Posted by: recordingsofnature | December 25, 2015

Simplified microphone design to mimic binaural forward elevation cues

In this post, I will try to come up with and test a simple microphone design which can produce certain directional cues to enhance the spatial feel of stereo audio recordings, particularly the forward up and down sensation.

Stereo recordings are normally based on volume level difference and time difference between the microphones. Typical used techniques include ORTF, M/S setup eventual combined  with a baffle between the microphones (such as a Jecklin disk).

Information about elevation is however largely missing with these stereo methods. In principle, it is not directly possible to tell if a sound comes from above, down, front or back. Binaural microphone techniques (using anatomical ears and dummy head etc.) are able to provide full directional sensation by reproducing the delicate spectral coloring (HRTF) from the human ear and head/body, which tells the brain about the direction of the sound. But this method has a few drawbacks in terms of personal differences and dominating resonances which need post equalization.

So, here I will try to develop a simpler microphone shape which can mimic the up/down directional sensation of the binaural method to improve the forward up and down sensation of my nature recordings.

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Posted by: recordingsofnature | December 7, 2015

Pine forest in December, Windy

Audio recording Sunday morning about 9 o’clock, 6th December 2015 in Brøndbyskoven near Copenhagen, DK.

IMG_6036

Pine forest, Brøndbyskoven

Trying to catch some of the winter atmosphere in the forest,  though the temperature was warm – about 10C. Again windy, but otherwise not much happening. All leaves are now gone, but this didn’t make much difference as this recording was made in a section with pine trees. Pine forests produce a rather anechoic feeling, where all sounds are rather muffled. From time to time, you can hear the wind cut through with soft but yet powerful blasts. Again, the deep motorway rumbling is a bit dominating.

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Posted by: recordingsofnature | November 14, 2015

Windy November forest – going semi-binaural

Forest recording of a warm windy, and sunny Sunday morning, November 8th 2015 around 9:30 am. Appx 10C. The recording is from almost the same spot as the June all-night-recording.
Leaves have just fallen these days. A quick storm passed through the country during the night, and it has really helped thin out in the treetops. In the morning, waves of windy gusts were still blowing through the forest, though at the forest bed was barely more than a light breeze.
November forest and microphones on tree trunk
The sound of rustling leaves has changed into a more light and thin nature, with the addition of a deeper howling from the bare branches.

Sunday mornings are the time where the nearby motorway noise is at a minimum, still it is a throughout present sound.

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Posted by: recordingsofnature | October 14, 2015

Windy field recording in Vestskoven, October 7th 2015

This is a field recording from Vestskoven (@ 55.690108, 12.387271) 7th October 2015, on a typical Wednesday at about noon. Vestskoven is an about 50 years old forest area situated just outside Copenhagen. It is a very nice area, however – from a field recorders viewpoint – it is cut through by several noisy motorways and industrial areas.

Tree ears microphones in Vestskoven October 2015It was a very windy day. It is now rapidly getting colder, but the forest is still green and dense, with leaves and vegetation from top to bottom.

This time, I think, the recording did not really turn out very spectacular or pleasant, but still it serves to capture and document the season’s typical sounds.

At this time there is moist vegetation and damp surfaces in all directions. This effectively absorbs sounds and attenuates any reverberation or echoes. I think this makes the soundscape a bit muffled and not very deep.

The dominating sound is the characteristic sharp hiss of the leaves in the windy tree tops. Birds were just very quiet that day. Apart from that, an extensive and throughout deep rumble from road and engine noises is ever present. I believe the windy condition has helped to enhanced this rumbling and made it even more diffuse and undefined.

Tree tops vestskoven october 2015  Vestskoven forest floor and tree ears  forest floor, vestskoven october 2015

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Posted by: recordingsofnature | June 26, 2015

All night field recording in the forest, 22.6.2015

This is my first all night field recording with my tree ears microphones. The 7.5h recording is captured June 22-23, 2015 approximately at the same spot in Brøndbyskoven as last recording. Basically, I started the recorder at 10 in the evening  and came back and stopped it at 6 next morning.

This forest is full of singing birds in the day, but I have often wondered what it would be like in middle of the night. I think there is something almost terrifying about a dark deserted forest in the latest hours. Here, around Midsummer, it is even said it is the time when trolls and elves are most active.

And to get a view of this, I think ears are much more effective in the night than a camera…

Night recording in Brøndbyskoven

The recording just started at 22:20. It was a calm night with no wind and only a tiny bit of passing rain.

The recording starts at 22:20 and ends around 6:00 in the morning, and can be heard below.

