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Posts Tagged ‘Rode NT1a’

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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

Auglýsingar

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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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The 10th of July 2015 I visited Ásbyrgi national park, in the north east Iceland.
I arrived around 9 pm. The weather was rather cold, with light drizzle rain. However there was a sport game on the old camp side held by the local community. Calls, yell and sheers from audience sounded fantastic in the echo from the surrounding cliffs. Mixed with the birdsong from the forest and the cliffs above it sounded like I was in another world.
I found a good place to record this amazing soundscape.
Soon I noticed a boring noise in the background from petrol power generator so the recording was shorter than I hoped .
When I came back to the car park the sport game was finished and the people were leaving the place. I heard someone in the crowd playing on Mbira thump piano. It came from female in traditional dress. Her instrument sounded nice in this place, so I enjoyed listening while I was packing my gear in the car.
Some Icelandic male in the crowd called after her: ‘Where are you from?“
„I am from everywhere“ she repleted.
Funny answer, I thought and started to listen to the conversations. Why not record her while she was playing?
She gave me a permission, so we took a walk to Botnstjörn pound in the bottom of Ásbyrgi.
Her name is Jessica Rose, with nickname Fairy.
I did not dare to ask her about her nationality, but her English was from the west, maybe from Canada, or north east USA. She was traveling in Iceland with her sister and two friends.

Fairy in Ásbyrgi

Um miðjan júlí 2015 kom ég við í Ásbyrgi. Ég hafði gefið mér nægan tíma þar árið áður svo ég ætlaði ekki að að eyða þar miklum tíma heldur fara á aðra staði í þjóðgarðinum sem ég hafði „hljóðstað“ á.
Ég kom á bílastæðið í botni Ásbyrgis um kl. 21. Á gamla tjaldsvæðinu stóð yfir íþróttamót. Það var því óvenju mikið af bílum og fólki á svæðinu. Hvattningarköll áhorfenda bergmáluðu sérkennilega milli klettanna í bland við fuglasöng úr skóginum og fýlahjal ofan úr klettunum. Ég rauk því til og fann mér upptökkustað. En það leið ekki á löngu að suð frá bensínrafstöð á keppnissvæðinu fór að pirra mig. Upptakan var því styttri en til stóð.
Þegar á bílastæðið var komið var fólk að streyma af mótssvæðinu. Heyri ég þá að einhver spilar á þumalpiano sem hljómaði skemmtilega á þessum stað. Var þar á ferð dama að nafni Jessica Rose sem vildi láta kalla sig Fairy. Var hún þarna í félagsskap með systur sinni og tveimur öðrum vinum á ferð um landið.
Ég stóst ekki mátið. Ég fékk leyfi hjá henni til að taka tónlist hennar upp og var það gert á pallinum við Botnstjörn.

Download mp3 file (256kbps / 48Mb)

Recorder Sound devices 788
Mics: Rode NT1a (NOS) & Sennheiser MKH8020/8040 (ORTF)
Pic: Canon EOS M
Recording location: 65.998557, -16.513076
Weather: Drizzle rain, calm and about 9°C

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Nothing is closer to a perfect experience as being alone in the wilderness, as far from any machines or human activity as you can. And when it is in cold or high altitude with no, or very quiet animal spices, your sense of organ, automatically starts to detect many things you may have never noticed before.
This is one of the things that make field recording in quiet environment so exciting. When you ignore the noise in your head and start to use all your senses, you suddenly noticed another level of sonic world. As a former touring cyclist I spent many weeks every year on the Icelandic highland. I was mostly alone so I got a great opportunity to listen deeply to this quiet soundscape.
Most of this soundscape is just a sound of wind and water and sometimes birds, sheep and gnats in distance.
Following recording contains this typical Icelandic highland soundscape as I remember it. It is so quiet that even the best modern recording equipment can barely capture it and lot of people would not hear anything in such places.
This recording sounds really nice in full quality, but as in mp3 format I am not sure if it interest online listener. Most PC soundcards and headphones do not have the sufficient quality to make it interesting. But anyway it is now online. This is, by the way, my favorite recording material.
The recording was captured between 8 and 9 am 26th of June 2014 in Vesturöræfi moorland, a huge open landscape east of Iceland in 600-800m above sea level. It was “early spring” so there was still a huge of snow.
The beat, or ticking sound, is a drops falling of strew down about 1cm in a small puddle (the picture above).
Some of the pink noise in the background is coming from the waves on the lake “Hálslón” (behind the microphones) and other flowing water in the area, so it is not only amplified noise or mic noise.
Audible birds are mostly Dunlin and in distance Golden Plover, Whimbrel and Northern Wheatear.
Thanks to the Friends of Vatnajokull who made this recording trip possible.
Quality headphones are recommended while listening at low level.

Droparnir falla á Vesturöræfum

Hér er á ferðinni upptaka frá Vesturöræfum vestan Snæfells. Þögnin var alger en þó mátti heyra í einstaka fugli. Það var tilvijun ein sem réði því að af þessari upptöku varð. Ég rölti um volteldissvæði nærri Klapparlæk rétt ofan við flóðlínu Hálslóns. Ég rak þá augun í vatnsdropa sem láku af strái í gríð og erg í lítinn poll þar sem þeir flutu og köstuðust til á vatnsfletinum í skamma stund.
Við að leggjast á fjórar fætur þá mátti greina taktfast ,,tikk” hljóð sem ég hlóðritaði í um klukkutíma.
Afraksturinn var að hluta til upptakan sem hér má heyra.
Fuglin sem helst heyrist í er lóuþræll, en í bakgrunni má heyra í lóu, spóa og steindepli.
Bakgrunnssuð er að hluta til frá öldugangi í Hálslóni og seitlandi leysingavatni í nágrenninu því enn var mikill snjór var á svæðinu þó kominn væri 26. júní.
Ekki er víst að allir geti notið þessarar upptöku þar sem hún þarf helst að hljóma í fullum upptökugæðum og góðum tækjum. En hér þó á ferðinni það upptökuefni sem heillar mig mest, það er það sem flestir mundu kalla ,,þögn”.
Þessari upptöku má þakka samtökunum Vinum Vatnajökuls sem gerðu það kleift að af þessari upptökuferð gat orðið.
Mælt er með því að hlusta á þessa upptöku í góðum heyrnartólum og á lágum hljóðstyrk.

Download mp3 file (256kbps / 45,68Mb)

Recorder: Sound Devices 744
Mics: Rode NT1a (NOS)
Pix: Canon EOS-M See more photos from the highland recording tour
Recording location: 64.873400, -15.817833
Weather: Cloudy, about 5°C. Calm

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