Train Recording 3-13-2011

It’s been about 12 years since I recorded a train. When I lived in Seattle I was able to get some great recordings of all kinds of trains in many environments. When I moved to Idaho in 1997 I soon realized that trains were everywhere. North Idaho is the main Northern route from East to West. 60+ trains a day pass through here so there is always a chance to get recordings year round. I recorded many trains back in the late 90’s but they were with a DAT machine and now I wanted to start recording all theses trains at high resolution. So, it begins!

Sunday, March 13th 2011 was a beautiful day. Spring is just around the corner and the snow is melting off fast. This is a great time of year to record outside. Most of the birds have not yet migrated back from the South and the general activity outside is minimal. I packed up the gear and headed out to one of the many locations where there are secluded rail road tracks and waited. I did not have to wait very long. As soon as I found a spot I heard a train in the distance. I was not ready to record yet so I scrambled to get my CSS-5 and SD 702 up and running. I was lucky because the one thing I did do prior to leaving the house was put the mic on the stand and plug everything into the recorder. All I had to do was unload quickly and stick hte mic stand out there.

The first location I found was about 20 feet from the road and 50 feet or so from the tracks. The tracks where at a lower elevation than me by quite a bit. There were two sets of tracks on a slight banked turn. I stood in the trees and got ready as fast as possible as I could hear the train off in the distance. I thought my level was good but on playback I noticed that the limiter had kicked in even though the peak level was 3 dB below 0. I guess I recorded a bit hot so the train has a slight growl to it as the engines first pass by. The train had 3 engines and was very loud…. I forgot how loud trains can be.

Check it out:

Train Pass By 3-13-2011 Number 1 by therecordist

Right after the 1st train passed there was another train coming from the other direction. I did not see or hear it and was waiting for the last train car to fade out and then suddenly it was roaring by. This second train made a sad wailing sound as it carved the turn and was slowing down. Nice!

Check it out:

Train Pass By 3-13-2011 Number 2 by therecordist

Video of a train

(I had some time to set up and record some foootage)

Photos:

Train Recording 5-30-10

Train Recording 5-30-10

Train Recording 5-30-10

Train Recording 5-30-10

Train Recording 5-30-10

Train Recording 5-30-10

Train Recording 5-30-10

Let it Snow, Let it Snow, Let it Snow

One of the things I’ve always wanted to record was the sound of the snow falling off the towering Fir trees here in North Idaho. For the last 15 years I’ve tried many times but the conditions were always terrible. There was usually too much wind or the trees were wet and dripping or it was just plain impossible to get clean recordings. Over this past Thanksgiving weekend the conditions were perfect. Over a 3 day period 18 inches of snow had fallen, it was really cold and there was no wind to speak off. Now all I had to do was figure a way to get the snow to fall off the trees.

I recorded 3 sessions. The first time I went out I used a hand held AT-835ST on a boom along with a garden hoe to pull on a branch to see if I could shake the tree a little. There I was garden hoe in one hand and the microphone boom in the other while standing in knee deep snow. I got some good recordings but I had to jump out of the way sometimes to avoid getting covered with snow and it got into the take. So after slogging back to the house soaking wet and freezing I listened to the recordings and wanted to get better ones.

Next I tried the CSS-5 without the boom and pulled low hanging branches on the trees. This worked well but I still had to get clear of the snow falling so I needed to try one more thing. I also found out after listening that the Rycote zepplin without a Windjammer was picking up the sound of the snow hitting it. Keep in mind that a tree can hold a lot of snow and when it comes down, there is substantial snow that falls. I love that feeling of snow falling on my head and going down the back of my neck.

I wanted even cleaner recordings so I went out a third time with the CSS-5 on a mic stand with a Windjammer. This worked really well. I was able to set the mic in the snow and from the other side of the tree grab a branch and give it a good pull. During the previous sessions I used the SD-702’s Low Cut filter at 80Hz because I was holding the microphones in my hand and wanted to reduce handling noise rumble. This last session I was able to turn the filter off and get nice full frequency recordings.

Needless to say I got soaking wet during all three sessions and my winter clothes are still drying out in front of the woodstove. Enjoy the sound demo because I had a great time recording some sounds I’ve been looking to get for over 15 years.

-Frank

Recording set-up: Sound Devices 702, Sanken CSS-5 and Audio Technica AT-835ST recording at 24Bit/96kHz.

Snow Recording

This what you look like when you get too close to the trees when they dump their snow off

Snow Falling Off Trees 2010 by therecordist

Snow Recording

Some of the trees I recorded

Snow Recording

The CSS-5 in the snow, got some good takes here

Snow Recording

Yeah, this is an odd looking tree

Snow Recording

The CSS-5 near some really tall Fir trees

Snow Recording

I stepped back for a photo and caught some snow falling, strange luck!

