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Recording kit for ambiences for film
Old 3rd January 2022
  #1
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🎧 5 years
Recording kit for ambiences for film

Ciao,

I need to record some (mainly quite quiet forest) ambiences for a film and i'm trying to figure out the best way to do it with the stuff I have at hand.

I tried some Zoom H4 PRO recorder but the preamps are SO noisy that I couldn't use the recording.

I'm borrowing a Sound Devices recorder, which seems to be the ticket, but I have limited access to it so I'll probably need a backup plan as well.

What I was thinking was to use my trusty RME Babyface pro as a preamp and plug that to some recorder, e.g. the ZOOM. So I suppose I'd need a USB batterypack to power the Babyface pro and then just plug that into the Zoom. Have you guys used this kind of a setup?

The mics I have are pair of Oktavia 012s and Sennheiser ME66.

Cheers,

-Teo
Old 3rd January 2022
  #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Teofunk ➡️
Ciao,

I need to record some (mainly quite quiet forest) ambiences for a film and i'm trying to figure out the best way to do it with the stuff I have at hand.
Given the equipment you have at hand, you might be better off simply buying some stock ambient forest recordings (unless the sounds have to be from this specific forest and someone could tell if they weren't). You'd get professional sound quality for much less money than investing in better equipment.
Old 3rd January 2022
  #3
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norfolksoundman9's Avatar
 
🎧 5 years
Well, I'm all for having a go rather than using stock recordings, and, as I understand it, the RME Babyface can be used as a standalone device so it should be possible: at that point, though, perhaps you could just use a laptop in the field too rather than go back into analogue for the H4n Pro. It all sounds much more clunky than a decent field recorder, though, so why not just use the borrowed Sound Devices recorder when you can?

And thinking of self-noise problems for quiet ambiences, won't the Oktava MK012s (at 18dBA) be less than ideal? What capsules do you have for them? For quiet winter woodland ambiences, I would use something much quieter, esp. if a still day.

Finally, when recording outside, decent wind protection is essential (and those MK012s are particularly susceptible - though the omni caps less so of course): what do you have in this regard? If nothing beyond (useless) foamies, then you need to factor this in.

Cheers,

Roland
Old 3rd January 2022
  #4
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🎧 10 years
Hire a proper recorder and proper mics, its so much easier.
Old 3rd January 2022
  #5
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jnorman's Avatar
I think you can get a used mixpre3 and a pair of line audio OM1s for around $500…
Old 3rd January 2022 | Show parent
  #6
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norfolksoundman9's Avatar
 
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by jnorman ➡️
I think you can get a used mixpre3 and a pair of line audio OM1s for around $500…
Not quite sure why the OM1 recommendation: we don't know if Teo has omni caps or not for his MK012s, and, like the latter, the OM1s are 18dBA too - rather noisy for quiet winter woodland ambiences in my experience.

Cheers,

Roland
Old 3rd January 2022
  #7
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jnorman's Avatar
Roland - I was just trying to think of an affordable two-omni kit, and the line audio mics are quite neutral/flat and have very good off-axis response. I used the little OM1s as piano spots quite often, and never ran into any noise problems, though I guess that could be an issue for ambience work. but isn’t it pretty easy to use subtractive eq to remove hiss in the same manner that we remove hvac, etc?
Old 3rd January 2022 | Show parent
  #8
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🎧 5 years
Cheers for all the comments.

Aye, I suppose I might need a rent a pair of microphones.. Although the noise from the Oktavas is not the worst and sounds quite pleasant, but you guys are probably right.

And I agree that using the Babyface just as a preamp and then recording with Zoom is not great but doing with a laptop is not ideal either (especially with extreme cold + snow).

So, I suppose the deal is I need to do with the Sound Devices recorder and get another pair of microphones.. Now I just need to hope for calm days when I have the recorder..