Listen in Headphones. The recording volume is little low, especially during the night, so you might need to turn the volume up at that point.

panoramic view of the recording site in Brøndbyskoven June 2015

360 degrees panoramic view from the recording site at 6 am. Brøndbyskoven June 2015. Stitched with Hugin.

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Posted by: recordingsofnature | June 23, 2015

Green Midsummer forest, June 21, 2015

This is a nature recording of forest ambiance from Brøndbyskoven, June 21, 2015, around noon. It is captured close to previous recording location from March. Oh, now the forest is now just so fresh, dense, and green from top to bottom.

Brøndbyskoven at its greenest

Brøndbyskoven at its greenest

It is a common saying in Denmark, that the birds will stop singing after Midsummer, Sct. Hans. However, this year, the summer is delayed due to very cold weather in May and June, and it appears the birds are still very active and loud.

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Posted by: recordingsofnature | May 21, 2015

Field recording 5 am Valby parken, May 12th 2015

This is a nature recording at 5 am in Valby parken, May 12th 2015. This spot is a relatively desolated area located near the water and just 6 km south of Copenhagen centre.
The morning was a calm, moderately warm and moist with wet grass. At 5 it was just getting light, and birds were very active. During the recording you can also hear the motorway across the water and the city waking up slowly. Recording setup 5 o'clock

 

Panorama view of the recording site

Panorama view of the recording site (composed with Hugin free software)

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Posted by: recordingsofnature | April 23, 2015

Tree ears recording at Vestvolden April 20th 2015

This is a nature recording from a sunny day at Vestvolden  (near Husum S-train station and Kagsmosen) in Copenhagen April 20th, 2015.
Bushes and trees by Vestvolden, april 2015

Spring is very fresh now. Leafs are unfolding and things are really starting to grow.

360 degree panorama of the recording site

360 degree panorama of the recording site (large image 12MB)

The 25 minutes unattended recording is captured with my tree ears setup, now with updated ear geometries to better match my own ears.

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A nature recording from Brøndbyskoven on the first sunny spring morning, March 8th 2015. The weather forecast had predicted temperatures approaching 10C, however in the morning hours around 9, it felt windy and not very warm.

IMG_3784This forest located in the suburb of Copenhagen and is almost surrounded by motorways. On this morning only very few natural sounds were audible; a few tweets and hissing leaves. The all dominating sound was man-made and came from the motorway, -that is even for an early Sunday morning.
This forest would be completely different place if  the traffic noise was absent. It is easy to imaging how a constant, 24-7 background noise disturbs and stresses birds and animals. It simply makes it difficult to communicate over distances. Likely the birds will try to sing louder (and more harshly) in order to break though the background noise.

It is my clear experience from audio recordings in nature, that traffic noise, followed by air traffic, are by far the dominating man-made sounds. In this context, noise from wind turbines are exceeded by magnitudes, yet still wind turbines at desolate locations are yet another noise source that adds up in the total picture. Anyway wind turbines should not be a problem near busy roads since the noise is simply downed by the cars.

360 degrees panorama from the recording site

360 degrees panorama from the recording site. Forward direction of the recording corresponds to the center of the image. Location: 55.647841, 12.436417

With this field recording I am testings and comparing 4 different recording setups. It is my plan with a new binaural setup, one day, to be able to add an extra layer realism into the nature recordings. As by now, it has not really succeeded yet.

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1. Standard nature recording setup

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Posted by: recordingsofnature | November 22, 2014

Tree-Ears microphone setup

This is a demonstration of an another variant of the binaural microphone setup presented in the last post. This concept could well be called something like a tree-ears microphone setup. I think it can be useful for many types of nature recordings including for remote unattended recording stations. Furthermore, It should have potential for good sound capturing, being easy to install and stay relatively compact and unnoticed.

Tree ears setup

Basically, the mechanical parts of this prototype are just the same as used in the previous post. Only now, the two sides are strapped on to a suitable sized tree trunk. Clearly, there is no room for the Earthworks microphones, so I’m using a smaller custom made microphone setup based on the Primo 172 capsules.

Below is a test recording with the setup, directly connected to the microphone inputs of the Microtrack II recorder. It is captured in Ballerup, Denmark November 5th 2014 at sunset – same location as previous post,  just 10 minutes after.

Being the first raw take with the setup, only post processed with a low frequency (<30Hz) rumble filter, I think the sound is surprisingly good and with a low noise floor (apart from wind noise). This is also surprising taking into account that this is a set of low cost of the microphones which can be bought for ~£25.

Details about the setup are in the following.

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