The weather in Snæfellsnes peninsula, west Iceland was beautiful in the last weekend of August 2020. Me and two other friends went there to record nature sounds. Recordings were made from the noisy coastline to the silence on Snæfellsjökull glacier, a glacier which will disappear most likely within the next two decades because of global warming. 
It is sad because this glacier is iconic for the novel „Journey to the Center of the Earth“ by Jules Verne   
It was not only good weather this August weekend. The tourist traffic was very low because of COVID19 so it gave me the opportunity to record places which have been impossible to record without traffic noise and human voices during the last 10 years.  
One of the peaceful places this weekend was Arnarstapi, a small community south of the peninsula. The coastline below is mostly made of basalt columns, which forms all kinds of natural artwork in the cliffs, caves and fissures with and without stone bridges. 
During the summer time the habitats of these cliffs are mainly a Kittiwake but most of them were gone to the sea this weekend so the cliffs were quieter than one month earlier.
I decided to record in one of the fissures named Eystrigjá. Eystrigjá is a rather narrow and one of those who have a natural stone bridge.
Quality open headphones are recommended while listening at low to mid level, or in speakers at low level.

(mp3 256kbps / 43Mb)
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Recorder. Sound devices MixPre6  
Mics: Sennheiser MKH8020/8040 in Parallel AB40. Mixed50/50%
Pix: LG G6

Location: 64.768392, -23.616746
Weather: Sunny, calm, 16°C 


Thanks to COVID, I got a unique opportunity this summer to record in places I have so far not been able to record because of traffic, mainly due to tourists. One such site was Skeiðarársandur, a broad sandy wasteland along Iceland’s south-eastern coast, between the Vatnajökull icecap and the sea. This area has been a „desert“ with deadly glacial rivers for centuries. But due to global warming and receding glaciers, rivers have disappeared. Instead, vegetation like moss, grass and trees has occupied some areas without human intervention.
It is therefore obvious that biodiversity will change significantly in the coming years.
Here is a part of an 8-hour-long recording that was taken just east of the dry riverbed of Skeiðarár, which was a huge glacial river for centuries until a few years ago when it disappeared due to changes in Skeiðarárjökull glacier.
This is a recording of silence. The microphones were placed beside a small creek which can be found all over Skeiðarársandur. Because of the wind I did not use a tripod, they just stood on the windshield on the ground which gave a pretty good result.
The background noise is mainly a gust of wind stroking the ground and surf among the coast, about 20-30Km away
Birds in this recording are Common Ringed Plover, European Golden Plover, Dunlin, Purple Sandpiper, Common Snipe, Whimbrel, Common Redshank, Whooper Swan, Greylag Goose.
Quality open headphones are recommended while listening at low to mid level, or in speakers at low level.
The name of this blog „Dögun við Eyrar“ means „Dawn at Eyrar“ (Eyrar is the name of the place)
Other recordings from Skeiðarársandur can be found here

( mp3 256kbps / 63Mb )
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Recorder: Sound devices MixPre6
Mics: Lewitt LCT540s (IRTcross) channels counter clockwise 1-2-3-4 = L-R-L-R
Pix: Canon Eos R

Loation: 63.972468, -16.956438
Weather: Clear sky. Gust up to 6m/sec. around 10°C
Recording time between 5.am to 6.am


This following recording was made between 03:00 and  04:00, It is a part of seven hours long recording between 02:00 and 09:00 which I did in Skálholt, south Iceland 10th of July.
The grass was tall so the microphones were almost hidden in the grass. Lots of birds were in this grass searching for food and some of them came close to the microphones.
This is a typical soundscape of silence in a countryside which is not disturbed by traffic or by other engine noise.
Imagen you self standing in a grassland.  Front of you is a wide open wetland field.  Behind you is a  small hill with tall trees  which make a reflection of some bird calls. Two rivers are in the distance with flocks of whooper swans. The birds are all around you but mostly quiet and busy searching for flies and other insects in the grass all around you.
The recording contains many birds. Like Common Snipe, Golden Plover, Whimbrel, Raven, Common Redshank, Black Tailed Godwit, White Wagtail, Black headed Gull, Rooster, Winter Wren, Northern Wheatear, Snow Bunting, Rock Ptarmigan, Common Starling, Redwing, Whooper Swan, Eurasian Oystercatcher and probably other species.
This recording was made with four Lewitt LCT540s microphones in IRT cross. All capsules are 90° & 30cm apart which was in post mixed to two 180° stereo.
This recording is highly gained with a wide dynamic range so keep it in mind, some moments can be loud
Quality open headphones are recommended while listening at low to mid level, or in speakers at low level.

