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Posts Tagged ‘Rode NT1a’

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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.

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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Hér er á ferðinni lágstemmd hljóðupptaka sem beinlínis lýsir ljóðrænni sveitasælu út við sjó. Hún er tekin upp við Kópavog fyrir neðan bæinn Ófeigsfjörð við samnefndan fjörð á Ströndum.
Ímyndaðu þér að þú liggir þar með lokuð augun á grasbala rétt ofan við fjöruna við hliðina á lækjarsprænu sem rennur þar til sjávar. Þú ert þar milli svefns og vöku, það er logn og sólin vermir skrokk og grundir. Lágstemmd en þung undiraldan lemur sandfjöruna fyrir neðan þig og þú heyrir í henni jafn vel neðan úr jörðinni sem ofan.
Nú stefnir allt í að þessi sveitasæla sé að hverfa á þessum dásamlega stað.
Það hefur væntanlega ekki farið fram hjá nokkrum manni að innlendir sem erlendir braskarar hafa gengið hart í því að fá að virkja Hvalá sem rennur í Ófeigsfjörð. Mikil andstaða er við þessi virkjanaáform. Hafa braskararnir því mútað fólki með ýmsum hætti s.s. með loforðum um innviðauppbyggingu ofl.
Ég ætla ekki það skrifa meira um þetta hér, en vísa á fréttir og blaðagreinar.

Sjá fréttaskýringu frá RUV  (1. nóvember 2017)
Sjá blaðagrein hjá Stundinni  (9. febrúar 2018)

Kópavogur in Ófeigsfjörður

There are not many places left in Iceland where it is possible to have peace from traffic or feel as you are in clean unspoiled nature. But one of this places is in the northeast Iceland named Hornstrandir and Strandir.
But now, „business“ gangsters are planing to build a power plant in the river Hvalá that flows into the fjord, Ófeigsfjörður at Strandir.

Read article about this attack on this region:

Conservationists reject plans for hydropower plants in untouched Westfjords wilderness
Plans to destroy unique waterfalls in an abandoned fjord meets stiff resistance
See the breathtaking hidden waterfalls of the remote Strandir region in beautiful video

Following recording was recorded in June 2015 below the old farm Ófeigsfjörður which will be just a typical noisy place in the future if the business gangsters are going to build the power plant just few kilometers north of the recording place.
Quality open headphones are recommended while listening at low to mid level, or in speakers at medium level.

(mp3 256kbps / 56Mb)

Recorder: Sound devices 788
Mics: Rode NT1a (NOS)
Pix: Canon EOS M
Recording location: 66.049968, -21.703009
Weather. Calm, sunny, about 14°C

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This two midsummer recordings were made around four o´clock in the morning 15th of July 2017 nearby Arnarholt farm in Stafholtstungur, in west of Iceland. It is recorded on two stereo channels with two different microphones because usually every time I recorded in this place the recordings has been disturbed by traffic noise all night long. But somehow for some unexplained reason no car went around nearby road for more than two hours, so I got a wonderful recording this morning.
I placed those two microphone rigs very close to each other and pointed them toward north. Afterwards I could not decided which of those recordings were better so it is yours to decide which you like.
There are many bird species in this recording. Common Snipe, Golden Plover, Whimbrel, Common Redshank, Black Taled Godwit, White Wagtail, Black headed Gull, Winter Wren, Northern Wheatear, Snow Bunting, Rock Ptarmigan, Common Starling, Redwing, Great Northern Dever, Whooper Swan, Graylag Goose and probably other species. Birds like Starling and Redwing are flying between branches in nearby trees.

My favorite microphones for nature recordings are Sennheiser MKH20 an omni-directional condenser microphone and Rode NT1A (slightly modified), a large capsule cardioid polar pattern studio condenser microphone. Both these mics have lowest self-noise available on the market.
I am used to use MKH20 in AB setup which mean the mics are in 40-45cm spaced parallel position (AB40). Then I turn the capsules 2-5° outward which gave me sometimes slightly „wider or more open space feeling“. This setup give me a stereo recording, 360° surround the rig.
My second best omni-directional ultra low noise mic for nature recordings is AT4022 but it does not sound as „musical“ or „natural“ as MKH20, so it is not as often in my tool box,
Cardioid mic detect sound mainly from one direction. so I use NT1A in different circumstances.
Lets say I like to record a birdsong. At the same time it is disturbed with unwanted noise, coming from another direction like waterfall, river flow, surf or traffic noise. I can place the backside of the cardioid mic to the noise source which mean I will get less of the unwanted noise and more of the birdsong.
In last two or three years I have not used NT1A in ORTF or NOS setup for outdoor recordings. But instead use AB4, same as for MKH20, which seems to give less phase error for the sound behind the rig.