Fire Recording 11-07-2010

Since I could not attend the AES show this year I had nothing to do over the weekend. Really? Nah. I decided the weather was just right to get some fire recording done. I will have a more in depth blog post in December but here is what is in the audio clip:

1. Stove oil and gasoline bursts
2. Bottles of liquid fuel tossed on hot coals (one burst a hole and squirted fire all over)
3. Propane torch ignited into the fire and coals (a little dangerous don’t you think?)
4. Gasoline burning in the coals

Recording set-up: Sound Devices 702, Sanken CSS-5, Fostex FR-2, Audio Technica AT-835ST recording at 24Bit/192kHz.

Fire Recording 11-7-2010 by therecordist

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Getting set up to record fire at 24/192

Fire110710

Recording the burn pile from different perpectives, core is quite hot

Fire110710

Seems to be burning pretty good now, added more fuel to the flame.

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Using the propane torch to get the fire scorching hot.

Fire110610

The propane torch on the smoking hot coals sounded awesome!

Fire110610

OK, time for some real fire bursts! Stove oil works the best, gasoline will do also.

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Wow, that one was really hot. Trying not to make too much foot noise, just lean back.

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The fuel delivery tin can caught on fire. Don't panic, get some whooshes, quick!

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I tossed some bottles full of gasoline and stove oil on the coals. Unexpected sound! Like a gun silencer.

Fire110710

This one was really nice, a good poof!

Fire110710

Now, this bottle of fuel burst a small hole and squirted fuel way too close to the CSS-5.

Fire110710

It was still squirting way too much for my comfort so I tried to snuff it out, yeah right.

Fire110710

This is what happens after stirring the coals with all the un-burned fuel in there.

Ultimate Mud SFX Library Preview

Ultimate Mud
Here are some pics and audio clips from my Ultimate Mud SFX Library.

This one of a kind collection contains 464 slimy and wet mud sound effects recorded at 24-Bit 96kHz.

Includes: splats, splashes, drips, pours, bubbles, gurgles, movements, impacts, spooges, suction and much more.

I recorded dumping mud from my tractor, a large pail, and shovel. I also used the rubber boots to walk around and get myself stuck in the deep mud bog in my back yard. The garden hose served as a great tube to get forced air into the wheelbarrel. Sonic Terrain will have a detailed “Making of” article soon.

Previous mud recording blog posts:
Mud Recording Photo Gallery – August 27, 2010

Ultimate Mud SFX Library Recording – September 29, 2010

Equipment Used:
Sound Devices 702
Sanken CSS-5
Sennheiser MKH-416
Audio Technica AT-835ST
Sony PCM-D1
Rubber Mud Boots
Five Gallon Bucket
Wheelbarrow
Garden Hose
Various Tools and a Flip HD Camera

The story behind Ultimate Mud as told with pictures:

Ultimate Mud

Ultimate Mud

Ultimate Mud

Ultimate Mud

Ultimate Mud

Ultimate Mud

Ultimate Mud

Ultimate Mud

Ultimate Mud

Ultimate Mud

Ultimate Mud

Ultimate Mud

Ultimate Mud

Ultimate Mud

Ultimate Mud

Ultimate Mud

Extreme Home Makeover Idaho Edition

It happened again, I’m sitting on my porch enjoying a good morning cup of coffee and I hear something of in the distance. Cracking, crunching, hitting and a diesel engine. I must go record this I thought to myself so I ran inside, grabbed my gear and drove up the street a bit to where the house I recorded glass breaking in is being ripped apart by a logging claw. I was there in less than five minutes but the claw had been working since early in the morning so much of it was already torn down. The claw was ripping up the last part of floor and cleaning up.

I was able to get very close with my boom, right in front of the claw about 3 feet away and got some intense wood, metal and glass destruction sounds. The diesel engine bleeds through a bit but I wanted to be near the claw and be a little up wind from the dust pouring out of the site. There was lots of dust!

Near the end, the guy running the claw had to move a large peice of roofing metal and roll it up. In all the frenzy and dust I was able to snap some pictures.

Enjoy the Extreme Makeover! -Frank

Extreme Home Makeover

Extreme Home Makeover Idaho Edition: house bye bye!

Extreme Home Makeover 01 by therecordist

Extreme Home Makeover

Extreme Home Makeover Idaho Edition: got to get closer!

Extreme Home Makeover

Extreme Home Makeover Idaho Edition: taking a break

Extreme Home Makeover 02 by therecordist

Extreme Home Makeover

Extreme Home Makeover Idaho Edition: roofing metal rolled up