A Month of Field Recordists: Michel Marchant

2015/11/04

Michel Marchant - Portrait

Early last year, sound designer and field recordist Michel Marchant revealed a impressive sound fx library: Wings. Released to great critical acclaim, the sound bundle of animal, insect, and creature wings is paired with a collection of sports ambiences on his Bonson Web shop: Hockey 360.

What’s interesting about those sound libraries is that they cover two important disciplines of sound fx recording: designed interior Foley clips as well as field recordings captured beyond the studio.

Like many other sound pros in the community, I admire both collections. I was curious how Michel Marchant was able to bridge both sound effect recording discliplines, and the kit he uses to make this happen. I asked Michel if he would care to share his approach with readers. He graciously agreed.

So, today Michel shares with us his thoughts behind building a large and diverse field recording kit. As a special bonus, he describes his experiences practicing a unique recording technique: ambisonic field recording.

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

For a recorder, I’m very happy with my Sound Devices 702T, for 80% of the things I have done, it is perfect.

My other recorder is a Sony M10, that is the “always with me” recorder, plus my binaural kits (Soundman and Sound Professionals).

For microphones I’m doing a lot of mid-side (M/S) recordings with my Sennheiser MKH 8040 and MKH 30, really happy with them and my Rycote windshields. I also have an MKH 416.

Aquarian H2a-XLR

Aquarian H2a-XLR

I use 3 Aquarian H2a-XLR hydrophones for underwater recordings. Using a molded rubber cup you can use them like a very sensitive contact microphone.

Virtual Reality and Ambisonic Field Recording

This year I was lucky to start working at Headspace Studio alongside Jean-Pascal Beaudoin, a really true pioneer in audio for virtual reality.

This is a completely new thing for me, the last 20 years I have been creating sounds for TV commercials and video games, and VR open a whole new world of sound.

All this to say that I have at my disposal a couple of great sonic toys 😉

Tascam HS-P82

Tascam HS-P82

Starting with 2 Tascam HS-P82s: at the beginning, I was not sure about this model, but after we put them to some torture [tests] doing recordings in crazy humidity conditions like in Borneo, I have to say they are great machines, a little cumbersome, but they have quiet pre-amps, good features and they have rock-solid construction.

We also have a costume made up of a kind of a “binaural head” to record in quad binaural. I really like this technique, but the problem is in post-production. It is really time consuming to get a good 360 mix.

DPA 4006

DPA 4006

For this setup, we use DPA 4060 microphones and I have to say that they are awesome, they support 134 dB before clipping and at the same time they are really quiet, they produce a really good image in 360. The only thing is they are a little crispy on the highs because they are intended for voice recording and they have a boost at 12 kHz.

Soundfield ST450

Soundfield ST450

The latest acquisition at the studio is a lovely SoundField ST450 MKII portable ambisonic microphone. This is the only microphone in the market that produces a B-Format signal out of the box.

Ambisonic B-Format style

Ambisonic B-Format style

With this microphone, we can capture a sphere of sound with only 4 channels (first order ambisonic W, X, Y, Z) then these recordings need to be processed and you can get anything from mono to 7.1 with many different polar pattern options. Also, you can rotate the image and focus on anything you had recorded! Ambisonic recording is a new format to me, but I already like it, and I think it is a great option for audio in VR.

CFR: Why are these your preferred gear choices? Is there any reason why you would choose them before other microphones you know?

When I did my research before I bought my equipment, I saw that a lot of field recordists were super happy with this gear, for many reasons like quality, reliability, good construction, etc, etc. All this, plus talking with friends and hearing recordings done with the MKH series helped me to make a more informed decision.

There are so many options in the market for recorders and microphones that it is easy to get lost. I think the first thing is to clarify in your head what you want to do (or record) and then find what is the best way to get there.

Pro audio equipment is very expensive, and I think is better to get “good gear slowly, than cheap gear faster.”

CFR: Can you share your favourite project made on this kit?

When I was creating the WINGS sound effect library for my company Bonson, I had at my disposal several microphones. We ended up using a Neumann TLM 170, DPA 4006, and my Sennheisers MKH 8040, MKH 30 and MKH 416.

When we finished capturing the sounds and I started post-production, I found myself using a lot of the recordings that we did with my M/S kit, they sound great in stereo, they are mono compatible and they were the backbone to build the sounds that are on the library.

You can hear (and download) some of the sounds that I have recorded with this M/S kit, plus my binaural setup from this link.

Thanks for the interview, Paul, and thanks for putting together these series in your blog, tons of valuable information from very talented colleagues.

Good recordings everyone!

Many thanks to Michel Marchant for sharing his field recording kit with us!

Quick Links: Michel Marchant’s Kit

This list is paired with some notes by Michel about his choices.

Microphones:

  • Sennheiser MKH 416 (P48) U–3 short shotgun microphone.

    A classic, very resistant and reliable microphone, good for everything that requires mono recordings, like voices or Foley, also great under extremely humid conditions.

  • Sennheiser MKH 8040 stereo cardiod condenser microphone.

    Beautiful, small microphone, very quiet and like all Sennheiser stuff, very well manufactured.

  • Sennheiser MKH 30 figure-of-eight condenser microphone.

    Great match for doing M/S with the MKH 8040.

  • Aquarian H2a-XLR hydrophones.

    Good hydrophones for the price, also they work very well like contact mics.

  • Sound Professionals MS-TFB–2 binaural in-ear microphones.

    I really like this one, good price too.

  • Soundman OKM II Classic Studio Solo omnidirectional electret binaural in-ear microphones.

    Soundman OKM II Classic Studio Binaural

    Soundman OKM II Classic Studio Binaural

    Made in Germany, good manufacturing and sound.

Audio recorders:

  • Sound Devices 702T timecode audio recorder.

    Great recorder, bulletproof.

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

    A must for field recordists, the “always with you” recorder, and the king of long-lasting battery.

Accessories:

Other gear mentioned:

Not mine but at my disposal 😉

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