This recording is my contribution for the world listening day 18th of July 2020

  (mp3 256kbps / 60Mb)
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Recorder: MixPre6
Mics: Lewitt LCT540s (IRT cross 90¨/30cm)
Pix: Canon EOS R

Location: 64.121864, -20.534631
Weather: Calm, cloudy, around 12°C


I recently noticed the best tripod I can get to avoid high levels of „mechanical wind noise“ in recordings. It is simply a hummock. I have many times recorded nature sound by leaving omni mics on the ground. But it has not been as simple for cardioid mics because it changes the EQ on the frequency range, especially when the mics are in the windshield.
Here below is a recording I did in Flói bird reserve in south Iceland. The average wind was probably around 4-5m/sec with some gust up to 5-7m/sec. The high pass filter was at 40Hz so mechanical wind noise should be with a typical tripod clearly audible at 3m/sec.
Keep in mind this is a recording of silence. It was barely nothing audible while this was recorded
It was recorded with 48dB gain and in post the gain was increased again about 27dB.
Most of the background noise is the surf on the south coast which is very noisy. The wind is almost constantly wiping the ground and airplanes make a rumble noise for many minutes. You will also hear wind noise but far less than it would have been with a typical tripod. 
One of the reasons I think it is so effective to put the rig on the ground, is mainly because the LCT540s is a heavy mic. So while the windshield lay so heavily on the ground, the ground works like a damper for all vibration on the windshield which therefore make less „mechanical wind noise“
Most bird species are in distance so this is not a very attractive recording. But many things are going on in this wide open space in south Iceland and it is always interesting to listen to soundscape which is too quiet for most human ear.
Quality open headphones are recommended while listening at low to mid level, or in speakers at low level.

(mp3 256kbps / 60Mb)
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Recorder: Sound devices MixPre6
Mics: Lewitt LCT540s IRTcross setup
Pix: Canon EOS R
Location: 63.901024, -21.192173
Weather: cloudy, calm up to 7m/sec, around 12°C


In mid April I was asked in a radio interview about field recordings, what was my favorite bird. My quick answer was „Starling“….or, I was not sure. But that was going to be clear a few days later.     
Starling is a new immigrant in Iceland. It was first seen 1940 in Hornafjörður, south east Iceland and in Reykjavik 1960. So today it is a very common bird in many urban places around Iceland, however, mainly in south west Iceland
His song is usually a loud high frequency tweet or rough ugly scream. But some starlings seem to have the ability to learn complex sounds and tweed them unbelievably well.   
Thanks to COVID-19, Reykjavik city gets very quiet with less traffic in April, which open a completely new and lovely natural soundscape in the city
So it gives me a great opportunity to record the bird life to the finest details in my garden in several days.
The following recording are selected moments of a 10 hours long recording which I made over night on the 25th to 26th of April in the garden  I use Audio Technica, AT4022 which I place with 50cm apart, on the ground, where I usually feed the birds during the winter moths. I use a simple foam as a windshield and hide them in brown nylon socks. 
I guess it is only one bird that imitates all the songs or sounds in this recording, which is totally outstanding. He imitates birds like ravens, seagulls, blackbird and redwing, which sounds even better than the original redwing song, golden plower, goose, duck, oystercatcher, great northern diver, common redpoll, snow bunting… and I am sure some other species too. You can also hear him imitate ambulance, rubber toy, dog and humans. 
If you recognize some other sounds, birds or animal species in this recording, please leave a comment below.
So one thing is for sure. I did not lie in the radio interview. starling is my favorite bird.
Please notice this recording have a wide dynamic range, so don´t play it loud. Quality open headphones are recommended while listening at low to mid level, or in speakers at low level.

