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Posts Tagged ‘Lewitt LCT540s’

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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

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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

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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

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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 

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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

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Hólmavatn is a heath lake in the interior in west of Iceland between the two valley Kjarrárdalur and Hvítársíða. It is a part of a big lake system on a heath named Arnarvatnsheiði.
I have once before record the soundscape by this lake before. That was mostly a struggle with wind all the time, so I did not get anything interesting.
But at 22nd of June 2019 the weather forecast was perfect for this area, clear sky and calm most of the night.
I arrived with my gear around 9 pm at my previous recording place. It was still windy and some anglers about 500m away east of the lake. I quickly put up my rigs knowing that a calm weather meant just lot of gnats. I decided to put a two stereo pairs close to the shore, facing out to the lake. LCT450s in NOS about 60 m east from my car and MKH20 pair 70 m in the west. Suddenly around 11pm the wind stopped to blow and I started the recording.
What glorious soundscape. All those small tiny things and all those bird species. The LCT540s sounds much cleaner and brighter than MKH20, I guess mainly because of the different location.
But there was a big problem which I did not notice with my bare ears. The anglers made so much noise it was clear they would destroy my „natural silence“ recordings this night. They were playing a radio all the time, talking, starting car engines, and even worse, soon after I started the recording two of them started a motor boat. All this noise lasted for about two or two and a half hours.
Later that night when this noisy anglers were gone, all the birdsong became calm and less active. I am not sure why, but afterwards when I listened to the recordings it seemed like the anglers on the boat were disturbing birds on their habitat.
Following recording is a part of this „anglers moment“, probably the best part because the motorboat was mostly far east on the lake most of this time.
In the beginning of the recording you can clearly hear tiny sparks. It is coming from foam which forms between stones in the shore during windy days. When the bobbles in this foam blows, they make this tiny sparking sound. During the recording the sparks get fewer and lower because the weather is calm and no waves on the lake.
But there are so many bird species I guess I will not know them all. Great Northern Diver, Read Throated Diever, Arctic Tern, Whooper Swan, Pink Footed Goose, Black Headed Gull, Golden Plower, Dunlin, Whimbrell, Common Snipe, Common Redshank, Arctic Skua, Rock Ptarmigan and probably some other which you are welcome, if you know, to name in comments below.
You will hear the fish jumping and Arctic Tern hunting on the lake surface. Other background noise other than human noise from anglers is mainly from the river Kjarrá which flows in the Kjarrárdalur valley 4Km north of the lake .
This recording got a gently noise reduction, mainly because of high gain.
It was recorded with 47dB gain. In post the gain was normalized +26dB up to -5dB
Quality open headphones are recommended while listening at low to mid level, or in speakers at medium level.

(mp3 256kbps / 68Mb)
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Recorder: Sonosax SX-R4+
Mics: Lewitt LCT540s (NOS setup)
Pix: Canon EOS M50
Location: 64.799603, -20.895132
Weather: Dry. Mostly calm up to 5m/sec

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There are two things which are always possible to record almost everywhere, any time and all year around. That is traffic noise and all kinds of wind.
Traffic noise is easy to record, but wind noise is more difficult. Wind is like an instrument or a symphony orchestra. But what makes it even more difficult is that you can´t place the microphone everywhere you like. A „pure and clean“ wind recording may not include a mechanical wind noise from the windshield, cable or the tripod. So location of the microphone rig plays normally a big role. But when the microphone is placed close to ground or a wall it will affect the frequency spectrum, mainly of sound reflection and therefore a phase issue.
It is possible this happened to me in December when I recorded gust over night in the country side, west Iceland. But I am still not sure, because when all the straws on the ground were rubbing each other, they made a sound or a constant noise which was limited to specific frequency range.
There is no other recording I have made which sounds as differently between different headphones and speakers as this one. I have not EQ this recording much, just pulled down the subsonic at 20Hz and slightly lifted 250Hz (+/-100Hz) The microphone was about 30-50cm from the ground. It was very bumpy and because of that I think I was probably not struggling with a phase issue, only the noise from the rubbing straws.
This recording starts very calm, with an „intro“. But suddenly the wind starts to blow and and gets stronger in the third part of this beautiful winter song..
I am used to record exactly on this location almost every time I visit this place so it is interesting to listen how this place sounds six months later, in July. Listen here.
Quality open headphones are recommended while listening at low or medium level.

(mp3 256kbps / 49Mb)
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Recorder. Sound devices MixPre6
Mics: Lewwitt LCT540s (NOS)
Pix: Canon EOS M
Location:64.673500, -21.629361
Weather: Calm to breez, around -8°C

