Driftwood along a shore Asbjoern Andersen


For his latest sound effects libraries, field recordist Thomas Rex Beverly went on a recording adventure to One Square Inch in Olympic National Park, Washington - a place hailed by renowned recordist and conservationist Gordon Hempton as 'the quietest place in the US'. Here, he shares the story behind the trip - and lets you hear some of the sounds from this special place:
Written by Thomas Rex Beverly. Images courtesy of Thomas Rex Beverly.
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Towering pines reach for the sky

Visiting One Square Inch

I’m an avid supporter of Gordon Hempton’s conservation work, so I was thrilled to make a field recording pilgrimage to One Square Inch in Olympic National Park in October 2017. Fortunately, you can still find long stretches of natural silence in this magical place. Hear a 35-minute soundscape from the One Square Inch here:

A percentage of all the Pacific Northwest libraries I sell will be donated to One Square Inch to help support soundscape preservation in Olympic National Park.

“One Square Inch of Silence is very possibly the quietest place in the United States.” – Gordon Hempton, onesquareinch.org

Wildlife

One of the most magical sounds I’ve ever experienced is Roosevelt Elk bugling in an old growth forest. Imagine walking down a trail, surrounded by 1000-year-old trees, and suddenly hearing a haunting trumpeting off in the distance. This sound stopped me dead in my tracks, and I was in complete awe. Hear elk bugling and trumpeting here:

A female elk takes part in the autumn grass

Magical Dripping Tree

My favorite sound in the Hoh Rainforest was what I deemed “The Magical Dripping Tree.” Picture a rich tree canopy with coniferous trees towering over big leaf maple trees. During my visit, the maple leaves were stunning hues of gold and ranged from 8 to 12 inches wide. Moss covered these deciduous trees, and after a rainstorm or foggy night, I discovered the moss released the most beautiful plopping drips, rain-like, but less dense and with giant splats. The forest was so quiet that these drops made rich plopping transients, enlivening the space of the old-growth forest. Hear some of these magical drips starting at 1:30.


A collage of mossy autumn trees

Storm Waves

A massive rain system swept through the area for about four days during my visit. This wind made for extreme storm waves that I recorded at Rialto Beach in between storm cells. The twenty-foot waves and frothing seafoam made for rich and powerful recordings. I love the violent slurping sound as water is sucked back after each massive wave.

A collage of driftwood and waves along a rocky shore

Rialto Beach is a place where massive spruce stumps are still rooted in the beach, desperately holding to the earth as the soil is stripped from their roots. I pressed a contact mic to one of these stumps and could hear what Gordon Hempton calls the “heartbeat of the ocean”. The vibrations from crashing waves moving through the tree roots create stunning resonances in the wood!

Keeping Gear Dry

  • Tent Rain Cover: I made a useful rain cover by folding the body of my tent flat on the ground while leaving the rain cover up supported by tent poles. If the rain drops are plentiful, plopping on the plastic can be an issue, but when it is lightly misting all night, this type of cover works beautifully.
  • A tent for the gear

  • Dew: I constantly checked the dew point to know whether or not dew would form on my microphone blimp overnight. Some nights I was only able to record for 3-4 hours before the moisture was so thick on the microphone blimp that I had to call it quits. While my tent rain cover helped minimize dew, I knew it wouldn’t stop it altogether. I am looking into a better waterproofing option with a Cinella blimp for my next trip. I’ll write a post to let you know how it goes!
  • Hiking in the rain: When recording in wet conditions, I like to have all my gear wired before I leave my dry prepping area (usually my car). I start by wrapping all microphone cable connection points with electrical tape. (Thanks Andy Martin for this tip!) Then, I mount the Rycote blimp on my Manfrotto stand and drape a dry bag over the top. I keep my recorder in a bag strapped to my chest with a rain cover hung on top. If there is very heavy rain, I put a cheap plastic poncho over my entire body. If I am backcountry camping, I carry blocks of desiccants that I periodically place inside a large dry bag with all my recording gear to dry everything out.

A collage of large pines and their impressive stumps

Help from a Friend

I love the field recording community. It’s a small group, but I love how people help each other out. When I fried my main battery charger during some fun in a Pacific Northwest rainstorm, Andy Martin (a Seattle-based field recordist) let me borrow some extra batteries and charger during my trip! His generosity saved me from wasting several days trying to find a replacement in Seattle or having to overnight ship a replacement. I hope to be able to pay it forward in the future.

