Hurricane Sandy

This past Monday was a rather hectic day on the East Coast, especially for New York and New Jersey. Hurricane Sandy started to bear down on Sunday night, and by Monday evening it was clear New York City was going to be hit with hurricane grade winds and flooding.

Most New Yorkers spent the day hunkered down in their homes. Although that is how my day started out, there were a few minor differences. I’m guessing most New Yorkers did not have mics zip-tied to their windows like I did.

The wind began to kick up around 3:00 PM and I managed to capture the wind gusting through the alleyway between us and the neighboring building.

As the evening progressed I decided to venture out to see if I could get a sense of the storm from street level. I live on a tree-lined street in Brooklyn; by 6:00 PM you could really hear the trees start shaking.

By 8:00 PM the winds were over 70 MPH and I ventured out one last time. When I stepped outside, leaves were already covering the sidewalks and most of the street. The trees were swaying violently, and by 9:15 PM there was a cacophony of shaking leaves in my headphones.

My block is lined with about 8–10 trees on either side of the street and the recording captured about 4 of them. It is pretty remarkable that only 4 trees produced that (tremendous) sound. One sound that is noticeably absent from the recording is the sound of commercial jets overhead. All of the airports were shut down and, except for the occasional emergency vehicle, it was just the wind and rain.

After some time on the sidewalk it was clear that the storm was getting out of control and it was time to head back inside. That is when I noticed the sounds of the wind slamming my building from within the stairwell.

I still have quite a bit of material to comb through, but the above recordings are what I pulled together after an initial edit.

Recording Geek Note: The recordings from the window were made with a pair of DPA 4060s. The material from the street and stairwell were recorded with an MKH 30/40 MS pair. It was all tracked to a Sound Devices 744T at 24/96.

Waiting for Sandy

I’ve been known to record a few ambiences from my Brooklyn apartment over the years. Hurricane Sandy is on her way, and there is not much going on outside … yet.

Here’s a bit of ambience I recorded last week during a short rainstorm:

Light rain was falling, a small bird chirped away, and the occasional car rolled by on the street. This recording was made around rush hour, and I’m struck by the relative quiet. We’ll see what Sandy brings tomorrow.

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 with a Cooper CS–104 as a front end.

RC Jets Revisited

Getting out in the field and making recordings brings many joyful moments and surprises. I’m sure most would assume it is the wonderful sound I get to record that brings the most joy, but there are many other factors at play. It might seem odd, but I love research. I love searching for interesting sources to record, and digging for “unfound sounds.” I also tend to meet rather special people when I’m on the hunt for unusual material.[1]

REA_011 introduced me to a group of truly wonderful people: Soviet aircraft collectors, jet power enthusiasts, and radio controlled plane hobbyists. One of the most generous people I met while recording for the library was Roxbury Model Airplane Club’s Bob Karasiewicz.

My prior field sessions (San Diego, Brooklyn) were not only fun, they were also useful learning experiences. I was able to gather a tremendous amount of background about the variety of RC jets’ turbines and how the planes’ body types changed the pitch of the pass bys. Despite this wealth of new information and audio samples, I wanted to expand those sound files with additional material.

When I reached out to Bob, he had the turbine I was looking for and his plane had a different body type than the others I’d recorded, so I was really curious to hear what it sounded like. When I arrived Bob was all set up and ready to go.

Bob was incredibly generous with his time and explained every step of the flight process and which parts of the plane generate the most interesting sound. Because of his plane’s unusual shape, the pitches of the pass bys shifted dramatically during turns:

The straight pass bys were also quite nice:

As well as the take off:

So much of what I do relies on the generosity of others and their willingness to share what they love. I’ve learned that passion is driven by special people and their dedication is to be respected. My best moments on gigs are when an individual realizes I’m just as passionate about recording sound as they are about their obsession. Not only have I walked away from these experiences with wonderful recordings, but I’ve also learned a vast amount as well.

  1. Some of my recent favorites: Cambridge Typewriter, Jet Bike, New Years Steam  ↩

Switches Switches Switches!

Lately I been flipping tons of switches, pressing lots of buttons, and turning lots of knobs. In other words, I’ve been hard at work on another Rabbit Ears Audio SFX Library. I started thinking about actuating things many months ago when I recorded the Mi–24 Hind. The switches on that helicopter were full of so much character that they set me off on a switch-and-button journey:

To date my research has taken me to old radios and electronics:

old aircraft:

I’m particularly fond of the latch on the emergency exit of the KC–135:

I don’t yet have a release date for this collection, and it is very much a work in progress. I’m still actively researching the content as I record and find new sources. Don’t hesitate to reach out if there are particular switches, buttons, or actuators that you are looking for … or if there is a recording location/source that you know of that would be perfect for this library.

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 24/192 with a Cooper CS–104 as a front end.