Upstate NY River Ice

Frank Bry and I have been chatting about winter recording a lot these day; one of things we keep discussing is how damn mild this winter has been so far. Mild winters can really put a damper of winter-based recordings. This weekend I got my wish: cold weather.

The Missus and I travelled upstate and we had our first significant cold snap of winter. Temperatures hit below 0°F at night and only got to about 10°F during the day. This sudden change in temperature caused the upper Delaware River to freeze. It took the entire weekend for the ice to build up, but the river finally crawled to a standstill this morning. The Missus and I headed down to the river’s edge to get some decent ice cracks and crunches before driving back to the city.

Sadly there is a road and train tracks that parallel the river, so getting clean recordings can be a challenge. The river only had a very thin layer of ice so all of the cracks on the recording came from slight shifts and movements in the ice from the shore line.

Recording Geek Note: The cracks were recorded with Schoeps CMC5′s setup for MS with an MK4 as the Mid. It was all tracked to a Sound Devices 744T at 24/192.

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New Years Steam Whistles Part 2

If you haven’t read Part 1 yet please do. Before the the Steam Whistles were up and running the Pratt calliope calliope was hooked up to a small sequencer and it was warming up for its big performance when we arrived:

We even got a little teaser of its big finale:

As you can hear this Calliope was either hard to tune, or just needed a bit more practice. Sousa is probably rolling over in his grave right now.

I was not completely prepared for the SPL that thing put out, so sadly there were a few times where both the Schoeps and the Sound Devices recorder got pushed a little too hard. I wish I could have positioned myself further away, but crowds had already started to gather and I wanted to try and minimize the background. In the end it is still a nice document of the final hours of 2011.

Recording Geek Note: The calliope were recorded with Schoeps CMC5′s setup for MS with an MK4 as the Mid. It was all tracked to a Sound Devices 744T at 24/192. I was a little too close.

Happy New Year!

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New Years Steam Whistles Part 1

This is one of those “only in New York” experiences. Every year on New Year’s Eve, Conrad Milster sets up steam whistles on the campus of the Pratt Institute in order to announce the new year in style. Conrad has been the Chief Engineer of the Pratt Institute since 1958 and runs the school’s historic steam power plant.

At this point in time the plant is a museum, but Conrad’s love for antique machinery hasn’t waned. If you visit the Pratt Institute, Conrad will happily walk you through the machinery and the history of the plant.

New Years is very special for Conrad. Starting early in the day, Conrad runs pipes out from the power plant’s boiler and starts attaching the whistles. This year many guest collectors brought their whistles to share in the fun.

Some of these whistles came from old factories, some are from boats, some from trains, and others were newly fabricated.

Recording Geek Note: The whistles were recorded with Schoeps CMC5′s setup for MS with an MK4 as the Mid. It was all tracked to a Sound Devices 744T at 24/192. Believe it or not, I didn’t use a pad, but the gain was set “0”. These things were loud!

There was also a Steam Calliope, but that will have to wait until part 2 of this post.

Special thanks go to Conrad Milster and Alex Noyes. You can read more about Conrad here and here.

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