field recording from F7 Sound and Vision

Michael Oster
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 solid state and laptop based systems....

recording music, sound effects, broadcast, CDs.
Michael Oster - discography
Podcast - the Difficult Listening Channel
Michael Oster - latest news and credit information



Million Dollar Upgrade - FREE!!
Improve your production skills without spending anything on new gear.... more

upgrade your skills free!

Tape Destruction
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.
more

cassette tape destruction
sound effects Concept:FX CD-ROMs aiff and WAV sounds
Concept:FX
Make your next sting KILL! Concept:FX sound effects are your secret weapon. more
SD 702 digital field recorder review.
Sound Devices 702
I've been putting this killer piece of kit into action recording aircraft flyovers, thunderstorms, bird calls, construction sounds and whatever else I can find that makes noise. Oh, and I wrote a review of the 702. more
Bobcat in my Backyard!
What looked like a common housecat when its back was to me then turns to reveal something wild! more
florida bobcat in my backyard
SD 702 digital field recorder review.
DAT Killer!
Sound Devices delivers a truly professional field recorder with it's 7 Series units. I just picked up a 702. DAT IS DEAD! Get the details. more
Sony PCM-D50 Review
Can I have "too many" digital audio field recorders? Can a woman have "too many" pairs of shoes? I didn't think so.... learn more
Sony PCM-D50 digital recorder review
Field recording wind protection
Lizard cage doubles as microphone wind screen!

Microphones and wind don't mix well, but that all changes when I place a stereo field recording mic inside a nylon mesh lizard enclosure. more
Suburban Fireworks

Suburban Fireworks
Field recording, 24 bits direct to laptop. This CD sounds like a warzone with hundreds of firework explosions, bottle rockets, and whatever else could be ignited!

Microphone wind protection
Windy Outside?
Use a $35 nylon mesh reptile enclosure as wind protection for your microphones and save hundreds of dollars! more

Experience "the Difficult Listening Channel" podcast where the sounds in my head become the sounds in yours. Many of my field recordings end up in these shows. more

podcast "the Difficult Listening Channel"
Electric PlacentaLand
Electric PlacentaLand is loud and intense. Its sonic textures and colors change, evolve and don't let you go. It's a blending of sound deconstruction and aural rebirth more
Electric PlacentaLand 2013 Michael Oster

Field Recording
So many sounds - happening all of the time - everywhere.


Michael Oster when not in the recording studio.


Above: April, 2007. I'm recording the sounds of Gasparilla Island, Florida with a Sound Devices 702 24 bit solid state recorder (review here) and Rode NT4 X/Y Stereo Microphone. This is a very high quality, extremely portable - professional recording setup. NOTE: August, 2012 - still using and loving the Sound Devices 702 recorder!!!!


For smaller jobs, I carry the Sony PCM-D50 (see my D-50 review for details) which replaced the Edirol R-09 as a pocket recorder (see my R-09 review for details) but it's not in the same league as the SD 7-series (nor is it meant to be). Besides, you never know when you're going to end up at someone's house that has a working 1905 Edison Cylinder player (I recorded the noise of the machine just before the music kicked in and ended up using it in one of my recent podcasts). There are probably about 5 other people out there who think that's cool.


Rode stereo microphone on boom pole recording aircraft flyovers


Above: Rode NT4 single point stereo microphone on the end of a boom pole (with Rycote Mini Windjammer furry cover) - recording aircraft flyovers at the Sun and Fun Fly-In, Lakeland, Florida. April 2007. Recorded to a Sound Devices 702.


Right: Hear the P-51 Mustang! These WWII era aircraft were just as impressive to hear as they were to watch.



Long-term Battery Power for Field Recording Equipment.

Field recording sometimes involves being far way from AC power and having to depend solely on batteries. But what if you're going to be out in the 'sticks' for a really long time - several days or even weeks? Some of the batteries used in field recording equipment are very expensive or take up a lot of space.

Well, here's my solution to remotely power recording gear using a sealed lead acid battery like the kind used in mobility scooters and a pure sinewave power inverter. With a small solar panel and voltage controller, you can use this setup to power your recorders, preamps, microphones, and even charge cell phones, camcorders, and laptops while away from AC power.


Below: A pure sine wave inverter and a battery commonly used in power wheelchairs combine to add some serious recording time to remote recorders. Add a 25 watt solar panel and you can record remotely for extended periods using the sun to recharge your power source!


Power wheelchair battery with a pure sinewave inverter.

Why do I record just about everything?

It must be some kind of sickness, but I love recording the sounds around me (also called phonography) - and then using them to create music and soundscapes.


Imagine for a minute how differently the world must have sounded 50 years ago; 300 years ago; or even 5000 years ago! We can guess, and try to recreate what we think things were like through sound design (and you hear this in feature films all the time). But what about actual, natural sonic snapshots of the world as it happened at those times? Today we can, and many of us do, capture the sounds of our everyday lives for documentary or artistic purposes. This process is made a lot easier by all new gear out there from the simple digital voice recorder up to professional recording workstations.


This part of my site focuses on field recordings which can be released on their own or edited into sound art collages, soundscapes, processed and morphed into alien worlds, or whatever your creative mind comes up with. The point of this kind of field recording (as I see it) is to capture an audio snapshot of what's going on around us in a way that tells a story to the listener (and the recording doesn't have to be made outside in a field either).


