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    Noise pollution, what's to do?


    Lately i've been testing some new gear, and it works just wonderful. Perhaps a little bit too wonderful. About a week ago i went to this little forest, that's placed in walking distance of my house. My home pretty much lies isolated from roads and stuff, but never the less, on this recording i got every car and moped passing in a 4 km radius. It's a pain when all i want is the natural environments.

    Today i went to another forest, also placed far away from traffic. Same thing happened. Lots of noises from everything but nature. Well a little nature came along of course, but everything seems to get in my way of a great recording these days. It's frustrating at best. To drive to a location and get the recordings "ruined" by human interventions is not what i have in mind when i go on a fieldtrip.

    How do you cope with this, and is there any advice i didn't pick up along the way?

    I'd really like to hear others and their experiences.

    smile

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    it's a big problem human noise pollution. I didn't find any solution but go far away from roads and houses. The best isolated areas are any hills or mountains smile, worst lakes or forest on plain, flat terrains. The better chance to keep pure nature sound is about 4 - 5 a.m. when most people are sleeping smile and nature gets up!

    sound addictive human being...
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    Well at least it's sort of nice to know that i'm not the only one with that kind of problem.

    I should think that i was far enough away from everything here. Several km to the nearest town, which is so small that traffic isn't a significant problem on a sunday afternoon. I'm really out in the middle of nowhere, but never the less there always seems to be something in the way. Maybe i'll try to schedule when the traffic slows down, and save my energy to more quiet hours then.

    Going out at night perhaps isn't the the best choice for me. When the dark comes, it really hits hard. There is no lights any where, out here, so it's literally black as in "you can't see a hand before you" . And going to the forest at night would perhaps be a perfect challenge to my inner pathfinder, but i think i'll save that for more desperate times :wink:

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    With no magic tricks that i know of and all the hard work and deleted recordings it takes to get those rare noise-free moments i sometimes wonder if it's best to just accept human noise as natural in field-recordings?At least it's easier.
    Recording at first light certainly gives the best chances (as Robinhood points out).Wind direction is also important imo....if there's a small town several km to the north-east of the location i wouldn't bother getting up until there's a gentle breeze from the south-west,also sometimes unwanted noises can be edited out succesfully in post.
    .....congrats with the new gear...i have more fun trying to avoid human noise with half-decent gear than i had struggling with the constant signal-to-noise problems of small recorders smile

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    The best way to avoid distant noises is to record with dynamic mikes, but the result must be very different from what we have heard, and it must be noiseless model of course.

    sound addictive human being...
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    Robinhood76
    The best way to avoid distant noises is to record with dynamic mikes, but the result must be very different from what we have heard, and it must be noiseless model of course.

    I'll keep the tip about dynamic mikes in mind. Thank you smile

    Microscopia
    juskiddink hits the nail on the head when he wonders if it's best to just accept human noise as natural in field-recordings. I agree wholeheartedly with this.

    I think you have to ask what do you wish to achieve?
    Do you wish to record the natural ambience of a particular location, or do you wish to record specific bird or animal sounds, present at that location?.

    If it's the ambience aspect, then just stand and listen for a while - if you hear road traffic, aircraft, farm machinery, kids screaming in the local playground, etc..... then that is the ambience of that particular location, so don't try and alter any recording made there by deleting or filtering out the man-made parts that you don't like; as by doing that you cannot then pretend that it is a recording of the ambience of that location.

    However, if you wish to record specific animal or bird sound at that location, then use any means necessary such as highly directional long-shotgun or parabolic-dish microphones and as many editing tools possibly to extract the specific sound required from the background noise!

    It's fun - best of luck!

    Mostly, right now at least, i have a wish to record only nature. I mean when i go for a forest recording, i hope to get the natural (meaning no human interference) ambiance of forest and wildlife located there. My problem is perhaps that i set my ambitions to high and don't accept sounds from elsewhere, but the perfect recording for me right now, would be the sound that takes me away to those deserted places op north, that i visited a long time ago wootops:

    Maybe it's just something i have to get over, but still it would be nice though, to get that sound i really miss.

    On the other hand i made a really cool recording today. I got this weird idea to clip my microphones on to a metal pylon, you know the kind that carries electric wires. I didn't know what to expect, and it was in the middle of a field, open to all sides. I kinda hoped to get this bird that i've been chasing for a while. I has this call, like "duic.... duic" and i'm not at all into ornithology so i couldn't really say what bird it is, but i guess i just like the sound and would love to get a good recording of it.

    So bottom line is, when i got home, all i could hear was this deep humming, like a thousand bees on steroids. I realized it was the wind singing in the metal pylons and electric wires . I amplified it, equalized it a little to get rid of the high frequencies from the wind in the grass. Now it sounds like hells front yard weirdhock: Well you can hear it for your self, when i'm finished uploading grin

    So it turns out i'm just whining because i don't get what i'm expecting, and perhaps i should learn to appreciate what i get. I stand humbly corrected :wink:

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    Been there, you can believe me. I live in a very noisy city, region, and country, so I used to get mad at interferences, still do at times. Cars are not the main problem. What about airplanes? In the flat, marshy areas I often visit to do my field recording, a single light aircraft can pollute hundres of square kilometres! And these goddamned motorcyles, chainsaws, geez...

    So I watch for the rare, invaluable moments of no interference and choose the right moment. Very often I simply give up recording, keep my mics inside the bag and just LISTEN. Our brain is very clever at filtering out unwanted noise - of course smarter than these stupid mics - so even in extremely polluted places you still can enjoy nice natural sound.

    In short, there is not much to do: use a parabola, get closer to source, watch the wind, choose the right hour (less traffic), go to really isolated places (hilly terrains are better than flat ones), accept human interferences if/when they do sound good (often!), cut out the annoying noise in post if this yields a good sample albeit shorter...

