Cold Weather Pals

Sometimes, we need all need a bit of help. Cold weather and gear often demands lots of it. To date, I have gone recording in Vermont, Upstate NY, Minnesota, and, most recently, in Canada.

In order to find quiet locations I have been poring over maps and air traffic data. After a fair amount of research I settled on Algonquin Park in Northern Ontario. There is limited air traffic over the park and I knew the park wouldn’t be packed with visitors in the dead of winter.

Happily, I have a pal in Toronto, and I was able to talk John Loranger into tagging along on the trip. John picked me up on a Friday from YYZ[1] and we headed out to the semi-frozen north.[2]

The following recording is from a location that was about 300ft from a half frozen lake, and between several large pines.

I love how the distant ice crack and the subtle creaks from the trees add to the sense of cold. After three full days in Algonquin we only heard four planes. I was hoping for a moose to drop by where we were recording, but it wasn’t meant to be.

I have been extremely fortunate to have travel companions while out in the freezing cold. Algonquin is incredibly wild in the winter and most of its roads are left uncleared. We would not have been able to get to most of the locations if it wasn’t for John’s four-wheel drive truck.

I was also recently in Minnesota doing some recording and I would not have been able to do 90% of it without the help of my good friend Rob Byers. We spent days traversing snow-covered roads that were more than a little challenging.

Rob also just received a shipment with a healthy chunk of my gear. He is currently traveling to remote northern Minnesota where he will have to ski to a cabin. Rob was generous enough to suggest that he could do some recording for me while up north. Last week, I packed up my pelican cases and off they went. (thank goodness for insurance). I’m really looking forward to hearing what sounds come back to me.

I’m truly lucky to have great friends and colleagues in cold places these days.[3]


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 wanted to run into Geddy Lee at the airport but my hopes were dashed.  ↩
  2. There was a thaw the week before and I was concerned that we would run into a lack of snow and ice. Most of the locations were great, but the ice was too unsafe to walk on.  ↩
  3. I’m also truly lucky to have great recording buddies in other locations as well that are always game to lend a hand when I visit their hometowns. I’m grateful for all of their support over the years.  ↩
Read More

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.

Read More

EagleFest Electric Chainsaw

Back in January, I posted a recording of a guy taking a chainsaw to a log . . .  and an hour or so later there was a big wooden eagle for everyone to see.  On that same day, there was another guy with a chainsaw carving an eagle out of a block of ice.

Unfortunately for our ice sculpting friend, it was unseasonably warm that day; his eagle kept falling apart and ice was melting all around him.  Before long, he was working in a puddle of water.  I had been recording for a few minutes when I realized he was working with an electric saw and he seemed to have every electric tool possible!  I didn’t think that was such a smart move for a guy working with melting ice.

I didn’t stick around to see him finish, but the word on the street is that he managed to finish without getting electrocuted.  In terms of the sound, the electric chainsaw is a bit more subdued and consistent than its gas-guzzling cousin.  The only bummer was the crowd around him overlapping my recording.  Regardless, it is a fun recording and I’m glad he is still living.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Recording Geek Note:  Rig consists of Schoeps CMC5 setup for MS, with the MK4 as the mid.  It was all tracked to a Sony PCM-M10, with Sound Devices MP2 as a front end while trying to avoid getting electrocuted.

Read More

Harvard Hockey

This past weekend I travelled up Boston with the Missus to visit some family.  After a mellow morning and afternoon, we ended up at a Harvard hockey game with my recording equipment.  The fans at the game ranged from die hards to students who didn’t seem to have much to do on Saturday night.  Harvard was playing Union College and jumped out to an early lead, and held on to win 4-3 in regulation.  I have to admit that I am a big hockey fan, but I had never been to a college hockey game.  It was pretty competitive and, for such a modest crowd, the fans managed to get pretty boisterous.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Recording Geek Note:  Rig consists of a pair of DPA 4060 mounted stealthily on either side of a backpack in the second row of seats.  It was all tracked to a Sony PCM-M10, with Sound Devices MP2 as a front end while trying to avoid running into the glass.

Read More

Wintry Mix Part 2

New York City was the last place on earth my wife and I wanted to be on New Year’s Eve, so we retreated to upstate New York where the temperatures were in the balmy low 20s.  We were also treated to several days of snow and high wind: not so great for swimming, but full of intriguing sounds.  I noticed a pine tree creaking and crackling as it shed snow and ice in the wind.  I set up my Schoeps right under the branches of the tree and ran my freezing ass back inside the house.  One of the nicer details is the sound of a little padlock on a gas meter clanging away in the distance.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

If you haven’t heard Wintry Mix Part 1, you can check it out here.

Recording Geek Note:  Rig consists of Schoeps CMC5 setup for MS, with the MK4 as the mid.  It was all tracked to a Sony PCM-M10, with Sound Devices MP2 as a front end.  I didn’t end up taking my Sound Devices recorder on this trip, but instead packed my new toy, the Sony PCM-M10, which replaced my crappy zoom h4.   This recording is my maiden voyage using my Sound Devices MP-2 mixer as a front end to the Sony.  I’ve always loved the sound of the MP-2, and I’m really pleased with the results.  The PCM-M10 isn’t much bigger than an iphone and it has a fairly transparent and quiet line input.

Read More
about to call navigation