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Posts Tagged ‘NOS’

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The spring of 2021 has either been windy and cold or windy and wet or both.
Even though birds are usually tough lifeforms, it has been clearly audible that they would like to have warmer days, so instead of filling the air with songs they have been quieter than other years.
Iceland is not rich with audible wildlife sounds. Everything sounds distant so if the air is unstable and wind is more than 2m/sec  then it starts to be difficult to record the wildlife   
From end of February until mid June it has been a very poor circumstances to record in an open field, mainly because of unpredictable and windy weather
In the second week of June I saw in the weather forecast a opportunity to get calm weather for a one day in Látrabjag cliffs so I packed my gear and set off.
On the way in Mjóifjörður I drove off the paved road and followed the old gravel main road to relax and make a coffee. I found a good spot. It was under a mountain slope, surrounded by low birch bush and wild flora. Beside me was a small brook and inside the bush was a shelter from the wind. The soundscape was full of life, so I put up the gear and started to record while taking a nap. 

  (mp3 256kbps / 59.7Mb)

Recorder: Sound devices MixPre6
Mics: Lewitt LCT540s (NOS)  
Pix: Canon EOS-R

Location: 65.614159, -22.823796
Weather: Cloudy, dry, 10-15m/sec, 7°C  

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Here is one of my „COVID recordings“ that I managed to record by Glacier lagoon, Jökulsárlón near the lagoon outfall.
This place is close to the ring road around Iceland so it is usually overcrowded by tourists and other traffic all year round, almost 24/7. I have only been able to dream of recording this place without traffic and human interruption.
But thanks to COVID, on the 10th of June 2020 I managed to record there without too much interruption.
The soundscape is different in this place, but the recording here below is typical for summer soundscape. When I first went to this place some decades ago the glacier was much closer, I guess about 2km away, but today it is about 8km away and much thinner. The sounds from the glacier have almost disappeared. But on the lagoon are large icebergs that melt down rapidly near the lagoon’s outfall. They can emit interesting sounds when they break in pieces.
Arctic terns have nested beside the outfall in many years, but probably because of traffic they seem to have moved the biggest colony closer to the glacier.  In the eighties and nineties when I passed this place every year by bike, Great Skua dominated this area with nests in many places.. But today this big bird is hardly seen near the outfall compared to how it was thirty years ago. Arctic Skua is a common bird there as it has been before.
This recording was made a few hundred meters east from the lagoon outfall.
Not far from the microphone are stranded icebergs which are constantly melting with all kinds of sound.
Most common birds in this recording are Arctic tern, Northern Fulmar, Black Headed Gull, and Razorbill. Other species are audible too.
Common Eiders come quietly close to the microphone and Seals have a fight or mating not far away,
The main background noise is a rumble from heavy surf along the Atlantic ocean coastline  several hundreds meters behind the microphones. Traffic from the ring road no1 is also audible.
Quality open headphones are recommended while listening at mid level.
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  (mp3 256kbps / 65.5Mb)

Recorder: Sound Devices MixPre6
Mics: Lewitt LCT540s (NOS)
Pix: Canon EOS-R

Weather: Cloudy, calm, around 8°C
Location: 64.052841, -16.178658

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Shortly after I set up my gear in a safe spot near the lagoon beneath the Svínafellsjökull ice fall. I heard thunder behind the Hafrafell mountain
Two minutes later and suddenly all icebergs in the lagoon began to move around like corks in a boiling pot. Big waves paralyzed the shores of the lagoon, in some places for many meters.
„Shit“ was my first thought. „I was not in the right place“. I should have been on the other side of the lagoon and closer to the glacier, where I have spent hours and days in recent years trying to record incidents like this without success. I ran to the lagoon to see what was going on.
…Or maybe I was lucky to be where I was. I saw big waves go far up on the shore at the place where I have been recording the past years. I probably would have damage or destroyed the Phantom power adapters inside the hydrophones XLR´s.plugs   
Thanks to COVID I was now in a place which has been impossible to record because of the tourist explosion in recent years.
Two microphones were now placed under a high steep crawl on the lagoon´s west bank, 5 meters above the lagoon surface. Below the microphones, two hydrophones were put in the lagoon between big rocks to prevent them from getting crushed or touched by icebergs. It was a bad placement for a successful underwater recording. But I  remember quite well what happened in this lagoon few years ago. So I was sure I would lose them both and probably something more if I threw them deeper into the lagoon. 
Although the outcome is OK, even though the hydrophones did not pick up the whole soundscape underneath the lagoon’s surface. 
The glacier calving starts in this recording at 3:15 min far away and behind the Hafrafell mountain, so it doesn’t sound very loud. But it makes a big wave in the lagoon which makes a chain reaction of a few other glacier calving.
Just before the first incident you can hear the hydrophone pick up a sound of crushing ice. It would have been much louder if the hydrophones have been deeper in the lagoon. But recording glacier lagoons is not an easy task when the lagoon is full of ice which can flip without warning.  
This recording was made in the late afternoon so traffic noise from rode no:1 is audible in the background. But compared to recent years, it is nothing. Thanks to COVID.   
Quality open headphones are recommended while listening at low to mid level, or in speakers at medium level.

