Are you just beginning field recording? Unsure of what gear to use to start capturing sound effects beyond the studio? New field recordists face a common dilemma: is it best to buy cheap gear and begin recording now, or wait and invest in a superior kit later?

It isn’t an easy question to answer. In fact, the previous post was dedicated to exploring both approaches. That article was designed to help people new to field recording choose what’s best for them.

Still having trouble deciding? You’re not alone. The truth is that the decision is inherently challenging because of what I call the gear gap.

What is this? Today’s article explains. It explores an unusual intersection of circuitry and craft. It’s an aspect of field recording that beginners and pros alike often forget, and manufacturers have yet to grasp.

This post is designed to further explore the thought process behind gear selection. It’s meant to help people think about both field recording gear strategies – fast and cheap, and slow and pricey – and why these challenging decisions exist.

Want more than theory? No problem. The next post will offer concrete gear suggestions for beginners to help bridge the gear gap and make satisfying equipment choices.

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Update: Joining the Pole Position Production Team

Folks, a quick update. I’m very happy and proud to announce that I have joined the Pole Position Production team!

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Earlier today learning website Soundfly published a list of field recordists in their online music magazine, Flypaper. The writer, Patrick McGuire, shared ten people he felt were crossing the “aesthetic boundaries” of field recording:

some more conceptually artistic, some purely for sound design, and others for the purposes of documentation

I found McGuire’s classification of field recording disciplines interesting. I think it is true that most people do tend to follow one of those pursuits. So, the article explored fascinating concepts: What happens when these genres blend? Who are creating provocative results?

You’ll see a number of familiar names. Perhaps the most celebrated field recordist, Chris Watson, appears on the list. There also appear a number of friends of the Creative Field Recording blog, too: Diane Hope, Watson Wu, and Melissa Pons. I was also quite surprised and honoured to see my own name on the list as well.

In addition, I’m sure you’ll find a number of other field recordists in the list with something fresh to say. Each of them is exploring recording sound beyond the studio in compelling ways.

Check out Soundfly’s 10 of the Most Interesting Field Recordists Working Across Aesthetic Boundaries.

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I’ve seen a growing trend occurring during the past six months. More people are becoming interested in field recording. While that’s exciting, there’s a fascinating theme to the emails I’ve received: the writers know nothing about sound.

Who are these people? They’re photographers, videographers, and hobbyists. We all love heading outdoors to capture the cool sound we hear. It’s encouraging to see the appeal of field recording is spreading beyond classically trained sound pros. These new people are a bit bewildered, though. Why?

They’re not sure what gear to choose. I wrote the Field Recording Gear Buyer’s Guide a while ago. That post aimed to help people browse options and lead them through gear choices. However, it did not answer a few common questions that keep appearing in my email inbox:

  • Is it better to start with inexpensive field recording gear or save for a pro kit?
  • How can you use pro microphones with inexpensive portable recorders?
  • Is it possible to record excellent sound effects using cheap equipment?
  • How can you capture pure nature recordings with novice gear?

So, this month will feature a series that tries to decipher the relationship between equipment, capturing remarkable field recordings, and the kit needed to get the job done.

Today’s post explores the first question: is it better to buy cheap gear now, or wait and buy expensive, better gear, later?

Please note: I explore this idea in detail. This article should take you about 10 minutes to read. Click the button below to email the article to yourself to read later.

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Today’s post is a roundup of articles from last year. It features posts that received a good response (thank you!). I’ve also included articles I enjoyed writing or made me think about field recording, sound effects mastering, or library curation differently.

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Earlier this year I wrote about the release of Todd-AO’s new noise reduction software Absentia DX. The app was designed by sound supervisor Rob Nokes to eliminate the manual labour he found his team needed to clean tracks on the Hollywood films and television shows they edit.

At that time, I wondered if the app could be used to fix field recordings. Of course, it is designed to clean dialogue. That’s a completely different task than repairing sound fx. However, despite working on sounds for which the software was not designed, DX fared well, especially with its hum removal.

Nokes’ team have not been idle.

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Note: the sale has now concluded. Join our free newsletter to learn about future sales.

Starting today, Creative Field Recording is having an early “Black Friday” sale on our e-Book combo packs. These bundles gather books about sound effects and sharing sound for a discounted price. Today’s 48-hour sale adds an additional 50% savings on top of that with coupon code BLACKFRIDAYCFR!

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What sound effects can your gear capture? Last week’s post presented a chart of decibel levels for common sound effects. The article explored how equipment selections affect capturing sound subjects at different loudnesses.

The chart is revealing for other reasons, too. Of course, it shows the level of sound created by things around us. It’s common sense that a power saw is louder than library crowd chatter. However, the chart becomes more interesting the narrower we look at these numbers. For example, a chainsaw is 10 dB louder than a power saw. Thunder is louder than a power saw, and about as loud as the chainsaw.

Why does this matter? Well, of course the list gives us a guide of how loud things are so we can judge if field recording equipment can capture sounds cleanly. It also invites us to think about sound more generally, too. The chainsaw is louder than the power saw by 10 dB. That is what the numbers show us. But what is it like to experience that difference? What does a 10 dB difference feel like?

So, today’s post will explore the chart with a different slant: how do sound effect levels affect hearing?

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I recently purchased some hi-fi earbuds for recreation listening when using my iPhone. While the headphones themselves are great, what I found particularly interesting was a flyer included in the headphones packaging.

The flyer includes a chart that lists the decibel level (dB) of various sound effects. We’ve seen these charts before. This one’s a bit different. I wanted to include this particular chart in a series to consider two important ideas. The first: how does gear affect field recordings you capture?

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