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The summer 1978 I got a job at Sogsvirkjanir power stations, about 50 km east of Reykjavik capital. There are three power stations close to each other in the river Sog south of Þingvallavatn lake.
This place was familiar to me because my grandparents lived at a nearby farm, Efri Brú.
For me, as a tanager, this summer was very important. It was the time to decide what I would like to do for a living; a technician, farmer, engineer, or something else. I was not sure.
My job at Sogsvirkjanir was miscellaneous, gardening, cleaning and painting. But what interested me most was working in the power stations when generators were shut down for cleaning and overhauling. As a thin, lithe teenager I was used to go into and work inside places in the generators where older, fatter and stiffer engineers could not access or work. Afterwards I think it was very damaging environment for my health. Working almost every day with 1,1,1Trichloroethane and other toxic liquids with useless mask. But in these days nobody took care of it, and I did not take care of it either.
All this machineries fascinated me so I decided to start learning electrician in the autumn 1978.
The following recording is a combination of five recordings I made in and around Ljósafoss power station the summer 2013. This is the oldest power station in the river and was built on my grandfather’s land 1934. The birdsong in the recording is from a nearby county at Laugarvatn which is my grandmothers’ birthplace. It reminds me of my childhood at my grandparent’s farm, especially in the swamp behind the cowshed, so it is worth to keep it with this recording.
Even though all these sounds gives me some nice memories, they sound also far in my mind. It feels like a memory from my “last life”, not something that happened in my life about 40 years ago. Every thing has changed fast in this county. My grandparents are long gone and almost all farming in the county too. Land in many places has been broken up in peaces for cottages. Farming and animals have disappeared.
Instead of narrow gravel roads, all roads now have asphalt. Fast driving, noisy traffic, day and night seems to be the only human activity.
Sadly, in just thirty years, this beautiful countryside has changed into “American style suburb”
The following recording gives you a flight as a ghost, or a spirit from my grandparents farm to Ljósafoss power station. Your flight goes above and through water, concrete and steel. It starts over the reservoir, then trough the intake, penstock, power house, transformer and to the outflow canal.
The flight ends as it starts with “quiet bird song” far away from the nosy power station.

Miningar frá sumrinu 1978.

Sumarið 1978 fékk ég sumarvinnu við Sogsvirkjanir. Þetta sumar varð mér heldur örlagaríkt, en þá tók ég ákvörðun um að læra rafvirjun. Eftirarandi hljóðmynd var tekin upp sumarið 2013 í og við Ljósafossstöð. Segja má að það sé í raun minningabrot frá sumrinu 1978 og þremur næstu sumrum á meðan ég vann þar við ýmis störf.

Download mp3 file (192kbps / 36,0Mb)

Recorder Sound devices 788
Mics. Sennheiser MKH8040 (ORTF setup)
Pics. Canon EOS-M (more pictures)
Rafn sigurbjörnsson’s picture gallery

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About 30km east of Reykjavik capitol is Hellisheiðarvirkjun a geothermal power station. This power station uses energy from drilled wells in the surrounding area.
In the drilling process it is necessary to let the wells “breath” or “blow” for a while. When it happens it is extremely noisy when the energy is wasted into the atmosphere, mostly as a hot steam in mixture with toxic gas like carbon dioxide (CO2), hydrogen sulfide (H2S) and also substantial quantities of hydrogen (H2). Other gases such as nitrogen (N2), methane (CH4) and argon (Ar) are in the gas mixture, but in lesser extent.
The rumbling noise from blowing wells is so loud that it can be easily heard in far distances (up to 20-30km, depends of condition).
It was easily audible when I was on my way east of Reykjavik on a cycle trip last summer. I was cycling Nesjavallavegur (road) when I decided to record this noise. The power station was in about 10 km distance, but the blowing wells were somewhere between in 10-15km distance, probably behind the mountain Hengill.
This recording was made at 3am, 24th of July 2013 at Mosfellsheiði. The weather was calm, but cold, very humid and fogy.
Keep in mind, this is a “quiet nature recording” so you should not play it loud. On the field the birdsong was barely audible.

