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Svínafellsjökull icefall lay in a valley between Svínafellsheiði and Hafrafell. It is an icefall from Öræfajökull which is the highest mountain/glacier in Iceland around 2109 meters high.
I spent several nights beneath Svínafellsjökull icefall in May, both 2015 and 2016, recording 8-10 hours overnight recording. I was always trying to capture iceberg breakdown into the glacier lagoon, because last time I record it in 2014 it was disturbed with huge tsunami.
But most of the breakdown was probably somewhere between 1300-1700 meters, high in the mountain.
Anyway, during the night when traffic goes down and the weather was calm, it was always interesting to listen to the glacier in the „silence“. It starts like a thunder with low frequency rumble, high in the mountains. Then a strange „white noise“ falls slowly down the the wally, all the way to the end of the icefall toe. I am still not sure if it was an echo from the mountain or some crawling sound from the glacier. But it was so slow that I am almost sure that it is was not an echo from surrounding mountains.
But this is not what you will hear in the following recording. After one of this overnight recording in 15th of May 2016 I decided to record near to a frozen pond close to the glacier’s toe. The time was around eight o´clock in the morning so the tourist traffic had not began to disturb the soundscape. The temperature was just below zero, but the morning sun was already melting the ice in the area. The soundscape was amazing. With closed eyes it sounds like a busy place with bunch of small elves. Small trickle, ticks and cracks makes the soundscape worth to listen and to record.
At 17th minute the glacier start to crawl and then again one minute later with low frequency rumble.
Quality open headphones are recommended while listening at low to mid level.

(256 kbps / 56Mb)

Recorder: Sound devices 788
Mics: Sennheiser MKH8020/8040 (parallel ORFT)
Pix : Canon EOS-M
Location: 64.001270, -16.877298
Weather: Clear sky, calm, 1°C

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Wind is very often the recordist´s enemy. Especially if the rumbling noise of „hammering membrane“ is not acceptable.
Some recordists may say this rumbling noise is just normal. Everyone will hear similar rumbling noise when they stay in wind.
For me it sounds like „clipping distortion“.
Wind protection is one of the most important thing for nature recordings, especially in the country where wind below 3m/sec. is almost unique.
I have tried several wind protections. My own, Rode Blimp and Rycote Softie and Modular series. All of them sounds similar. So it was welcomed when Rycote introduced the Cyclone windshield. Cyclone have Floating Basket Suspension, which is very nice. Until now, it has been only be used in the overpriced Cinela products.
Rode NT1a is one of the best cardioid microphones available today for nature recording. But sadly it is not build for outdoor use, so it has some poor futures like handling noise.
So when I choose it on the field, it has been important to keep it in Rycote modular windshield, place it close to the ground (sadly very often too close) and pray for completely calm weather. Then pray again for nice outcome.
I per-order a pair of Cyclone mini windshield last summer and got it in mid September. My plan was to fix them with parallel MKH20/40. But I also gave my modified NT1a a try when I saw it was almost „plug and play“ to fix it .
Without fur Cyclone was not far from to be equal to Rycote modular series with fur. But when Cyclone was dressed in fur the rumbling noise almost disappeared in wind around 5-7 m/s. That was a huge success.
Following recording is a short part of overnight recording from Stafholtstungur, in the west of Iceland. The gust goes up to ca. 7m/sec. and the recorder HPF was set at 80Hz. The rig is about 1 meter above the ground.
Some rumble noise is audible in this recording, but some of it could as well be a vibration from the tripod. Keep it in mind this is NT1a which is particularly sensitive for handling noise.
I will spend more time to test this setup but it looks like I need to order another pair for my MKH20/40 rig.
Quality open headphones are recommended while listening at low to mid level.

(265kbps / 36Mb)