(mp3 256kbps / 65,2Mb)
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Recorder: Sound Devices MixPre6
Mics: Audio Techinca AT4022 AB50/boundary
Pix: Canon EOS30

Weather: Cludy, calm about 5°C 
The whole radioprogram with the interview – and only with me, Magnus Bergsson (sorry, only in Icelandic)


Bjarni Jónsson ( 21. október 1881 – 19. nóvember 1965) fæddist í Mýrarholti sem var býli við Bakkastíg í Vesturbæ Reykjavíkur og voru foreldrar hans hjónin Jón Oddsson tómthúsmaður og Ólöf Hafliðadóttir. Eiginkona Bjarna var Áslaug Ágústsdóttir og eignuðust þau þrjú börn, Ágúst, Ólöfu og Önnu.
Bjarni lauk stúdentsprófi frá Lærða skólanum árið 1902 og lauk embættisprófi í guðfræði árið 1907 frá Kaupmannahafnarháskóla. Samhliða námi kenndi Bjarni við Stýrimannaskólann í Reykjavík og Kvennaskólann í Reykjavík. Haustið 1907 varð hann skólastjóri Barnaskólans á Ísafirði. Hann varð prestur við Dómkirkjuna í Reykjavík árið 1910, var prófastur í Kjarlarnesprófastsdæmi 1932-1938 og dómprófastur í Reykjavíkurprófastsdæmi frá 1945-1951. Hann varð vígslubiskup í Skálholtsbiskupsdæmi forna frá 1937 og til æviloka. Starfsferill Bjarna var langur og hann var starfandi prestur og vígslubiskup í rúmlega hálfa öld. Hann varð heiðursdoktor í guðfræði við Háskóla Íslands árið 1941 og hlaut ýmsar orður og heiðursmerki m.a. stórkross Hinnar íslensku fálkaorðu og hina dönsku Dannebrogsorðu. Bjarni var heiðursfélagi í fjölda félaga og árið 1961 varð hann heiðursborgari Reykjavíkurborgar en Bjarni þótti með þekktari borgurum Reykjavíkur og vakti athygli vegfarenda þegar hann gekk hempuklæddur milli Dómkirkjunnar og heimilis síns að Lækjargötu 12b.
Árið 1952 gafst íslenskum kjósendum í fyrsta sinn færi á því að kjósa sér forseta en fyrsti forseti Íslands, Sveinn Björnsson var þingkjörinn árið 1944 og endurkjörinn án atkvæðagreiðslu 1945 og 1949. Þrír frambjóðendur gáfu kost á sér Ásgeir Ásgeirsson, Bjarni Jónsson og Gísli Sveinsson forseti sameinaðs þings. Kosningarnar voru afar pólitískar og naut Bjarni stuðnings framsóknar- og sjálfstæðisfólks en vinstra fólk, einkum alþýðuflokksfólk studdi Ásgeir. Bjarni naut stuðnings Morgunblaðsins, málgagns Sjálfstæðisflokksins og á kjördag hvatti blaðið til þess í forsíðufrétt sinni að kjósendur myndu sameinast um Bjarna og sagði að „allir þjóðhollir Íslendingar kjósa séra Bjarna Jónsson.“ Niðurstaða kosninganna varð sú að Ásgeir Ásgeirsson var kjörinn forseti með 48,3% atkvæða en Bjarni hlaut 45,5,%. Þriðji frambjóðandinn Gísli Sveinsson hlaut 6,2% atkvæða (Wikipedia).
Það gæti talist vel við hæfi að sr. Bjarni sjái nú um predikun á netinu í Páskaviku og miðjum COVID-19 faraldri því hann var prestur í Dómkirkjuni á dögum spönsku veikinnar 1918.
Hér er á ferðini nokkuð dularfull upptaka með Bjarna því ekki er vitað hvaða ár hún var tekin upp eða af hvaða tilefni.
Upptökuna gerði Hörður Þormar, efnafæðingur frá Laufási í Eyjafirði, á segulbandstæki einhvern tíma á árunum 1955-1965.
Árið 2012 færði ég allt hans gamla spólusafn yfir á stafrænt form og gaf hann leyfi til að gera þessa upptökuna aðgengilega ef einhver gæti gefið nánari upplýsingar um hana. Það er nokkuð augljóst að tekið er upp úr LW útvarpi því heyra má öðru hverju smelli sem gætu allt eins stafað af sólvindum.
Það er ljóst að Ríkisútvarpið hefur átt og á kanski enn þessa upptöku. Það sem hins vegar er ekki ljóst, er hvenær þetta hefur verið tekið og útvapað sem varð til þess að Hörður hljóðritaði þessa predikun. Sjálfur man hann það ekki. Bjarni hætti prestskap 1951 en þá átti Hörður ekki spólutæki. Það kann hinsvegar að vera að Ríkisútvarpið hafi útvarpað þessari predikun þegar Bjarni var gerður að heiðursborgara Reykjavíkur 1961.
Ef einhver getur gefið nánari upplýsingar um þetta hljóðrit þá væri það vel þegið.
Upptakan er í tveimur hlutum því hún var á tveimur spólum.


