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Posts Tagged ‘Sennheiser MKH20’

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Ásbyrgi has a fantastic soundscape. It is one of the wonders of nature, a forested horse-shoe shaped canyon in Oxarfjordur. Asbyrgi is a part of Jökulsárgljúfur, within the Vatnajökull National Park.
I was there recording over night for ten hours 1st. of June 2018 . I don´t know if it was the time of the year, or something else, but the cliffs were very quiet this night. Usually I have been there later in June and July and the Fulmar in the cliffs have been noisier.
It was around 8 o´clock in the morning, just before the tourist traffic arrived that the soundscape in the canyon changed. It was like the whole biosphere woke up with lots of birds and insects activity. The following recording is the last 30 minutes that day before the soundscape was ruined by traffic noise and yelling tourists. Several bird species are in this recording. Northern Fulmar, Common Snipe, Eurasia Woodcock, Whimbrel, Red-Necked Phalarope, European golden Plover,  Pink footed Goose, Eurasian Wigeon, Eurasian Teal, Redwing, Common Redpoll, and Snow Bunting.
Here you can also listen to older posts from Ásbyrgi: Fairy in Ásbyrgi and Botnstjörn pond in Ásbyrgi.
Quality open headphones are recommended while listening at low to mid level, or in speakers at medium level.

  (mp3 256kbps/62,3Mb)

Recorder: Sound Devices MixPre6
Mics: Sennheiser MKH20 (AB40 setup)
Pix: LG G6
Location: 65°59’56.6″N 16°30’44.9″W
Weather: Clear sky, light gust, 5°C

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Kirkjubæjarklaustur (Klaustur) is a village in the south of Iceland on the hringvegur (road no. 1 or Ring Road) between Vík í Mýrdal and Höfn. It is part of the municipality of Skaftárhreppur and has about 500 inhabitants.
Even before the time of the first Norse settlement in Iceland, Irish monks are thought to have lived here. Since 1186, a well known convent of Benedictine nuns, Kirkjubæjar Abbey, was located in Kirkjubæjarklaustur, until the Reformation in 1550. The names of the waterfall Systrafoss („waterfall of the sisters“) and of the lake Systravatn („water of the sisters“) on the highland above the village refer to this abbey. Folk tales illustrate the history with stories about good and sinful nuns. The Systrastapi (sister’s rock) is where two of the convent’s nuns were buried after being burned at the stake. One of the nuns was accused of selling her soul to the Devil, carrying Communion bread outside the church, and having carnal knowledge with men; the other was charged with speaking blasphemously of the Pope. After the Reformation, the second sister was vindicated, and flowers are said to bloom on her grave, but not that of the first nun. Systravatn also has a legend relating to the convent. The nuns traditionally bathed in the lake, and one day two nuns saw a hand with a gold ring extending from the water. When they tried to seize the ring, they were dragged below the water and drowned.
The village became well known in Iceland during the Lakagígar volcano eruptions in 1783. The pastor of the local church and dean of Vestur-Skaftafellssýsla, Jón Steingrímsson (is) (1728 – 1791), delivered what became known as the „Fire Sermon“ (eldmessu) on July 20, 1783. The legend says that this sermon stopped the lava flow, and the village was spared at the last moment. The current church, constructed in 1974, was built in memory of the Reverend Jón Steingrímsson.
Today, the village is an important service center for the farms in the region as well as for tourists and weekend visitors. (Wikipedia)
During summer time many bird species are nesting close to the village and the river Skaftá which flows beside the village. Arctic Terns have a big colony almost in the middle of the village, so many other migrant birds are nesting there too.
The recording was captured early morning 7th of June 2016 and is a part of 7 hours long recording
Many bird species are in this recording, Arctic tern, Red wing, Common Snipe, Whimbrel, Common Redshank, Red-necked Phalarope and probably many other species. What I love most in this recording is in the middle of the recording, is a „special song“ of Eurasian Wigeon which is not a common bird in my recordings.
Quality headphones are recommended while listening at low to mid level, or in speakers at low level. Be careful, sometimes the level goes high when birds fly by.

(mp3, 265kbps / 59Mb)

Recorder: Sound devices 788
Mics: Sennheiser MKH20
Pic: Canon EOS-M

Location: 63.787049, -18.050793
Weather: Cloudy, Calm, around 7 °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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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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One year ago I was recording in Skaftafell national park and neighborhood in southeast of Iceland. One of my favorite recording place in this area is not exactly in the park, but on Skeiðarársandur, a huge broad sandy wasteland along Iceland’s south-eastern coast, between the Vatnajökull icecap and the sea.
One of the reason I love this place is the silence. There is almost „nothing“. Just the sand. In the horizon far away is the glacier Vatnajökull on the one side, and on the other side just the sky. The only thing that disturbs this silence is traffic or the wind. So when it is calm during the night and traffic is down it is possible to listen deep into this amazing open space. There is not much life. There is probably only Rock Ptarmigan that lives there all year around. Other species are migrants during the summertime so it is easy to say, Rock Ptarmigan is the residents of silence.
This recording is a recording of silence. Most people will not hear anything in this circumstances, probably only its own heartbeat and notice „they have“ tinnitus. But with best equipment is it possible to listen deeper into this quiet place.
You will hear some birds and insects. With good headphones you will hear the rumble sound of heavy surf on the beach 20 to 30 km far away.
BUT this recording is not completely quiet. So be careful while listening. Two birds, a male and female Rock Ptarmigan, are coming very close, „talking“ loud into your ears (2:05).
It is also worth to listen to another earlier recording from this place. „Stories from Skeiðarársandur„.
Quality open headphones are recommended while listening at low to mid level, or in speakers at low level.

