A Month of Field Recordists: Nathan Moody

2015/10/07

2-3 Nathan Moody Portrait

Many of you in the field recording community will already be familiar with Nathan Moody and his Noise Jockey blog. His articles present his explorations in audio, sound design, and field recording.

What lies behind those insightful posts is even more diverse. Moody brings creative experience from design, motion graphics and videography, and music to contribute to capturing fascinating sound effects. What’s notable about Moody’s work is not just the clips he captures, but the compelling story he pairs with each sound he shares.

I was curious to hear Moody’s thoughts on field recording equipment. He graciously shared his views on gear and how they contributed to capturing a particularly memorable field recording experience of an evocative wilderness atmosphere.

Creative Field Recording: What is your favourite kit for capturing field recordings?

My favorite field recording setup is a Sound Devices 702 in a Portabrace bag with a pair of mics for recording I mid-side: a Sennheiser MKH 50 hyper cardioid and a Sennheiser MKH 30 Figure 8. The mics are in a Rycote size AE windscreen with a fuzzy windjammer, routed through a Rycote connbox; that’s all mounted on a non-wired K-Tek aluminum boom pole. I always carry a Manfrotto 001B light stand if I don’t need to roll handheld. I use Sony 7506 headphones. I always carry a Sony PCM-D50, too, even if I have the MKH pair with me.

Note: learn more about the Manfrotto mic stand in an earlier article Moody published on his Noise Jockey blog.

CFR: Why is it your favourite/preferred choice?

I choose this option for great isolation on single source sounds, decent strong-center ambiences, and ultra-low noise, all in one rig. The MKH 40 is a more standard choice for mid-side field recording, but I love the hyped, present sound of the MKH 50, which also allows me to dump the side channel if I want to just use a clear single channel for a close up or spot effect. I leave it all rigged up and in the windscreen all the time, because you never know what you’re going to find or hear, even at home: I’ve yanked it out of my gear closet in my studio and started rolling 20 seconds later, to record everything from cats to motorcycles to helicopters to guitars. ORTF is an even more amazing stereo method for ambiences, but mid-side is so immediate, idiot-proof, and flexible in post-production that I roll with that 80% of the time.

CFR: Can you share a favourite recording you’ve captured with this kit, or a memorable experience?

I often find the memory of a session is sometimes better than the recording. 🙂 one that will always stay with me is a dawn chorus recording in the Sierra Nevada mountains in California during a Nature Sound Society workshop: 4:30am, dense fog over the reeds in a wet mountain valley an hour before dawn, and a soundscape with a density I’d never heard before. The low end of the American bittern and bullfrogs was stunning. It was freezing cold. I remember what I was wearing. That sounds can evoke such specific recall years later never ceases to amaze me, and reminds me why I work with sound in the first place.

Many thanks to Nathan Moody for sharing his kit choices!

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