So this morning, at the rather painful hour of 7am, I headed up to the cathedral in my city to record for a few hours. I’m working on a game at the moment called Taphobos, and it’s set in a huge church – I decided the best way to build a church ambience for the game is to capture some actual church ambience, then go from there. I contacted the cathedral, they were more than happy to let me record in the building, and suggested the early hours of a Wednesday morning as the quietest time in the church.
I used the trusty 633 and a rode NT4 as my mic, which I’ve used a number of times before. I monitored on a pair of KRK’s and recorded at 96k to SD.
When I arrived, it was still dark outside. The sun was rising as I set up my equipment, and lit the church wonderfully. I was given free reign to access all of the areas of the church – the huge main hall, the transepts and the choir stalls (I assume this is what they are called). I began in the main hall, set my mic on a stand and sat while the 633 recorded.
I quickly realized that the main ‘ambience’ of the space actually came from the heating systems around the church. They hummed and whirred, and given the huge reverberating space, the sounds melted into one-another to create a low drone. I managed to capture a number of interesting things happening in the church too – I briefly picked up both spoken and sung liturgy, as well as the ringing of the bells and some interesting movements echoing through the huge reverb.
As the sound was relatively minimal, I pushed the gains quite high to capture as much of the sound as I could. Unfortunately, this resulted in a fair amount of pre-amp noise, more than I had expected. It also meant even the slightest noise, even from a significant distance, sounded very clear and close. The mic is also a number of years old, so may well have some noise issues – the stereo XLR supplied with it cracked a bit too as I moved it around. This being said, i’m pleased with what I captured – and I think it’ll be a great building block for the ambience in the game. I’m planning on rolling off a load of top end to make more of a low, rumbling drone.
Some of the raw recordings are below. Annoyingly, I couldn’t figure out a way to record two channels as one stereo WAV with the sound devices – something i’m aware you can do with the zoom H4n. As such, I had to bring two mono WAVs into my DAW, pan them hard left and right and then bounce as stereo file. This is no real problem – just takes a little extra time to process. Worth bearing in mind these samples are completely raw – no processing or editing as of yet, I just sliced up some sections where interesting things happened.
Thanks for reading!