A Month of Field Recordists: Christian Hagelskjær From

2015/10/12

3-1 Christian Hagelskjær From - Portrait

Today’s featured sound pro is a familiar community field recordist: Christian Hagelskjær From. You may recognize Christian from the A Sound Effect podcast, or his discussions on on Twitter.

Christian has a focused approach to recording sound fx: he uses the stealth field recording technique with a special portable kit to capture sound fx ranging from constructions ambiences to weather clips and more, which he shares on his Hzandbits Sound Effects shop.

Christian kindly shared with me his stealth recording set-up. He discussed the merits of travelling with a light, inexpensive kit, and how he used it to capture evocative field recordings of a distant neighbourhood.

Creative Field Recording: What is your favourite field recording kit?

Sony PCM-M10

Sony PCM-M10

I have more than one tool in my field recording toolbox, but my latest favorite setup is portable, inconspicuous and sounds really good. It’s also not very expensive: A Sony PCM-M10 and a pair of homemade omni electret mics (using the well-known Primo EM–172 capsules). The recorder is hidden in an old camera bag, while the mics are clipped underneath the flap, with Bubblebee furries for wind protection. This yields something like a spaced omni setup with about 25 cm distance; enough for a good stereo spread. In a compartment on the back of the bag, I keep the small wired remote for the recorder, allowing me to operate it secretly – to a degree anyway.

CFR: Why is it your preferred kit? Is there something in particular that makes it your combo of choice?

Without a doubt, the ability to record almost anywhere without attracting attention makes it the perfect kit to bring for urban atmosphere recording. Small and light enough to take on a vacation, no weird looks in airport security, and fairly cheap too. The Sony is a solid piece of kit, with very low-noise preamps. They’re certainly plenty quiet for urban recording. The unit supplies sufficient plug-in power for a pair of electrets like the Primo’s, though the single lo-cut frequency of 200Hz is too high for my tastes. I’ve used this kit with the mics mounted in a headset, making for a pseudo-binaural recording setup. It sounded pretty good, but was awful in terms of, well, having to hold my head completely still while recording, not sniffing, swallowing or even turning my head a little bit. With the mics on the bag, I get to move a little bit – or just put the bag next to me, letting it record while I text, tweet and take pictures. So; great, flexible sound for cheap.

CFR: Can you share a favourite experience you’ve had using this gear?

In May this year, I visited a friend in Tokyo and put this kit together for that trip. I recorded over 10 hours of material over the course of a week, while playing the role of the casual tourist. I recorded everywhere – from cemeteries to game arcades. In Episode 2 of A Sound Effect Podcast, you can hear a selection of these recordings (around 32:56).

Christian also released the Tokyo field recordings as a sound library, which you can hear below, and check out on his website:

Although I also own an M/S setup with Sennheiser mics, blimp and field mixer, I will definitely be recording with the more subtle setup in the future – especially on urban and indoor locations.

Many thanks to Christian Hagelskjær From for sharing his thoughts about equipment and stealth recording!

Quick Links: Christian Hagelskjær From’s Kit

Microphones:

Audio recorders:

  • Sony PCM-M10 portable recorder with omnidirectional electret condenser microphones.

Accessories:

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