I was reminded this winter that I should record more street life. I’ve always had that in mind, but somehow it’s always something in nature that fascinates me more.
On Labor Day earlier this month, I went down to the center of Reykjavík to record human life and the traditional program on this great day. Instead of going on a mass march through the streets of the city, I went straight down to Hallærisplan square and waited for the marchers and brass bands..
A large stage with a sound system had been set up in the square and there were only a few people. But shortly after I had started the recording, marchers and brass bands came rushing onto the square. The speeches of the day were nothing special, but the music was fine. It will not be audible here, except of course the brass bands that accompanied the mass march.
It took me a while to decide to put this recording on the web. It sounds bad in HD650 headphones, but slightly better in MDR7506.
But the remarkable thing about this recording in my opinion is the hum, noise or tone at 4Khz, 6Khz 8Khz and 10Khz. Anyone with trained hearing can hear these tones in this recording below, although an unrelated fan hum is also evident in the recording.
I first noticed this noise when I was recording COVID silence in the same square during the „lock down“ in the first weeks of the COVID, in the spring of 2020. Then it only came from one direction and also contained 15khz which is not audible now.
However, I have never been able to locate the source of this noise. I thought for a long time that this noise was coming from a broken transformer for the LED lighting. But here it was a clear day and all lights were off so this noise is coming from something else.

  (mp3 256kbps / 61,2Mb)

Recorder: Sound devices MixPre6
Mics: Primo EM172 / EM272 capsules v. LOM phantom power amps (Baffled AB)
Pix: Samsung S22

Location: 64.148076, -21.941375
Weather: 3-6m/sec, partly cloudy. about 10°C


The remarkable thing happened in the winter of 2022-2023 in Iceland, at least in the southwest, that there were many consecutive days with severe frost. The winter was undeniably reminiscent of the winters of the 1970s and 1980s, when catastrophic or global warming had neither become tangible nor existed in the dictionary.
This gave me the opportunity to record under ice, which I hadn’t done before.
I invested in a proper ice drill and managed to make three trips to Skorradalsvatn lake to record under and over the ice. But the lake is located about an hour’s drive from Reykjavík.
It was surprising that the sounds from frozen lakes are not produced by the frost alone and the variable expansion of the ice. Rather, it primarily depends on the wind strength, size and depth of the lake.
Although everything seems flat and there are no waves visible on the ice surface, there is a lot going on. Especially under the ice, where there is clearly significantly more noise than on the surface. On the surface, you hear mainly „drone squeals“ and occasional clicks and breaks, which are also interesting to record.
The following recording was recorded approx. in 8 meters depth, not far from the place where the lake is deepest, or about 60 meters. Many things can be said about this recording. I’m not entirely happy with it, which I’m not going to mention here. But recording ice on lakes is clearly a very interesting subject. Something I hope to be able to do much more often in the future.
Depth and size of the lake. Shape of the lake and lake bed, volume of wind and snow, ice thickness and ice temperature, everything matters if I like to catch these amazing sounds.
I’m always traveling alone, so I didn’t take any risks by going far out on the ice this time. But I will definitely try it sometime if mother nature and luck gives me such a perfect winter again.
Quality open headphones are recommended while listening at low to mid volume. There are a lot of very powerful sounds in this recording that can easily damage your hearing and speakers. I therefore do not recommend high volume
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  (mp3 256kbps / 66Mb)

