Ocean Wave

Scouting locations for long ambient recordings

We’ve been considering making available long recordings of various sounds, such as waves, wind, rain, waterfalls, rivers and streams etc for some time. The reason being we do get asked for these from time to time and also a recent conversation with one of our members made us rethink the idea. While the majority of our users find the 1 or 2 minute ambiences long enough, there are some who need longer recordings. But capturing long recordings can be problematic, especially as many things can interrupt it, including people, animals, traffic etc. So recently we’ve been out scouting some locations for recording these sounds and here is what we’ve found so far:

Ocean

Last night I was on a local beach and right now is probably the best time of year for recording as the beaches are not yet busy, the wind isn’t as strong as it can be during the hotter months and there are less mosquitos around to bug me while waiting out a long recording. So I set up a portable recorder (Sony PCM D100) and also used an AT825 stereo microphone in a Rycote windshield. The aim was to see how the wind affected the recording and if any other noises that may distract from the ambience existed. Being close to an airport where jets take off and land was an issue, so checking times for departures and arrivals beforehand gave me a good window of one hour. Luckily it’s not a busy airport. I had to move around a fair bit to find the right spot.

The recordings were pretty good. There was a bit of wind noise in a couple of areas but that was dealt wth by simply rolling off some of the low-end. It’s safe to say around 9pm seemed to be the best time for no air traffic and no people. Therefore we’ll be visiting this spot soon to gather some longer ambiences, maybe 10 minutes or so.

Forests

Another location I performed some tests at was in a local rainforest. About half an hour drive west from our studio is a set of beautiful rainforests that come alive with different noises at different times of the day and year. During the summer months there is a cacophony of insect noise, mainly cicada. However right now there is a low subtle noise of some insects and various birds. I initially went at 2pm on a week day thinking no kids and less people would give me space to record without interruption. However it seems that these popular spots are busy throughout the day. So I’m planning an evening/night trip to see if that is better. The only issue is I am not too keen on meeting any snakes or spiders so I’m on the lookout for a local expert to come along with me. But I think I’ve found some good locations that will provide me with uninterrupted space to record long forest sound effects.

Wind

I wanted to check out and test some locations for recording wind sound effects. The gentle breeze through trees or long grass is what I was after so had to drive a good 2 hours out into the bush to get away from people, traffic etc. I found the perfect spot, just off a small road that gets barely any traffic and where there is a huge open space. There wasn’t anyone or anything within miles and I was able to get a 30 minute recording with no issues. Thirty minutes is probably longer than most users would need, but it installed confidence in me that such locations do exist and if need be, they are not too far away. I’ll be visiting again, but this time maybe on a stormier day as well as calmer days to gather some really nice long wind recordings.

Do you need longer ambience recordings than a minute or two? If so, let us know in our forum and we can possible try and record them for you.

By Alan