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To celebrate the end of the year, Christmas and some other very important milestones, my girlfriend and I decided to travel down the Oregon Coast to check out the sites and (for me) capture some good Ocean Wave sounds.


This trip was a great opportunity to do a series of comprehensive shootout between some of my more compact field recording rigs. I wanted to focus primarily on the Zoom H3VR, Mikro Usi/Sony M10 and my Sony D100.


Earlier in the year we had taken a trip to Cannon Beach, OR and it was an amazing time. I got a ton of photos, sounds and videos. If you want you can check out some of those recordings on my Youtube Channel.


This time we wanted to go further down the coast to Heceta Beach, OR. The plan was to rent a Airbnb with a great view of the Ocean and easy access to paths and the rocks. On the way back we would stop in Portland for one night.


We headed out and I have to admit I underestimated the length of the drive. It was about 7 hours to drive down the scenic coast way and we did not arrive until it was pretty dark. But when we finally got there we were amazed by the sight, sound and presence of the Ocean.


It was almost scary how powerful it felt. And the Airbnb I found had a private path that lead directly to a secluded spot where I could record the waves. That night before dinner I had to run out and grab a quick recording of it with my LOM Mikro Usi's and Sony M10.


You can imagine my excitement by this development. After dinner I started to plan my morning so I could bust out a couple of rigs before breakfast to capture this spot.


To be continued...

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I wanted to do 2 quick tests of the Zoom H3-VR and the Mikro USI's on some quiet sounds so I decided to try and capture some ambient sounds around my apartment.



Test 1:


For the first test I recorded the pond behind my apartment on a quiet, foggy night after work. The neighborhood felt fairly subdued so I felt inspired to roll on some city/neighborhood ambiences.


The first half of this video is the LOM Mikro USI microphones going into a Sony M 10 (Plug in power) and the second half is the Zoom H3VR mixed down to stereo



In the distance you can hear ducks quacking in the pond, a bit of city traffic and a siren that comes in and out towards the end of the recording.


Test 2:


In the second test I took a more of a sound design approach. One of the main reasons I wanted the Zoom H3VR and the Mikro USI/M10 rigs was not to have the most pristine recordings possible. I have specific rigs for that. I wanted quick to set up, durable and highly portable rigs that I could take with me all the time. Rigs I could use to record interesting stuff I find in my daily adventures, mic them experimentally to possibly use them out of context and then take them to the next level with some processing or clean up.


In this test I was trying to capture a sound that I wanted to bring alive later with a bit of work.


The audio in this video has been processed with some filtering to reduce the high frequency noise and highlight the mid to low frequencies.


My apartment howls on windy days from the pressure trying to escape through the windows.


One day before work I decided to finally try and capture the sound of the wind.


Same deal as the first test. The first half of the video is the Mikro Usi's and the second half is the Zoom H3VR.



Conclusion:


I think both rigs did fairly well, especially considering the price of each one.


The Mikro USI's are a bit more complicated to set up but pick up a bit more presence, especially in the low end.


The Zoom has a lot of flexibility in post an is surprisingly quiet when utilized and placed strategically.


I also noticed both rigs complement each other quite well when placed intentionally to support each other's strengths and weaknesses.

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Several years ago I was working on some ambiences for an urban setting. It was quite the desolate scene and required a bit of a darker, emptier vibe. It needed to feel like an abandoned city where everyone left in a hurry, much like I am Legend, the Walking Dead or even the movie Bird Box on Netflix.


For scenes like this I like to go to some of my favorite types of urban sounds including:

  • Distant Birds

  • Distant Automated Traffic Crossing Beeps

  • Wind blowing Trees

  • Dry Leaves blowing on the Ground

  • Water Drips

  • Metal or Debris Blowing/Rattling in the wind

  • Flag Pole Metal Rattles

I like to use sounds like these because they are all subtle, detailed sounds that you would not likely hear on a busy street. If you do hear these sounds clearly on a (usually busy) street then something immediately feels off. I am not sure if you have ever walked around a city at night on a Holiday but there is something about a quiet, empty city that makes it feel like you are in a Zombie movie.


I wanted to try a new sound for a scene like this of a large amount of paper blowing in the wind. At first I thought to myself "this should be easy, it is a pretty simple sound." But I was wrong. The library lacked anything like this that worked for the size and thickness of the paper I was going for. The paper needed to be light, breezy and somewhat constantly moving. I even tried to Foley it, using light envelopes and paper. But it just did not seem right. Eventually I had to accept the facts, make do and come up with something different.


Then one day I was walking to my car at night when I stumbled upon this empty construction site. The construction workers had just finished installing new windows so there was a lot of paper liners still on the walls. The strong winds were causing this paper to move constantly and I thought this sound was perfect. I grabbed my Mikro Usi Microphones from my bag and used my Sony M10 to record them.


The sound itself is not perfect as there is a freeway nearby. But it is a great reference.


I now know what the sound should be like and what conditions I can look for in the future so I can record it and use it next time I need desolate Urban Ambiences.



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