Recorder: Sound devices MixPre6
Mics: Benthowave BII-7121
Pix: Samsung S22

Weather: Windy 5-8m/sec, clear sky, -8¨C
Location: 64.515130, -21.505672


I don’t expect many people to be interested in listening to this recording. It is mainly a silence. But this is just a normal natural Icelandic soundscape in calm winter weather, so I have a lot of stuff like that in my collection which I think should be published in this blog
At least I can tell. it is very good to fall asleep from recording like this.
This one was made overnight on 4th of March 2023 and the time is around 5 o’clock. For some reason, there was unusually low traffic that night. Perhaps it had to do with the fact that the television that evening had some musical contest, so lots of folks in the county had been drinking alcohol that night. So there were few people who could or had to drive unnecessarily around the countryside that night.
But anyway it is a traffic noise in this recording. Mainly from the main road no:1 for about 5km away and one car will pass by the recording location, 250 meters away. So don’t play this too loud.
As expected at this time of year, silence was something that was significant from nature’s side. Fortunately, the weather was completely calm. It gave me the opportunity not to use low pass filter LPF, which gave me the ability to listen for a variety of low-frequency sounds that I’ve often encountered on this recording site before but has been hard to explain. Was it an earthquake or something else?
When silence is greatest, there is little or nothing that attracts attention in this recording. Two foxes can be heard calling. Rock ptarmigan, ducks and swans in the distance. But as ears sink deeper into the material and every sound is separated from each other and from the background noise, there is the „sound of water“. Sound of wet grass. Maybe an ice crystal transformed to a drop of water. At times, you may hear a „flow of water“. Probably a small creek far away or maybe as well an underground water flow because there is no stream nearby. But the ground in this place has thin soil on a rocky glacial soil
The background noise is equally fascinating. Some of them are known and could best be considered as „technical problems“. But there are also intriguing things to be found because sometimes it is hard to figure out where this noise comes from.
So let’s talk about „background noise“
At the lowest frequency, the vibrations caused by the wind are usually almost always detected, i.e. “Brown noise”. Hence, it is usually necessary to use HPF for all outdoor recordings, except in recordings like this where the weather’s so calm that it’s like being in a wardrobe. This recording, as well as others I’ve done at this location, may include rumbles or knocks that may come from a horse or horses from a great distance, possibly some kilometers away. I think this noise coming this distance travels through the ground. It might be earthquakes, but it is unlikely in this recording. Apart from the distinctly low frequency of sounds that take place in a particular setting, I suspect that the constant rumblings that can be heard in the recording have both technical and natural explanations, which mostly though is related to turbulence in the air.
On the other side of the frequency curve, at the highest frequencies, “blue noise”.
It is usually only self noise from the microphones and recorder’s amplifiers. I tried very carefully to use RX for noise reduction, but there is always a limit to what is possible to do without spoiling the recording.
In the middle is “Green noise,” something that always interests me. This is a background noise that normally includes sounds that may come from far away and be heard only in a calm weather.
There is something called “Sea State Zero Noise,” a natural silence, or background noise in the oceans. I believe that something similar is happening here. This is noise, which is due to a number of natural factors, but mainly because of the wind and water in the combination of temperature and atmospheric conditions. Today, though, „mechanical traffic“ has constantly been overwhelming the natural noise. The source of this “green noise” like the recording below has a possible origin from car traffic up to 20Km away. From the surf at the beach shoreline 20 to 30 km away as well from a waterfall behind hills, in a canyon 7km away. None of these sounds are discernible to the bare ears. So for me it is often good to identify which direction this theme comes from by recording in IRT setup as this one.
In this recording (or that night) this green noise varies as a calm wave in different frequencies. Whether it is due to variations in air pressures or layering of temperatures or something else, I cannot easily confirm
Therefore, it is best to listen and let the imagination guide you to the course.
For those of you who find a lot of noise in this recording, I would like to remind you that it was recorded with 50dB gain. In post-production the gain is increased by another 25db, up to -10dB peak. So I agree, this recording certainly doesn’t sound good. But I think you can’t do better with the Lewitt 540s and Sonosax SX-R4+ in silence.
Quality open headphones are recommended while listening at low to mid volume.
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  (mp3 256kbps / 56Mb)

Recorder: Sonosax SX R4+
Mics: Lewitt LCT540s in IRT setup
Pix: Canon EOS-R
Location: 64.673374, -21.628710
Weather: Calm, partly cloudy, 0°C
Information about „color of noise