Orkusóun

Hér er á ferðinni upptaka frá því 24. júlí 2013, þegar ég fór í stutt helgarferðalag austur fyrir Fjall. Þegar ég lagði af stað var vel liðið á kvöld og skollin á blaut og köld þoka.
Þegar á Nesjavallaveginn var komið varð ég var við miklar drunur ofan af Hellisheiði en þar blés borhola út orku og eiturgasi engum til gagns. Drunurnar virtust fylla loftið fremur en að koma úr tiltekinni átt svo ímyndunaraflið fékk að blómstra. Það var ekki laust við að maður léti hugann reika, því þar sem maður átti að venjast þögn á þessum tíma sólahringsins voru nú þungar drunur allt um liggjandi sem hér um bil kaffærðu söng sumarfuglanna. Nálægð við helvíti eða heimsendi var manni efst í huga þar sem maður sniglaðist einsamall eftir veginum fremur kaldur og blautur í dimmri þokunni.
Rétt eftir að hæstu hæð Mosfellsheiðar var náð ákvað ég að staldra við og taka upp þetta sérkennilega andrúmsloft sem þarna ríkti þessa júlínótt.

Download Mp3 file (192kbps / 28,2Mb)

Recorder: Sound devices 788
Mics: Sennheiser MKH20 (AB40 setup)
Pics: Canon EOS M (see more pictures)

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In Iceland it is possible to find many hot springs all over the country. Many of them have optimal temperature for bath and to relax. For centurys people have piled stones and turf around some of this known natural hot springs.
In the beginning of last centuries many of this natural hot springs were used to teach people to swim. Soon, many communities all over the country built real swimming pools of concrete near these springs.
One of these places can be found at Krossholt at Barðastönd, Southwest Iceland. There is Krosslaug, a 12 meters long swiming pool, built in 1948. There is also newly built natural hot tub, build on a hot spring in traditional style. It was the Youth Association of Barðaströnd County who piled this tub with stones, gravel and turf.
From the bottom through the ground of the tub comes the warm water with bobbles that gives relaxing sound while laying there with the ear below the surface. You can hear the bobbles moving upwards trough the gravel deep from the ground under the tub.
This recording was made with hydrophones at 15th of June 2012.
Another interesting recording from Krossholt, nearby place is: Opus for power line, bass, wind and birds.

Krosslaug í Mórudal við Barðastönd.

Á Birkimel við mynni Mórudals, hefur myndast þjónustukjarni Barðastrandar.
Það hefur reynst mér ótrúlega erfitt að afla sögulegra heimilda um þennan stað á vefnum. Því segi ég aðeins það litla sem ég tel mig muna.
Á sjöunda til níunda ártaugar síðustu aldar var þar skóli, félagsheimili, kaupfélagsútibúð og litilsháttar iðnaður. Þar var einnig reynt að koma upp fiskeldi. Það fór á hausinn.
Í dag er staðurinn líklega betur þekktur fyrir ferðaþjónustu. Stéttarfélög eru þar með orlofshús sem og ferðaþjóunsta sem rekin er frá nærliggjandi bæ.
Víða í Mórudal er að finna volgar uppsprettur. Sundlaug var reist við eina slíka í fjörunni neðan við Krossholt 1948. Hefur hún átt það til að fara nokkuð illa í vondum veðrum. Vorið 2011 var laugin tekin í gegn og var þá hlaðinn heitur pottur að ég held yfir volgri uppsprettu fremur en borholu..
Það er ákaflega notalegt liggja í þessum potti í makindum með eyrun undir yfirborðinu og hlusta á volgt vatnið og loftbólur streyma upp úr jarðlögum pottsins. Meðfylgjandi upptaka var gerð í pottaferð 15. júní 2012.
Önnur áhugaverð upptaka sem gerð var við Krossholt er: Tónverk fyrir háspennustrengi, bassa, vind og fugla.

Download mp3 file (192kbps / 28,8Mb)

Recorder: Sound Devices 744
Mics: Aquarian H2a-XLR
Pics. Sony CyberShot DSC-P120 & Olympus 4040 & EOS 30D (see more pictures)

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Three stereo microphones noise and sensitivity comparison.
Shure VP88 – Rode NT4 – Audio Technica BP4025

This recordings include a spoken word from pocket radio at very low volume and ticking alarm clock in 1,6m distance. The volume settings on the radio was so low, the sound was hardly audible with bare ears. Noise from radiator pipeline is audible in the background. Miscellaneous bird life is outside and should be also clearly audible.
Keep in mind. This test is only noise and sensitivity comparison. High sensitivity and low noise is VERY important for nature recordings. This comparison does not give any information how this microphones sounds for music recording or how they withstand high pressure sound level.
See spectrogram and pictures
Quality headphones recommended while listen.

Shure VP88, Rode NT4 and Audio Technica BP4025 direct from recorder. All at same gain level at 55dB.

All three recordings are now independently level normalized up to 0dB.