This is an old recording which was recorded on reel to reel recorder somewhere between the years 1955-1965 from a LW radio in Iceland. It is a church sermon with pastor Bjarni Jónsson (1881-1965). He was old style priest and well known cathedral bishop in Reykjavik from early to mid last century. This recording was found on a two reels in my parents friend´s storage. There was also other old personal recordings which I helped him to digitize in 2012.
What makes this recording interesting now when Covid-19 spreads all over the world is the fact Bjarni Jónsson was a pastor of the Reykjavik Cathedral when the Spanish flu crossed into Iceland in 1918 as well all over the Western world.
It is most likely this could be the only recording with this pastor from the last century which is almost forgotten now in modern days

(mp3 192kbps / 48.3Mb)
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Recorder: Sound devices 744 24bit/44khz
Reel player: Revox B77


After a dark winter with an awful weather nothing is as pleasant when migrant birds arrive to the country in the spring. Most birds arrive in April and May, and few species in Mars and June. So in mid May the air is loaded with birds song. What amazes me always is the fact that many of these birds are coming far distances from hot claimed continents like Africa and when they arrive they still have the power to fly around and sing almost 24/7 in several weeks.
It was no exception to this on May 12, 2019 when I arrived at Stafholtstungur in SW of Iceland  with my recording gear. Lot of snow was still in the mountains and the weather was cold but dry.
There are many bird species in this recording. Common Snipe, Golden Plover, Whimbrel, Common Redshank, Black Taled Godwit, White Wagtail, Winter Wren, Northern Wheatrxear, Snow Bunting, Rock Ptarmigan, Common Starling, Redwing, Great Northern Diver, Read Throated Diver, Whooper Swan, Graylag Goose and probably other species too.
This is a part of 9 hour recording I record over night with four Lewitt LCT540s microphones in IRT cross setup.   
Even though this part was recorded early morning, between 3:00 & 3:30, the recording is disturbed by human traffic in air and on ground. Wind noise which is usually difficult to avoid are audible in some moments. 
I do not strictly follow the rules about the IRT setup. I have 30cm / 90° between all capsules.
Counting clockwise normal arrangement for the channels are 1-2-3-4  to  L-R & Rs-Ls. But I pair these four channels L-R-L-R into stereo. This allows me to record 360° soundscape with four separated microphones without exactly noticing any time errors.
At the same time I also have four stereo recordings into individual directions which can be useful in some circumstances.
The problem with this „IRT stereo mix“ is that I can´t locate the direction of the sound source. But if I need that information I can always get it in the original recording file. 
In this recording Ch1 is facing to north, Ch2 to east, Ch3 to south and Ch 4 to west
This is a high gained recording. Recorder with 50dB gain, plus 24dB in post, close to be normalized (-3dB). So this is a „quiet“ recording even though it seems to be loud.. Quality open headphones are recommended while listening at low to mid level, or in speakers at low level.

(mp3 256kbps / 62Mb)
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Recorder: Sound Devices MixPre6
Mics: Lewitt LCT540S (IRT cross arrangement)
Pics: Canon EOS-M
Location: 64.673439, -21.628673
Weather: Calm to light gust, Cloudy  about 2°C 