I have spent 40 years of my life as an electrician at the same workplace at Eimskip and have seen incredible changes in the development of various equipment and devices.
I remember electric forklifts where the speed control was just a few huge resistors and  sparking DC contacts. Then came forklifts with Triac controllers, then FET controllers, and most recently computer-controlled with three-phase speed controllers.
I have seen the same in the development of harbor cranes. The oldest ones with 32T lifting capacity and Ward Leonard DC controls, where „feedback or drop“ energy is wasted in heat in large resistors.
But today, all harbor cranes are computer controlled, with lifting capacity up to 125T, three-phase motors and some return the feedback energy into the electricity grid.
During the years I have recorded the crane at Eimskip and some of them have found its way into this blog.
In most of these cranes, which are driven by electricity, almost nothing can be heard other than a loud fan noise. In the oldest crane, you can also hear repeatedly clapping relays, large DC contacts and spark pops, which have been sound for 40 years. You can also hear the difference and feel the pain when the crane is struggling with heavy load.
From the latest cranes, you can hear a high-frequency „song“ from the coil in the motors, similar to tweeter in speakers, which changes little or nothing at different loads.
It has therefore been tempting me for quite some time to record these motors with Geophone and contact microphones so other noise in the crane could not be heard.
But after doing some experiments with contact microphones in this modern cranes, I found out that I can spend many hours recording all kinds of sounds there.
Here are the sounds in hoist motors in the two new cranes.
In both cases, the cranes are loading containers to ship
It was recorded simultaneously with two contact microphones and two Geophones in four channels.
First comes the Liebherr CTC crane P148L (WS)- Super with two 400Kw motors with a registered 70t lifting capacity under hook beam.
  mp3 256kbps / 11,4Mb

Then comes the Konecranes Gottwald ESP ,8 with one 290 kW motor and lifting capacity up to 125 tons. Because of the compact design of the motor, gearbox and rope drum, this recording include the sound in the gearbox which have internal brake. 
  mp3 265kbps / 11,4Mb

Recorder: Sound Devices MixPre6
Mics: AKG 411 PP & LOM Geophones
Pix: Samsung S22 (see more pictures and spectrogram)

Location:  64.150394, -21.846315

It really doesn’t matter where you turn on the microphone or other sensors, there seems to be life everywhere.
There was no exception to this in the nature reserve in Flói, southwest Iceland 17th July 2022. All night I had been recording the bird life in the same place as I have done every year for over a decade. I had gathered all the equipment about noon and was ready to go, when I decided to prepare a coffee before heading to the next recording location.
So it was the perfect time to dip the Hydrophones in the next pond while waiting for the coffee.
The pond was full of life, although it could not be seen or heard on the surface. The soundscape was so interesting it turned out I was recording there for almost three hours.
After a short investigation I saw Agabus and Spined Stickleback. I am sure there were also moth larvae of different species, even some kinds of shrimp, where the sea is not far away. Some of these sounds may also be methane gas being released from the bottom of the pond.
The soundscape in the pond was similar to birdlife. The chorus from the biosphere in the pond came in waves. Sometimes the sounds were few and quiet, but then there came a time when the whole biosphere in the pond needed to be heard.
Below you can hear one such period.
The recording was recorded in 24bit/48Khz, but a lot of these sounds seem to be able to go well above 24Khz. It tells me that the next time I record in this pond, I should do it at a higher resolution, 96Khz or even higher.
It is always quite difficult to record with hydrophones. The sensitivity is such that, once they are in water, the cables must not touch anything that might move, not even the wind. Although the Hydrophones were well immersed in the pond, you can hear many things in the recording, e.g. in planes, car traffic, footsteps and a Black Headed Gull that probably made a sound as it flew over the pond.
This recording didn’t require a lot of editing. However, 20Hz was taken down by -20dB. I thought it was necessary since these Hydrophones have flat frequency range down to 0.4Hz and the MixPre6 down to 10Hz. Most of the rumble that was heard in the original recording was therefore vibrations from cars and air traffic and possibly also from the waves along the south coast. The recording got a very gentle noise reduction and normalized about +7dB, up to -8dB peak level.
Quality open headphones are recommended while listening at low to mid volume.
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  (mp3 256Kbps / 49,6Mb)

