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The Basics of Digital Audio Field Recording: Observation, Preparation and Quantity

written by: albaitis•edited by: Rhonda Callow•updated: 2/4/2010

By taking into consideration what the limits of your equipment and situation, you can create provoking digital sound recordings on any budget.

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    Creating Compelling Acoustic Recordings with Virtually Any Type of Equipment

    Field recording is a very subjective activity. There are no fixable laws, only loose guidelines. It all depends on the desired outcome. The following are some basic standards I go by; they are merely things to think about that the beginner in digital sound duplication may want to take into consideration.

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    Equipment: It’s What You Do with What You Have

    For those who suffer the gadget bug, like I, you feel as though you can never have enough gear. But before you take that second mortgage out on your house, remember that most good recordings are the result of hard word or good luck, not because of that $2000 microphone. For the recordist in the field with no specific goal in mind, serendipity is more important than sample rate.

    Some of the best work is made with crude or what most professionals would call ‘inappropriate’ gear. Profound recordings I have made were created with cheap mini-disc players and hand-made microphones. I simply kept the tape rolling, and the magical moments gifted my patience. Discover what your gear can do, and exemplify it’s strengths to the best of your ability. You will soon learn that most flaws that occur within a recording have nothing to do with cheap equipment, but are the result of many elements such as poor mic positioning or too much background noise.

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    Real Life Verse the Recorded One

    Recording life will never be as rich as life itself. That’s the beauty of the medium; you are essentially creating an ‘interpretation’ through the tools you possess, with the moments/environments that you are within. Be there in the moment with patience and a lot of extra storage. Key point here being that you must make A LOT of recordings. A colleague of mine once said, “There are no good reasons to not record, only ethical and practical ones.” Always record for much longer than you think you need. Quantity is the key here. A few great recordings will come out of the pool of a million bad ones.

Essential Creative Techniques for Digital Sound Recording

Develop your sensitivities towards your acoustic world, creating compelling digital audio recordings with virtually any type of equipment. Work with the limits of the environment, equipment and the position of your body to enhance your work with post production, video and individual sound projects.
  1. The Basics of Digital Audio Field Recording: Observation, Preparation and Quantity
  2. Digital Sound Recording Tips: To Move Or Not To Move, That Is The Question
  3. How Acoustics Shape Sounds: Recording Techniques for Developing Your Creative Vision