It is not everyone who knows that when recording the finest detail in natural silence a large-diaphragm condenser microphone can be much better choice than a small-diaphragm condenser microphones.
But there are just few microphones which can fit into this category because they must have the lowest noise possible on the microphone market. Of course it is possible to use a noise reduction software but that will never give as good of a result as recording with the best separation between signal to noise ratio. Many microphones have very low noise, but are not sensitive for the finest details, so low noise number in manufacturer specification is not telling you everything.
So what microphones are the best to record fly’s footsteps?
For a many years Rode NT1a has been the best microphone in this category. But now we have at last two other microphones to choose. They are Lewitt LCT540s  and Rode NT1. All these three microphones are almost equal when it comes into self noise, but they are slightly different by characteristics. Rode NT1a is extremely well focused on midrange <8Khz so for most natural sounds they can give a stunning result. But for whole natural soundscape they sound rather flat and without depth, I guess mainly because NT1a has a poor low frequency response. It is also very sensitive for handling noise so using NT1a outdoor in a windshield is very difficult.
Rode NT1 is an improved version of NT1a. Anyway it is not as well focused on the mid range, but instead it sounds slightly more natural with better low frequency response and has also less handling noise.
I recently discovered Lewitt LCT540s which sounds overall fantastic. Different from NT1 and NT1a which is mainly good for voices and spoken words, the LCT540s sounds very natural for everything, as for quiet open natural spaces and for music. It is even possible to hear the depth of the field in all sound pressure levels which is not usual with many other microphones.
I think many are curious how this large capsule withstand humidity. I can only say, in Iceland humidity is not a big problem, I just remember one time I had some strange noise in NT1a, But that was in a bog after several hours in fog and rain so the windshield was soaking in water.
This comparison is mainly focused on LCT540s and NT1 while they sound so close. Their main difference is the output sensitivity which is about +7dB higher in LCT540s than in NT1. MKH8040 is in other hand just for comparison, to show the difference between a small and large diaphragm microphones and how they react in quiet environment.
This recordings was made in 50m2 garage in the countryside. This recording contains mainly two ticking clocks, both sides of the mic rig, also a buzzing fly and a mouse jumping somewhere in the garage. Outside is a traffic in a distance
If you interest how NT1a compare to LCT540S, then you can read and listen to this older blog post HERE

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First three audio samples are straight from the recorder at 50dB gain, so it sounds in very low level. *

Sennheier MKH8040

Rode NT1

Lewitt LCT540S

Same audio samples again but with +24dB added gain to the original recording, combined 74dB of gain. *

Sennheier MKH8040

Rode NT1

Lewitt LCT540S

Audio samples goes through 80Hz HPF and normalized up to 0dB which increased the gain on MKH8040 about +16dB, NT1 about +14dB and LCT540S about +9dB *

Sennheiser MKH8040  See spectrogram

Rode NT1  See spectrogram

Lewitt LCT540S   See spectrogram

See the whole picture gallery

* All audio samples above are mp3 at 256kbps 44kHz.
Original recording at 24bit/48Khz on Sonosax SX-R4+ & SX-AD8+

See a windshield solution for Rode NT1a and Lewitt LCT540s


When using a cardioid microphone in nature recordings Rode NT1a has been my favorite for a years. With its ultra low noise and sound clarity exactly on the bird song frequency ranges. But it also has a several bad futures. It is mainly made for studio recordings, so it is bulgy, heavy and sensitive for humidity. It has also a rather „flat sound“ and worst of all it is very sensitive for handling noise, so it is sensitive for wind noise and other vibrations, mainly through the microphone stand. All of these flaws has given me a good reason to use more often omni mics and AB setup rather other arrangement with cardioid mics
Searching for the perfect cardioid microphone for nature recordings can be difficult. They usually have higher self noise than omni or/and many large capsule microphones. But some of them have low handling noise and some work better in humid environment than other.
Here is a comparison of three cardioid condenser microphones which give an insight on how they detect the finest details in silence which is often very important issue in nature recordings, especially natural silence.
Sennheiser MKH40 has been well known for a many years as one of the best microphone available for field recording. But since Sennheiser offers the smaller brother MKH8040 at affordable prices, then that microphone has been its successor, especially because of its high frequency ranges up to 50Khz.
It is nearly two years since the Russian company Nevaton introduce their new compact microphone MC59 with two capsules omni (O) and cardioid (C).  It is made with similar modular system as Sennheiser MKH8000 series with an independent amplifier and capsule. One type with integrated 3-pin XLR connector and a smaller version “S” with a break-out cable.
As my previous comparisons this was made in the countryside in a 50 m² garage, in as much silence as possible. Gain on all channels was at 50dB and HPF off.  To focus on a sound source in this silence, I used a pocket radio and two ticking alarm clocks.  (See picture)

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First three audio samples are straight from the recorder so it sounds in very low level. *
MKH40   RX6 spectrogram   RX6 WAV