Fruits of the labour:

Thomas Rex Beverly has created four new libraries based on his recording adventures in Olympic National Park – here they are:

  • Environments Pacific Northwest: Active Nature Play Track 58+ sounds included, 193 mins total $69

    • In Pacific Northwest: Active Nature, get an expansive collection of active ambiences from the Hoh Rainforest, a temperate rainforest on the Olympic Peninsula in Olympic National Park. Hear lonely frogs croakings and syncopated drips from moss covered branches. Hear high twittering songbirds’ joyous chirps twittering from canopy perches. Hear the soothing rush of the Hoh River from close and distant perspectives as it divides the valley and flows to the Pacific. Hear the Magical Dripping Tree, a majestic big-leaf maple covered head to toe in fog soaked moss. Hear massive drops from canopy mosses make rich plopping transients, pinging and enlivening the space of the old-growth forest.
    • This library offers you a large collection of active nature sounds from one of the wettest forests in North America. Some places on the Olympic Peninsula get over 200 inches of precipitation per year and that abundance of moisture makes for a magical fern and moss filled ecosystem brimming with soothing ambiences.

    2% FOR THE ENVIRONMENT & CARBON NEUTRAL:
    • Two percent of the price of this library is donated to an environmental cause, as an “artist royalty” for the planet!
    • Carbon offset credits were purchased for the Pacific Northwest Series. Field Recording travel for these libraries was carbon neutral!

    KEY FEATURES:
    • Recorded near the One Square Inch of Silence
    • Active ambiences with energetic wildlife, canopy moss drips, and close running water
    • Energetic twittering songbirds
    • Distant frogs croaking
    • Lush and lively moss drips from the Magical Dripping Tree
    • Normally, rain would be next to impossible to record rain in the middle of a forest. However, these moss drips enabled me to capture a rich rain-like density of drips when it wasn’t actually raining!
    • This library is a portrait of the Hoh Rainforest. The rainforest is in a long river valley, so the distant soothing wash of the Hoh River can be heard in all recordings.
    TEXT MARKERS:
    • Named markers are included in each file to help find interesting events in an otherwise uniform waveform!
    • Marker text included in the Soundminer description and BWAV description fields.
    FILE LIST & METADATA:
    • View in browser or Download CSV
    • Flora (plants) and Fauna (animals) are described in these terms:
    • fauna sparse
    • fauna constant
    • flora sparse
    • flora constant
    • flora and fauna sparse
    • flora and fauna constant
    • Included wildlife: Pacific Wren, Golden-crowned Kinglet, Belted Kingfisher, ducks, Common Raven, American Crow, Ruffed Grouse, Hairy Woodpecker, Brown Creeper, frogs
    BLOG POST:
    • Read the full story on the A Sound Effect Blog – Sounds from the Quietest Place in the Continental US 
    MORE INFO:
    • Read 30+ user reviews for Thomas Rex Beverly Audio
    • Read my Field Recording Mastering Rules and learn more about how these recordings were mastered.
    • Browse the Library Info Master List to compare specs on all my libraries.
    • Browse the Metadata Master List to search my entire catalog.
    • MD5 and SHA 256 Checksums are included for each zip file in my catalog. Use these hashes to check the integrity of your downloaded files. 
    GEAR USED:
    • Sennheiser MKH 8040 Matched Pair in ORTF
    • Sound Devices 702
    • Rycote ORTF Blimp
    Add to cart
  • Environments Pacific Northwest: Quiet Nature Play Track 35+ sounds included, 199 mins total $69

    • In Pacific Northwest: Quiet Nature, get a peaceful collection of ambiences from the Hoh Rainforest, a temperate rainforest on the Olympic Peninsula in Olympic National Park. Hear the massive sparseness of one of the last pristine quiet places in the Continental US. Hear the natural cathedrals of sound created by Douglas fir and spruce. Hear wind gusts pluck autumn maple leaves and waft them to rest on forest floors. Hear massive halls of wet wood that envelop and transport you to a long-lost time when giant trees covered millions of acres of the Pacific Northwest.
    • This library offers you a large collection of quiet nature sounds from one of the wettest forests in North America. Some places on the Olympic Peninsula get over 200 inches of precipitation per year, and that abundance of moisture makes for a magical fern and moss filled ecosystem brimming with soothing ambiences.

    2% FOR THE ENVIRONMENT & CARBON NEUTRAL:
    • Two percent of the price of this library is donated to an environmental cause, as an “artist royalty” for the planet!
    • Carbon offset credits were purchased for the Pacific Northwest Series. Field Recording travel for these libraries was carbon neutral!

    KEY FEATURES:
    • Recorded near the One Square Inch of Silence
    • Sparse ambiences with minimal wildlife
    • Distant twittering songbirds high in the canopy
    • Mornings and afternoons in 300 ft forests
    • Eerie nights in old-growth titans
    • Barred Owl hoots
    • Sporadic drips and light soothing wind
    • One long unbroken natural soundscape. Thirty-five minute of natural silence!
    • This library is a portrait of the Hoh Rainforest. The rainforest is in a long river valley, so the distant soothing wash of the Hoh River can be heard in all recordings.
    TEXT MARKERS:

    • Named markers are included in each file to help find interesting events in an otherwise uniform waveform!
    • Marker text included in the Soundminer description and BWAV description fields.

