Hello! I’m back again, this time writing up a car recording that I did a few weeks ago now. It was my housemate’s car, and we decided to experiment with offload and onload recordings (moving and stationary), and I will explore the results in this post.
I opted to record with the sound devices 663, which meant I had 3 inputs to work with for both the stationary and moving setups. I began by prepping my mini lav’s – for the onboard recording – by wrapping them in foam to both protect them, and keep out some wind. I have developed a technique for this, whereby I cut a section of thick foam, cut a space for the mic to sit in it and secure it with tape.
I also learned from my previous car recording experiences, and decided to tag each end of the XLR with a different coloured tape. Previously i’ve ended up with 3 identical XLR’s coming into the recorder, with only my ears to tell me where each mic was placed. This time however, I was able to avoid that issue and quickly and accurately slate the recordings with the correct mic’s and their positionings.
We began with the stationary recording, and I took advantage of the lack of movement to set up mic’s on stands in the most idea positions to capture the sound in its full range. Below I will go into detail on each mic, and explain why I chose it.
I opted for the AKG D112 on the exhaust, as I knew it captured the low end frequencies well, and that was the main element I wanted to capture in the exhaust’s tone – the bass. I also knew it was a dynamic, and as such, could take the higher volumes of sound better than a condenser. I placed it very close to the mouth of the exhaust, just slightly to the side to avoid melting the rycote. Below is a sample of the raw recording of the exhaust.
Next I focused on the engine, using two mic’s to capture a stereo image of the tone. I used a Beyerdynamic M201, a dynamic mic with a fairly good frequency range, to capture what I thought was the air-intake of the engine. The tone is very high end / middy, and it captured a lot of the whirring of the engine itself.
Again, I got quite close because I knew movement wouldn’t be an issue. The engine produced minimal amounts of heat (in this area, at least) so I wasn’t worried about heat affecting my rycote or mic. Below is a sample of this mic, again, raw from the recorder.
And lastly I focused on the belt, as from previous experience I knew this was an important sound source in the engine. I used the AKG SE300 with the CK91 capsule, a cardioid condenser mic. I wanted to capture a little more detail, and I knew the SE300 could take some of the louder volumes the engine would throw at it, so I positioned it as close as possible to the belt, without it becoming dangerous.
The mic didn’t really capture much low end, but captured a fair amount of detail in the sound of the engine. It was helpful to have the two perspectives of the engine to blend together to create the final sound. Both sides of the engine actually had a very different sound, and each mic has a different and valuable tone. Below is a clip from this mic, again, raw from the recorder.
Next we moved onto the driving recordings, and set up 3 wired lav’s in a similar fashion to the stationary mics.
I placed one facing the ‘air-intake’, attached to the battery, one down near the belt, and one tucked under the bumper near the exhaust. The mics are intended for dialogue, so the sound isn’t as beefy as the stationary mics – but I’m pleased with the results we captured. This is a mixture of all three mics, with a little panning on the two engine mics, to widen the sound. Again – raw audio from the recorder, combined very briefly in audacity.
Lastly, I decided to experiment with a contact mic for the moving recording – we had a h4n recorder and a contact mic with us, and I taped it to the engine to see if we’d get any usable results. Interestingly, the mic captured specific resonances extremely well – but not a constant stream of uniform full audio. The low end was what I really wanted to capture with the contact mic – and the results are usable as an additional element – but it didn’t get the full sound I wanted, rather dropping in and out of resonant low frequencies. The mic was only attached with tape over the outside – after reading a little more about contact mics, I think it would have been good to use some bluetack or double-sided tape as a conductor for the vibrations.
The sound of the mic, is, well, interesting. But it was an experiment, and I’d love to try it again with more of a proper attachment. The mic bumps around a fair amount, which unfortunately becomes a prominent artefact in the recording. The example is again, raw from the recorder.
That’s it for now, i’ll be back very soon with more exciting recording adventures!