MKH8040  RX6 spectrogram  RX6 WAV

MC59C  RX6 spectrogram    RX6 WAV

Same audio samples again but with +20dB added gain to the original recording, combined 70dB of gain. *
MKH40  RX6 Specrogram    Spek spectrogram

MKH8040  RX6 Specrogram    Spek spectrogram

MC59C  RX6 Specrogram    Spek spectrogram

Audio samples goes through 100Hz HPF and normalized up to 0dB which increased the gain between 18 to 20dB, or combined 90db *

MKH40  RX6 Specrogram

MKH8040  RX6 Specrogram

MC59C  RX6 Specrogram

Audio samples in more silence with +30dB added gain to the original recording, combined 80dB of gain, no radio or traffic noise. *
MKH40   RX6 Specrogram at +12db added gain

MKH8040   RX6 Spectrogram at +12db added gain

MC59C   RX6 Spectrogram at +12db added gain


The comparison

MKH40 was in this comparison connected to the additional Sonosax SX-AD8+ mixer which was connected to the SX-R4+ recorder. When I put the recording through spectrogram I saw a strange buzz noise around 11Khz and above. I have seen this several times before on spectrograms, usually only when I have used the Sound devices 552 mixer. But not always and different from this one. I was not happy to see this happens on the SX-AD8+ mixer, so I checked if I could see this noise if I connected other microphones to the mixer. They all passed that test with success, even MKH20. But both MKH40 and MKH30 fail with this high frequency buzz. I am still not sure what is exactly going on. But I think it is some kind of ground problem in the microphone, not the mixer, even though it does not appear when using preamps in SX-R4 or MixPre recorders. I can change the shape and the frequency of this buzz by just putting a contact lube under an assembling screw on MKH40 and tie them again firmly.
This must be fixed. So I will continue testing and look into this issue with different microphones, recorders, mixers, cables and power supplies.
Except this high frequency buzz MKH40 sounds surprisingly nice. It sounds even more transparent than MKH8040 which surprises me because I have always thought it was the opposite. Saying that it might be because my ears barely hear anything above 11Khz anymore, so I can for example not hear the loudest part of the MKH40’s self noise which is between 12 and 23Khz, with highest level at 18Khz. That means I can only hear the self noise below that frequency range which anyway is a very important frequency range, because most of the nature sounds I record are below 8 Khz (at least in Iceland). So ultra low self noise at the midrange is more important than self noise on higher frequency range. This is what I noticed between MKH40 and 8040. The MKH40 seems to have slightly lower self noise at mid range and therefor the silence is more transparent with better fine details and better focused.
MKH8040 is a wonderful mic and one of my favorites, especially after Sennheiser fixed the noise problem which seems to have appeared in many MKH8000 mics some years ago. This pair comes nicely matched from the factory, it is suitable to record anything and as far as I know seems to withstand humidity as well as MKH40. For most recordings MKH8040 and MKH40 sound identical, These two mics have almost the same sensitivity and same characteristics. But the MKH8040 frequency range goes up to 50Khz which is useful for sound design and/or bat recordings. The 8040 self noise is not high but is the highest in this comparison. The self noise starts around 15Khz and is strongest around 50Khz. The sound quality seems to be a bit „gray“compare to the other two.
Nevaton offers MC59C sound samples of concert recordings to download. It was something in these recordings which told me that MC59 could be an interesting microphone  So I ordered four matched pieces of MC59C, from Bluetone mainly for music recording, but as well to keep it in mind to use them for surround nature recordings. This microphone is wonderful for music. It was confirmed after I did a concert recording last November. But that does not necessary mean it is as perfect for nature recordings. So here was a good reason to make a comparison to other well known microphones.
What surprises me in the comparison is the low noise and how clean this Russian wonder sounds above 10Khz. I just wished I was 40 years younger to hear this upper frequency clarity because I can mostly or only see it on a spectrogram which shows this microphone is outstanding compare to other small condenser microphones I know, as MKH´s. The mid range noise level is similar below 10Khz as in MKH40, or slightly more. But it has no additional self noise above 10Khz as most or all other microphones. In fact the self noise seems to be at same level through the whole frequency ranges up to 65Khz when it starts to increase.
Nevaton says the frequency range is 20-20Khz, but on the spectogram the frequency range seems to go much higher. When I recorded a noise from switching power supply it detect sound up to 30Khz almost as clearly as MKH8040 and without mic’s self noise.