Recorder: Sound devices 744
Mics: Rode Nt1a NOS setup
Pic: Canon EOS-M

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Hjalteyri is a small village on the western shores of Eyjafjörður, fjord in north of Iceland.
It all began when the Norwegians started salting herring around 1880 and the village Hjalteyri was confirmed by law as a trading post in 1897. Swedes, Scots and Germans would fish there in the following years but all foreigners had left by 1914.
The Icelandic fishing company Kveldulfur was active there from 1914 and in 1937 built the largest herring factory in Europe at Hjalteyri, which ran until 1966. The company also built many of the beautiful residential buildings that still stand in the village, such as the house of Thor Jensen, the founder of the company, and Asgardur, where the head of the factory lived.
The herring disappeared from the fishing grounds in the 1960s and Kveldulfur thus left as well. Fishing from small boats increased. Today, at Hjalteyri is a harbor and a small fishing industry, the drying of fish heads and aquaculture are the mainstay of the economy. During the summer months the buildings of the old herring factory are often used as a venue for art exhibitions. Around 40 people lives there today. There is also a pretty big Arctic Tern colony which brings also many other bird species to the area.
The following recording was captured in 8th of July 2015. It is 25 minutes of 6 hours long overnight recording.
This is one of my recording where I probably should have used another microphones because of the noise source in the surrounding. In this case a „fan noise“ from the factory. I use cardioid mics so the noise is only on the left side, instead of omni which would have brought the noise more to both sides and made the listening more pleasant in headphones.
So now I would recommend to listen to this recording in speakers in low-mid level, instead of headphones.

(256kbps / 46Mb)

Recorder: Sound devices 744
Mics: Rode NT1a in NOS setup
Pics. EOS-M
Location: 65.853976, -18.194666
Weather: Calm up to 4m N, almost clear sky, temp around 8-12°C

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It sounds a bit stupid to record silence. But if the equipment can capture something in the silence you can not hear with your bare ears, then it can be very interesting. For instance, you never know what you will see when you look into the deep space with telescope. You never know what you will hear in the silence with a low noise microphone.
I will not define all my views of different silence, but for sure, silence is never completely quiet and it is my favourite recording material.
Best time to get „silence“ is normally during the night in calm weather after sunny day (like this one). In such moments temperature waves are also calm or in layers, so sound can travel long distances without being disturbed. Noise from one car can travel up to 30 km in open field and if you hear it with your bare ears it will be clearly audible through most quality recording gear today. Amplifying sound with low noise microphone, works like a telescope. It drags weak sound far away closer to your ears. In places where you need to hold your breath to hear probably only your heart beat, it can be a very busy place in your headphones.
But there is also other kind of silence. It is on hot sunny days when wind blows and the air is very unstable. Sound normally does not travel long distances in such circumstances.
One of these days was 18th of July 2016 on the World Listening Day. I was traveling on Kjölur, west highland route in Iceland. The sun was shining all day and the wind was blowing from the south. I took of the main rode and followed a track into Kjalhraun lava field. My plan was to find the mysterious Beinahóll (Bone hill) and the field where Reynistaðabræður (Reynisstada brothers) and almost 200 sheeps lost their lives in a insane weather in September 1780. It is still possible to find bones on this field so for a long time I have bin interested in this tragic story.
But the track through the lava was too ruff for my car so I kept on by food.
Many times for almost three decades it has been my plan to find this place while travelling by bike over Kjölur. I never did it because I was always wearing a green jacket and for superstitions reasons it has been told dangerous.
This time I did not find Beinahól. Instead I started recording the silence in the lava.
The weather was a typical sunny „midday silence“, where the thermal heat from the sun makes the air unstable so sound waves did not travel long distances.
This was one of these days I did not hear any plains or car traffic, even though Kjölur main route was not far away. When I held my breath, I only did hear weak bird song in the distance and some flies around. Because the mics are located close to the ground, you will also hear the wind wipe the ruff lava surface.
This recording is captured with MKH20 microphones and SD744 recorder. Gain was set at 56dB and HPF 80Hz. In post the gain was again raised about 25dB. Below 20Hz and above 10Khz the freq. was pulled down by 25dB.
Quality open headphones are recommended while listening at low to mid level, or in speakers at low level. Hold your breath while listening🙂

(256Kbps / 46Mb)

Recorder: Sound devices 744
Mics Sennheiser MKH20 (AB40 setup)
Pics. EOS-M
Weather. Sunny, about 18°C, calm up to 3 m/s in gusts
Recording location: 64.77883, -19.42805

