Freight Train At Station

While recording the floodwaters here today I happened to see a train heading for town so I stopped at the Sandpoint train station and waited. A minute later the train pulls up and stops right in front of me! I did not expect this to happen as they usually just pass through town slowly on their journey. I had the microphone on a boom pole and was barely hanging on to it as it was very windy. I did not have a chance to take any photos or video as I was caught by surprise at the train actually stopping and I did not want to let go of the boom pole. Here is the 24-Bit 96k sound recorded with a Sennheiser MKH-8040ST set to XY/120 Degrees (wider is good!)

This track has some nice air brake releases and electrical generator power-ups along with a few BIG rail car slack action metal impacts. This is free to download for a limited time only at 24-Bit 96K. Enjoy! No April fools around here! -Frank

Please Note: The Recordist standard End User License applies to these free sound effects.

This train pulled up from the south and stopped in right front of me (talk about luck!) while I was sitting on a bench at the train station all alone. The train was waiting for the track switch to engage. After the switch was ready he pulled forward a few hundred feet then stopped again. That’s when the rail cars slammed and banged against each other.

This train was heading South and as I waved to the engineer he gave me two quick horn blasts as he was passing. I noticed the rails looked like they were replaced and the wheels sounded smoother than the last time was at the station recording. Fresh rails make for less squeaks and tension. Smooth rail sailing!

Hail Storm Inside My SUV Feb 2012

Here is a sound recorded from inside my Tahoe SUV. I had just arrived back at the ranch when I noticed the rain and wind had really started to get heavy. I parked in my driveway and pulled out my Sony PCM D-50 and started recording. I really just wanted to get the heavy rain drop sound hitting the roof when all of a sudden the rain turned to hail and the wind really picked up.

As you can hear in the sound demo, the wind was hitting the side of the SUV pretty hard and the good sized hail was pounding the car. I felt the Tahoe rocking from side to side and it was hard to hold the D-50 in a steady manner. I was really glad there were no trees overhead to fall over. This wind had some of the strongest gust I have ever felt during the winter. Enjoy! -Frank

Remember: If you can, always be packin’ a recorder, you never know when duty will call.


Hail Storm SUV Feb 2012

Hail Storm SUV Feb 2012

Hail Storm SUV Feb 2012


Slow Motion Bullets

Post Date: February 22, 2012

There is a first time for everything and recording bullet pass bys and impacts was a first for me. I’ve always wanted to try my hand at bullet recording but never had the knowledge or association with anyone that had a permit to use a gun suppressor. During the recording sessions for the M60 machine gun with the very experienced and amazing marksman named Richard from the local gun shop I began to inquire about what it would take to record some bullet impacts and whizz bys. I then consulted with everyone’s favorite weapons maven – Charles Maynes (my sincere thanks man!), and he gave me some valuable advice for these kind of sessions. I then explained what I wanted to accomplish with Richard and gave him the specs from Charles and we were off and running. The bullet demo in this blog post has some of the sounds recorded and played back at 35% of normal so you can hear the shot and the impact in greater detail, and they sound much more interesting slowed down a bit.
I’ve recorded many guns with a portable recorder at or near where the bullets impact mainly for just another perspective but learned a lot from the sounds from these recordings. First, there is always the loud “bang” sound from the gun firing and second there is a supersonic shockwave “crack” That sometimes overshadows the initial “bang” As you can hear in the demo below of a Winchester Model 70 rifle with Weatherby .300 rounds, when I move the microphone near the bullet impact you can hear double and sometimes triple shockwaves from the very powerful ammo. I recorded this on a rock hillside up behind the ranch with a Sennheiser MKH-8040ST. The first 3 shots are with the 8040ST about 30 feet from the gun and the next 3 shots are 10 feet away from some huge boulders. I was going to use this demo for a future blog post but decided to use it here. Also, I know the ammo and the gun are MUCH larger than a Glock 22 but hey…


Recording The Bullets

Now, on to the bullet recording sessions. The goal was to have a bullet traveling less than 900 feet per second. It needs to be subsonic and slow (for a bullet) with enough force to make a decent noise when hitting it’s target. Richard researched what he thought we would need and built the ammo himself with soft metal slugs and just enough gunpowder to make it go the right speed. During one of the M60 sessions we tested some bullet impacts into a refrigerator with a Glock 22 and regular off the shelf 40 caliber ammo. As you can hear the bullet travels fast and the gun tail can be heard in the bullet impact even though he was shooting from 150 feet away. Even when the sound is played back at a speed of 35% of normal, the “bang” is still very loud.

