Let's Discuss Field Recording - Questions/Tips/Experience?

Hey everyone! :slight_smile:
I have been recording sounds for a long time, but mainly in the studio or foley sounds indoors using various objects etc. I am very intrigued by the idea of capturing “Field Recordings”.

Let’s discuss various aspects of field recording like:

  • Microphones (and microphone types)
  • Audio Recorders
  • How to reduce unwanted noise
  • Recording Levels, Compression etc.
  • Recording “Techniques”

And of course…what sounds/environments/ambiences to record?

Tagging @JF7 since he inspired me to create this new topic of field recording :wink:


I have been doing “field recording” since I was 5, no joke. I used to record everything not knowing why but looking back, makes sense now. I will try to find the name of a product I learned about last year, it records on the field and also adjusts the sound quality and reduces noise for you in the same device I believe. I will post a link here soon of also plugins that help with unwanted noice in an easy way made just for field recordings (trying to find it). I believe recording at high volume is best to capture as many sound waves even the unwanted noise and then reducing from there, sometimes you may also capture sounds you didn’t want recorded but can also enhance the sound or introduce a unique combination. Sound areas to record I think are subjective, the singer Lisa Gerrard would record moving car sounds and some record just noise, but I think if you can find a space where there is natural reverberation it can also help your sound quality and create natural dissonance.

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Haha, that’s so cool. What did you record on back then? :stuck_out_tongue:

Yes please share that device if you can find it.

Another thing is, choosing the environment to record in. Let’s say you want to records the sound of a lightning storm. Well then, in most cases you don’t want cars in the background, people chatting etc.

But I would love to get some more creative ideas of field recordings. Because honestly, rain, storms etc. have been done so much.

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This is totally a guess, but if you don’t want the background noise, maybe record from a lower angle not high up, you move closer towards the sound object and record from below, but I’m making this up, I believe you will hear more things and background when you record from above and put the mic higher up, so proximity and angle important (maybe you should do some cardio before this :rofl:)

I would choose to record sounds that you find interesting when you hear outside of music (if you don’t have a song or project yet in mind) you have to enjoy the feeling of a sound, that is the one that will lead to your choice, otherwise its really subjective. For example I like the sound of trains so I would enjoy recording that. However if you have a song or theme in mind then you may not record a train, but let your natural enjoyment of sounds guide you to one. I used to record people talking in my family , so all their secrets are documented now, but I think I may have lost this tape unfortunately. Looking back I realized since i was a kid I did not like anything to be quiet… so that’s why I would record things to play them back for myself.

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Ah yes, that makes sense to me.

Is it enough to just record on my iPhone sometimes, for quality of the audio I mean? Have you ever found that to be usable at all?

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100% , using your iPhone is very good, they have I believe a built in voice recorder app, that’s a great one and simple design. Don’t use a complicated app, record it as is and manipulate it on the music software no need for complicated recording app. You will be surprised at the clarity you will get from your phone and the distance it can capture, those that use large mics are recording in very open spaces and sometimes capturing quiet sounds, most of the things you would prob want to record don’t even need those larger microphones at all. What are you thinking of recording or what sounds do you personally like?

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The type of sounds I would like to record are more “short” and interesting textures. Not background ambience like water, rain, forests etc. But more like…you know, sometimes you hear a short sound that stands out. You might accidentally hit something that resonates with a unique sound color, or perhaps in the fall when I walk over leaves and hear them “rustle” below my boots. I could perhaps pick them up and slowly rip the leaves, and then pitch that down, time stretch etc. :smiley:

Those are some creative ideas I have, but for some reason I haven’t done it already!

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the leaf idea is cool!! Maybe because you’re too distracted by nature while you’re walking especially in Sweden, ya it’s kind of like you’re at the studio but outside, maybe only record a few mins of what you want a few times when you walk, so it doesn’t feel like a chore, really don’t need to stand there for long, I only record few seconds sometimes, cause you get the main idea and just loop.

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I think so, I like to take walks alone, in nature especially. I am an introvert so I tend live a lot “in my mind”. Which means I probably never thought about recording sounds when I am actually out and could do it. I think to get started I have to set out to do this specifically when I go out.

What’s your process of getting it inside your computer, file names, folder structure etc?

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interesting, as I thought those who are big and successful on youtube are not as much on the introvert side, I couldnt do it myself, but I guess there’s diff types of introverts too. I am both introvert and extrovert just in diff situations. here is a link to some recommended plug-ins for noise reduction for field recordings, recommended by a company that specializes in field recordings. Hope this might help. As for saving files, I am not organized like you teach us in your videos and am not yet experienced with the folders but I download audio recordings to itunes and drag into logic from there, I organize the sound recordings within my itunes library for now.

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A study I found was that YouTubers are overrepresented in introverts. It seems many introverts have an easier way to be on camera vs be around lots of people, so the Internet is basically the greatest thing ever for introverts. I get energy from the camera, but drain energy from being around many people.

Oh you organize them in iTunes, what about the Apple Loops library? And btw, thanks for the link to the noise reduction plugins. :slight_smile:

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so if you met us in real life you couldn’t stand us :sweat_smile: haha. Well, that’s interesting really that study, I think that explains why I always tell my friends I would rather have a phone call or meet up for coffee than when they tell me they can email or text me ideas instead. I panicked when I knew I couldnt see many folks during quarantine so I have to do zooms to feel alive. You’re welcome, by the way that company offers sound effects and different types of real audio samples, very interesting and used by mostly sound designers and music editors. I have not tried the Apple loops library but that’s a good idea to check out too.

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The “definition” (at least from what I read) of an introvert is actually that being around people drains energy. Extroverts get energy from being around people. Introverts get energy from solitude. :slight_smile:

That is why I never go out to any place with a crowd basically, and why I love talking walks alone in nature. I can have many days in a row where I don’t meet another person than my girlfriend, and I love it! :stuck_out_tongue:

We are all different, and that’s the beauty of life. :slight_smile:

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Haha, yeah we’ve established that we’re 100% polar opposites and that’s okay. I think I read once that in Sweden they are known for living on their own at an early age and enjoy being alone…very interesting.

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I use a ZOOM H4N Pro with good results. I use a Rycote Combined Windshield and Suspension solution which cancels most wind and handling noise. Headphones are pretty essential too. At some pont I might get a rifle mic but for the moment it works ok.

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That’s a really nice kit for field recording, what type of sounds do you usually record Andrew? :slight_smile:

PS. What is a “rifle mic”, is that the same thing as shotgun mic?

Yes, sorry shotgun mic - same thing.

I’ve not been doing it very long and somewhat restricted right now because of the lockdown. So, mostly percussive stuff and I got a nice dramatic riser out of a tractor passing by - cut at the peak. I want to get time to do a lot more of this sort of thing.

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Oh, that’s so cool (the tractor riser). I actually did one myself on the washing machine, when it slowly goes into “centrifuge”, I hope that is the correct word in English.

That’s the correct word ok. Amazing the sunds you can find from things around.

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Yes, and sometimes you just accidentally hit things, or excite them in a way that makes a sound that is just wow I would love to sample that! :slight_smile: