Hours 18 – 20: By the Brayford

Where I live, we have this big old canal type thing running through the city, called the ‘Brayford’. For anyone unfamiliar with English canals, they’re really not that nice, most of the time. I chose to record by the canal, as I knew that there was a large woodland near to it, and it was also a relatively good distance away from the nearest road. Today’s recordings are from that location.

I was pretty lucky to grab the portable recorder all weekend – and excited to find we have a sound devices 664 in temporarily, a 6 input recorder. It’s essentially the 633 – just with 3 extra inputs. But it was still nice to work with a new bit of kit. And it’s pretty sexy:

I elected to record mid/side again, as I was impressed with the recordings i’d made before with the technique. I decided to get a little exotic with my mic choices, and went with a Neumann U87 for the figure 8 and a AKG SE300 with a cardioid capsule, which proved to be interesting choices. I had the pair on two little mic stands – and used two ‘dead kittens’ to keep out the wind (legitimately what they’re called).

I walked down to where I knew was relatively isolated from the road, and set up camp. I set my mics up, and went into the 664. After a bit of fiddling to try and remember how to set up a mid/side recording (see soundcloud clip below), I was on my way and began the recording.

The recordings came out pretty nicely. There’s a little pre-amp noise – which is a tad disappointing, but nothing that can’t be fixed with a bit of RX. I did also find it a struggle to sit perfectly still for so long (always something I can’t do well) and for some stupid reason I forgot to bring a coat, so I slowly got colder and colder whilst sat in just a tshirt.


I had a bit of faff getting the recordings from the 664 – as it seems it doesn’t move data files via USB, for some unknown reason. Personally I feel like this is a pretty basic feature, but I guess they must have left it off for a reason. I recorded to CF this time – and had to pop it out to transfer the files over.

I processed the recording in the usual manner, doubling the figure 8 channel and flipping the phase. I did it in audacity – as FL was messing me around a bit. The stereo spread is great – i’m a big fan of the width and focus of the recording.

Something else quite impressive I stumble on also – when I pulled the recording into my DAW, I noticed a weird artifact in the audio: it seemed there was some kind of periodic noise, occurring almost in-beat, as can be seen in the waveform below. I was worried as I thought it may have been a fault with the recorder, or possibly something un-natural sound in the background I hadn’t noticed (an industrial hum or buzz, maybe).


I’m not 100% sure, but I think that’s the birds. I can’t hear anything else in the recording that may have produced that kind of rhythmic sound, and the birdsong does appear to fluctuate in sync with the minor peaks in the audio. I truly love that – this sound we take for granted, that our brain usually filters out as background noise, is actually this rhythmic symphony of sound. I was amazed at just how rhythmic it is – it’s literally almost in-beat.

Decide for yourself, but I think it’s pretty amazing. As usual, a small sample of the recording is below, unedited other than the mid/side encoding, and small fades at the start and end. The rhythmic birdsong even shows up in the soundcloud waveform – see if you can hear any rhythm in the ambience.

That’s it for now! I’m literally about to head out now to record some more, so hopefully the next blog will be up fairly soon.

Thanks for reading!



Hours 18 – 20: By the Brayford

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