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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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This recording is actually recorded in a „natural silence“, far away from traffic in open landscape, which can be said to be my area of interest. But the weather, as so often before, was no way to work with me. Windy and wet which means I was not able to record the „depth in the field“ that can often be heard through good recordings, recorded in calm, dry weather.
There is no doubt when I say that 95% of all the recordings I record in Icelandic nature sounds like this. Therefore, it is also wrong not to report it with examples.
Here is one. The location is the highland at Arnarvatnsheiði, northwest Iceland near a place called Hæðarsporður
I had to find a sheltered place close to the ground to protect the microphones as much as possible from wind and rain. Close to the ground isn’t a good position for microphones, but often only way to record something for a days or a weeks
While Rode NT1 is a cardioid I couldn’t find an ideal location, so it is not a good balance between right and left channels. Right channel has noise from the Norðlingafljót river just over a km away, as well as there is less bird life on the left side
The result is as it is.
This is a part of a ten hours long overnight recording. During the night the windshield gets very wet, so one of the reasons why this recording sounds a bit „dull“.
The soundscape was quiet as usual on the Icelandic highland. It was almost impossible to hear anything except wind noise. The recorder was at +50 db gain on SD788. In post the gain was increased by about +25db (up to -7db). RX noise reduction was not used. Wind noise was decreased below 100Hz with EQ, also NT1´s white noise was lowered above 10Khz about -3db,  and -6db at 15khz.  Normally it does not harm the recording while bird songs which have the highest frequency range in Icelandic nature are mostly below 7Khz.
Quality open headphones are recommended while listening at low volume
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  (mp3 256kbps / 55,8Mb)

Recorder: Sound Devices 788
Mics: Rode NT1 (NOS 90°/30cm)
Pix: Canon EOS-R

Weather: Windy up to 8m/sec, drizzle rain, foggy & 5°C
Location: 64.854845, -20.545331

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It’s time for me to put a recording from my new Zoom F3 on the web.
The recording is from Stafholtstungar in Borgarfjörður, western Iceland, 4th of June 2022.
This is a 30 minutes part of another 35 hour long recording at circa 5AM. All these 35 hours I used only three 10Ah / 5V Li-Ion batteries. So each battery, which is smaller than the recorder, lasts for 12 hours.
It is different from around the mid eighties when I tried to record a natural sound on a Sony TC-D5M cassette recorder with a 4Ah acid battery that lasted for about 3 hours, or for 30 minutes with internal batteries.
The microphones in this recording were Rode NT1  in AB45 setup, dressed in Rycote WS2 windshields, about 20cm from the ground. It was recorded at 32bit / 48khz, with a recording gain at „32“ which I could believe was comparable to a 45dB gain at Sound Devices. In post-production, the recording was normalized by + 22dB up to -6dB and then converted to mp3 256kbps.
Various bird species are in the recording, such as Redwing, common snipe, common redpoll, whooper swan, raven, rock ptarmigan and definitely other birds too.
The name „Lambaklettur“ (Lamb rock) is a rocky hill above the recording site.
Quality open headphones are recommended while listening at medium or low volume
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  (mp3 256kbps / 56Mb)

Recorder: Zoom F3
Mics: Rode NT1. AB45 setup
Pix: Canon Eos R

Location: 64.675900, -21.623373
Weather: Dry, calm, clear sky, 5°C

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I have recorded various things with LOM geophones. Including electricity pylons as well as other steel structures as for example around the Hellisheidi geothermal power plant.
All these steel structures can sound extremely different, even between different types of electricity pylons. It was also interesting to hear various ambient sounds through the steel, such as birdsong, traffic and spoken words. Wind and rain is also audible through the steel
What you hear in the recording below is a very simple mix of different sources of two electricity pylons which I recorded close to Búrfell power station..
Quality open headphones are recommended while listening at mid.
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  (20Mb mp3 / 256kbps)

Recorder: Sound devices MixPre6
Mics. Two LOM geophones.
Pix: Canon EOS-R

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I always miss those times in the last century when I rode on a bicycle alone for weeks in the highlands. I knew every single road and trail that could be found on maps, and other routes too. I had a special ability to look at maps and make detailed travel plans based on route conditions and weather forecasts. I knew very well my physical limitations and all the places where I could seek from bad weather. Therefore I never had any problems in my travels.
Without meeting people or seeing human structure, nature and I merged into one. The journeys were therefore both mentally and physically rejuvenation.
After the year 2002, cars and traffic began to increase rapidly in Iceland. Mountain huts that used to be shelters were now closed. Many emergency huts were removed due to poor handling. It became increasingly difficult to travel without being disturbed by noisy humans and without shelter in remote locations.
One of these very few emergency huts that still exist and are open and have saved many lives is on a Kaldidalur route. For me this hut was often a first overnight stop from Reyakjavík on the way to cross the highland.
I was in Kaldidalur 28th of May 2017 to record the surroundings. I decided to record beside the hut to record a familiar sound.
This is a typical soundscape for Icelandic highland. Birds in the distance and windy and if not windy and rainy then complete silence.
Inside the hut was normally the same sound but more silent, except if there was buzzing fly in the window.
Even though it is many years since this soundscape was part of my daily experience, I get an undeniable nostalgia for the past for listening to this recording
Quality open headphones are recommended while listening at mid or low level.
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  (mp3 256Kbps / 63,7Mb)

Recorder: Sound Devices 744T
Mics: Rode NT1 NOS
Pix: Canon EOS-M

Location: 64.447652, -20.961026
Weather. Cloudy, 4-10m/sec, drizzle rain. 5°C