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An outwash plain, also called a sandur is a plain formed of glacial sediments deposited by meltwater outwash at the terminus of a glacier. As it flows, the glacier grinds the underlying rock surface and carries the debris along. The meltwater at the snout of the glacier deposits its load of sediment over the outwash plain, with larger boulders being deposited near the terminal morraine, and smaller particles travelling further before being deposited. Sandurs are common in Iceland where geothermal activity accelerates the melting of ice flows and the deposition of sediment by meltwater.
The original sandur from which the general name is derived is Skeiðarársandur, a broad sandy wasteland along Iceland’s south-eastern coast, between the Vatnajökull icecap and the sea. Skeiðarársandur is the largest sandur in the world, covering an area of 1,300 km2 (500 sq mi). Volcanic eruptions under the icecap have given rise to many large glacial bursts (jökulhlaups in Icelandic), most recently in 1996, when the Ring Road was washed away (minor floods have also occurred since then). This road, which encircles Iceland and was completed in 1974, has since been repaired. The 1996 jökulhlaup was caused by the eruption of the Grímsvötn volcano, with peak flow estimated to be 50,000 m3/s (1,800,000 cu ft/s) compared to the normal summer peak flow of 200 to 400 m3/s (7,100–14,100 cu ft/s). Net deposition of sediment was estimated to be 12,800,000 m3 (450,000,000 cu ft).
The main braided channels of Skeiðarársandur are the Gígjukvísl and Skeiðará rivers, which incurred net gains of 29 and 24 cm (11.4 and 9.4 in) respectively during the 1996 jökulhlaup. In the Gígjukvísl there was massive sediment deposition of up to 12 m (39 ft), which occurred closest to the terminus of the glacier. The erosional patterns of Skeiðarársandur can be seen by looking at the centimeter-scale elevation differences measured with repeat-pass laser altimetry (LIDAR) flown in 1996 (pre-flood), 1997, and 2001. Of the overall deposition during the 1996 jökulhlaup, nearly half of the net gain had been eroded 4 years after the flood. These two rivers on the sandur display drastically different erosional patterns. The difference in sediment erosion can be attributed to the 2 km (1.2 mi) wide trench near the terminus where the Gígjukvísl flows, in contrast with the Skeiðará, which has braided flows directly onto the outwash plain. The Gígjukvísl river is where some of the highest level of sediment deposit occurred and also where the largest erosion happened afterward. This indicates that these massive jökulhlaup deposits may have a large geomorphic impact in the short term, but the net change on the surface relief could be minimal after a couple years to a decade. (*Wikipedia)
This recording is just 23 minutes of 1o hours long overnight recording. It is very quiet and highly amplified. The microphones are unexpected located near to Northern Wheatear´s nest which is between stones in old ruins in the middle of Skeiðarársandur. You can hear wing flaps and some kind of a conversation between the birds and the youngsters. The birds sounds a little bit out of phase but that could be either because the bird is mostly behind the microphones, or the stone wall, or because the fury windshield was still soaking wet after heavy rain one hour earlier.
At 1:35 min a thunderous boom sounds from glacier in distance. During the recording the weather changed from calm to be windy.
Quality open headphones are recommended while listening at low to mid level, or in speakers at low level.

Sögur af Skeiðarársandi 1. hluti

Hér er á ferðinni rúmlega 20 mínútna löng upptaka sem er partur af 10 klst langri næturupptöku frá því 29. maí 2016 á Skeiðarársandi. Á sandinum svo til miðjum er hlaðin rúst sem líklega hefur gengt því hlutverki að vera fjárrétt áður en árnar á sandinum voru brúaðar. Í upptökunni má heyra að í vegghleðsluni er hreiður Steindepils. Hann pirrar sig eitthvað á óboðnum gesti þessa nótt, hljóðnemunum, en virðist svo líka eiga einhver samskipti við unga sína með lágværu tísti eða muldri. Heyra má að á þessum rúmu 20 mínútum að veðrið breytist frá því að vera logn yfir í rok.
Mælt er með því að hlusta á upptökuna í góðum opnum heyrnartólum og á miðlungs- lágum hljóðstyrk.

(256kbps / 43Mb)

Recorder: Sound Devices 788
Mics: Sennheiser MKH20 (AB40)
Pix: Canon EOS-M
Weather & time: Clam and windy, Drissle rain, at 2AM
Location: 63.969892, -17.160032