These two recordings are NOT good examples for this two different mics in critical circumstances because no car passed by behind the rigs and most of the birds activity was also front of the rigs. But it gives a nice insight how this two different mics sounds and how the self-noise act in „quiet“ nature recordings.
NT1A was inside Rycote Cyclone + fur. MKH20 was inside Rycote WS2 windshield + fur. Both rigs are in AB40 +3°
I use MixPre6 in this recording. There is no doubt, the new Sound devices Kashmir mic preamplifier is ultra low noise and a sweet step forward to get better field recordings.
The HPF was at 40Hz and the gain was at 50dB for NT1A and 43dB for MKH20. The gain settings mainly get this arrangement because then both rigs sounds have equal level in the headphones while I was recording. In post the gain was increased almost 30dB on both stereo channels, up to -10dB.
Specrogram shows „all“ frequencies was bellow 8Khz so to lower unwanted mic self-noise I pull everything above 10Khz down with EQ (-5db @ 11Khz & -30dB @ 15Khz) .
This is a „quiet“ recording which mean you should listen to it at low level in quality headphones or speakers in quiet place.

NT1A recording
(mp3, 256kbps / 50,6Mb)

MKH20 recording
(mp3, 256kbps / 50,6Mb)

Here are two shorter version of this recording but now without high frequency cutoff and the gain level is normalized up to 0dB, so it should be easy to hear the mic self-noise in low quality headphones and PC amplifiers.
It is also easy to notice that MKH20 is covering 360° of the surround soundscape, while NT1A is only covering 180° with less bird songs and other activity.

NT1A. Without high freq cut off, normalized to 0dB
(mp3, 256kbps / 11Mb)

MKH20 Without high freq cut off, normalized to 0dB
(mp3, 256kbps / 11Mb)

Recorder: Sound devices MixPre6
Mics: Rode NT1a and Sennheiser MKH20 (AB40 setup)
Pix. Canon EOSM

Location: 64.673460, -21.629304
Weather: Calm, cloudy, ca. 7°C

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I am used to feed birds daily in my garden with all kinds of leftovers.
There are always some birds that watch my garden every day, and when they see me in the garden, some starling give a high pitch signal and some of them fly away. But shortly after that they come back with a flock of other birds, normally common starlings and redwings. Some birds like one blackbird and some redwings are now extra gentle around me while I prepare the food in the garden.
Christmas day, 25th of December 2016, was just like another „feeding day“. But it was snowing, so the traffic noise wash less than usual and therefore a perfect day to record a birds activity.
This recording starts slowly. Just few birds have arrived when the recording starts. But in the end the birds have eaten almost everything and they start singing, packed in the trees all a around my house.

(224kbps / 48Mb)

Recorder: Sound devices 788
Mics: Rode NT1a in Rycote Cyclone (AB50 setup)
Pix: GoPro Hero3
Weather: Cloudy, light breeze, snowing and -3°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 is easy to go in to a special mood when I think of the Icelandic highland and all the fabulous moments I have experienced there twenty to thirty years ago.
This quiet black desert gives me always a wonderful feeling. Just like I am in love.
Endless fields of weather beaten black and gray gravel, with a soundscape of wind and water, or just a real silence.
River sources and oases are there in many places. This water sources have very often some life. If not just a thin layer of sensitive moss, then grassland with birds, insects and even mammals.
Sadly, many of these wonderful quiet places have been under a threat by humans activity last decades, so they are not anymore this magic places as they were for a lonely cyclist more than twenty years ago. Some of them has been totally destroyed, like huge area in the east highland, like Vesturöræfi 
For that reason I will not inform where the following recording was made. I just like to say, it was recorded in the highland in one of my „hidden places“ that still exists and has not been destroyed with hydro power plant, tourists, offroad driving motorist, or human waste.
This recording is very quiet. It contains a dunlin, howling arctic fox, europian golden plover, red necked phalarope and pink footed goose.
The background noise is a waterflow from nearby water source.
This was recorded 17th of July 2015 around two o´clock in the morning.
Quality open headphones are recommended while listening at low to mid level, or in speakers at low level .

Tófuvæl

Það verður að viðurkennast að á þeim árum sem ég ferðaðist sem mest um landið á reiðhjóli, var ég ekki oft var við tófu, hvað þá að heyra í þeim. Eftir að hætt var að greiða mönnum fyrir skott hafa tófuveiðar svo til lagst af. Tófu er því að fjölga og það líklega um allt land því ég er farinn að sjá hana oftar og heyra.
Það gerðist svo í sumar að ég náði að hljóðrita tófuvæl á hálendinu á einum af mínum leyndu eftirlætis dvalarstöðum frá fyrri tíð.
Í upptökunni hér fyrir neðan má heyra í tófu á 5. mínútu. Hún er því miður í talsverðri fjarlægð enda kannski ekki furða með mann í næsta nágrenni. Þótt þetta sé ákaflega þögul upptaka heyrist líka í lóuþræl, heiðlóu og grágæs, sem og óðinshönum í návígi á 18. mínútu.

 Download mp3 file  (256kbps / 52Mb)

Recorder: Sound device 744
Mics: Rode NT1a (NOS)
Pics: Canon EOS M
Weather: Cloudy, drissle rain, calm- up to 8 m/s, around +3¨C
Location: Sorry, no comment

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