Field recording



I just got a Rycote for my h4n and I’m happy with it so far.
I’ve used it in moderatly windy environement and it did the trick.
I haven’t done A/B comparaison for the frequency response but I didn’t notice any drastic loss.


Finally, after a long time I have been able to get back to work on an album of sorts. I think I posted about it in the past in this thread already. Working title is “intimate spaces”, and it’s a very field recording oriented, musical exploration of what I would call “non-inhabitable architectonic spaces” like a caveadium in a flat where I used to live, the inside of a newly-built bridge, the service room below a swimming pool, a water tank, an old metal funnel in an abandoned stone grinding facility. I’m not really after any industrial archaeology type of thing though, not much of a fan of that. I’m personally connected to every one of these places, that’s the main link throughout this planned album.
To be honest I’m making this EP as a way to figure out what my musical workflow could be, and to explore some things that I discovered to be really interesting to me in the last years, which roughly would be:

  • recording sounds that are related to inhabited spaces, urban areas, the sounds made by human life and human artefacts (which is odd, since I recently moved out into the countryside)
  • the hiding of melodic fragments inside non-tonal, non-melodic sound layers like field recordings and noise.
  • in general combining field recordings (with relatively minimal processing) and synthesis-based sounds created on the modular
  • processing field recordings with the modular
  • working with drones in a structured way (sounds like a counter-intuitive thing to do, but I actually enjoy to make drone music that is kind of more complex in structure)
  • creating very dense moments where a lot is going on, but the whole feels more like one thick sonic cloud of frequencies and counterbalancing that with very quiet moments.

Some things I am wondering about:
it seems to me that resonators are a bit to what is commonly labelled as field-recording-based ambient music like guitars are to rock&roll. Not sure though I’m really comfortable with that. Or to say it differently, it always feels like the easy and obvious way to process field recordings but at the same time it also feels like that is one of the primary tools we have to do so.

Ok, I know this sounds all very abstract, will hopefully post some draft versions of the tracks here soon.


Would you point out what you would consider classic exemples of that? I naively use both those things in conjunction sometimes without much knowledge of ambient music history.


I’m not talking about actual music that adheres to what ambient music was intended to be when Eno defined that genre, I’m using the term more loosely here.
I have a hard time finding examples, because I don’t really have that in my music library. I happen to stumble over this kind of use of resonators quite often on soundcloud, but since that is not something that I really find all that interesting, it’s not like I book mark these in anyway.
Though this whole thing makes me think of this track by Helm, which is an artist I find quite interesting atm:

Not sure if it’s a resonator he’s using here, or more some sort of comb filter, but I quite like how it’s used here.


I should do more soundcloud browsing then… or not?
Isn’t a resonator some sort of comb filter?

edit : I like how he used too, quite heavy handed, in a good way. Thanks for making me realize this is a common thing! Maybe I should get out more!


There’s certainly similarities. The basic resonator design (like for eg. the Serge Resonant EQ) is basically a bank of narrow bandpass filters, a comb filter is usually achieved by using delays. So the difference is more technical and the effect can be pretty similar, since both accentuate specific bands inside the spectrum. Still, in practical sue the resonator is more flexible regarding which frequencies are boosted, while for the comb filter you basically set the delay and feedback (and if the feedback is positive or negative), and derive the effect from there. A popular example of a resonator is the one included with Ableton live, which lets you define a base pitch and then set the other bands to intervals relative to that.

Well, I don’t claim to have absolute knowledge about this, it’s just something I hear often, I’ll collect examples as I find them, you made me realize that I should have done that earlier on. I think it’s something worth analysing a bit more in depth.

The thing is this, when you work with field recordings you have a set of tools that you can work with, some will be very “production oriented”, and others will let you have more “live” control.
You can do a lot by just editing the audio, looping it and cut-and-pasting it. But that’s something you can’t really do much live. There’s things you can do in a more performative way, and that includes two classics which are granular processing and boosting certain frequencies to create more tonal effects.
As you know noise does contain a lot of frequencies, synthetic noise usually containing all frequencies across the audible spectrum. Field recordings are often associable to noise from a spectral point of view, so they lend themselves quite a bit to be processed with resonators comb filters or karpluss-strong, since you have a lot of material there that can be boosted.