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The Vestmannaeyjar archipelago is young in geological terms. The islands lie in the Southern Icelandic Volcanic Zone and have been formed by eruptions over the past 10,000–12,000 years. The volcanic system consists of 70–80 volcanoes both above and below the sea.[3]
The largest island, Heimaey, has a population of 4,135. The other islands are uninhabited, although six have single hunting cabins. Vestmannaeyjar came to international attention in 1973 with the eruption of Eldfell volcano, which destroyed many buildings and forced a months-long evacuation of the entire population to mainland Iceland. Approximately one fifth of the town was destroyed before the lava flow was halted by application of 6.8 billion litres of cold sea water.[2]
With extremely high precipitation considering the latitude, Vestmannaeyjar features an ET Tundra climate (closely bordering Subpolar Oceanic (Cfc)) under the Köppen climate classification. It is often very windy in the islands, and the highest wind speed measured in Iceland (61 metres per second;140 mph) was recorded in Stórhöfði. The main wind directions are easterly and south-easterly. The islands enjoy the country’s highest average annual temperature, the Gulf Stream having a strong warming effect, especially in winter. (Text Wikipedia)
The following recording was made at Stórhöfði 31st of March 2016 in a windspeed around 20 m. pr/sec

Stormur í Vestmannaeyjum

Upptaka þessi var hljóðrituð hádegi á Stórhöfða þann 31. mars 2016 stuttu áður en viðvera á Stórhöfða varð óbærileg vegna veðurs.
Þarna hvín ansi hátt í stögum á loftnetsmöstrum sem eru sunnan við vitahúsið. Hljóðnemarnir voru hafðir skjólmegin við húsið á meðan á upptöku stóð. Gera má ráð fyrir að vindstyrkur hafi náð þarna 20m/sek en síðar um kvöldið komst vindstyrkur upp í 35m/sek og enn meira í hviðum.

  (mp3 192kbps / 30Mb)

Recorder: Sound devices 744
Mics: Sennheiser MKH20 (AB40)
Pics: Canon EOS-M (see more pictures)
Location: 63°23’58.7″N 20°17’19.2″W

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I think I don‘t need to present the nature reserve in Flói in many words. It is a wetland / moors in south of Iceland. I have already published in this blog several hours of „Flói recordings“.
Last spring was cold, wet and windy so I did not spend much time there. But in June, I stayed there for two nights while I recorded several hours of recordings during the nights.
As usual I fell in to sleep in the field during that time, so I did not know what I was recording. Last week when I was searching trough the recordings, I noticed some interesting moments.
At 14th of June the overnight weather forecast was nice and I started to record at midnight. Between 2 and 5 in the morning the wind went down so the field got „quieter“ for far distance sound waves.
I put up Rode NT1 in NOS in the same place as usual and pointed them to north. The soundscape is always spectacular in this place.
This soundscape is probably not what everyone would hear by bear ears. The recording is highly amplified. In this circumstances and Rode NT1, I normally adjust the gain on the recorder between 54-58dB. In this particular recording the gain is increased again in post about +24 dB so the peak level in one moment (at 13:16) reach 0dBf.
Many bird species are audible in this recording like Red throat Diver, Common Snipe, Golden Plover, Dunlin, Whimbrel, Gull, Arctic Tern, Northern Wheatear, Greylag Goose, Whooper Svan, Meadow Pipit and other bird species I have forgotten, or can’t name. Other audible animals like horses and sheep’s are there too.
Background noise is mostly from the Atlantic ocean’s waves along the south coast behind the mics. Then as usual, traffic noise and sometimes a party music somewhere in the county.
Quality open headphones are recommended while listening at low to mid level, or in speakers at low level.

Flói 2015. 1. Hluti

Hér er á ferðinni upptaka úr friðlandinu í Flóa frá því á laugardagskvöldi og sunnudagsmorgni 14. júní 2015. Eins og fyrri upptökur úr Flóa sem finna má hér á síðunni eru hljóðnemarnir ávallt staðsettir á sama stað við sömu tjörn norðan við fuglaskoðunarhúsið.
Í upptökunni má heyra í ýmsum fuglategundum. Má þar nefna lóm, hrossagauk, heiðlóu, lóuþræl, spóa, máfa, kríu, steindepli, grágæs, álft og þúfutitling. Þá heyrist lika í hestum og kindum.
Bakgrunnssuð er einkum brim meðfram Suðurströndinni og einkum við Ölfusárósa. Svo berst hávaði frá bílum og partítónlist einhvers staðar í sveitinni.
Mælt er með því að hlusta á upptökuna í góðum opnum heyrnartólum og á miðlungs- lágum hljóðstyrk.

Download mp3 file (256kbps / 60,7Mb)

Recorder: Sound devices 788
Mics. Rode NT1 (NOS)
Pix. Canon EOS M
Weather: clear sky, mostly calm, between -1 to 4°C
Time: 14 June 2015, between 2 and 3 o’clock
Location: 63.900933, -21.191876

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