Edit: Just noticed that my local audio shop has one AT4021 for 200 euros.. I know I can't get a stereo recording then but I'll probably do bunch of stuff to the ambience anyway so having just one mono track is least of my worries, especially if it is extremely quiet.. I might even try to do some mid/side miccing if I manage to jamm 2 microphones into Rode Blimp :D

Last edited by Teofunk; 3rd January 2022 at 11:44 PM..
Old 3rd January 2022
  #9
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tourtelot's Avatar
 
1 Review written
🎧 10 years
You probably know this but don't overlook wind protection for your mics. Even on a "calm" day, condenser recording mics, even omnis, are sensitive to even the slightest breeze.

Oh, never mind. Roland already mentioned it. Sorry for piling on.

D.
Old 4th January 2022 | Show parent
  #10
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norfolksoundman9's Avatar
 
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by jnorman ➡️
Roland - I was just trying to think of an affordable two-omni kit, and the line audio mics are quite neutral/flat and have very good off-axis response. I used the little OM1s as piano spots quite often, and never ran into any noise problems, though I guess that could be an issue for ambience work. but isn’t it pretty easy to use subtractive eq to remove hiss in the same manner that we remove hvac, etc?
I thought so, James: the OM1s have a good reputation, but I just don't think they have an edge on the MK012s for this use nor are either - at 18dBA - the right tool for quiet forest ambiences. As chance would have it, I spent some of this weekend recording ambient noise in an English woodland (not for the first time), and needed much lower self-noise mics. As for subtractive EQ, if this was such a panacea, we would all be using very small diaphragm omni mics - such as Earthworks mics, or DPA lav mics - and just eq the hiss away. It is not for nothing that, on occasion, some of us lug LDC mics with extreme low self-noise into wilderness, with all the additional hassle of wind protection that this entails!

Cheers,

Roland
Old 4th January 2022 | Show parent
  #11
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norfolksoundman9's Avatar
 
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Teofunk ➡️
I might even try to do some mid/side miccing if I manage to jamm 2 microphones into Rode Blimp :D
And don't forget, especially if you lack an SDC fig 8 or the budget to rent/buy one (esp. one with low self-noise), that you can stick two omni mics end-to-end in a Rode blimp and get decent separation. Here's my example with Rode NT55 mics: https://drbadphil.com/omni-mic-pair-in-a-single-blimp

Cheers,

Roland
Old 4th January 2022
  #12
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🎧 10 years
If this is going to be your film you might not be bothered by the mono ambience, but if you're providing these samples to a film maker, mono may be viewed as severely limited.

I realise if this was a regular mono sound effect you could probably surround it with a convincing stereo reverb, but are you likely to be able to add satisfactory levels of stereo ambience to your mono ambience ?

If your long range aim is equipping yourself for ambience recording, confining yourself to mono collection of samples is a significant and unnecessary limitation .

Do you live close enough to the forest that you could run long mic cables out from your house ....several hundred metres of cable could bring the signals directly into your Babyface/computer ?
Old 4th January 2022
  #13
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norfolksoundman9's Avatar
 
🎧 5 years
I would far rather have a quiet forest ambience in stereo with your borrowed SD recorder and existing MK012 mics (whatever caps are on them - and we still don't know) than a mono ambience with an as yet unpurchased AT402.

If borrowing/purchasing the right gear (decent recorder, like the SD; low-noise stereo pair*, be that MS, spaced omni, cardioids in ORTF/NOS etc.; and proper wind protection) when you need it, then do as Roger (Rolo 46) suggested and hire the kit.

Cheers,

Roland

* self-noise of mics suitable will very much depend on just how quiet is the forest in question, and how you will use the ambience recording, so very hard for anyone but you to determine. I suspect 18dBA (i.e. your MK012s) is too high, but - with suitable wind protection - you could check this when you have the SD recorder before spending any more money.
Old 4th January 2022
  #14
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Cheers again for all the comments. This part of the forums seems quite active and you guys really know what you are talking about. Really level headed advices, much obliged!

I have access to all the capsules for the MK012's so I'll definitely try your omni with the Rode Blimp Roland!

I probably should have said that I have background in music production so i'm quite confident that I can whip something up if I have recordings that are decent enough. But like you probably guessed microphones and audio engineer are not my forte..