The next week we traveled back to the gravel pit and tested the Glock 22 with a supressor and the 40 caliber ammo that Richard had made. I bought along a dead iMac, solid steel plate, oven pans and some windows to use as targets.
I was cautious about where to place the microphones as I did not know how much or how far any debris would fly. I placed a MKH-8040 and a MKH-416 on the left side of the target around 10 feet away with the MKH-8040 closer in. I placed the MKH-8040ST setup to the right of the target a little higher off the ground and the same distance away as the others. I wanted to get the stereo pass by of the bullet along with the impact. I also had a AT-835ST setup near Richard to get the suppressed shot sound just in case. I had the channels so why not. The suppressed gun shot sounds nothing like you hear in the movies or TV, it sounds like a muted firecracker. After a few takes I moved the microphones slightly closer.

Shooting this gun with the slower bullet and a suppressor was a challenge at times for Richard. He was aiming dead on the target (he is a very good shot I must say) but the bullet would veer off course because of it’s weight and slow speed. He really tried his best to hit with accuracy but sometimes the bullet went low or high. Actually, it was really OK because with the frozen ground I was able to get some great richochets.

I wish the glass impacts came out better but the glass was double paned and the bullet just punctured the glass and there was no shatter. I am going to bring some of the left over single pane glass windows from the recording of Ultimate Glass to the next session and hope for some epic breaking.
I was very happy with the steel plate and oven pan sounds. The steel plate was loud and piercing while the oven pan was a dull metal whack type of sound. I did place the oven pan in front of the steel plate to get a more complex combination of metal sounds and this worked quite well.
I was also pleased with the iMac sounds. As Richard slowly chipped away at the soon to be more dysfuntional iMac the sounds became more diverse and the parts started to fly off the computer and land everywhere. After recording we fished out the bullet remains from the inside of the iMac. They were so soft that the interior metal parts of the computer were stopping the bullets in their tracks.

I have many bullet recording sessions planned this coming summer including long range pass bys with a high powered suppressed sniper rifle. I hope to get the recording done sometime time before the Mayan calender ends later this year.

Disclaimer and advice:
Recording guns is very dangerous. Recording bullet impacts and pass bys should be taken very seriously and done with the help of a professional weapons handler. Please do not try this at home or without the proper instruction and training.

Insane Ice Cracks

Seems I just can’t stop. I’m obsessed with getting some wicked cool, ultimate insane over the top ice cracks and today was a good day. The last few nights it’s been 20 degrees or lower and this makes for some ice to grow on the lakes around North Idaho. At 8 AM this morning I dragged my ass out of bed and suited up for a cold recording session out in the middle of Round Lake. The sun was in and out of the clouds and the lake was rockin’ as I stood quietly next to the Sennheiser MKH-8040ST. Not a soul was around which is just the way I like it. After a hour or so of deeper cracks a few big ones let go. One of them was right under my feet as you can hear in the demo. It startled me a little but I had my ice shoes on so I did not fall over.

Ice Recording Insane

The wildlife were very disturbed by my presence this morning and the ravens and crows were going nuts. A few geese flew over and there were some hawk screeches (you can hear one faintly in the demo) The trains were quiet so i was really excited to see what I could get. Some of the cracks circled me in surround (wish I had that kind of setup today) and I could hear them start at one end and end up on the other side where there is open water at the outlet.

Some interesting facts I learned about this lake from the ranger on duty:

1) The lake is almost perfectly round and deep for it’s size.

