Surround field recording Asbjoern Andersen


Late last week, I spotted that Field Recordist and Senior Sound Designer Rick Hernandez shared some intriguing images from a surround recording project he’d just been undertaking.

He’d been recording in forests, canyons, parks, and wetlands, and I was curious to hear more about the project and his experiences.

He was kind enough to share the story – and not only that: He also shared the recordings he captured, and you can download those for free below! You’re welcome to use those recordings in whatever way you like.


Written by Rick Hernandez



 

My name is Rick Hernandez, I am a Sr. Sound Designer at Respawn Entertainment & Lead Sound Designer and Field Recordist at Melee Sound Design.
I’ve been recording out on the field for many years, but last year I decided to peruse it at a higher level and the result was the soundpack RUPTURE, published by SoundMorph – and I’ve just released the Dimensions door soundpack.
Recently I got inspired to go out on the field again to record surround ambiences when I rewatched the Soundtacker movie, which is a film about iconic audio recordist Gordon Hempton.

I love recording the sounds of nature and ambiences in surround sound, and I’ve been able to capture some really great recordings in the past, but the setup time and the results can be very frustrating. Setting up a tree with five different microphones takes time, a lot of testing and re adjusting, lots of cables and moving from place to place is very time consuming. Even after setting up everything meticulously, the results were mixed due to wind, weather, and inaccurate imaging.

But recently I got the opportunity to demo a DPA5100 Mobile Surround Microphone. The DPA 5100 is a solidly-built, multicapsuled Surround Sound microphone that uses Windtex fabric technology to nest an array of five capsules. The capsules are Omni-directional and make use of the DPA DiPMic (Directional Pressure Microphone). It is incredibly easy to setup and has a very wide and astonishingly accurate 5.1 imaging.


DPA 5100 surround microphone

The DPA 5100 Mobile Surround Microphone

What I like most about the microphone is its wide dynamic range with having low sensitivity to wind noise which is so important when recording exterior ambiences. It also has and incredibly low noise floor and I can conveniently place it on a microphone stand and record surround ambiences in a flash. On to the recording…
 

 

Location 1: Angeles National Forest (Pasadena)

The first location I visited was the Angeles National Forest in Pasadena. It has a pretty big waterfall with a long down stream of water leading up to it.

Video Thumbnail

I wanted to record the more delicate steam rather than the white wash white noise of the waterfall. I got there in the early afternoon before the light drizzle and rains that were occurring that week in LA. As you can see from the videos, I was able to easily mount the 5100 on a mic stand and record both up and down the steam. For this field recording trip I took out my amazing Zoom F8 which has the ability to let me record from about 30 feet away using the F8 Control App on my iPad. After I recorded the steam, I also ended up recording the waterfall once I recorded the stream.. figured I was already there.
 

Recordings from Angeles National Forest:

To hear the 5.1 recordings, click through to Soundcloud for each example and download there:
 
Stream

Foggy Night

 
Here are all the surround recordings – in one go:

Want to save yourself some clicking and get all the 5.1 recordings in this story, in one go? Just enter your name and valid email address below to get the download link + the much-loved A Sound Effect newsletter:

 


Sorry, the offer is currently not available - but the A Sound Effect newsletter comes with free sounds in every issue (+ exclusive stories, interviews, guides, audio jobs, audio events, sound highlights and more). Get it right here.


 
NB: If you don’t receive the email with the download link, please check your spam folder. Oh, and existing newsletter subscribers can of course get the sounds too.
 

Recording in Ballona Wetlands

Location 2: Ballona Wetlands (Playa Del Rey)

After some lunch at the Switzer picnic area, I headed over to the west side to the Ballona Wetlands. It was starting to get darker and the rain that we had gotten in the days prior had brought out the wildlife. There were storks everywhere, frogs were singing and the insects were all about. These wetlands are one of the few remaining in the Los Angeles Basin. These wetlands have been the subject of a battle between developers and environmentalists that has been going on for over twenty years. Hopefully we can preserve this land and its amazing wildlife.
 