Links to the products:
Shure VP88
Rode NT4
Audio Technica BP4025

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Seltjarnarnes

Sometimes when I am going to record a specific sound I bring home something totally different.
That happened 4th of July 2012. It was a very nice weather, calm and dry, so I made a decision to cycle with my gear to the shore at Seltjarnarnes to record bird sounds and ambiance.
But shortly after I left home the wind started to blow and it got stronger with cold northern breeze . When I arrived to Seltjarnarnes the wind was too much for almost any wildlife recordings. So as usual with most cycle trips like this, I decided to go back.
But before the wind blow me back home again I found a shelter on wooden platform beside a golf clubhouse. And there was an interesting sound. Two golf course flags with poles were flapping and hammering two picnic tables. Their flaps were like an “audio indicator” for the wind waves.
Arctic Tern, Oystercatcher and other bird spices in combination with heavy sea waves at the shore made this all as a great concert.
I stayed there about one hour while I recorded and listened to the concert, watching a thick smoke coming from burning garage in Kopavogur district, seven kilometers away.
Following is twenty minutes of this session.

Fánar í vindi

Ætli það séu ekki í u.þ.b. 80% þeirra ferða sem ég fer til að hljóðrita, að ekkert kemur út úr því. Oftar en ekki er ætlunin að taka upp eitt, en ég kem heim með eitthvað annað. Þá gerist stundum það óvænta að slík hljóðrit koma skemmtilega á óvart.
Eitt af slíkum tilviljunum var hljóðritað 4. júlí 2012.
Logn og blíða var í Austurbænum svo ég ákvað að skjótast út á Seltjarnarnes til að fanga dásamlegt sumarkvöld nærri sjó með fjölskrúðugu fuglalífi. En því nær sem dró Nesið því snarpari gerðist vindurinn og þegar þangað var komið var ekkert veður til að fanga nein rólegheit.
Áður en ég lét goluna feykja mér til baka þá ákvað ég að leita skjóls undir skyggninu við Golfskálann. Þar vanaði ekki hljóðin sem umsvifalaust gripu áhuga minn. Tveir golffánar á nestisborðum hömuðust þar í takt við breytilegan vind. Þegar svo við bættust önnur hljóð frá kríu, tjaldi og öðrum fuglum sem og þungum nið haföldunnar, þá hljómaði þetta eins og skemmtilegt tónverk.
Ég kveikti á upptöku og naut tónverksins í klukkutíma á meðan ég horfði á breytilegan reyk leggja frá eldsvoða í Kópavogi.
Hér má heyra 20 mínútur af þessu hljóðriti.

Download mp3 file (192kbps / 32,6Mb)

Recorder: Sound devices 744T
Mics: RodeNT1a (NOS 90°/30cm)
Pics: Nokia N82

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Some months ago my plan was to buy Rode NTG3. I was looking for a low noise and better sounding microphone than ME66 I already own. But after some research at home I found this microphone even worse than ME66 for nature recording.
The audible noise and sensitivity between these two mics was almost equal, but NTG3 have noticeably higher low frequency response.
But what surprised me most was all the noise in NTG3. If something, it was even more than in ME66. But spectrogram shows a shocking pictures for NTG3, a white noise in the whole frequency spectrum up to 50Khz. See spectrogram.
This NTG3 was sent back to the shop, but I was never sure if I did some mistakes in this measurements. So last week I vent to the shop and picked up some recording samples on the same NTG3.
The recorder was Sound devises 744 at 24bit/48Khz. NTG3 was in channel 1 and for comparison ME66 was in channel 2. They were laying side by side and the gain was in full position. Input filter for both channels was at 80Hz, 12dB/oct.
It is no doubt. There is some strange white noise in NTG3.
The sound sample below is about two minutes long. First minute is NTG3 and the second is ME66.
This particular NTG3 can be defective, so I am waiting for next supply of Rode NTG3 in the shop.
I will update this post as soon after I have got a chance to test some other NTG3 mics.
See more pictures and spectrogram in this last test.

Conclusion – Summary

The spectrogram looks very bad for NTG3 but the mic is not as bad as it looks. The ME66 datasheets display referred noise as 10dB(A) and the NTG3 datasheets display referred noise as 13dB(A), so  ME66 has lower referred noise than NTG3. This difference is probably what we see on the spectrogram.  This microphones does not have exactly same bandwidth, as the ME66 has a reduced audio bandwidth which in turn reduces the referred noise. The ME66 top end roll off starts around 14Khz (0dB) and is -6dB at 20KHz, NTG3 is +2dB at 14KHz and -2dB at 20KHz.
NTG3 is RF biased microphones designed to withstand high humidity and harsher environments than the ME66 condenser microphone. So while the NTG3 and ME66 are both shotgun microphones they are designed for different operating conditions.
NTG3 would be my choice for most “normal sound pressure” level. But for quiet nature sounds where most audible sounds are in low level and mid-high frequency, I would choose some other mic.
In my opinion Rode NT1a is one of the best.  Sadly NT1a is not a shotgun or small diaphragm condenser that can be fit nicely in a Blimp. But NT1a have only 5dB(A) noise and that makes the whole different for those who don’t like to use noise reduction software.    See solutions how to fit NT1a in Blimp in NOS and XY setup.
For those who are searching for sound quality in NTG3 I recommend this search: http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=NTG3+vs+ME66&meta=
Also this one:
http://www.google.co.uk/search?hl=en&q=NTG3+vs+MKH416&meta=