Recorder: Sound devices MixPre6
Hydrophones:. Benthowave BII-7121
Pix: Canon EOS-R

Location: 63.900400, -21.192364
Weather: Gust 1-4m, partly cloudy


In recent years, I have been on the evening shift on December 23 (Þorláksmessa). So I haven’t been able to go downtown Reykjavík to record the ‘mood for Christmas’. But this December I was on a day shift which gave me the opportunity to record.
The last time was 5 years ago when I recorded this beautiful song on December 23, 2017.
It was a different atmosphere in the city center this year. I didn’t understand what it was, at least now there were more foreign tourists and the streets were covered in salt-slush and ice. This year there were no beautiful singing voices in the crowd as so often before. However, music comes from some street stalls and bars. On the ice skating rink at Hallærisplan (Ingólfstorg square), music was played loud during the skating dance.
After total 1Km long walk the recording ends rather quietly in a bar where I bought a beer.
In this recording I am using the same ultralight stereo microphone as I did in 2017. Baffled double capsule EM172/272 with a LOM Phantom power amp,
But today I have filled the empty space inside the wind shield between the microphones with a sponge of different density which has improved the separation between the right and left channels. It reduced the audible phase error between the channels which was clearly audible in the 2017 recording.
In addition, in the space between the microphone, outside the Rycote WS2 windshield and under the HWC2 Hi-wind fleece cover, is also a sponge. That sponge stops most of the vibration in the windshield due to wind, without affecting the sound quality.
This stereo microphone is very light, can withstand incredibly high winds, as well it has almost no „handling noise“. It is therefore good for booming where strong winds can be expected.
In this recording I did not use HPF. Between the houses and out in the open spaces where I walked, there was a considerable amount of wind that probably few, if any, microphones would have been able to withstand without wearing a good fur windshield plus additional HPF.
The more I use this DIY mic, which is mostly made from scrap materials, the happier I am with it.
Earlier that same night, I also recorded with simple EM172 binaural microphones. In many ways, that recording was very funny because no one around me noticed that I was recording, unlike the recording below. But that recording will have to wait to be published until later.
I also recorded for over an hour at the bar a nice mood recording, but I will never be able to publish it because the bar was playing copyrighted music.
Quality open headphones are recommended while listening at mid to mid+ volume.
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(mp3 256kbps / 48Mb)

Recorder: Sound Devices MixPre6
Mics: Primo EM172 / EM272 capsules v. LOM phantom power amps  (Baffled AB)
Pix: Samsung S22

