The Water Barrel

As I was cleaning up the yard after years of Ultimate debris from making all the Ultimate sound effects collections I tried to move a 55 gallon barrel drum that has been sitting around for the last year or so. To my surprise it was half full of water. I assume the water had dripped in from the 3 inch hole on the top over the winter and spring. I found out that as I moved it the water sloshed around inside the 55 gallon drum. This was a col sound but I had an even better idea… I should tip it over and record the water flowing out. I set up a MKH-8040 and a SD-702 about 3 feet away from where the top of the barrel should touch the ground.

Water Barrel 2011

I waited for a few cars to drive by and proceeded to push the barrel over. It made this cool glub sound as the air needed to be sucked back in through the same hole the water was gushing out. The resonating barrel sound and the pulsing it made really surprised me as I was not sure how air tight the barrel was since I shot a hole through it last year and patched it with roofing sealant. I recorded at 192K and when pitched down it sound amazing. Someday this will make it into a collection or a SoundBox Single release, who knows? Enjoy! -Frank

The Water Barrel by therecordist

Ultimate Rockslide II Recording


Recording is underway for Ultimate Rockslide II Sound Effects Library. I traveled back to the site where a majority of the first library was recorded. This time I was armed with a Sennheiser MKH-8040 and a few new ideas for rock sound effects.

VIDEO: There is no fancy music and I quickly synced the recorded sound effects with the video. It’s all SFX!

The last time I was crawling around on these rocks I used a Sony PCM-D1 and a Audio Technica AT-835ST. Both of these set-ups are light and easy to carry around on the side of a rock infested hill. Balance is key when on steep terrain so these made sense. This year I wanted to try a single MKH-8040 on a very light weight boom pole. The 8040 is very small and light. I found it easy to hold the mic out over the rock action and move it when needed.

I’m still learning about the Sennheiser MKH-8040 and it’s sonic character. The other microphones and hand held recorders I have been using for years are comfortable to me and I can predict what I’m going to get. The conditions on the rock hillside this day were not that out of the ordinary. There was a light, variable wind with some stronger gusts depending on where I was and a bird. Yes, that bird did drive my crazy. I tried to position the MKH-8040 so the bird was off to the side or behind and at the same time aim it at the rock correctly. With the location of the rock I was about to push over and the issue of where I could put my feet on solid ground made for a tough time. I was disappointed to hear a lot of bird chirps. The bird eventually moved further away and in later recordings there was very little or none.


One of the things I did learn about the MKH-8040 is that it picks up quite a bit more distant background sounds and “tones” from things like cars and boats and sometime even wind. In the past I would have used one of my shotguns microphones and they are more forgiving with distant background sounds.

The other thing I learned about the MKH-8040 is that it has some seriously heavy low end thump. Since I was not using any kind of low cut filter while recording I had to be very careful not to bump the mic boom. Holding a boom and attempting not to get handling rumble noise while on the side of a rock cliff is no easy task. My safety is the first concern so any rumble that is recorded because I had adjust my position or move the boom around I can live with. After loading the files into Soundminer back at the studio I played around with different pitches and at 50% playback speed these rocks sound huge!


I wanted to record some new and different kinds of rocks for the Ultimate Rockslide II Sound Effects Library. I found a massive flat rock face that I was able to slide rocks down and toss smaller rock debris onto. There was some gravel and smaller rocks on the flat surface that got dislodged and tumble down with the rocks I was sliding down. I also recorded some big rock drops. I was trying to get them to break apart and thump hard on the ground.

It was a good start for Ultimate Rockslide II and I am currently looking into other sources and locations for more rocks of all sizes. -Frank

The video presented here is to show how I recorded rocks. It is not intended as a rock climbing instruction video.

Making the Mangled Metal SFX Library

Mangled Metal SFX Library

Post originally from Designing Sound, Thursday, July 7, 2011. Written by Miguel Isaza. Enjoy! -Frank

Where Do I Begin?

I spent a lot of time with my Grandfather when I was growing up. He was a scruffy old man that liked to keep EVERYTHING. I guess it rubbed off on me and I tend to save stuff that other people think is crazy. Some of the things I like to keep around are metal objects. Large, small, rusty, you name it I’ve got it stored around somewhere. The stove that I recorded is one of those things. I used it for years and then when it was moved to my ranch it fell off the truck and got beat up. It still worked but it was dented and warped. Perfect for sound effects recording!

