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.

Hurricane Irene

The Missus and I had long standing plans with her cousin to go to Prattsville, NY last weekend. We thought it was perfect timing, since people on the east coast of the US were bracing themselves for the arrival of Hurricane Irene: we can get out of New York City and head inland to avoid the storm.  Well, we were wrong about that:

This is how that waterfall normally looks

The damage to Prattsville, and surrounding towns has been devastating, and with FEMA now present, we can only hope that those hardest hit by the storm can get the help that they need. During the storm we were evacuated to higher ground and one of the only sources of information for days was a local online news source called The Watershed Post. Except for a few articles in major newspapers,  it is still the only way to get  up-to-date information on the various communities in the Catskills affected by the storm.

The Watershed Post also has listings  on where you can donate to the relief efforts, so please check it out.


Recording Geek Note: Under the Wife’s cousin’s jacket is a PCM-M10 with a Sound Devices MP-2. If you look closely at my ears you’ll also see DPA-4060s with the little furry rycote covers on them. I replaced that audio from the Canon S95 it was shot on.

Upstate NY Rain

This summer the Missus and I have been trying to escape New York City as much as we possibly can. Luckily, we have been able to escape often and for long weekends. This past weekend the weather was not in our favor due to heavy and sudden rains – when it wasn’t pouring down rain, it was extremely humid and threatening to rain.

Being that I’m not only a field-recordist but also an avid cyclist, I spent our extended weekend recording rain and looking for breaks in the weather to hop on my road bike.  The riding up in the country is pretty spectacular thanks to the rolling hills and really steep climbs. I managed to get a few good rides and a few good rain recordings. The following is a nice selection I recorded mid-day when the skying opened up and sheets of rain started to move across this sky.

Within 30 minutes of the rain starting up it began to lighten up and that is when some of the distant thunder started to rumble.

Recording Geek Note: Rig consists of Schoeps CMC5′s setup for MS, with the MK4 as the mid. It was tracked at 24/96 to a Sony PCM-M10 with a Sound Devices MP-2 as a front-end.

Roof Drone

A few weekends back I got out of New York City with the Missus and headed upstate.  It was a beautiful weekend, but it did rain for a while, which gave me an excuse to do some recordings.  Some family friends have a beatiful old barn on the edge of their property that I have been dying to record in for some time.

The barn has old wooden beams, a metal roof, and a small bat population.  When it started raining, I ran over to start recording, thinking that the metal roof coupled with the acoustics of the interior would lead to some interesting results.

Unfortunately, the rain was a little too light and constant for the impacts on the metal roof to be that interesting, so I was not hopeful when I set up the recorder.  I didn’t think I would get anything worthwhile unless the pattern of the rain shifted.  However, when I got home and started sifting through the recording, I discovered the rain was not the coolest part.  It was the roof itself!  If you listen closely, the roof shifts in the wind and generates wobbly low frequency sounds. Can you say “Roof Drone?”  I had thought I would go home and trash the recording, but am glad I spent the time sifting through all of the content.

Now, I have to go back on a windy day to get just the sounds of the roof moving against the rest of the barn.  In addition, there are occasional bat vocalizations, a few birds, and a couple of planes that are all filtered through the roof and the barn.  It might not be the best result, but it turned out to be a worthy and interesting experiment.

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