Technology

Slowly, things are moving along with technology purchases. I’ve pieced together a few items that I’ll take out with me in the field. I decided on the Zoom H6 as my digital recorder. It comes with a couple of different microphone capsules (XY, MS) and I also ordered the shotgun capsule too. In addition, I decided on the Rode NT4 stereo microphone.

I think each of these tools will serve me well in the early stages of the project. The goal is to record clean audio with portable, lightweight tools. Depending on each location, I may be able to scout ideal places to record. But, I’m not expecting that to always be the case. In some instances, I’ll drive out the day of (or the night before) and record. After some research, I decided to focus on tools that would give me the most “bang for the buck”.  I want to get out there and do it, rather than getting overly concerned about the most expensive equipment and elaborate microphone techniques. The thought of huge boom poles and massive amounts of gear (much like you’d see on a film set or sound effects gathering session) is a bit much for an exploratory study.

After researching many options, I wanted to pick some items that I could get comfortable with and not worry too much about. I’ve used other Zoom recorders and they are durable and very solid. I also feel that the additional capsules will serve a useful purpose. For preliminary data gathering, I think these items will work. As the project expands, I may purchase additional specialized microphones as the Zoom H6 has XLR inputs for separation. With a modest budget, I think this is a good starting point and as my confidence and experience grows, I can procure more sophisticated items and experiment with advanced microphone placement. Fortunately, digital tools are improving all the time. I may look for a camera and/or video camcorder too. Using my Macbook for audio transfer and editing will suffice.

Early research goals: 

  • Use portable tools to capture an aural “snapshot” of National Parks;
  • Transfer/archive audio and look for similarities and differences of each microphone capsule;
  • Investigate any practical research articles exploring sound art and field recording in the literature;
  • While on location, take some pictures and detailed notes of each location to include in research;
  • Continue reading and getting familiar with Sound Studies, Acoustic Ecology and related scholarly/creative disciplines;
  • Provide a written summary of each field recording exercise and look for ways to code/analyze sound data;

By using each capsule, I can record the environments from slightly different perspectives and microphone positions. In the beginning, my goal is to listen closely to how the small microphones pick up sound and interact with the environment. (I’ll bring a windscreen as well…) Ultimately, this is not a purely scientific exercise. I want to use some of the sounds in a creative way and document the sounds of each location.

The H6 package comes with a Gator case, a couple of small boom stands, and a pair of Sony MDR-7506 headphones. Hopefully these items come in the next couple of weeks and I’m looking forward to scheduling my first trip in September or October!

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