The Early Sessions

Sometime in 2007 I found an old wood stove on the ranch and jumped on the John Deere tractor and dropped it from the bucket a few times. I liked what I heard and proceeded to get the electric stove (Scrappy is the name, thank you Michael R.) and drop it. The wood stove drop was a test and turned out great but I wanted the sound of them rolling and crashing so I found a location on the ranch with a hill I could access with the tractor. It was winter and there was little snow, very quiet and I was on a roll so to speak. When I dropped the electric stove I left all the rings, racks and pans inside and that was great because it totally had a “scrappy” crashing roll sound. Perfect! I recorded with three microphones from different perspectives.

In 2008 I decided it was time to replace my roof on my house. Since my brother is a metal fabricator I flew him out and we both tackled the crazy idea of “do it yourself roofing” After we were done I thought of recycling the metal but my genetics kicked in and the ghost of my Grandfather appeared in my head and told me “keep it, you never know when it will come in handy”. So, we stacked it next to my garage and it sat there for a few weeks until I had the time and energy to record. The first session with the roofing metal was awesome. I placed a Sanken CSS-5 on one side of the 22 foot long stack and a Sony PCM-D1 on the other. Since we just ripped the sheet metal off the roof quickly, most of the 30 year old nails stayed in the sheets. When I dragged them across each other the nails would catch and make an awesome screeching sound. One of my favorite sounds in the library. I combined both recording set ups and with the PCM-D1 very bright and the CSS-5 with body, I got a great mix of the two.

What else can I record?

Since those early sessions I have been collecting and keeping all the metal I can. I found pipes, huge steel plates, mailboxes, stop sign posts and 6 foot crowbars. The stove has held up well getting the crap beaten out of it over the years and these new objects were used with it. Very recently I dropped the metal junk on the stoves, dragged them around on concrete, pulled them apart and general mangled them.

One of my favorite sessions was when I used the sign post and long crowbar with the electric stove. I slid the bars into the mouth of the stove and got some great slide-clanks. The other session was right after I picked up the Sennheiser MKH-040ST rig. One of the panels on the stove had come loose and as I was moving out of the way it made a great scraping sound. I recorded this sound for 15 minutes with the MKH-804ST rig very close. I recorded at 192K and when they are pitched down they sound like communication towers or old steel bridges collapsing.

I recorded many other metal objects and learned that metal is the wild card. You never know what you are going to get and you can make it into anything.

So, What Did I learn?

Metal is loud! And, it can be very soft and subtle. I never really knew how loud something was going to be and since I record alone I was constantly adjusting the levels and pads on the recorders. I clipped many takes and had to re-record a lot of stuff. I lost some great sound events and in the future I will try to be more careful. I must say scrape metal is also dangerous. I never drew blood on the sessions but I advise anyone recording sharp metal objects to be careful. Pace yourself and take frequent breaks to save you energy. Being tired while tossing metal around is not a great idea.

I also learned that at some point you have to stop recording. I wanted to record a lot more for this library but it got to a point where it felt right and there was a certain “vibe” to the collection. I tend to live in the moment and I suspect there will be more moments in the future for a second library. I’m going to keep following my gut instinct and my genetics that I got from my Grandfather and keep saving EVERYTHING!

The HD Pro Sound Effects Collection:

All images and sounds copyright 2011 Frank Bry, Creative Sound Design/The Recordist

For more go to:

Making of “Mangled Metal”, The New SFX Library of The Recordist

Sandpoint Idaho Fireworks 2011

Fireworks Recording 2011

I like to stay home…
I really wanted to stay home on the 4th of July and goof around the ranch. So much for that idea. After some serious debating on whether or not I wanted to brave the traffic in town I decided that since the massive new highway bypass was to be completed by the same time next year that it was a good idea to record the fireworks one more time without the traffic noise the highway will bring. This time I was going to record at the highest resolution I could and bring all the gear I could carry on the long walk down to the city beach.

Background check…
Sandpoint Idaho has a small town fireworks show every year and the last time I recorded it was 2004. I used a HHB DAT machine and recorded at 16 Bit 44.1K with a AT-825 Stereo Microphone. I got some great recordings that night and still use the sounds every now and then. Earlier in the day I drove in to City Beach in Sandpoint with my wife and we walked around for a while and took some photos. During our walk we met up with the local Lions Club which is the group that funds and presents the fireworks show every year. They were having a raffle and I bought a few tickets to try and win a Off Road 4 wheeler. I asked if I could get out on the sandbar to record the show and the man remembered me from 2004. He told me that as long as the guys shooting off the fireworks were OK with it, they were OK with it. So, I was in! I drove home totally amped and gathered the gear I wanted to use and waited until 2 hours before the show and then drove in to town.