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For a long time I have used Rode NT1a for nature recordings. It is a very good mic to capture the finest details in quiet soundscapes. But at the same time there is something missing in the sound quality, especially when it comes to low frequency and „audio depth“.
Last summer I got interest in IRT cross mic setup, so there was a perfect opportunity to invest in other microphones. There were not many mics to choose from with extra low self noise. Nevaton in Russia makes very interesting low noise & high sensitive mics. But my experience with MC50Quad was it did not capture the finest details of the silence as clearly as NT1a or MKH20. So I decided to invest in Lewitt LCT540s which I got for a acceptable nice price (See comparison)
I built a special shock mount for the LCT540s inside Rycote AE windshields (ORTF WS kit P/N:080210). That AE windshield is wider than normal WS windshield, especially made for stereo rigs so it is very good for large capsule, side address mics like LCT540s. Low handling noise is important for less rumbling wind noise and when it comes to LCT540, it is slightly better than NT1a.
Everything was ready for a field test in late Mars so I followed the silence into the country side. I was lucky with the weather, dry and calm, maybe too calm because it makes the silence too quiet for this field test. Anyway sometimes light gust gently wipes the top of trees and bushes which sounds fantastic in the headphones, moving slowly from left to right. It was much easier to feel the depth of the field with LCT540 than it has been with NT1a.
Nothing interesting was audible until in the early morning, about half hour before sunrise, when two Rock Ptarmigan started to „sing“. First in distance, but suddenly, maybe because of curiosity, they flied closer to the microphones and walked around the rig. The following recording is actually this moment.
It was recorded in IRT cross, which gives lot of opportunities in mixing. It gives me four different stereo recording in to four directions, all in NOS, plus many other versions too with different channel mix. It can be useful when looking into specific soundscape. It is for example possible to avoid traffic noise or other unexpected sounds from one or another direction.
The two first enclosed recording below have go through noise reduction process (above 3Khz). But the last one is a short peace without noise reduction, just as it comes from MixPre6, so you can hear the LCT540 self noise, which is about 2dB higher than in NT1a. It was recorded with 48dB gain and HPF at 40Hz. In post, I only normalize the gain level up to max, which rise the gain about +10dB. I did not change the EQ so audience can hear the sound quality at the low frequency. My feeling is that LCT540 have almost same low frequency quality as the MKH series & Nevaton which is very good
This is two versions of the same recording where I mix four channels differently into stereo. Counting channels 1-2-3-4 clockwise to L-R-Ls-Rs and the second one L-R-Rs-Ls (which is usually normal IRT setup).
This is a „high dynamic“ recording of silence, so I don´t recommend it played loud. It might destroy some speakers (ears too) if it is played too loud without attention.
Good monitor headphones are recommended or quality open headphones while listening at low to medium level.

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Recording L-R-Ls-Rs
(mp3 256Kbps / 35,6Mb)

Recording L-R-Rs-Ls
(mp3 256kbps / 35,6Mb)

Short version of recording L-R-Ls-Rs without NR
(mp3 256kbps / 7,4Mb

Recorder: Sound devices MixPre6
Mics. Lewitt LCT540s (IRT cross setup) Running on 70m Sommer Mercator CAT7 S/STP cable
Pix: Canon EOS M50
Weather: Calm, dry, between -2 to +4°C, about 7:30 o´clock

Location: 64°40’23.7″N 21°37’43.7″W

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It is difficult to compare LCT540 and NT1a in details. I am not sure which one is better for silence recordings. Both have same specification of lowest self noise on the market, they have their own characteristics and after my NT1a mod, they seems to have slightly different polar pattern.
I record this audio samples at 24bit/48khz with 45dB gain (40Hz HPF) on MixPre6
In post I increase the gain approximately another 45dB and normalized to -5dB
The outcome is shown on the spectrograms on recording A and recording B. The LCT540 is above. NT1a below.

NT1a is extremely well focused in the mid-range 500hz – 5Khz. which is exactly the frequency where most common birds sing. So NT1a is very good for nature recordings. But sometimes NT1a sounds „flat“ because NT1a is rather poor on low frequency, sometimes like out of phase (which could be as well caused of wrong setup).
I have not a long experience recording with LCT540s, but at the moment the overall sound quality seems to be better than NT1a, especially in lower frequencies which give better „juicy“ sound and „depth feeling“. But at the same time it is not as „clear“ as NT1a in the mid range.

Following audio samples will give some insight how LCT540s compares to NT1a in silence. You can clearly compare the mics self noise which sounds almost equal.. You can also hear how this two microphones pick up the details in two alarm clocks and a pocket radio at the lowest level in ca 2,5m distance, inside ca 45m2 garage. Other background sound is a light gust outside which swipe the garage walls and roof, a fly in the window and a traffic in air and ground in the county. Anyway this is a silence which most people will barely hear anything else than just their own heartbeat. See pictures

How do they withstand humidity or handling noise in windscreen? I can only say this.
Both need DIY shock mount if they should be fit in Rycote windshield. Both are sensitive for handling noise especially NT1a. High humidity is usually not a problem for microphones in Iceland, but there are stories about problem with NT1a in other countries.
I will update this information/comparison as soon as I have got more experience with LCT540s. You can also search for NT1a and LCT540s on this website and listen to nature recordings.

Listening with quality headphones will give best result.
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Lewitt LCT540s Recording A (mp3 256kbps / 7Mb)

Rode NT1a Recording A (mp3 265kbps / 7Mb)

Lewitt LCT540s Recording B (mp3 256kbps / 4,8Mb)

Rode NT1a Recording B (mp3 256kbps / 4,8Mb)

Short comparison of both LCT540S & NT1a

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