Recordings from Ballona Wetlands:

To hear the 5.1 recordings, click through to Soundcloud for each example and download there:

 
 
 

Popular on A Sound Effect right now - article continues below:

 

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    The majority of boats were recorded directly on board and up close from various points along the riverside, with a selection of perspectives. There are also over 10 isolated sounds – engines, waves/ wash, cock crows and dogs – with alternate versions at 192kHz for further manipulation. Full metadata is included (Soundminer), with keywords and detailed markers embedded to quickly locate specific sounds/ regions.

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  • Harness the unique sonic properties of water in your next project! Create otherworldly sound design with bubble streams, air bursts, immersive perspectives and more.

    Submerged is a boutique sound effects library of swirling, bubbling, whooshing sounds recorded using a hydrophone (underwater microphone).

    The variety of sounds featured in Submerged include scuba inhale/exhale/hiss, ice impacts and cracking, air release whooshing and bubbling, dry ice, pool pump hum, underwater fireworks explosions, cannon bursts, underwater movement, rushing water, dripping water, and an assortment of underwater vocalizations both male and female.

    Key Features:

    • 230 hydrophonic recordings in mono & stereo (1.3GB)
    • 24-bit/96kHz broadcast .wav files
    • Descriptive embedded metadata
    • 100% Royalty-Free

    Credits:

    Created in collaboration with Big Tree Media
    Colin Hart: Recordist, Editor
    Joseph DiMarco: Editor, Librarian
    Álvaro Aparicio: Recordist
    Sarah Swan: Performance, Vocals
    Benny Maus: Performance, Vocals
    Robb Nichols: Consultation (Aquarian Audio)

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Recording in Simi Valley Canyon

Location 3: Simi Valley Canyon (Simi Valley)

The next day I went to record at the Simi Valley Canyon. The Simi Valley is a synclinal valley in Southern California connected to the San Fernando Valley. It is an enclosed valley surrounded by mountains and hills. Again there were many birds and other wildlife due to heavy rainfall in the days prior.

One of my favorite things in this location was the local Acorn woodpecker. It’s a small sized bird that when pecking at trees to find food produces a really loud sound the echoes through the valley. I was perched up and elevated on a mountain looking over a neighborhood and the echo on the recordings was very unique.
 

Recording from Simi Valley:

To hear the 5.1 recording, click through to Soundcloud for each example and download there:

 
 

Surround Recording in Two Strike Park

Location 4: La Crescenta Two Strike Park (La Crescenta)

As I made my way back home from Simi Valley it was about 9:00pm and completely dark. It was raining, so I decided to go to a nearby park near my house that has lots of trees and other vegetation. The rain falling and dripping down the dozens of trees in the surrounding area and creating splashes and puddles that created some really interesting sonic textures. I used the OC5100 Outdoor Cover that is included with the mic to protect the mic from rain and unwanted contact mic sounds. In the past I’ve had to rig an enclosure with hair hog in a process that is impractical and time consuming so the OC5100 is invaluable to anyone recording rain on under rainy conditions.

Recordings from Two Strike Park:

To hear the 5.1 recordings, click through to Soundcloud for each example and download there:

Recording with surround ambiences was a blast with the DPA 5100. All the gear I needed was my Zoom F8, the DPA 5100 with its cable and both the Outdoor Cover/Windjammer and a microphone stand.


The Zoom F8 Recorder and Zoom F8 Control on an iPad

The Zoom F8 Recorder and Zoom Control


The recordings I was able to capture with the Zoom F8 and DPA 5100 were amazing and I’m really happy with the imaging I got from the locations recorded.

Technology is an amazing thing, and with the latest advancements that DPA and Zoom have done in recent years it is now possible to go out on the field and capture pristine sounding Surround Recordings without having to live out of your van.
 

A big thanks to Rick Hernandez for sharing his recording experiences! Read more about Meleee Sound Design here, and hear more about Titanfall 2 from Respawn Entertainment, a project he’s been Senior Sound designer on.