    FILE LIST & METADATA:
    • View in Browser or Download CSV
    • Flora (plants) and Fauna (animals) are described in these terms:
    • fauna sparse
    • fauna constant
    • flora sparse
    • flora constant
    • flora and fauna sparse
    • flora and fauna constant
    • Included wildlife: Barred Owl, Pacific Wren, Hairy Woodpecker, Ruffed Grouse, Brown Creeper, Golden-crowned Kinglet, Varied Thrush, chipmunk, Douglas Squirrel, and ultrasonic insects. Overall, wildlife is very sparse during fall in the Hoh River valley.
    BLOG POST:
    • Read the full story on the A Sound Effect Blog – Sounds from the Quietest Place in the Continental US 
    MORE INFO:
    • Read 30+ user reviews for Thomas Rex Beverly Audio
    • Read my Field Recording Mastering Rules and learn more about how these recordings were mastered.
    • Browse the Library Info Master List to compare specs on all my libraries.
    • Browse the Metadata Master List to search my entire catalog.
    • MD5 and SHA 256 Checksums are included for each zip file in my catalog. Use these hashes to check the integrity of your downloaded files. 
    GEAR USED:
    • Sennheiser MKH 8040 Matched Pair in ORTF
    • Sound Devices 702
    • Rycote ORTF Blimp
    Add to cart
  • Environments Pacific Northwest: Roosevelt Elk Play Track 19+ sounds included, 86 mins total $29

    • In Pacific Northwest: Roosevelt Elk, get a mini-nature collection of ambiences from the Hoh Rainforest, a temperate rainforest on the Olympic Peninsula in Olympic National Park. Hear Roosevelt Elk clack antlers and bugle as they fight for the chance to mate. Hear Pacific Wrens joyous chirps as they dance on rotten logs. Hear the massive sparseness of forests filled with 200-300 foot douglas fir and spruce. Hear haunting reverberations as ravens caw in groves of titans and the Hoh River’s soothing wash, the perfect sound to lull you off to peaceful dreams.
    • This library offers you a small collection of both quiet and active nature sounds from one of the wettest forests in North America. Some places on the Olympic Peninsula get over 200 inches of precipitation per year, and that abundance of moisture makes for a magical fern and moss filled ecosystem brimming with soothing ambiences.

    2% FOR THE ENVIRONMENT & CARBON NEUTRAL:
    • Two percent of the price of this library is donated to an environmental cause, as an “artist royalty” for the planet!
    • Carbon offset credits were purchased for the Pacific Northwest Series. Field Recording travel for these libraries was carbon neutral!

    KEY FEATURES:
    • Recorded near the One Square Inch of Silence
    • Featuring Roosevelt Elk
    • Hear two full grown Roosevelt Elk clacking antlers and bugling!
    • Distant elk trumpeting deep in the forest.
    • Varied ambiences from the Hoh Rainforest in Olympic National Park
    • Sparse ambiences with minimal wildlife
    • Active ambiences with twittering songbirds
    • One extended 35-minute quiet nature ambience
    • This library is a portrait of the Hoh Rainforest. The rainforest is in a long river valley, so the distant soothing wash of the Hoh River can be heard in all recordings.
    TEXT MARKERS:


    • Named markers are included in each file to help find interesting events in an otherwise uniform waveform!
    • Marker text included in the Soundminer description and BWAV description fields.

    FILE LIST & METADATA:
    • View in Browser or Download CSV
    • Flora (plants) and Fauna (animals) are described in these terms:
    • fauna sparse
    • fauna constant
    • flora sparse
    • flora constant
    • flora and fauna sparse
    • flora and fauna constant
    • Included wildlife: Roosevelt Elk, American Crow, Common Raven, Pacific Wren, Brown Creeper, Barred Owl, chipmunks, and various other distant murmuring songbirds
    BLOG POST:
    • Read the full story on the A Sound Effect Blog – Sounds from the Quietest Place in the Continental US 
    MORE INFO:
    • Read 30+ user reviews for Thomas Rex Beverly Audio
    • Read my Field Recording Mastering Rules and learn more about how these recordings were mastered.
    • Browse the Library Info Master List to compare specs on all my libraries.
    • Browse the Metadata Master List to search my entire catalog.
    • MD5 and SHA 256 Checksums are included for each zip file in my catalog. Use these hashes to check the integrity of your downloaded files.
    ***Note – the name of this library was changed from Pacific Northwest: Miniature to Pacific Northwest: Roosevelt Elk on 9/28/2018. This was a name change only. No audio files were updated.
    GEAR USED:
    • Sennheiser MKH 8040 Matched Pair in ORTF
    • Sound Devices 702
    • Rycote ORTF Blimp
    Add to cart
  • Environments Pacific Northwest: Storm Waves Play Track 35+ sounds included, 171 mins total $39

