Hours 11 – 14: Car Recording

Hello! I’m back again, this time with a retrospective blog post. It’s a pretty cool one, and although technically not recorded during this specified 6 months, it still used the 633 with an interesting multiple mic setup. Last semester, myself and my flatmate decided we’d record his car. It was a particularly cold night, I think in November/December time, and we just decided we want to give it a go. I grabbed the 633, three wireless lavs and a shotgun mic (my shotgun of choice, the Sennheiser MKH416) and we briefly planned what we wanted to capture. I rather naively thought I’d be able to pull a clip of driving gameplay from the web and arrange the recordings we made to fit it, but sadly I was very wrong – it turned out that the specific sound of a car accelerating, decelerating and moving through gears was such a complex thing to re-create from multiple recordings, I decided it wasn’t worth it.

Nevertheless, the actual recording session was very successful – and we captured some really cool stuff. We taped mics around the car, and recorded whilst driving. We put one lav by the exhaust, hanging out of the boot; one lav in the engine, strapped to a plastic part (so it wouldn’t get too hot) and one under the wheel arch, hanging out of the drivers’ window. I sat in the backseat while jack drove, and all three lavs fed into the 633, from which I could control the gains and record as we moved. Previous to strapping the mics on, I wrapped each of them in a blob of foam – in order to minimize the amount of wind they picked up. Despite this, we still got some heavy wind interference – especially at speed – but nothing that was too problematic.

The sound was actually surprisingly good – I think we captured the car well, and the resulting sound is definitely not terrible. We did however have a problem with the exhaust lav – it seemed to be making a cracking noise – it sounded like some kind of interference. This was a shame, a the majority of the body and low end of the sound came from that exhaust mic. The other slight problem was just that the engine wasn’t particularly loud –  the car was a small hatchback, designed to relatively quiet for urban use. The engine wasn’t roaring or purring, it was more rattly that anything else. But this was by-the-by, as it was really just an experiment and more because we actually had the opportunity to record a car.

I also hopped out and recorded some cool stuff on the shotgun mic – namely wheelspin and handbrake turns. These were both fun sounds that we wanted to capture specifically, and I had intended to use them in the video I was going to make. It was the first time i’d really experienced wheelspin or handbrake turns at this level, and as was as much scared for my life as I was impressed. Little clip below illustrating what I think can only be described as glee:

I’ll leave with a sample of the recordings we made – these are fairly raw, I balanced the levels a bit (between the 3 mics) and chopped up some interesting bits. Be aware, it’s relatively loud and the engine fluctuates massively in volume.


As always, thanks for reading!



Hours 11 – 14: Car Recording

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