I suppose I shouldn't have jumped into this head first, but live and learn..
Old 4th January 2022 | Show parent
  #15
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andre tchmil's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Teofunk ➡️
Cheers again for all the comments. This part of the forums seems quite active and you guys really know what you are talking about. Really level headed advices, much obliged!

I have access to all the capsules for the MK012's so I'll definitely try your omni with the Rode Blimp Roland!

I probably should have said that I have background in music production so i'm quite confident that I can whip something up if I have recordings that are decent enough. But like you probably guessed microphones and audio engineer are not my forte..

I suppose I shouldn't have jumped into this head first, but live and learn..
I'm in exact the same boat at the end of this month. Having a laptop and babyface pro and some decent mics to go with. But the Babyface needs a psu if you want to use phantom. Was thinking to buy one of the cheaper field recorders and go with my microphones. Thing is which one of these has the best preamps ? And I'm going to diy a dead cat
Old 4th January 2022 | Show parent
  #16
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norfolksoundman9's Avatar
 
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by andre tchmil ➡️
Was thinking to buy one of the cheaper field recorders and go with my microphones. Thing is which one of these has the best preamps ?
Well this rather depends what you mean by 'one of the cheaper field recorders': from the perspective of top-end professional recorders such as the Nagra VI, SD Scorpio and SD 888, the SD Mixpre series recorders and the Zoom F series recorders are at the cheap end. Of these, I prefer the preamps of the Mixpre series recorders and, indeed, their functionality (which includes overdubbing: unusual for a proper field recorder), but there is no denying that the Zoom F6, for example, is very good value for 6 channels and has respectable preamps.

Cheers,

Roland
Old 4th January 2022
  #17
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kludgeaudio's Avatar
 
As far as wind protection goes on a budget, the WindTech US-1 will give you more for the dollar than anything out there. They are essential for outdoor music festivals.

For sound gathering... they're a little light-duty and I'd much rather have a dead cat. If I were in your space, I'd rent a Schoeps (or even better an MKH-20) with a dead cat and a Sound Devices kit.

But you work with what you can get.
--scott
Old 4th January 2022 | Show parent
  #18
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🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by norfolksoundman9 ➡️
And don't forget, especially if you lack an SDC fig 8 or the budget to rent/buy one (esp. one with low self-noise), that you can stick two omni mics end-to-end in a Rode blimp and get decent separation. Here's my example with Rode NT55 mics: https://drbadphil.com/omni-mic-pair-in-a-single-blimp
Cheers,
Roland
Yep, I think i'm quite short on SDCs with fig 8 (seems to be quite rare..) especially with low noise.. I have plenty of nice LCDs with fig 8 but it seems unlikely I can get any of those into the Blimp with any other mic.

One could probably create some interesting soundscapes with such a configuration though..
Old 4th January 2022 | Show parent
  #19
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🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by andre tchmil ➡️
I'm in exact the same boat at the end of this month. Having a laptop and babyface pro and some decent mics to go with. But the Babyface needs a psu if you want to use phantom. Was thinking to buy one of the cheaper field recorders and go with my microphones. Thing is which one of these has the best preamps ? And I'm going to diy a dead cat
I think you can power the Babyface with a power bank or such, so that could be an option and I could imagine you could power it from a car-lighter with USB-adapter. I'm not much of a AD/DA believer so I might even try iPhone as a recorder if you are using BFP's preamps..

Zoom H4 PRO at least has horrific preamps so don't buy that one

Zoom F6 seems to have the best preamps etc. in the sub 1000€ category. But that's my totally uneducated assumption..
Old 4th January 2022 | Show parent
  #20
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norfolksoundman9's Avatar
 
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Teofunk ➡️
Yep, I think i'm quite short on SDCs with fig 8 (seems to be quite rare..) especially with low noise.. I have plenty of nice LCDs with fig 8 but it seems unlikely I can get any of those into the Blimp with any other mic.

