Grand Central Stealth


We all encounter situations where walking around with a large Rycote and a big Portabrace bag might not be ideal. There are times where ambiences need to be recorded without our subjects reacting to the fact they are being recorded. This is where having a good discrete recording setup is always handy.

The Tapers Forum has a plethora of examples that are worth exploring. Most of the content on that site is geared towards concert tapers, and you’ll see a ton of crazy setups for recording really bad PA systems.[1] That said, it is worth a visit to generate some ideas.

Every few months I make little tweaks to my stealth rig. Currently my rig consists of a pair of DPA 4060s that are head-mounted, a Sound Devices MP–2 pre-amp, a Sony PCM-M10, and a custom bag with cable routing.

It all works quite well and I recently took the rig out to test my recent tweaks. After running some errands, I crossed town and did some recording in Grand Central.

One of the spots I really dug was a small corridor between the main concourse and Vanderbilt Hall.

To the east of the corridor is a ramp that heads down to Metro North trains.

There is significantly less foot traffic in the corridor and there is a beautiful diffuseness to the sound in that location.

I was able to stay in that position for a while, but when you stand in one spot not moving your head, you start to look a little weird. If you move your head, you mess with your stereo image![2]

Apparently, I was not attracting too much attention because this happened:

Who says New Yorkers aren’t nice people! You know you have a decent stealth rig when tourists stop so you can take their picture.

  1. I don’t know why a pair of Schoeps CCMs mounted in your hat is really necessary when you are essentially recording a junky PA and the guy next to you screaming “Free Bird” every 5 minutes, but to each his own.  ↩
  2. Don’t move your head!  ↩

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Michael Raphael October 24, 2013