A Month of Field Recordists: Ollie Hall


3-4 Ollie Hall - portrait

I had heard about Ollie Hall and his work for years. Ollie is a field recordist notable for some very specialized sound fx: binaural field recordings.

Of course, binaural recordings recreate an accurate stereo image of locations that appear especially vivid when heard through headphones. Ollie has been capturing sound fx this way since 2006, and writing about his experiences on his blog, Binaural Diaries.

Some us may remember the evocative field recordings on the Quiet American website. Ollie was originally inspired by the sound fx there, and began capturing his own sound clips.

Ollie has since gathered an impressive following of almost 10,000 binaural sound fx fans on SoundCloud, where he shares an incredibly prolific and diverse set of over 160 field recordings.

I took the opportunity to introduce myself to Ollie. I asked him his thoughts on equipment and how it helps him capture the focused discipline of binaural field recordings.

Ollie kindly shared with me his thoughts. He described how equipment choice, stealth work, and binaural field recording contribute to capturing immersive “sound photographs” that take listeners on “sound journeys” from Amsterdam to his native UK, as well as to a special field recording experience in Japan.

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

The Sound Professionals SP-TFB–2 in-ear binaural microphones. My Zoom H2 portable recorder is indispensable, but the binaural mics are really what gets the results. I love how immersive the binaural recording technique can be for a listener.

CFR: Why do you reach for this gear in particular, as opposed to other equipment you may have heard about or tried? How did it end up in your kit?

My first binaural microphones were an unbranded set found on eBay, the results were adequate for the purpose getting used to being out and about, recording by stealth. They were noisy though, and the time came to try an upgrade. My research drew me to the Sound Professionals site and price/performance-wise their offerings seemed like a decent option. I’ve used them ever since. Recording without being noticed was important, because I wanted to be able to record everyday environments without rousing suspicion or influencing what was going on around me.

3-4 Ollie Hall - Japan

CFR: Can you share a favourite experience or field recording you’ve captured with this gear?

Undoubtedly it’s the recordings I made throughout my trip to Japan in 2009 that I cherish the most. It was a trip that I’d dreamt about for years, and I think the entire experience was enhanced by the action of pausing to focus on what I heard as well as what I saw. On top of the sense of excitement I had from being far from home and familiar surroundings, the sheer variety of the places we explored was mesmerising. For example, the chatter of passengers on the subway in contract to Buddhist temple bells. Listening to them takes me back instantly. I certainly enjoy the feeling of being taken on short sonic journeys when I listen to recordings by other recordists, and this is what I hope listeners will enjoy when they hear mine.

Listen to Ollie Hall’s binaural field recordings from Japan, below:

Many thanks to Ollie Hall for sharing his thoughts about binaural field recording and the immersion of sound fx!

Quick Links: Ollie Hall’s Kit


Audio recorder:

  • Zoom H2 portable audio recorder with 4 microphones.

Read More

  • Read about Ollie’s field recordings on his blog.
  • Follow him on Twitter.
  • Hear his new recordings on SoundCloud.

Read more about the A Month of Field Recordists series.

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