Thanks again, I was confusing resonator with physical modal synthesis, karplus-strong, etc. I studied some digital implementations of filters this winter and started to think that everything is some sort of delay!

One way to use field recording that interest me is as an organisational factor, via envelope followers and triggers to modulate other sounds parameters. As some sort of stochastic organisation without the algorithm.


Karpluss-strong (and Waveguide afaik as well) is indeed achieved using a delay, and in that is similar to comb filtering. There’s of course other physical modelling techniques like Modal synthesis, which rely on bandpass filters.
btw. one thing that might sometimes be a bit underestimated is using convolution/deconvolution with field recordings. This is maybe similar in certain ways to using envelope followers but with more drastic effects on the spectrum. Usually you’d just use impulses of noise to feed a convolution-based reverb, but nothing stops you from using a random piece of recording, try that, It’s pretty fun.


I’ve been wanting to try convolution with other files for a while but haven’t tought about field recordings! I’ll try that!


It’s worth checking out what Diego Stocco has done with convolution reverbs if you’ve not already seen it.


Yes, he’s been a big inspiration for that and for many other things.


Last year I did a six-minute recording of a summer storm in Southern Cross, Western Australia. Here it is combined with a music visualisation. I wanted something relatively fluid and simple.


Inspired both by this thread and some of the documentaries I’ve been watching recently, here’s a field-recording based track, condensed and slightly processed from a 20 minute original. I try to present the sonic characters of the three rivers flowing past my house, trying to give the listener enough time to appreciate the detail, but switching between sounds quickly enough to make comparisons, and not get bored!

Might be a bit trite seeing as it’s mainly white noise, with some slight stereo delay and DIY-resonator effect using Logic’s graphic EQ, but I enjoy listening to it.


Howdy. I bought some Ambeo Binaural head/micro/phones recently, and just assembled a little track of my initial forays into having the means to be constantly able to record binaural audio… I would love Love LOVE though, if anyone had an iPhone app that they would recommend, that is up and recording asap - needs to be stereo - I am currently using AUM, as it has provided the most reliability, but if there were a dedicated field recorder out there that prioritized how quickly from app-tap to rec it goes, that would be swell - missing a moment here and there is fine, but would be swell to have that extra edge…


(note - some of this track is experiments having to do with the iphone-ness of the headset - so, there’s experiments in sending the binaual feed through bluetooth to a speaker, and playing w the feedback (can hear in the steel drum sounds) as well as an experiment with recording while listening to some synth stuff in the phones (just checking how well the insulation between the earphone element and mic elements work - was pleased at the results (can slightly hear synth through recording, but in a pleasing way))


Jeez, I wish we’d met when I lived in Louisville. Then again, maybe we did - were you a Dreamland-goer?

Edit: oh, duh. You’re Connor Shedding, ha.


Have you lot seen the Hooke Audio Verse?

I was a keen binaural recorder back in the late nineties/early oughts with various flavors of plugin-powered electrets and MiniDisc. The prospect of returning to that certainly has some appeal.


I still have my MiniDisc in a drawer somewhere! I wonder if the chewing gum stick battery is still available as mine long dead!


I’ve just finished making my own binaural head. I’m so pleased with it, it sounds great.
The head is fibreglass and was modelled on Queen Victoria originally apparently. I looked for ages for a good mannequin head and someone ended up giving me this and it’s perfect. The ears are silicone and from micbooster but i found them on ebay really cheap. It’s on a Rode shock mount which is really important, on a manfrotto lighting stand and the whole thing is super light and portable.
I’ve built it so you can swap out the mics easily, currently DPA4060 pair in there but I’m waiting for a pair of LOM mikroUši.

I will post some audio soon


Here’s the only good recording I managed to put together after 4 days of searching for interesting sounds in Plymouth. It would seem the bay’s name is somewhat ironic, as it’s a rather quiet place. Thankfully the local fishermen had plans to make some noise out on the Sound and invited me along. I may or may not agree with their politics - I don’t think that’s important. Hope you enjoy.