Yo Rudolph

We had quite a bit of snow this past weekend in New York, and I guess I got into the Christmas spirit.  I decided to take my DPA 4060s in my hat and head up to Rockefeller Center to check out the tree and maybe capture some ambience.  Ultimately, the results were not that great, but this minute or so of audio is definitely a New York holiday moment.  I was standing above the skating rink, trying not to freeze, and stumbled into these characters.

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Wintry Mix

This weekend my wife and I managed to escape New York City and get up to the country. I was lucky enough to be treated to a snow covered weekend and, just before we left to return to the rat race, we were treated to a wintry mix of snow and freezing rain.

The snow and rain was making a wonderful crackling sound off the roof of the deck and the surrounding snow, so I made a quick dash for my gear. I packed lightly on this trip and left my Schoeps MS and Sound Devices rig behind. That meant that my DPA 4060s and Zoom H4 were going to get their maiden voyage in the snow.

I set each capsule up next to a support column for the deck and ran inside to keep warm. I think the little DPAs held up quite well in the cold and moisture.  The only unfortunate element is the appearance of some vehicular and air traffic.

Enjoy the crackling.  Also if anyone could identify the bird species that crop up, I would really appreciate it.

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Big Ship!

Doesn’t this photo just exude cold?  It was December in Duluth, MN and it was freezing!  It must have been about  -20°F, and I was freezing.  I travelled up to Duluth from Minneapolis to try and record some big shipping vessels that run on the Great Lakes.  Duluth, MN is one of the major stops on Lake Superior (some called it Gitche Gumee) where ships pick up coal and takonite pellets.  Shipping on the Great Lakes has slowed considerably over the last 20 years, but the ships are quite a sight to see and hear.

In order for the ships to get in and out of the docks they have to pass under a lift bridge and make their way through a narrow canal.  On this day, the Walter J. McCarthy Jr. picked up some takonite pellets and passed under the lift bridge around noon.  If you listen closely you can hear the ship passing through ice sitting on top of the water, before the ship blows it horn (warning this is a very dynamic recording).  Once the ship passes you’ll also hear the voice of the maritime museum’s educator on an outdoor PA system, and the warning bells of the Duluth lift bridge sounds as the bridge descends.

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Recording Geek Note:  Rig consists of Schoeps CMC5 setup for MS, with the MK4 as the mid.  It was all tracked to a Sound Devices 744T at 24/96 in the freezing cold.  I also couldn’t have made this trip without the help of my loyal friend Johnny Vince Evans.

Photos courtesy of Johnny Vince Evans.

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The Ice Crusher

photo credit flickr/Fecki

This past weekend my in-laws invited me out to the country for a much needed rest.  I recently started a new job and I am still in the midst of a move, so sleep is not something I am getting much of these days.  A weekend away is just what I needed.  Along with a lots of bike riding, sleep, and nature sounds outside of the city, I discovered some interesting sonic features in my in-laws’ home.  There is a bar in the living room, and what is a good bar without an ice crusher?  That is right  . . .   not much of a bar!  Not only does this little contraption break up ice into little pieces, but it makes a fair bit of racket.  Luckily I brought my recorder on my weekend getaway and was able to capture the soothing sounds of the ice crusher.  Now where is that martini?

Enjoy!

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Cold as Ice

Lately I have had some real trouble recording Owls.  They are not like songbirds where they just pop out of trees and announce their presence.  Raptors, on the other hand, are pretty sneaky, they hide out in trees and pounce on their prey like greased lightning.  After three weekends out between 1:00 – 5:00 AM trying to record Great Horned Owls I have let them go. . .  for now.

Once I let go of the search for Owls, I realized that I needed a vacation in a bad way.  I headed to Two Harbors, MN with my wife and a couple of good friends.  We rented a cabin right on the shore of Lake Superior (“some call it Gitche Gumee”) and it was truly beautiful.

Lake Superior was iced over from the shore to about 400 yards out.  The lake is too large to freeze completely but if the conditions are right it can freeze over 60%.  There have been rare occasions where the lake has frozen over 90%, which means someone is not going to get their shipment of taconite pellets.  One of the more beautiful occurrences along the edge of the water was the spiking up of ice formations that look like quartz crystals.  As the temperature dropped late in the evening the frozen parts of the lake contracted, making remarkable groaning, cracking, and pinging sounds that sounded just like an analog synth.

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With the help of my good friend Dave and my trusty headlamp, I set my recording gear out on the edge of the ice and waited for the temperature to drop and for the heavy duty sounds to commence.  It was so quiet and cold that night, I could hear the wind blowing snow across the surface of the ice.  I was very concerned about how the gear would stand up to the low temperatures.  At its warmest it was 3°F!!  To help deal with potential condensation on the Schoeps, I set the zeppelin outside for several hours before I started recording with the hope that the mics would get adjusted to the cold temps.  They performed extremely well during 4 hours of recording.  At times Schoeps can be prone to clicks or pops in humid conditions or when condensation occurs.  It was cold and damp and they held up just fine.  The Sound Devices 744T was also a trooper in the cold.

More photos . . . .

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