(256kbps / 61Mb)

Recorder: Sound devices 788
Mics: Sennheiser MKH20 (AB40 +5° outward)
Weather: Calm, cloudy, +5°C
Location: 63.969892, -17.160072

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Last summer I spend one week at Raufarhöfn, a small village in north east of Iceland, close to the arctic circle. Most of the time it was a fool‘s weather for „quality“ recording. But anyway, I recorded almost 6 to 10 hours every night close to the sore. Most of theese recordings contains rumbling wind noise, but sometimes – very few times, I got what I was looking for.
Here is one of them, recorded 17th of June 2016.
It is early morning. The clock is around four. Birds are busy to protect and teach their young to search for food. Shortly after the recording starts, you can hear a fisherman pass by on his car on way to the harbor. Then later, the fishing boat goes, and passes by on the way to the sea. It takes a long time for the enginenoise to disrepair.
This is a peaceful recording. A typical midsummer morning soundscape at the arctic circle, where the sun never goes down. Many bird spices are in this recording, but mostly Common Eider and their youngs. Also you can hear Oystercatcher , Golden Plover, Purple Sandpiper, Red Necked Phalarope, Whimbrel, Common Snipe, Redwing, Snow Bunting, Svan, Great Northern Diver, Northern Fulmar, Kittiwake, Raven and probably may other.
Quality open headphones are recommended while listening at low to mid level.

(256kbps / 55Mb)

Recorder: Sound Devices 788
Mics. Sennheiser MKH20 (AB40)
Pics: Canon EOS–M

Location: 66.451296, -15.946621
Weather: Light gust, cloudy

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Pablo Sarasate was born 10 March 1844 in Pamplona, Navarre, the son of an artillery bandmaster. He began studying the violin with his father at the age of five and later took lessons from a local teacher. His musical talent became evident early on and he appeared in his first public concert in A Coruña at the age of eight.
His performance was well-received, and caught the attention of a wealthy patron who provided the funding for Sarasate to study under Manuel Rodríguez Saez in Madrid, where he gained the favor of Queen Isabella II. Later, as his abilities developed, he was sent to study under Jean-Delphin Alard at the Paris Conservatoire at the age of twelve.
There, at seventeen, Sarasate entered a competition for the Premier Prix and won his first prize, the Conservatoire’s highest honour. (There was not another Spanish violinist to achieve this until Manuel Quiroga did so in 1911; Quiroga was frequently compared to Sarasate throughout his career.)
Sarasate, who had been publicly performing since childhood, made his Paris debut as a concert violinist in 1860, and played in London the following year. Over the course of his career, he toured many parts of the world, performing in Europe, North America, and South America. His artistic pre-eminence was due principally to the purity of his tone, which was free from any tendency towards the sentimental or rhapsodic, and to that impressive facility of execution that made him a virtuoso. In his early career, Sarasate performed mainly opera fantasies, most notably the Carmen Fantasy, and various other pieces that he had composed. The popularity of Sarasate’s Spanish flavour in his compositions is reflected in the work of his contemporaries. For example, the influences of Spanish music can be heard in such notable works as Édouard Lalo’s Symphonie Espagnole which was dedicated to Sarasate; Georges Bizet’s Carmen; and Camille Saint-Saëns’ Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso, written expressly for Sarasate and dedicated to him.
Of Sarasate’s idiomatic writing for his instrument, the playwright and music critic George Bernard Shaw once declared that though there were many composers of music for the violin, there were but few composers of violin music. Of Sarasate’s talents as performer and composer, Shaw said that he „left criticism gasping miles behind him“. Sarasate’s own compositions are mainly show-pieces designed to demonstrate his exemplary technique. Perhaps the best known of his works is Zigeunerweisen (1878), a work for violin and orchestra. Another piece, the Carmen Fantasy (1883), also for violin and orchestra, makes use of themes from Georges Bizet’s opera Carmen. Probably his most performed encores are his two books of Spanish dances, brief pieces designed to please the listener’s ear and show off the performer’s talent. He also made arrangements of a number of other composers’ work for violin, and composed sets of variations on „potpourris“ drawn from operas familiar to his audiences, such as his Fantasia on La forza del destino (his Opus 1), his „Souvenirs of Faust“, or his variations on themes from Die Zauberflöte. In 1904 he made a small number of recordings. In all his travels Sarasate returned to Pamplona each year for the San Fermín festival.
Sarasate died in Biarritz, France, on 20 September 1908, from chronic bronchitis. He bequeathed his violin, made by Antonio Stradivari in 1724, to the Musée de la Musique. The violin now bears his name as the Sarasate Stradivarius in his memory. His second Stradivari violin, the Boissier of 1713, is now owned by Real Conservatorio Superior de Música, Madrid. Among his violin pupils was Alfred De Sève. The Pablo Sarasate International Violin Competition is held in Pamplona. (Wikipedia)
Following recording Zigeunerweisen is performed by Chrissie Telma Guðmundsdóttir (violin) and The Iceland Amateur Symphony Orchestra directed by Oliver Kentish.
This was recorded at Seltjarnarnes Church 16th of October 2016.
Thanks to Oliver and Chrissie who gave me a permission to publish this recording on the web.

(320Mbps / 24,4Mb)

Recorder: Sound devices 788
Mics: Neumann KM184 (NOS) & Line Audio OM1 (AB40) in 3m above orchestra. Sennheiser MKH20 for bass and Line Audio CM3 on soloist (Chrissie).
Location: 64.1485379,-22.0052351

More information:
Chrissie Telma Guðmundsdóttir
Oliver Kentish
The Iceland Amateur Symphony Orchestra

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