Seagulls at the beach

Some time ago, I updated the firmware on my Zoom H1 so that I could use it as a USB mic with my phone. As soon as I got my hands on a USB to micro-USB adapter, it was ready to go. Nice!

Recording the beach at night

My urge to do some field recording was in the back of my mind when my wife and I took our newborn for a trip to the city beach. I noticed there were some very nice sounds of the ocean there. Specifically, there is a concrete path next to the beach and so you can place a mic on the concrete next to the beach and point it to where the waves come up on the sand. In stereo, this creates a pleasing effect where you can hear the wave rolling in from one side to the other.

There were also places where concrete steps led down into the ocean and these trap sound a bit like a bathroom – it sounds like an enclosed space even if it’s open! I wanted to mic that as well.

So, I went back around midnight when I figured there would be less people around and recorded a bit. Unfortunately, there was a slight breeze and it fucked things up, even after I put a foam windscreen on. The H1 seems very susceptible to wind-noise when out in the open. Perhaps I can build a little shelter that it can point out from.

Seagulls on the balcony

The next day, after breakfast, I put some food out on the balcony to attract some seagulls. Eventually a bunch of them showed up and I recorded them with my H1. Unfortunately, that day was even windier and so I got even more wind in my recordings. Still, I also recorded a bit of seagull action.

Mixing it all together

I put it all in reaper and started removing the bits with wind in it. Okay, all of it was windy, but in some cases, you could actually hear ambience and it was possible to EQ the wind away to some extent.

I overlapped the sound of the beach and the sound of the seagulls and I got a relatively short stereo sound clip compared to how much time was spent recording.

So here it is, the sound of Kristiansand Bystranda (town beach) at midnight paired with seagulls fighting over food scraps on our balcony, heavily edited and EQed of course!

Sound test : Du Å Me

Not long ago, I made a sound test with a mic setup and I didn’t really document it as thoroughly as I should and so I thought I should do so from memory while I still can.

I used six microphones in all, a zoom h1, two Røde NT1-As large condenser mics, two NT5 small condenser mics and a GM10 small condenser mic. I used them to record and overdub three guitars.

  • Seagull S6 Cedar
  • Merida Classical Guitar
  • Takamine EG512C Bass Guitar

I didn’t care about getting good takes, so they’re particularly bad here. I just wanted to know if it was a good setup for the guitars I used and for this particular song.

Zoom H1

This was used as a stereo overhead. I love this mic for field recordings and thought it might be nice for overhead use. I had it hooked up to two inputs in my soundcard and recorded it as a stereo-channel.

I did not like the sound very much on any of the three guitars I recorded with and I don’t think I ended up using any of them in the mix.

Future tip: My other mics generally seem better for recording a single guitar.

Røde NT1-A

I had one NT1-A placed about 15~20 CM from the area where the neck meets the body and another NT1-A placed about 40 CM away to the right of the guitar, pointing towards the sound hole. I got a fairly warm, intimate sound from this setup on the acoustic guitars, but on the acoustic bass, the closest NT1-A did basically nothing. My impression is the bass guitar is large and more distance is needed for any mic to pick up the sound from the whole instrument.

Future tip: For my large bass guitar, the NT1-A needs more distance than 15~20 CMs.

NT5s

The NT5s were positioned at about head height for me when sitting down and pointing down towards the guitar body. They were perhaps half a metre away or so. One was to the left of me and the other to the right. The setup is similar to what’s shown in the video I made in the last post, only there they are positioned lower.

Future tip: I think I prefer micing these a little lower, but it worked out pretty well either way.

GM10

The GM10 I almost always put 15~20 CMs over the 12th fret basically because I read on the internet that it’s a good placement and it seems the manufacturer intended it to be relatively close proximity as it comes with a clamp for securing it to the guitar. I did so this time as well.

The result

Check it out!

Du Å Me is a song by a folk band I play in. It normally has vocals, but as I hate the sound of my own voice, I put in some other things. The other things recorded here, concertina, fender rhodes midi, flute from my GR-55, are relics from other sound tests of the same song.

The sound I got on this version was mostly made by muting the mics that I didn’t feel worked and then panning the instruments slightly different. There’s no comp, EQing, etc. on the guitars. However, the reused concertina recording is compressed somewhat.

I think what I ended up with is a warm and intimate guitar sound and it suits the song well. Still, that I removed some mics entirely from the mix indicates they were positioned poorly. I think the warmness of the sound is mostly a combination of the NT1-As position in combination with the GM10. The NT5 gives it a brighter “hi-fi” dazzle, but it’s pretty subdued here. A similar setup might work well in the future for warm, cozy, sleepy sounds.

Welcome to the studio – meet the mics!

I made a short video showcasing my humble home studio tent. Check it out, yo!

With the mics in that position and the sound holes aimed just to the right of those NT1-As, I recorded a sound test with the following guitars.

  • Seagull S6 Cedar
  • Merida classical guitar
  • A small, old german traveller’s / toy guitar from the 50s that’s never in tune

The german relic was just tossed in there for fun. I was just curious what sound it’d make.

I gave the old Scarborough Fair a go and you can hear the result here.

I got three tracks for each guitar, two stereo tracks for the NT5s and the NT1-As and one track for the GM10.

The seagull is panned 20% to one side, the Merida 20% to the other, the toy guitar is in the middle. There’s no EQ or comp or anything and the volume between the mics is as is when I recorded it except for the toy guitar where I upped the volume on the GM1o.

Welcome to my studio diary

Hi and welcome to my new blog.

I’m an amateur musician / bedroom producer and the owner of a small home studio. I find myself experimenting with various kinds of setups and so the main purpose of this blog is for me to write notes so that my future self can see what I did to get the sound that I got.

The second purpose of this blog is to have some place where I can get some feedback. Really, half the time I don’t know what I’m doing and I’m just playing around. As I write this, I’m hoping to get some tips.

In my next post, I will document the state of my studio and what sort of equipment I currently have and use.

Thanks for stopping by!