Weather: -10°C, calm to 5m/sec, clear sky.
Location: Downtown Reykjavík


Early last spring I was asked if I wanted to record a 24-hour long recording for Radio Art Zone.
It wasn’t a problem because I’m used to recording 8-14 hours of content whenever I can.
So I made two / three 24hrs recordings in total.  All recorded in similar locations on the 23rd-25th. April 2022 in the countryside.
I recorded on four channels with an IRT cross version and in two other locations with two channels in AB & NOS.
If I remember correctly, I sent the IRT recording to Radio art project. The AB recording is already audible on this soundblog, „The brook below Lambaklettur
The NOS recording was forgotten, until I found it last week.
It was recorded with Rode NT1 microphones and a Zoom F3 recorder.
This recording contains natural „silence“. When I talk about „silence“ I mean that most people would not hear anything with bare ears. Probably only the blood flow in their own body.
But it was not total silence when this recording started here below. The migratory birds had already started to flock to the country. It was also a drizzly rain and therefore quite humid all night while the recording took place. The fur on the windshield got quite wet and you can hear larger drops falling on the wind shield, on the tripod and on the ground around.
This recording starts around the time when birds start to be heard in the early morning. The windshield is already very wet, so it must have adversely affected the recording quality. But surprisingly it is not heard that the NT1 is cracking due to air humidity.
The Zoom F3 had gain set at „256“ and HPF at 40Hz. I’m used to recording with 47 to 50dB gain for such silent recordings. Gain „256“ is therefore not telling me anything, but having worked on this recording, 256 seems to be something similar to 50 to 55 dB gain. This actually needs further consideration because It can be an important issue. The reason why I don’t record with a gain higher than 50dB on the Sound Devices or Sonosax recorders is to prevent additional „amplify noise“ that I feel increases if the gain is over +50dB. It is therefore  always better to increase the gain digitally“ in post.
I have a hard time realizing this with the F3 device. The noise seems to go hand in hand with different gain. No matter what the gain is. Whether I should generally record with „256“ gain or „128“, when recording quiet soundscapes needs further testing. I find the noise a bit more in this recording than if I had recorded with the Sonosax for example, but that noise I hear and see on spectrograms could also be a sound from the drizzle, or raindrops when they fall to the ground. It can therefore be assumed that there is some natural noise in that recording. Therefore it is not entirely possible to blame F3 or NT1 for all the noise that can be heard.
The first sound file is over 30 minutes long which has got a gentle noise reduction and then below 5 minutes of original recording for comparison (without NR). Both recordings are normalized up to -10dB. The original files from the recorder had a -38dB peak value which is normal for „quiet“ recording like this.
Bird species in this recording is mainly common snipe, whooper swan, black tailed godwit, redwings, whimbrel, golden plover and eurasian wigeon.  Most of them are in the distance in this recording.
I will post the continuation of this recording later. Then the number of birds increases and they come closer to the microphones.
Quality open headphones are recommended while listening at low volume.
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  (mp3 256kbps / 62Mb)

Original recording from Zoom F3, only normalized up to -10dB & downgrade to mp3

  (mp3  256kbps / 9,4Mb)

Recorder: Zoom F3
Mics: Rode NT1 (NOS)
Pics: Canon EOS R

Location:  64.673258, -21.630001
Weather: Drizzle rain, about 4°C


I was recording at Breiðamerkurjökull when the weather forecast suddenly changed. It was nothing special, except that I had to row a kayak with another one in tow with a lot of recording equipment about 8 km on Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon before the weather would hit the area.
It fit, as soon as I got to land on the other side of the lagoon at midnight the fool weather arrived, so I just managed to pack all the equipment in the car and on the trailer before everything got wet. It was around two in the morning when I was able to leave. But I didn’t go far. I decided to sleep in the car near the high voltage power line (Byggðalína) on Breiðamerkursandi, south of highway no.1.
The next day it was dry, but still very windy. In fact, I could barely see Öræfjajökull glacier through a sandstorm. I decided not to be on the road with the trailer and the kayaks, but to wait until later in the day when it would calm down.
I could not sit idly by, but recorded in several places close to me. Including the high voltage line with all available equipment I had. With Omni & Cardioid microphones as well as Geophone and hydrophone which I use as a contact mic.
The result was quite amusing. By the time this happened, the strongest wind had subsided. But that moment a moisture was in the air, which caused a sizzle noise from the power line, which added a different sound and gave the recording a clearer picture of the recording location.
The recording below starts with the audible sound (microphone). Then slowly the contact mics are added . In the end and microphones faded out and you will only hear the sound from the contact mics (geophone and the hydrophone)
Because the microphone are located close to the ground in grass under the electricity pylons you will hear lot of „gray noise“ when the wind wipe the grass.
If you keep your attention Whimbrel are also audible.
So I explain the name of this blog, „Byggðalína“ is a name of high-voltage line that connects all the main settlements around Iceland. „Breiðamerkursandur“ is a name of a broad sandy wasteland south of Jökulsárlón Glacier lagoon.