A dream come true…
Since one of my MKH-8040 microphones was being repaired I used just one and a Sanken CSS-5. I thought I could get some good sound effects with this setup so I rigged up both microphones on a stand. I could only record from one location since the area was so small and tight that multiple perspectives was a no go. There was also the issue of the sparks and other flaming debris that would fall and I wanted to be able to quickly run in and grab my gear if I had to. I thought of using one more microphone at a distance but I was already at capacity for what I could carry down there.

I recorded the fireworks at 24-Bit 192K with the microphones in full windshields and windjammers to 2 Sound Devices DS-702 recorders sync locked together. I placed the microphones about 6 meters away from the finale launch tubes. I pointed the MKH-8040 right at the launch tubes and angled the CSS-5 up in the air about 45 degrees. I figured the MKH-8040 would get me some serious low end launches and the CSS-5 was in stereo mode to get some good stereo echoes and explosions.

When I first arrived around 9 pm the wind was light so I thought I could record without the Windjammers. I was so wrong. As the sun set the wind really kicked up and I did not want to take a chance at wind ruining the recordings. The MKH-8040 is very sensitive and the slightest wind gust will make it thump and I did not want to use the low cut filter on the SD-702. I wanted to get all the low end I could out of the mortar launches.

They fired of two 5 minute warning shots and I was able to get some levels. After the first 5 minute warning shot I noticed I was recording too hot. It still sounded great but I knew once the show was going full blast that the levels would have clipped. The 2nd warning shot showed I was still to hot so I engaged the pad on the SD-702 and hoped for the best. In the end, only a few booms really made the limiter kick in. I like the limiter in the SD-702 and was happy with the results.

If you look close at the end of the video you can see the mics on the left side near the finale tubes. A big burning chunk of fireworks ash landed right under the microphones and only small burns in the MKH-8040 Rycote Windjammer. I guess I was lucky.

It was over way too soon…
I had a great time and the fireworks guys were really cool about me recording the show. I have a lot of respect for what they do. It’s very dangerous and they hand light all the fuses, a tough, smokey job. A special thanks to them and I hope to see them next year and buy them a drink or two. At one point as I was waiting for the show to start the city police on bikes came up and asked me permission to come in and hang out. Oh yeah, I was part of the crew now!



The first part of the audio clip has the two warning shots to get the crowd ready and the rest is from the begining of the 17 minute show. The clip is also a composite of both mics. Enjoy the sounds.

Fireworks July 4 2011 by therecordist


Fireworks Mortars July 4 2011 by therecordist


Fireworks Recording 2011

Fireworks Recording 2011

Fireworks Recording 2011

Fireworks Recording 2011

Fireworks Recording 2011

Fireworks Recording 2011

Fireworks Recording 2011

Motor Grader Recording June 27, 2011


June 27, 2011 – Sagle, Idaho USA – Every year the county grades the dirt roads here in North Idaho after the spring run-off from the mountains. I heard the grader pass by the house so I went down to the dirt road below my ranch and here is some of what I recorded.

These BIG machines sound really cool. Diesel engines, air hoses, dirt scraping and high speed passes with the transmission whining and whirring. After some digging around on the web I found out that a used grader at 5 years old costs around $400,000. I can only imagine what they cost brand new.

The grader operator had a very “colorful” description of the Sennheiser MKH 8040 Matched Stereo Pair of microphones inside a Rycote blimp system on the boom pole. I was really happy with the results from the 8040ST rig. There were lots of birds and crickets and the microphones rejected them from the side very well. I did use the low cut filter on the SD 702 at 40hz because or handling rumble so the low end is good but not as heavy as without the low cut.

Equipment used: Sound Devices 702 and a Sennheiser MKH 8040 Matched Stereo Pair of microphones.

Motor Grader Recording 2011-06-27 by therecordist

Here is some video footage from my iPhone. Please excuse the shaky cam as I was mostly focused on getting the take and I was wearing my sunglasses and could not see the screen very well.

Some photos from the session:

Grader 2011-06
Grader 2011-06
Grader 2011-06
Grader 2011-06
Grader 2011-06
Grader 2011-06
Grader 2011-06