In the sound world where it is possible to make a noise reduction with only several mouse clicks in a software it seems like microphone self noise does not matter. But it is not true. No NR software is so good it will not affect or harm the sound quality. So low noise microphones are important, especially at mid range (>8khz) for quiet nature sound and upper frequency (<8Khz) for music recording.
All three microphones in this comparison seem to have similar „low“ handling noise
MKH40 seems to have the lowest self noise at mid ranges and MC59C overall lowest self noise.
MKH8040 is a very versatile mic which can pick up sound up to 50Khz and is always a nice sounding microphone.
The MKH40 behaved strangely by creating this frequency buzz in individual frequency ranges above 10Khz. It is something I need to figure out as soon as I can and add information about it here in this blog.
MKH40 is anyway a good work horse. It is possible to rely on this mic in high humidity, record everything and always get highest quality you can get from a cardioid microphone. In my opinion, the MKH40 sounds slightly better than MKH8040 probably because it has less mid range noise than 8040. I have owned mkh80 for some years now, but not used it much. It is worth keeping this mic in action again.
MC59C is on the other hand the big success in this comparison. It has outstanding sound quality for classical music recording. Saying that, it must be kept in mind I have only used it once in a concert. In this comparison, sound quality seems to be the best I’ve heard or seen before on a small condenser microphone. It can clearly record the weakest sound effects between 10 KHz and 20 KHz without drowning that sound in the microphone’s self noise. The comparison did not exactly show which of these mics was the best to stay in a windshield, record everything from a birdsong to falling snowflakes, but MC59c is definitely an outstanding microphone and ready to record everything.
There is some rumors about MC59 can’t withstand high humidity. I have not tested it, but I think that humidity is not be a problem in Iceland.
It is a surprise to me how equally they sound compared to the price ranges. Nevaton MC59 is only half price of the MKH8040 and the MKH40 is more expensive**. But price is not everything because they all have a tiny specific difference.

See the whole picture gallery
* All audio samples above are mp3 at 256kbps 44kHz.
Original recording at 24bit/48Khz
** Update: Just overnight 18th of January 2020 the price of Nevaton MC59 microphones increase about 50%.
For one mic, both XLR or S version price was last week at €620 excl. VAT
But now is XLR at €868 and S version at €898


Recording the silence of nature is a difficult challenge. Nevertheless. it’s worth it because it can be so rich of interesting microscopic sounds. Finding this silence is not easy and finding an acceptable microphone is yet another challenge.
Sennheiser MKH20 has been for many years a very popular omni mic for nature recordings. It has a very low self noise and is a natural sounding mic. It is a mic which can always make a perfect recording, for every task on the field.
Later Sennheiser made MKH8020, a smaller version with similar character but with frequency range up to 50Khz which is perfect for FX.
I have searched for other omni mics, but never found any that were comparable.
But now Nevaton seems to have made something interesting with its new MC59. In this case MC59O, which is a omni microphone. I have still not had a long experience with this mic so I should not give my opinion about it. But anyway this mic seems to be outstanding in many ways. It has the lowest noise floor I have ever seen in spectrogram and it is going to be at last one of my favorite mic for music recording.
So lets talk about how I compare these three mics.
I went to the country side to aware traffic and got as much silence as possible. I have access of around 50 m² garage, which is an ideal size and a perfect place for microphone comparison, if I get a calm weather and low traffic in the county. To have the „sound source “ of silence to focus on. I used two small ticking alarm clocks in around two meter distance, each side from the mic rig. Also a pocket radio within three meters in front of the rig at as low volume as possible (see picture). All of those items give an incredibly low sound, it was necessary to stop breathing to hear something. The sound sources gave a perfect insight how clearly the microphone could detect the weakest soundwaves in the silence. If you can hear this low sound reflecting between the walls inside this 50m² garage, the microphone is even better for nature sounds recording.
Sadly there is a lot of background noise in the audio pieces because of extreme traffic in the county this November day when I made this comparison. Most cars on their studded winter tires, which made an endless noise pollution in dozens of kilometers all over the county.
I placed the microphones in the middle of the garage (see picture) and used a Sonosax SX R4+ recorder & SX-AD8+ additional mixer.
All mic pairs were on their own Tbar (see picture).  MKH8020 on Ch.1&2, MC59O on Ch.3&4 and MKH20 through the mixer on Ch.5&6. All gain was at 50dB and LPF filters, 24bit / 48Khz.
I think the AD8+ mixer had the same preamps as the recorder. But because it is not in the „same case“ as the recorder, I think you should keep that in mind as it can probably affect the results of MKH20 in its comparison.