Below is a picture of my old "stealth" recording setup. *** UPDATE *** I've replaced the minidisc (Sony MZR-700 and its successor the iRiver IFP 899 mp3 recorder) with the
Sony PCM-D50. The headphones are not headphones at all. They are microphones sold by Sound Professionals! Why "stealth" microphones? Well people usually act differently when they know that they're being recorded. Now I'm not talking about dropping in on private conversations here. I'm referring to recording in natural situations where people are being "themselves". This is also a great way to discover "found sounds" or unexpected happenings which make their way into your recordings.


minidisc stealth recording setup




More on "Stealth Microphones"

Sound Professionals sells several variations of the "headphone/microphones" that I mentioned above.

My microphones are "high-gain" +7dB, omnidirectional. When they are worn on your head or neck, your body acts as a natural barrier and provides good stereo separation. If you plan on recording very loud sound sources like concerts and jet flyovers, you might want to go for the "normal gain" version.





Sony PCM-D50 portable digital recorder



Above: The Sony PCM-D50 has become my preferred pocket recorder. Though it's larger than its competition, it makes up for it in sound quality and durability. My review is here.



Within the last year or so, some better options to minidisc and DAT have become available by Edirol (R-09 and R-1), M-Audio (MicroTrack 24/96), Olympus, Yamaha, Tascam, Fostex, Sony, Sound Devices, and more. These are solid state recorders that are small, lightweight and record to Compact Flash and SD Cards. They also lean more towards the professional end of the spectrum with the ability to record uncompressed 24 bit WAV audio files! Sony's answer to the minidisc is the Hi-MD format which is capable of recording 16 bit uncompressed audio to a minidisc format or HI-MD disc. Though limited to 16 bits, minidisc should be considered as a field recording option if you're on a very limited budget.





Here are a few soundseeing recordings I made to minidisc "stealth style":


"Speaking of the Nonwilling" takes several dozen very short clips from some of my field recordings and edits them into a collage fashion to combine contrasting sounds for your amusement. [1.2Mb mp3]

"Quick Trip to the Grocery Store" begins with the required stop at the ATM and winds through the store to checkout. Near the end you'll hear my wife commenting about a 'body odor' smell. This recording is an edited version of several "snapshots" outside and inside the store. Recorded in October 2001. [2.1mb mp3]

"Garbage Truck" is what it says. Recorded with my right side facing the truck and to my left side is a walled in walkway where the reflected sound bounces around. [780kb mp3]

"Elevator Ride" recorded in an Arkansas hospital, the scene opens with a relaxed group outside the elevator. Inside, I chat some new friends on a 30 second ride. [960kb mp3]

"Bird and Workers" is a conversation between neighborhood songbirds and roof workers. What the hell, it sounded interesting, so I recorded it. [673kb mp3]

"Stem Cell Harvester XCU" extreme close up recording of a stem cell harvesting machine. Takes blood in, separates out stem cells and then replaces the blood. [605kb mp3]




My Field Recording Gear



Here's a list of my pro recording setups that I have used for some of my CD releases. Please keep in mind that I'm not in any way saying that you have to use what I use. There are many possible combinations of recording gear which will yield amazing results in the right hands....


For my high end recording setup before I picked up the Sound Devices 702 (which I used to record my CD, Suburban Fireworks") I went with the following gear:

Earthworks QTC-1 matched pair microphones >> Grace Design Lunatec V2 preamplifier >> Apogee Rosetta digital converters >> Apple iBook/PowerBook via Digidesign Mbox and Pro Tools LE.


I've recently been able to drop the laptop setup above and go with the Sound Devices 702 which has the advantage of recording at high sample rates, while being extremely portable, completely battery powered, and sounding beautiful! Though it's not small enough for stealth recording it's the recording kit I wished I had for the last 10 years. My SD field setup is:

Earthworks QTC-1 (now called Earthworks QTC40) matched pair (or Rode NT4) >> Sound Devices 702. Welcome to the 21st century!

P-51 Mustang Fly By's recorded at the Sun and Fun Fly-In (see left).


p51flyby04.mp3


p51flyby05.mp3


These are 160kbps mp3's of the original 24 bit WAV files recorded on the Sound Devices 702 and Rode NT4.
More information on field recording plus tips and tricks here... more




Other useful field recording sites:

taperssection.com - forum mostly dealing with concert taping, but they cover remote recording gear, microphones, portable power issues too. I highly recommend you visit.


Quiet American - a great site to explore with lots of sounds, gear info featuring "one minute vacations".

Microphone Tip!
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... more




It's not the gear.
It's how you use it. Skill counts big in recording... more




Diary of a Recorded Sound
What happens to make, record and playback sound? more





Recording the sounds of storms:
How I record the dynamic sounds of a thunderstorm without getting killed... more

















Record a Fart
Put the microphone where? Here's a few points to consider before documenting that gas discharge... more



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. more

Mountain Streams and Waterfalls CD
Mountain Streams and Waterfalls CD

Iguana Invasion!
Thousands of giant reptiles call Gasparilla Island home. But are they welcome there? more

iguana invasion of Gasparilla Island
Mountain Streams and Waterfalls CD
Expertly captured and presented in this 56 minute uninterrupted CD are the pure and relaxing sounds of nature's beauty. more

Your feedback is welcome!
e-mail: F7sound@gte.net

prepared ak47
the Prepared AK 47
"This is the AK47 assault rifle, the preferred weapon of our enemy. It makes a distinctive sound...." So I sampled it. more
Useful Masking Noise CD Michael Oster 2013
Useful Masking Noise
A cross between a closeup waterfall hitting cool rocks, old analog television static, with a gentle touch of industrial fan and a faint hint of radio crackle. Think of it as being a fine wine for your ears. more
Visit my BandCamp page
Many of my CDs are now available as mp3 and "Full Quality" digital downloads. more
Michael Oster's Discography Here's a list of the CDs and CD-ROMs that I've made since 1997. This does not include releases by other artists that I've worked on. more








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