it.  Note to self:  buy some ratchets.

Recording Geek Note: Rig consists of Schoeps CMC5’s setup for MS, with the MK4 as the mid. It was all tracked to a Sound Devices 744T at 24/96.

Port Authority Bus Terminal

photo credit/kramchang

I recently took a trip to the Port Authority Bus Terminal in New York.  If you have ever passed through that terminal, you know that it does not possess many redeeming qualities.  I really cannot think of one.  The terminal is filled with bad 70s decor and horrible lighting.  On a given weekday, the terminal hosts over 7000 buses, and over 200,000 people.  One would think with that many visitors it would be a nice place to pass through, but that is far from the case.

I popped in around midday on a Wednesday to try and catch the terminal at a less busy time so I could get a sense of the space.  I hate muzak, but I do love the way the music is reflecting off the bad brown 70s tile and the high ceilings.

Ultimately for me, it was a chance to listen to a place, normally packed with commuters, in a quieter setting.

Recording Geek Note:  Rig consists of a pair of DPA 4060 mounted stealthily in a hat.  It was all tracked to a Sony PCM-M10, with Sound Devices MP2