2) The lake is stream fed from the East and drains on the West. This makes the water swirl around the outer edges when the inlet brings more water in than the outlet can drain. When it warms it pushes the ice and makes it bulge and get thinner at the North shore.

3) People have fallen though the ice but no one has drowned, good thing!

Ice Recording Insane

Ice Recording Insane

Copyright Notice:
All of the audio demo presentations on this Web site are protected by worldwide copyright, and are provided for demonstration purposes only. No authorization is given or implied for anyone to copy or use these audio demo presentations, or any sounds contained therein, for any purpose except to audition the sound libraries and enjoy the blog posts.

North Idaho Iceman Vol-2

This is the second and final in a series of blog posts documenting some of my experiences recording ice for Ultimate Ice 2 HD Pro Sound Effects Library. Recorded over the last few months of 2011 and into 2012 with a Sennheiser MKH-8040ST microphone set to XY at 120 or 90 degrees.

Location: Muskrat Lake

Back in early December 2011 while I was recording trains I came across a large private lake not far from the ranch. It had been very cold for a few days but the sun was shining and the lake was covered with a nice medium think layer of ice. I set the microphone up close to the edge of the lake and attempted to crack the soft shoreline with my feet. I soon found out that the ice was thin there and decided I would come back later in the day with a sledgehammer and give it a good hit.

Ice Recording Muskrat Lake

I hit the lake ice from a location about 10 meters to the side of the microphone. I had to reach out from the edge as I knew the ice was soft at my feet. The hammer broke through a few times and I had a hard time pulling it out of the ice hole. I wish I had the courage to go out on the lake but since I was not sure of the depth of the water and thickness of the ice I played it safe and stayed on the edge. While I was recording I heard the dispersion sound waves travel across the lake but they were not very loud. At one point during a take a dog barked in the distance and that was louder than the pinging (I left the bark in the take, it sounds cool pitched down).

Location: Mountain Pond

I was intrigued by the potential for sounds with the sledgehammer so on my way back from Muskrat Lake I drove up the hill behind the ranch where there is a pond about 1 acre in size. Since it is much colder up there at 3500 feet above sea level the ice was much thicker. I was able to set the microphone out on the ice and get out in the middle and take my swings. The size of the pond did not yield much dispersion pinging but it sure made a good thump.

Ice Recording Pond

Next up were the smaller retaining ponds that are scattered along the side of the steep road leading up to the top of the mountain. The were frozen over fairly well but a few still had standing water under the 2 inch ice layer. I hit these a few times and some cracked and gave way. The cracks would rip right under the microphone and after this I would stomp and drop things on the sheets of ice.

Ice Recording Pond

A few of these little ponds also gave me the opportunity to use my body weight and apply steady pressure until they would break apart and fall into themselves with a small sea of muddy water. The trick is to know when to jump out before they collapse. I never really got the timing right on this and got soaked almost every time.

Location: My Ranch Foley Pit

One of the things I wanted to record for this collection was impacts and debris from solid chunks of ice. As it was starting to get colder earlier in the winter I left some plastic tarp covers outside to retain the melting water that built up during the day. I draped the tarps over some firewood to create indents to hold the water. At night they would freeze over and then melt a little the next day. Any snow or rain would be captured by the tarp and when frozen over it would be easy to sperate the ice chunks from the tarp.

Ice Recording Ranch

After a couple of weeks I had enough ice chunks to record. I had to make sure it was cold enough outside so they would remain solid. I set up a multi microphone rig at the concrete slab I have on the ranch and began dropping and hitting the chucks. They turned out well and now I have to figure out how to even bigger chunks made.

Things I learned while out in the field:
1. 99% of time recording ice you will get wet. Prepare and bring towels, hand warmers, etc.

2. It’s almost always noise outside no matter where you are recording. Ice is very difficult to get clean recordings of. Between birds, dogs, planes, trains, traffic and fisherman it’s always hit and miss. Be patient.

3. Check you microphone rig now and then. Make sure all is dry and not to cold.

4. Be safe. Use your best judgement as to how far you are willing to go. Ice is slippery and falling is not a good idea.