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.

Penn Station

New York Penn Station is one of the busiest train terminals in NYC. The train station services the local communities in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, and points distant via Amtrak.

On a recent trip through Penn Station to visit my family, I planted myself in the main terminal, set up my DPA 4060s, and had a cup of coffee. I’ve been doing lots of recordings with my little DPAs lately and it continues to surprise me how damn good they sound. Aside from the local accents and the reflections off the hard surfaces, I really dig the sound of the luggage wheels rolling by.

On this particular instance, I had the microphones mounted in a hat that the missus knitted for me. For stylish headwear and discrete recording, I highly recommend getting a missus who knits.

Recording Geek Note: DPA 4060s mounted in hand-knitted hat. Tracked to Sony PCM-M10 with a Sound Devices MP-2 mixer as a front end.

Manhattan Bridge

I am still exploring my new adopted borough of Brooklyn, NY, so don’t be surprised if you hear and see a lot of recordings from that locale on the blog.  I recently explored some of the parks around both the Brooklyn and Mahattan bridges.  On warm weekends you can see tons of kids playing and adults leisurely reading their newspapers.   It is one of the more relaxing and mellow places to hang in that area, but unfortunately since I have moved the weather has been drab and rainy on most weekends.

This recording is from one of those overcast days in Brooklyn Bridge park where I planted myself under the Manhattan Bridge to record the subway cars passing overhead.  I like a lot of the detail in the recording, but the only unfortunate elements are a few rain droplets that began to fall, and they sound like little clicks of handling noise.  They drive me nuts, but I do like some of the reflections off the supports of the bridge.  I excerpted a fairly clean segment recording, but I would like to go back when the weather is a bit nicer.  So in the meantime enjoy a short recording of some traffic and the N train passing overhead.

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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.