Archive for March, 2009

Field Recording and the Loudness Race

March 2, 2009

It appears to me that field recordists and phonographers are the only remaining people in the audio industry who still care about having dynamic content in their material.

The battle for the consumers money has resulted in increasingly loud music. Louder is better. Louder means more money in the bank.

Louder however also means boring song material and fatiguing music because dynamics and clarity have disappeared in the process of compressing and limiting the sound material to maximum loudness. It is not uncommon for CD’s today to peak at full scale almost throughout their entire length.

This stands in sharp contrast to the dynamics of sound in the natural world. Quiet and very quiet sounds exist alongside louder sounds. Consider a forest at dawn in spring or a tropical rain forest after a thunder storm. Quietly falling drops of water, the rustling of the foliage, birds in the trees vocalizing their songs and insects humming above the flowers, some rolling thunder in the distance. Imagine how this would sound if everything was compressed to equal loudness and normalized to peak level.

Sound artists and more so field recordists and phonographers are trying to capture the world of natural sound dynamics.

Recording in North India with Chris Watson

March 2, 2009

Beginning of next month I will be going on a recording trip to Corbett National Park in North India. On the trip also will be Chris Watson.

Corbett is situated in the foothills of the Himalaya mountains in the Nainital and Pauri Garhwal districts of Uttaranchal at altitudes ranging from 400m to 1100m. The forests, jungles and grasslands feature some of the richest wildlife in the Indian sub-continent.


Mammals are typically Rhesus Macaques, Langurs, Leopards, Jungle Cat, Leopard Cat, Fishing Cat, Dhole, Jackals, Red Fox, Sloth Bear and the Black Bear. Near to 600 species of birds can be observed and reptiles are typically the Gharial Crocodile, the Muggar (Marsh Crocodile) but also the Indian Python, Viper and the King Cobra.

This will be a unique opportunity once again to work with Chris and learn from the master in wildlife recording.

My recording kit so far looks like this:

Sound Devices 702 recorder
Sennheiser MKH 8020/ MKH 30 mid side kit
DPA 4060 spaced omni kit