  (mp3 265kps / 46Mb)

Recorder: Sound Devices MixPre6
Mics: MKH8020/8040 & LOM geophone & Aquarian H2a
Pix: Conon EOS-R

Weather: Gust up to 20m/s. Clear sky, ca. 14C°
Location: 64.028360, -16.265129


One of my friends for many years is Gísli Sigurgeirsson. He is a genius in many fields. In recent years, he has had strong opinions on climate change, and I therefore have great respect for him as a climate activist. I myself have given up on fighting for cycling infrastructure and a sustainable life for everyone, although I try my best to live as sustainably as possible in a western society. I am also always ready and waiting for radical movement if the governments like to change society into a sustainable lifestyle.
On August 20, 2022, a Climate festival was held in Reykjavík downtown in connection with a Reykjavik Culture Night. That day I was recording several things, including Gísla Sigurgeirsson’s speech.
Before and after the speech there were musical performances. The first was Maria Viktoria who sang and played. Then came Gísla’s speech and after that Vala Yates and Maria Viktoria sang and played a song together. Both these ladies are very talented, so everyone should remember these names.
Everyone involved in this recording gave me permission to put this content on the web.
It was very windy that day so I didn’t have much choice of microphone. My best stereo microphone for that is actually a homemade „baffled – binaural“ array with double EM172 and LOM mic amps in a Rycote WS2 windshield.
I have to admit that it always surprises me how good this DIY microphone is with unbelievable low „handling noise“ and low wind noise, even without HPF.
Although there were strong gusts of wind, you can hardly hear it in this recording, other than the sound waves from the sound system from the stage is distorted because of the wind.

  (mp3 26,7Mb / 265kbps)

Recorder: Sound devices MixPre6
Mics: Promo EM172 Baffled – Binaural.
Pix: Samsung S6

Location:  64.147287, -21.940348
Weather: Strong gust, partly cloudy, around 14°C


At the end of July, a seismic period began on the Reykjanes peninsula, which ended with a volcanic eruption in Meradalar south of Reykjavík, not far from the place that last erupted in Fagradalsfjall during the COVID period.
I recorded for a few days during the earthquakes. Both with microphones and simultaneously with Geophones on four channels. After I had set up the microphones, the big quake stopped, but I did catch one that was 4.8 on magnitude.
When it started to erupt in Meradalir, the seismic activity stopped almost completely.
I took advantage of the weekend for a cycle trip to the eruption site and recorded approx. four hours of material. It was not easy. There was a lot of gas pollution and wind that are always characteristic of volcanic eruptions, but tourists and drones in the area never shut up.
I didn’t have a gas mask, which made the situation almost unbearable these four hours. It was therefore also impossible for me to record in places where other visitors could not reach.
I had my second best microphones for this project. It was my parallel MKH8020/8040 rig that gave me a lot of options to record a difficult and different subject. The attached recording is a small composite story of the events of the last few days, starting with an earthquake that then leads to a volcanic eruption.
The earthquake was recorded on four channels with two NT2a in MS configuration and two LOM geophones fixed in X/Y axis in my garage.
The eruption was recorded in AB40 on four channels with parallel MKH8020/8040 mic rig.
In post-processing, 8020 was used for the low frequency and 8040 was used for the higher frequency, which significantly reduced the noise from tourists and wind noise without losing the low frequency which in some places sounded more like a shock waves from the crater.
The recording of the eruption is from three places at the eruption site. You can actually hear it when I move the microphones once.
Then, unfortunately, drones and airplanes can be heard.
During the eruption, sounds are heard that would be worth explaining. There is a lot of all kinds of white noise, which mainly comes from glowing slag that splashes in all directions when it falls to the ground around the crater. It was also interesting to hear when it rained on the lava, an unusually loud white noise filled the air. It may be heard for a while in this recording.
Quality open headphones are recommended while listening at mid volume.
Be careful, this recording starts quietly. But most of it is pretty loud, especially at lower frequencies.
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(mp3 256 kbps / 65,2Mb)

Recorder: Sound Devices MixPre6
Mics: Rode NT2a in MS & LOM geophones in X/Y axis (earth quakes) and parallel MKH8020/8040 in AB40 (eruption site)
Pix: Canon EOS-M50

Weather: Wind 2-4m/sec, drizzle rain, foggy & 5-8°C
(but on the recording site, gust up to 20m/sec and 15-35°C )
Location: 63.900428, -22.246934
Eruption site on Map.is