F7 Sound and Vision's Michael Oster has been recording the sounds around him since the 1970s, beginning on cassette and continuing all the way up to include 24 bit portable laptop based systems....
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Destroy cassette tapes and get some awesome, mutated new sounds. It's fun, easy and I show you how to do it effectively. Pictures and audio examples right now.
(tips and tricks.....)
Listen to the things around you. Really listen. I mean it. Even the most insignificant sounds can make a difference. Whatever you hear, your microphones will pick up. Be careful of your own noises. Your clothing, breathing, your slightest movements. All of that will get picked up. With experience, you'll learn how to control your breathing and movement so that doesn't ruin your recordings. Are you wearing any jewelry? Don't. Keys in your pocket? That stuff makes noise too.
Stuff you don't hear can be a factor too. Our brains tend to filter out sounds that are "unimportant" to us. That's why you might be surprised to hear things like pool pumps, air conditioners, distant traffic, or other things. Some of that can be gotten rid of in post production with a high pass filter, but not all of it. And filters/eq's have their problems too. So listen carefully and you'll begin to hear the "unimportant" stuff and be able to work around it.
Try to keep the microphones still. Any change in position will alter the audio perspective (if you're weaving through crowds or locations on purpose, then this is not an issue). Beware of the microphone cable and stand (if used). Bumping them will make noise.
Minidisc, DAT, video, and cassette recorders have moving parts in them that make noise. Try to use your body as a baffle, if possible, between the recorder and the microphones.
Other "field recording" devices to consider: micro cassette (yes, that hideous format), mini digital voice recorders, MP4 recorders, iRiver, video cameras (have internal microphones - but lots of internal machine noise), iPod (with the voice recorder option), standard cassette..., and, of course, the professional setups that include laptops, DATs, CD recorders, solid state recorders, Masterlink, and more.
Each format will have it's own "sound" and recording limitations. Use these to your advantage. Understand that a street scene recorded with a microcassette will sound vastly different than the same thing recorded with a 24 bit laptop setup. But the microcassette recording will have a lo-fi"character" that makes it a very usable option down the road.
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Before you trash your old microphone and buy a new one, try something simple and unleash the multiple personalities of the mic you already have...
It's not the gear.
It's how you use it. Skill counts big in recording...
Diary of a Recorded Sound
What happens to make, record and playback sound?
The Story Behind My CDs
Personality, character, style, emotion and more go in before a CD ever comes out. There's a method to this madness.
Don't forget the Omni: Microphone
With microphones, cardioids tend to be the most commonly used probably because they have the advantage of rejecting sounds coming from behind them. But, like other directional microphones, they do have some disadvantages, such as proximity effect (an artificial low end boost that comes from setting up the microphone close to a sound source - the closer you get the more of a boost you get) and a less accurate frequency response. That's not to say that there's anything wrong with proximity effect because somtimes the artificial low frequency boost sounds good (like on voice or guitars). And a less accurate frequency response can add a desireable character to a microphone.
Omnidirectional microphones don't create a proximity effect when they're placed very close to a sound source. Also, they tend to have a "flatter" or more accurate frequency response which means that they'll reproduce more closely the sound that you're hearing. But, microphone placement of omnis is still critical to getting a good recording even in the field. I've found that I have to get closer to my sound subjects when I use omnidirectional microphones, which is not a big deal.
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