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    70 sounds
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    I've come a long way, but not as far as I thought


    When I got started in all this cool audio engineering stuff a few years back, I felt like a total noob! Even though I'd been a professional musician for many years with extensive experience being on the business end of a microphone and using them live, I'd never done any serious recording before. I felt totally lost and confused and wow, how to match up all that information out there with my actual questions?

    You guys here were enormously helpful pointing me in useful directions, and I've been totally geeking out on recording ever since. smile

    Some of you may remember that after I overcame some of my initial hurdles, I wrote about some ways to resolve them in an audio field recording guide, just to help anybody else who was struggling to get decent recordings from a portable audio recorder for the first time.

    Recently I was contacted by somebody who read the guide, asking for advice with a noise problem and a Zoom H2. The queries surprised me because

      a) the questions were pretty much entirely to do with the equipment and very little to do with recording technique
      b) the problems were pretty much entirely to do with recording technique and very little to do with the equipment

    What I realised from their questions was that I actually started out knowing quite a lot. I realised that by far the bulk of what makes a good recording is recording technique, and equipment quality only really starts to make a significant difference when the recording technique is already sound.

    This explains why my initial efforts of recording ambient sounds were so successful. My tree leaves rustling at 1214 downloads is by far my most popular recording on here, with footsteps on gravel at 491 coming in sort of second. I'm also very pleased with my shower foley even though at 43 downloads it isn't as popular. And I recorded all of it in the field (it wasn't my own shower) with an unbelievably bulky rig comprising Shure 58 Beta dynamic cardioid microphones, Macbook, M-Audio Firewire 410 sound card, assorted cables, stands, and capture and basic editing done in Garage Band.

    I say sort of second because my looped mp3 phone ring at 713 downloads is in a popular category so I don't really count that one. smile

    Now I've got a much more compact lightweight setup with my Zoom H4n, and I've learnt to navigate my way around Soundtrack Pro to polish up the raw footage. Capturing sounds is certainly a whole lot easier with this much smaller lighter rig. And although I can now grab sounds I couldn't before simply due to portability (and no computer fan noise), and although my ultimate results are a lot more usable now because of being able to bring up the levels in Soundtrack Pro, the quality of the raw audio I capture is pretty much the same now as when I started back then.

    So anyhow, the reason I'm posting this is because from the questions I was asked recently, I realised that I didn't start from total ignorance, I actually had a lot going for me in terms of recording technique, and my only real problems were figuring out the practical logistics of the equipment and the software.

    And realising that I started out with an existing knowledge base is reassuring and feels good. Hey, I know stuff. Cool! smile

    ======

    Side note - I made another interesting discovery recently in terms of my own equipment preferences.

    I'd been using Apple's in-ear headphones on my iPod. I like them because I listen to audio books as I drift off to sleep, and I can have both in my ears when I'm lying on my side. My previous ones (Sony MDR J10 and more recently Sony MDR as20J) I had to take one out of the ear of the side I was lying on.

    I forgot the Apple ones on a train journey one day and for that day I went back to using the J10s. Wow. The difference in audio quality was unbelievable. The Apple ones suck!! Even with their silicone earplug-like noise blockers which the Sonys don't have, the iPod audio on the train was far, far superiour with the Sony J10s.

    BUT, I still mostly use the Apple ones with sucky audio quality because they are much more comfortable to wear when I sleep, the controller on the cable is convenient, and they wind up into a convenient wee carry case when I'm out and about.

    A similar thing happened with my monitoring headphones. I had been using Sennheiser HD-25-1 headphones to monitor, and although the sound quality is spectacular they are just too uncomfortable on my ears to wear for any length of time. They squash my ears in a funny way and actually start to hurt me after about 10 minutes. So I finally got a pair of Sony MDR V6 cans and the relief is just blissful. Sure, the sound quality is millions less than the Sennheisers. It's even worse than the sucky Apple ones, actually.

    BUT the Sony cans are quite comfortable and I can wear them all day, and they fold up smaller than the Sennheisers for carrying. And, if I don't feel like carrying the bigger Sony cans and want super extra portability and convenience, sometimes I even use the Apple ones with their earplug-like silicone thingys for monitoring.

    So what I discovered is that regardless of whether I'm recording, editing or listening to my iPod, as long as I can get a level and a reasonable idea of what the audio is like, I prioritise headphone comfort and convenience over audio quality any day of the week and twice on matinee days. smile

    So if you were wondering, this is my progress report from when I was last active here. Thank you for reading, and especially thank you for all the useful advice you've offered when I needed help. You rock. smile

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    70 sounds
    134 posts


    I've been using the Sennheisers for over three years and they hurt way too much to get used to. I think each person's ear shape, ear position relative to the head and head size are different, and therefore headphone design and comfort probably varies widely for each person.

    I read a review for the Sennheisers written by a person with a big head who found them very comfortable for all day use, but my head is tiny and they hurt like a sonofabitch, seriously. I've got some Audio Technica ATH-M35 headphones on the way so I'll see if they're any better soundwise than the Sony MDR-V6s, with equivalent comfort. They also have a straight cable, the coiled one on the Sonys is a pain in the hole.