(mp3 256kbps / 48Mb)

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Recorder: Sound devices MixPre6 
Mics: Lewitt LCT540s (NOS) & Aquarian H2n XLR (Spaced AB)
Pix: Canon EOS R

Location: 64.007567, -16.880922
Weather: Cloudy, calm,  +11°C  
 

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There is a place near Fjallsjökull glacier I have tried to record several times in recent years. But I´ve never been happy with the result.  Mainly because of noisy traffic from road no.1 and/or surf noise from Breiðamerkurfjara beach or because of weather.
But COVID19 gave me an wonderful opportunity to record this place without tourist traffic in June 2020.
This place is a small glacial corrie south of Fjallsjökull glacier. It is a small, wet area, with several fresh water springs. Arctic flora brings lots of birds to this place so the soundscape can be very interesting with a rumbling glacier in the background.
This is a part of several hours long recording. The time is around 5 o’clock in the morning. Flock of noisy Barnacle geese has already landed not far away from the microphones. Through the whole recording these Barnacle geese come closer and closer to the microphones, so be careful, in the end they get loud.  Early in the recording two Whimbrels sing an interestingly long „love song“. Other birds are audible too, like Golden plover, Dunlin, Rock Ptarmigan and Red Throated Diver.
Once, about 2km away, a big piece of ice breaks off the glacier into the lagoon with noisy consequences.
Background noise is mainly a surf from the ocean behind the microphones, about 5 km away.
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 (NOS setup)
Pix: Canon EOS-R

Weather: Calm, Cloudy, about 4°C
Location: 64.010735, -16.391960

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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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I spend almost 4 days late June 2017 recording in Þjórsárver area, which is a tundra southeast of Hofsjökull glacier. It was shortly after the road administrator open the Sprengisandur route across the highland, so there was still not much traffic. It was very early this summer so it was possible for me to record birds activity in nests.
When I arrived at Eyvindakofaver I saw an Arctic fox sneaking around a stone cairns and an angry Snow Bunting flying around. It was a clear message for something interesting to record.
The weather was boring for recording. It was cloudy, the temperature about 4°C and the wind was SW, 5-10 m/sec. But the stone cairn was a suitable cover for the microphones. So I put up my gear and started recording just before midnight and then went to sleep.
At 3:40 the wind suddenly went down for about 30 minutes which was the only minutes with calm weather this four days in the area. Calm weather means normally better detail recording for the birds’ activity and deeper listening to far distance sounds.
Usually Snow Bunting lay eggs two times during the summer so this was likely the previous nesting time.
It is necessary to listen to the whole recording but suddenly something happens in the nest which we humans can guess was probably a brutal rape or other domestic violence.
If you think this was something else, feel free and leave a comment below.
Quality open headphones are recommended while listening in silence at low level, or in speakers at low level.

(256 kbps / 59,4Mb)

Recorder: Sound devices MixPre6
Mics: Sennheiser MKH20 NOS
Pics: Canon EOS-M
Weather. Cloudy, around +3°C, SW, 2m/s
Location: 64.613944, -18.575462

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I have published many times recordings from the Nature Reserve Flói in southwest Iceland, so I will not introduce that area again.
During the years I remember couple of times when curious sheeps have disturbed the recording. This is one of them.
This peace is a 30 minutes of nine hour overnight recording. It was recorded between 7 and 8 o´clock in the morning 25th of July 2015.
The recording is not only disturbed by the sheeps, it is also highly disturbed by tourist traffic, especially in the air. Jets are arriving and leaving the country and smaller planes in sightseeing so this peaceful area is not especially quite this time.
Quality open headphones are recommended while listening at medium level.

(256kbps / 57,2Mb)

Recorder: Sound devices 788
Mics: RodeNT1 (NOS) & MKH20 (AB40) as close together as possible
Pix: Canon EOSM
Location: 63.901026, -21.192189
Weather: Calm, cloudy, around 11°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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