Dec 04
Waves on rocks

Recording the ocean: rock pools

I’ve lived by the ocean all my life. Firstly Portsmouth UK, then Brighton, Worthing (both UK) and now as many of you who have read these posts will know, Queensland Australia. My local beach is Mudjimba, a long sandy beach that stretches for many kilometres. Waves can be huge surf or smaller shore breaks. Not so far away (about 30km) is Caloundra, the southern most town on the Sunshine Coast and home to more beautiful beaches, but more specifically, rock pools. My children love spending an hour or two there with buckets and fishing nets trying to catch the bright orange and blue crabs (I am not sure the species). So this was to be the location of my latest ocean sound effects.

I arrived with a Sony PCM D100 portable recorder, AT825 microphone and Zoom H5 recorder and set up as close to the edge of the rock pools as possible. My aim was to capture the gentle small waves that were lapping at the rocks as the tide slowly went out. In the distance (about 30km south) was a thunderstorm that let out occasional rumbles of thunder, but not a major problem as they were few and far between. Most of the others on the beach had left as it rained before I arrived setting up the location perfectly for me.

Firstly I set up the AT825 on a stand very close to the water and left it recording for 10 mins or so to see how it sounded. I’ve always found this particular microphone a little flat when recording close up, but it’s kind of the microphone I don’t mind destroying, so it’s useful to bring along.

Next I switched over to the Sony PCM D100 and positioned myself holding it close to a small ledge, where the waves were lapping up and over creating a really nice water flushing over then draining sound. I added a little boost to the top end to the mix for these to place emphasis on the closer waves and retract from the distant surf which works well.

As always, in any location, it’s important to experiment with positioning and microphone placements, so I tested some further spots. One interesting position I found was behind a large rock which was blocking some of the higher frequencies from the distant waves, allowing me to capture a cleaner recording of the movement of the water around and behind the rock. It’s variations such as this which often provide a more meaningful recording to certain users or for certain scenarios so adding them to the library is always useful.

Finally I recorded a few general ambiences with the microphone set at about 2 metres from the ground facing out to sea but slightly down towards the rocks below.

I hope these will be useful to you. They compliment the existing collection of free ocean sound effects, which you can download here. As always, feel free to message me with requests for specific sounds and I’ll do my best to create them.

About The Author

I'm the founder of and professional sound designer. I provide free sound effects for games, TV, radio, filmmaking, podcasts, YouTube and more. You can download all my sounds free as mp3 and wav files here at ZapSplat.

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