Foghorn Leghorn

A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to record an old foghorn, which a loving collector picked up from Cleveland Station many years ago.

This bad boy sits right on the edge of Lake Eerie (what a backyard). What better place for a foghorn but a giant lake:

I love the utter hugeness of the sound that this thing exhibits:

Thankfully my pal Kelly Pieklo went out with me and I was able to record a number of different perspectives. The first file in the set is a close perspective and the second is a medium distant perspective. The more distant perspective really provides a better sense of space. HOOOOOOEEEeeeeeeeeennnnnnnkkkkk.

This horn needs lots of air! It is fed by a large 1936 Schramm air compressor that fills a 1000 gallon air tank. It doesn’t take long for the tank to be drained. It also didn’t take long for the two of us to get slightly unhinged. The very first blast of the horn nearly had us both leaping backwards. HOOOOOOEEEeeeeeeeeennnnnnnkkkkk.


Recording Geek Note: Close Rig consists of Schoeps CMC5′s setup for MS, with the MK4 as the mid. It was tracked with a Cooper CS 104 a Sound Devices 744T at 24/192. Distant Rig consists of Sennheiser MKH 30/40 setup for MS. It was tracked to a Sound Devices 744T at 24/192.

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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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U.S. Pond Hockey Championships

The U.S. Pond Hockey Championships took place this past weekend in Minneapolis, Minnesota.  Over the course of the weekend, thousands of players hit the frozen ice and breathed in the frozen air.  It was -5F or colder for most of the tournament.  I don’t have much hockey sounds in my library, so I thought it would be a good time to freeze my ass off for some decent recordings. I dragged my buddy Mitch Hanley along so I wouldn’t be the only one with frostbite at the end of the day.  

Before games each team had to shovel their own rink to the get the ice game ready.  No Zambonis in this crowd!

The teams play without goaltenders on a much smaller ice surface and instead of a traditional goal they have to shoot the puck into two small holes on either side of a wood rectangle.  It is not easy. Listen for that puck banging into wood sound.

While recording I played around with various perspectives. First, I tried a stationary perspective along the center line of the ice, and then hand held the rycote to track the action.  I posted the tracked action below.

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It was a challenge to stay warm and not introduce noise through my giant extreme cold mittens.  I learned how quickly your hands can get cold if you don’t move them inside the gloves.  There were other noise hazards to watch out for.  I had to be very careful not to crunch snow with my boots once we began rolling. I was concerned about how my Sound Devices 744 recorder would hold up in the cold and it performed perfectly.  The only issue I experienced was diminished battery life from the lithium-ion batteries, but I expected that.  I had a bag full of spares to keep me going. The one bit of noise that I couldn’t control was airplanes flying over the lake throughout the day. Unfortunately, Lake Nokomis is right in the flight path of MSP.  If you are into that sound there are plenty of houses right around the lake.

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.  Everything was really cold.

More photos after the jump . . . 

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