One could probably create some interesting soundscapes with such a configuration though..
For an SDC fig 8 the MKH30 is the best bet: reasonably low self-noise and excellent in humid conditions. Getting LDC mics outside isn't impossible, even in less than ideal conditions (see, for example, Magnús Bergsson's excellent examples: https://fieldrecording.net/). But it isn't one for the faint-hearted or seeking lightweight convenience - such as my LDC MS behemoth: https://drbadphil.com/windshield-for-ldc-mics

So, in your shoes, I'd start by testing out your MK012 mics with omni caps in your Rode Blimp (I think from your posts, you mean you have one already: if not, perhaps get a pair of Rycote Baby Ball Gags as this will give you more flexibility in terms of stereo pairs with different polar patterns, albeit without quite so good wind protection - not an issue if going for calmer weather).

Cheers,

Roland
Old 4th January 2022 | Show parent
  #21
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andre tchmil's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Teofunk ➡️
I think you can power the Babyface with a power bank or such, so that could be an option and I could imagine you could power it from a car-lighter with USB-adapter. I'm not much of a AD/DA believer so I might even try iPhone as a recorder if you are using BFP's preamps..

Zoom H4 PRO at least has horrific preamps so don't buy that one

Zoom F6 seems to have the best preamps etc. in the sub 1000€ category. But that's my totally uneducated assumption..
interesting info about the Zoom type preamps.
I think I will skip the babyface route and go for some type of field recorder and invest in a decent microphone pair with some wind protection.
Question is which recorder in the sub pro league have the best pre's.
Any major photography brand seems to have one. Olympus offers one with a Rycote style windshield. I'm recording for an art project , so don't need highest quality and I can do some post of course.
Old 4th January 2022
  #22
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🎧 5 years
Other than their weight and bulk, the main reason you'll hardly ever see nature recordists using LDCs is their generally poorer off axis response - recording outdoor ambience, one wants sounds coming from all directions to have the same quality.
Old 4th January 2022
  #23
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There's a lot of good info at https://www.creativefieldrecording.com/

I especially like the interviews with field recordists, and there are lots of in-depth reviews, including some that were made after using a recorder for a year or more (the most useful reviews in my opinion).
Old 4th January 2022 | Show parent
  #24
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norfolksoundman9's Avatar
 
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by M50k ➡️
Other than their weight and bulk, the main reason you'll hardly ever see nature recordists using LDCs is their generally poorer off axis response - recording outdoor ambience, one wants sounds coming from all directions to have the same quality.
I suggest you have a good listen to some of Magnús Bergsson's LDC recordings (and he is perhaps the best example of a nature recordist using LDCs, as he has the whole panoply of kit, including multiple MKH SDC mics, including a couple of MKH30s, yet still continues with a variety of LDCs for certain sounds(capes)) : https://fieldrecording.net/

I'm not in Magnús's league, but also use LDCs when needed, and can't say it's the off-axis response that is the downside.

Cheers,

Roland
Old 4th January 2022 | Show parent
  #25
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norfolksoundman9's Avatar
 
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by bradh ➡️
There's a lot of good info at https://www.creativefieldrecording.com/

I especially like the interviews with field recordists, and there are lots of in-depth reviews, including some that were made after using a recorder for a year or more (the most useful reviews in my opinion).
By far the most active (and friendly) place for field recordists, from seasoned professionals like George Vlad to amateurs, is the Field Recording FB group: you have to join, but it's very inclusive.

Cheers,

Roland
Old 4th January 2022 | Show parent
  #26
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🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by norfolksoundman9 ➡️
I suggest you have a good listen to some of Magnús Bergsson's LDC recordings (and he is perhaps the best example of a nature recordist using LDCs, as he has the whole panoply of kit, including multiple MKH SDC mics, including a couple of MKH30s, yet still continues with a variety of LDCs for certain sounds(capes)) : https://fieldrecording.net/

I'm not in Magnús's league, but also use LDCs when needed, and can't say it's the off-axis response that is the downside.

Cheers,

Roland
Thanks - love his extensive info/documentation.

Interesting, his use of IRT Cross mixed to stereo to record 360 degree sound field; as a binaural head would, but way more loudspeaker compatible..
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