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First three audio samples are straight from the recorder so it sounds in very low level. *

MKH20   Spek spectrogram & Frequency

MKH8020   Spek spectrogram & Frequency

MC59O   Spek spectrogram & Frequency


Same audio samples again but with +19dB added gain to the original recording, combined 69dB of gain. *

MKH20   RX6 spectrogram & RX6 WAV  & Frequency

MKH8020   RX6 spectrogram & RX6 WAV  &  Frequency

MC59O   RX6 spectrogramRX6 WAV  &  Frequency


Audio samples goes through 100Hz HPF and normalized up to -5dB which increased the gain between 27- 30dB, or combined 97 – 100db *

MKH20   RX6 spectrogram

MKH8020   RX6 spectrogram

MC59O    RX6 spectrogram


The comparison
Looking on the spectrograms, it shows that Nevaton has a notably lower noise floor. All of them have a similar noise below 10Khz but on MKH20 & 8020 it starts to increase between 12Khz -15Khz.
The MKH8020 has slightly higher overall noise compared to the MKH20 and MC59O seem to have the same low level of noise through the whole frequency range. Something I have not seen before .
MC59O shows a nice clarity above 10Khz. The weak clicking sounds from the alarm clock in the MC59O spectrogram is clearly visible up to 18KHz, but it almost disappeared behind the self noise above 10KHz in both MKH20 & 8020.
But listening to the audio samples of MKH8020 and MKH20 they seem to have higher a mid-range between 2KHz to 8KHz. It means that Sennheiser can be a better choice for most common nature recordings because most of the natural soundscape is actually below 8Khz (at least in Iceland). That leads to the thought that  MC59O can be a very good mic for live music recordings, because of a less „aggressive“ midrange can mean a warmer sound. I have already used the MC59O once over an orchestra with a very nice result.
MC59O seems to be very sensitive for air pressure. Those moments when a light gust of wind hit the garage, the dBfs meter jumps much higher on the MC59O channels than on the MKH channels. Most of the strongest subsonic waves seem to be below 5Hz (see picture). If this is really an air pressure, not a mic failure, I can see lot of challenging and interesting recording projects for this mic in the future.
But this MC59O pair seem to have a downside. They are badly matched, even though I ordered a matched pair**. It is clearly audible, when I record constant wide frequency background sound the balance is not the same as on the MKH20 & 8020. So as it is, I am not sure I can use this pair for nature recordings. In this test one of the capsules seem to have sharp 30dB drop at 85Hz and another 25dB drop at 145Hz (see picture). It is a lot in such a sensitive and important frequency. But the problem can be as well something else so I need to make more tests and comparisons as soon as I can. I will post the result here when it is done.
Nevertheless I have used the pair over an orchestra in combination with MC59C (cardioid) which gives a wonderful result.

All of the three mics are pretty equal in quality so it is almost impossible to choose which one is the best.
I will always love the old MKH20 workhorse. It has never failed on the field, does not matter what kind of foul weather it has to go through. It has proof it can withstand high humidity anywhere on this planet. I have even lost the pair in glacier lagoon, highly polluted with sulfur without any measurable damage.
Those two MKH20’s in the test were not a matched pair, as Sennheiser does not offer these mics as a matched pair. Anyway they sounded like they were matched.
After a very bad experience with my first MKH8020’s when they made a high noise under the cold environment at -5°C, I am now going to trust them more and more each year. It seem like Sennheiser have fixed the problem. This MKH8020’s are nicely matched as they are intended to.
The surprise in this comparison is the Nevaton MC59O. I finally found a omni mic which has lower noise floor than MKH20, without loosing the finest details, plus with extra sound clarity above 10Khz.

See the whole picture gallery
* All audio samples above are mp3 at 256kbps 44kHz.
Original recording at 24bit/48Khz
** 20th of February 2020 I got new nicely matched capsules from Nevaton