Leaving the house for once – Field Recording
We’ve been super busy over here at Labsamples, working hard to provide you guys with great sample content, coupled with an insight into our production process and how we go about creating our sounds and samples. For this particular blog post, we’ve decided to give the studio tan a break, and venture outside for some field recording goodness.
Sometimes the most interesting and unique field recordings can be created by recording everyday sounds an interesting way. For example, using contact microphones, or hydrophones, instead of, or in addition to traditional recorders.
Basically, it’s all about trying to think past the original sound source, picturing how you can drastically manipulate the sounds into something more usable and unique. This can be achieved by using FX chains, filters etc, and layering sounds over and over. This isn’t to say that you can’t leave sounds dry and throw them into your project. By experimenting and having fun working in this way, it won’t take long before you start to develop your own interesting process of creating samples.
Don’t be put off if you don’t have expensive equipment, it is much more to do with being creative and thinking outside the box. Of course, not all of the audio you record is going to be gold and ideal for your project, but having a large palate of sounds at your disposal, is always a powerful position to be in as a producer.
Getting out there…
By critically listening to your surroundings you can quickly begin to hear rhythms and patterns. Whether you’re in the city centre, or way out in the countryside, you’ll always find something that’s appealing to you. When you find your sound source get creative, lay under it, stand over it, record from various angles and distances. If you have the option to use various microphones do it!! Having many different versions of a particular sound source when field recording is great as it makes it much easier to put the sound into context when it comes to editing and creating your music. Of course, you need to be aware of the battery life and memory of your recorder, so make sure you have plenty of both before venturing out to record.
We can’t stress enough how important it is to monitor as you record. Using headphones will enhance your perception of the recording massively and allow you to really focus in on the sound and the stereo field. Depending on the sound source, you may want to spend time adjusting these settings before you start to ensure you capture the best results.
Getting the Field Recordings you want / need
This isn’t always an easy task, it can sometimes take more than one attempt to capture exactly what we desire but persistence is key. Having a specific palate of sounds in mind for that particular recording session can be really useful, especially if you’re recording for a specific project or soundscape. The best results are often developed from a well prepared session where you visit a specific area for specific sounds. This will help you hone in on exactly what you need to record for your project, allowing your recorded content to reach a higher standard.
Thinking out of the box
One example of where we captured some really interesting audio was incorporating a stereo XY pair (Zoom H4n) with a hydrophone and contact microphone attached simultaneously. We recorded the bottom of Bristol harbour with the hydrophone, the contact microphone captured the low frequency rumble from the road whilst the XY pair captured the ambience and surroundings. This can all be recorded at once when you use a four channel recorder such as the Zoom H4n.
The main thing about this type of sampling/ recording, is to feel inspired and have fun whilst doing it. Coming home with GBs worth of fresh material feels great! Ok, so when you get home and you have to spend hours again sifting through the rubbish to get to the good stuff, isn’t so fun, but when you find that golden nugget it makes it all worth while, plus, you’re the only person in the world with that particular sample, that’s pretty sweet.
Watch out for part two of our Field Recording blog post coming very soon
J (DLR) & Jack