    The H4n does take a minute or two to start up, it's true, and that can be annoying. In practice though, 99% of the time it hasn't been a problem. It starts up quicker when the SD card is empty. The sound quality, portability and XLR sockets make it perfect for me, I love it, it goes everywhere with me. smile

  • avatar
    89 sounds
    97 posts


    Spleencast
    Some of you may remember that after I overcame some of my initial hurdles, I wrote about some ways to resolve them in an audio field recording guide, just to help anybody else who was struggling to get decent recordings from a portable audio recorder for the first time.

    I added a link to your guide from the offsite links section on the Video Liberty project site. Seemed too good to not share.
    smile

  • avatar
    546 sounds
    351 posts


    Spleencast

    The H4n does take a minute or two to start up, it's true, and that can be annoying. In practice though, 99% of the time it hasn't been a problem. It starts up quicker when the SD card is empty. The sound quality, portability and XLR sockets make it perfect for me, I love it, it goes everywhere with me. smile

    My experiences of the H4n - yes I like it, but :-
    1) It takes too long to start up, AND about 1 time in 3 it says "No Card" or "No Data" and I have to re-insert the SD card. Inevitably this happens when you particularly want a quick start.
    2) Lack of stereo line-in is a bind, and I can't get line-in via the XLR sockets to work, tho' I think it's supposed to
    3) You have to press record TWICE to start recording - and I often seem to do that too quickly and then find it's not recording when I assume it is
    4) If the battery dies during a recording, you lose that whole recording. It would be nice if it detected battery was getting low while it still had enough juice to save work to date.
    5) Sometimes the date gets reset, and it doesn't always tell me.
    6) The pre-record is great (tho' not long enough), but if you press pause after a recording, it doesn't go back into pre-record buffering. You have to Stop/Start

    Mike

    Freesound Moderator "Close your eyes, and you're almost there!"
  • avatar
    70 sounds
    134 posts


    jppi_Stu
    Spleencast
    Some of you may remember that after I overcame some of my initial hurdles, I wrote about some ways to resolve them in an audio field recording guide, just to help anybody else who was struggling to get decent recordings from a portable audio recorder for the first time.

    I added a link to your guide from the offsite links section on the Video Liberty project site. Seemed too good to not share.
    smile

    Gosh, that's really nifty, thank you! smile

    acclivity
    AND about 1 time in 3 it says "No Card" or "No Data" and I have to re-insert the SD card. Inevitably this happens when you particularly want a quick start.

    This has never happened to me in over a year of frequent use! Not even once. I've been using the same Kingston 16GB SDHC card the whole time. Is it possible you may have an issue with that particular card? If it does the same with different cards I'd suspect the machine has a proper problem and I'd contact the manufacturers.

    I dropped mine and the headphone socket is really loose and only connects intermittently now, but I'm too attached to it to actually leave it in anywhere to get it fixed. Besides, it's my only recorder.

    acclivity
    You have to press record TWICE to start recording - and I often seem to do that too quickly and then find it's not recording when I assume it is

    That must suck hairy sweaty donkey balls. I have a habit of looking at the display and waiting for the time counter to start moving before I leave the recorder alone. I suspect twice pushing is required because I think the first press cues the recorder to generate a new file with a new name. So press, pause, create file, blink light, press again, look at time counter and I'm recording.

    toiletrolltube
    I imagine it must be even more difficult for Gertie to find chicken headphones.

    And don't even get me started on the problematic colour schemes. How's a chicken supposed to get headphones to match her outfit around here? tongue

    ================
    Oh, and the Audio Technica ATH-35 headphones have arrived. They do sound better than the ipod earbuds and the Sony MDR V6, they stay on my head and clamp my ears much better than the Sony's. The cable is really long and straight, which makes it much more lightweight and convenient than coiled cable. (what idiot thought that was a good idea?) It has no drag on the headphones at all, unlike that coiled annoyance on the Sony's.

    I have a small earring up the outside cartilage of my right ear, and on that side the ATH-35's hurt me, which is a real shame. The ear pads are wider than the Sony's making the ear space narrower, so I think if the pads were narrower I'd be onto my perfect headphones.

    Anybody know how straightforward or weird it might be to put different ear pads on them at home? Or would I have to leave them into some professional place to do it?

  • avatar
    70 sounds
    134 posts


    Spleencast
    Oh, and the Audio Technica ATH-35 headphones have arrived. They do sound better than the ipod earbuds and the Sony MDR V6, they stay on my head and clamp my ears much better than the Sony's. [...] I have a small earring up the outside cartilage of my right ear, and on that side the ATH-35's hurt me, which is a real shame. The ear pads are wider than the Sony's making the ear space narrower, so I think if the pads were narrower I'd be onto my perfect headphones.

    Anybody know how straightforward or weird it might be to put different ear pads on them at home? Or would I have to leave them into some professional place to do it?


    Update - The ear pads of both the Sony and AT's just pull off and fit either pair. So I swapped over the right ones and fitted them onto each other and now I have comfy cans I like!

    Yay! smile

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    13 sounds
    219 posts


    That's very fortuitous Spleencast. I'm pleased you managed to find the perfect solution.

    That's inspired me to try exchanging the skins on the scraggy but good-natured neighbours pussycat with the hansom but obnoxious tom that terrorises birds in my garden!

    (I think that's a "dead kitten" joke.)

    Wibby.

    Heaven in the sky is to die for, Heaven on earth is to live for.

    7 posts