Download mp3 file (192kbps / 3Mb)

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Um miðjan mars 2011 var ég sendur austur á Reyðarfjörð til að sinna viðgerð á Gottwald HMK300E hafnarkrana, öðru nafni Jötunn II. Krana þennan eignaðist Eimskip sumarið 2004. Var hann fyrstu árin í Sundahöfn í Reykjavík eða til ársins 2007. Þá fékk Eimskip það verkefni að sjá um lestun og losun í tengslum við álverið í Reyðarfirði. Jötunn var því sendur austur þar sem hann hentaði vel í verkefnið.
Er hér um að ræða 5. kynslóð krana frá Gottwald. Stendur þessi u.þ.b. 70 metra hái og rúmlega 400 tonna krani á sjö hásingum og 28 hjólbörðum sem skila honum um allt hafnarsvæðið. Gengur hann á díselvél sem keyrir 500KW rafal. Rafmótorar og glussastkerfi sjá svo um hreyfingu kranans sem stýrast af PLC stýringum og tíðnibreytum.
Bilunin lýsti sér með þeim hætti að eftir að unnið hafði verið við lestun eða losun um stund þá kom upp viðvörun á skjá um að spreddi (Gámagripla – Spreader frá Bromma) væri bæði opinn og læstur. Bilunin stöðvaði kranann og varð að endurræsa hann til að halda áfram vinnu. Var þessi bilun farin að ágerast og farin að tefja losun og lestun skipa.
Í ljós kom að “draugaspenna” kom frá spredda. Það varð til þess að liðar fyrir bæði “opin og læstur” skipunina fóru í lokaða stöðu. Tölva í spredda gaf þó ekkert óeðlilegt til kynna.
Ég vissi þó að útgangar spredda eru thýristorar sem gáfu vissar vísbendingar. Eftir nokkrar mælingar fór því að læðast að mér grunur um að koma mætti í veg fyrir bilunina með því að auka örlítið álagið á útgangana. Það reyndist rétt og fór krani að vinna eðlilega eftir að bætt hafði verið við álagið.
Hér heyrast þrjú hljóðdæmi sem voru tekin upp eftir að kraninn var komin í lag og hann var í prufukeyrslu.
Það fyrsta er úr vélarúmi kranans. Það næsta er í stýrishúsi uppi í turni og það þriðja í töfluklefa . Má þar helst heyra í opin-læstur liðanum smella þegar spreddi læsir sig við gám og losar.

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Gottwald HMK300E in duty
Even though machines are often my worst enemy while recording in nature, machines by their own can often make interesting sound. Ward Weis from Belgium remind me some weeks ago I should look for it when I listen on his Washing machine website.
When I am in work I normally need to listen and feel the tools and machines I am working with. I was repair harbor crane in Reyðarfjörður east of Iceland in Mars 2011. I bring with me a recorder and recorded some places in the crane while crane was tested after repair.

Machinery room. Mics are near the hoist gear. Most of the noise comes from hydraulic pump when lifting boom. Then cooling fan on the Hoist motor and the “song” in the variable frequency and speed in the hoist motor. In background is the diesel motor (in another room). Sometimes are the disk brake clapping.
Sækja mp3 skrá. (196kbps / 6,2Mb)

Tower cabin. Mics are behind the crane operator beside a control cabinet. The open door on the cabinet are sometimes shaking rapidly. Switches are clapping and a radio is playing on low level. Sounds from outside are the hydraulic pump and swivel motor. Diesel engine sounds differently on different load. In more far distance noise comes from container when landing on ground or when spreader is landing on the container.
Sækja mp3 skrá. (192kbps / 4,9Mb)

Electronics room. Mics are between hoist and swivel speed controllers. Most of the noise comes from cooling fans in the controllers. Some switches are clapping.
Sækja mp3 skrá. (196kbps / 1,7Mb)

Recorder: Sound devises 552
Mics: Rode NT4
Pix: Canon D30.  See more pictures

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