    Unfortunately neither of these 'tricks' will turn the noisy world we all live in into a pristine environment for you to record. But don't let this to sour your character (it nearly happened to me, ha ha!) This is best advice I can give you smile

    Cheers

    D

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    dobroide
    Been there, you can believe me. I live in a very noisy city, region, and country, so I used to get mad at interferences, still do at times. Cars are not the main problem. What about airplanes? In the flat, marshy areas I often visit to do my field recording, a single light aircraft can pollute hundres of square kilometres! And these goddamned motorcyles, chainsaws, geez...

    So I watch for the rare, invaluable moments of no interference and choose the right moment. Very often I simply give up recording, keep my mics inside the bag and just LISTEN. Our brain is very clever at filtering out unwanted noise - of course smarter than these stupid mics - so even in extremely polluted places you still can enjoy nice natural sound.

    In short, there is not much to do: use a parabola, get closer to source, watch the wind, choose the right hour (less traffic), go to really isolated places (hilly terrains are better than flat ones), accept human interferences if/when they do sound good (often!), cut out the annoying noise in post if this yields a good sample albeit shorter...

    Unfortunately neither of these 'tricks' will turn the noisy world we all live in into a pristine environment for you to record. But don't let this to sour your character (it nearly happened to me, ha ha!) This is best advice I can give you smile

    Cheers

    D

    Yeah well, a bit more patience would suit me, i guess.

    The trouble is, as i discussed with a friend of mine, that i haven't got oceans of time. You know how it is, kids, wife, house, dog and work too. It all takes time, and going out on a field trip is often with a way to narrow time horizon. But patience, and for me to acknowledge the fact that i can't come home with a usable recording every time i go out to make recordings, would of course do me good

    :wink:

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    Kyster
    My home pretty much lies isolated from roads and stuff, but never the less, on this recording i got every car and moped passing in a 4 km radius.

    Wow, in that case can I please know what new gear you've been testing lately? grin

    ((( ~ )))
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    ~
    Kyster
    My home pretty much lies isolated from roads and stuff, but never the less, on this recording i got every car and moped passing in a 4 km radius.

    Wow, in that case can I please know what new gear you've been testing lately? grin

    Sure smile

    I owe you to tell, that i live in Denmark. That means there's absolutely no hills what so ever, everything is flat here.

    But the gear:

    A couple of WM-61A Panasonic microphones set up like this: https://pantherfile.uwm.edu/type/www/116/Trek01/BuildingMics/WM-61A_BrookBuildsMics/WM-61A_BrookBuildsMics-Pages/Image42.html. These are not mine though!

    A (Prefer) Stereo microphone booster, pieced together with an older superlux E523/D microphone.

    The recorder i use, is a Sony HI-MD walkman MZ-NH1 minidisc recorder, or sometimes a TSM PR1 portable digital recorder. But the last one doesn't work very well without a preamp, except for when i use the two stereo mics that came along. Im still working on getting some different pieces of plugs and cable, so i can split the signal from the preamp. Have to check what i have first, before i run out and spend money, though.

    There you have it :wink:

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    The only solution I can think of it post filter your recordings. At a 4 km radius you will probably only get the low frequencies of the unwanted human noise. Hipass will help keep those cars out of way, however it depends on what you are recording.
    Good luck mate.

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    Yeah it's a real annoyance. Have had and still have the same issue where I am. I have many nice parks that are very closeby, and I mean big parks, but if they are too close to the road, I get a lot of cars and if they are far enough from the roads, it seems there is a flight path right above my head.

    I have tried to find flight path information many times, but it seems, or from what I have read, paths change often or the info is sensitive. Wish I knew which zones were flight paths before I drove 3 hours to get there!

    Best solution I found was finding a really huge park and hiking to the middle of it and hope no planes fly. It seems where I live, no matter the hour, there are ALWAYS cars. 3am,4am, 11pm etc....

    Sometimes I do get a lucky 10 min streak of pure nature sounds, but then I end up sneezing 4 mins in....jk

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    JustinBW
    It seems where I live, no matter the hour, there are ALWAYS cars. 3am,4am, 11pm etc.... Sometimes I do get a lucky 10 min streak of pure nature sounds, but then I end up sneezing 4 mins in....jk

    This is my experience. Even right in the centre of an urban capital like Dublin, I find I can get the quietest results between 03:30-05:00 But this is not always reliable, sometimes white noise from building central heating systems is a problem, and sometimes the weather conditions aren't right. On cold mornings my nose runs and runs and I just let it rather than sniff and ruin a good take.

    Nobody's around to see my nose run anyhow. smile

    Some mornings are just noisier than others. I often need to make several expeditions at stupid o'clock to get the results I want.

    I know this topic is old, but it's an ongoing issue. Oh well. smile

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    I know that "human noise" problem too. (-; Almost everytime, when I go to record something in the nature - people behave as if they were waiting for me. grin I guess I begin to realize, how many sonic things around me - are turned off by my brain in order to keep me in a quiet and selective environment.

    And yet - from time to time - I'm able to take something wonderful. Spontaneously, without expecting anything.

    On the other hand, when I go to the forrest - birds love to do the opposite. They become quiet, just before I push the record button. Well, I can understand the birds, they know that I understand them (-; And nobody loves paparazzi grin

    Directional mics could partially solve the problem? I don't know.

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    I dont own it yet, but this guy wrote a book on the topic, and he has cataloged the (very) few remaining 'silent' places in the US. I think I will buy it (The one with the audio CD included of course)

    http://www.amazon.ca/One-Square-Inch-Silence-Natural/dp/1416559086

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