 

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Explore the full, unique collection here

Latest sound effects libraries:
 
  • Environments Mekong Delta Play Track 75 sounds included, 158 mins total $60 $48

    The rich and colourful sounds of the Mekong delta: this collection features a wide range of old diesel boat engines, gentle row boats along quintessential narrow waterways and a varied selection of local ambience, from quiet rural villages to the hustle and bustle of towns and live animal markets.

    The majority of boats were recorded directly on board and up close from various points along the riverside, with a selection of perspectives. There are also over 10 isolated sounds – engines, waves/ wash, cock crows and dogs – with alternate versions at 192kHz for further manipulation. Full metadata is included (Soundminer), with keywords and detailed markers embedded to quickly locate specific sounds/ regions.

    20 %
    OFF
    Ends 1594763999
  • Environments Geothermal Iceland Play Track 110 sounds included, 60 mins total $35 $29

    A sound library powered by Earth’s molten interior


    This library contains boiling mud pits, blasting steam vents, a geothermal power station and delicate trickles of running water all recorded from multiple perspectives. The library was edited down to be compact with the game audio designer in mind. The recordings were captured with Sennheiser MKH8040s and a MKH8060 so both stereo ORTF and a more direct mono image are available.

    17 %
    OFF
    Ends 1594591199
  • All files are recorded 32bit, 192 kHz, with Rode NTG1 and Shure VP88 microphones, Sound Devices MixPre-6 II recorder. Library contains wav files of driving and exterior foley, mechanical and electrical sounds.

  • “The Shoe Collection: Soft Hardwood – Barefoot“ by Periscope Post & Audio, provides 22 high quality footsteps on soft hardwood floors with bare feet.  The audio files are recorded at 24bit, 192k with mono and stereo recordings.  The Sennheiser MKH-60 was used for the mono files with a slightly more distant mic placement than the stereo files, which were recorded with the Sennheiser MKH8050 and the Sennheiser MKH-30 near the shoe.  From different walking speeds, to jogging, sprinting, jumping, hard stops, scuffs, and more!  We are also packaging the option of a different EQ curve to reduce some of the lower thump of the barefoot.  There are several performances with each file to fit the right action you need.  454 Footsteps per version. That’s a whopping 908 footsteps between the mono and stereo files!

    17 %
    OFF
    Ends 1594850399
  • Harness the unique sonic properties of water in your next project! Create otherworldly sound design with bubble streams, air bursts, immersive perspectives and more.

    Submerged is a boutique sound effects library of swirling, bubbling, whooshing sounds recorded using a hydrophone (underwater microphone).

    The variety of sounds featured in Submerged include scuba inhale/exhale/hiss, ice impacts and cracking, air release whooshing and bubbling, dry ice, pool pump hum, underwater fireworks explosions, cannon bursts, underwater movement, rushing water, dripping water, and an assortment of underwater vocalizations both male and female.

    Key Features:

    • 230 hydrophonic recordings in mono & stereo (1.3GB)
    • 24-bit/96kHz broadcast .wav files
    • Descriptive embedded metadata
    • 100% Royalty-Free

    Credits:

    Created in collaboration with Big Tree Media
    Colin Hart: Recordist, Editor
    Joseph DiMarco: Editor, Librarian
    Álvaro Aparicio: Recordist
    Sarah Swan: Performance, Vocals
    Benny Maus: Performance, Vocals
    Robb Nichols: Consultation (Aquarian Audio)

3 thoughts on “Surround field recording adventures in forests, canyons, parks, and wetlands – with Rick Hernandez:

  1. Nice recordings! Whereabouts in Simi Valley did you go to record? I find it difficult to record good nature ambiences in LA without the ever-present traffic noise.

  2. Hi Rick,
    Great recordings. Do you find the DPA too noisy for very quiet ambience? I did a very quiet recording with stereo kit 4060s recently and thinking I am hearing some self-noise on the mic, it is hard to differentiate from the ambience itself though.
    Thanks

  3. Thanks Rick! From one sound person to another, these will be a nice addition to the 5.1 SFX library.

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