    • In Pacific Northwest: Storm Waves, get an expansive collection of storm waves from Rialto Beach, a driftwood filled shoreline of Olympic National Park. Hear massive 25 ft swells breaking and sea foam froth sloshing on rounded pebbles. Hear violent slurping as water is sucked out after each massive wave. Hear wave resonance tuned to perfection by driftwood logs a millennium old. Hear distant storm buoys droning their ominous warning and bats circling with ultrasonic clicks. Hear a coastline gradually eroded by Pacific waves. A place where massive spruce stumps are still rooted in the beach, desperately holding to the earth as the soil is stripped from their roots. Press a contact mic to one of those stumps and hear the heartbeat of the oceanThe vibrations from crashing waves move through rocks and roots to create stunning resonances in the wood!  I hope this library gives you a chance to hear the ocean in a way you haven’t heard it before. Enjoy listening to a large collection of storm waves from one of the most iconic beaches in North America.

    2% FOR THE ENVIRONMENT & CARBON NEUTRAL:
    • Two percent of the price of this library is donated to an environmental cause, as an “artist royalty” for the planet!
    • Carbon offset credits were purchased for the Pacific Northwest Series. Field Recording travel for these libraries was carbon neutral!

    KEY FEATURES:
    • Massive 25 ft swells
    • Rocky coastlines and pebble-filled beaches
    • Driftwood resonances
    • Contact microphones on dead spruce stumps rooted in the beach
    • Frothy impacts
    • Roaring bass
    • Storm buoys droning their ominous warning
    • A thirty-minute clip of the slowly approaching tide. This clip is broken into three, ten-minute clips with no fade ins/outs so it can be used in parts or as one long seamless clip!

    TEXT MARKERS:
    • Named markers are included in each file to help find interesting events in an otherwise uniform waveform!
    • Marker text included in the Soundminer description and BWAV description fields.
    FILE LIST:
    • File List: View in Browser or Download CSV 
    BLOG POST:
    • Read the full story on the A Sound Effect Blog – Sounds from the Quietest Place in the Continental US 
    MORE INFO:
    • Read 30+ user reviews for Thomas Rex Beverly Audio
    • Read my Field Recording Mastering Rules and learn more about how these recordings were mastered.
    • Browse the Library Info Master List to compare specs on all my libraries.
    • Browse the Metadata Master List to search my entire catalog.
    • MD5 and SHA 256 Checksums are included for each zip file in my catalog. Use these hashes to check the integrity of your downloaded files. 

    GEAR USED:
    • Sennheiser MKH 8040 Matched Pair in ORTF
    • Aquarian Audio H2a-XLR hydrophone (used as contact mic)
    • Sound Devices 702
    • Rycote ORTF Blimp
    Add to cart

Military Flights

Navy Growlers were a constant problem over the Olympic Peninsula because the US Navy had been granted a permit to do training flights during my visit. For several hours each day, the Growlers, insanely loud, supersonic capable military jets, buzzed around the Hoh River Valley at low altitudes.

Read more about this issue:

  • Navy Warfare Training on the Olympic Peninsula
  • Olympic National Park is no place for Growler jets
  • Listen to the recording below and decide for yourself whether these jets are causing “no significant impact” to the acoustic ecology of Olympic National Park as the Navy claims.

    I could have avoided this noise pollution by checking online or calling a park ranger in advance to ask if there was any new noise pollution in the area. I’ll definitely check for new noise pollution when planning for my next trip!

    Despite the jets, I was fortunate to still capture a substantial amount of pristine nature recordings.

    Lessons Learned

    • Satellite Communicators: These are devices that use a satellite connection so that you can text anyone without cellular service or make a call for emergency services. I didn’t have one of these on this trip, but I wish I had. I could have texted my family with safety check-ins, called for help if needed, and even had weather forecasts for my GPS location texted to me each day. The ability to communicate without mobile service is hugely beneficial to a solo field recordist because a satellite connection would have enabled me to travel to more exposed areas and given me access to beautiful places I wouldn’t otherwise be comfortable in as a solo backpacker. I plan to get one for my next trip. They average between $250 and $400 and need a monthly data plan. I’m considering the Garmin inReach Explorer+ or the SPOT X. I’ll let you know how it works out!
    • Weather Research: When recording nature sounds, there is always a tough balance between lousy weather or too many people. For example, in Olympic National Park, there are far fewer visitors in October, but the chances of rain and storms are much higher. I knew the average rainfall during October, but I didn’t know that a significant portion of the precipitation comes from light rain and mist. For instance, Seattle and San Antonio (where I’m from) have similar average rainfall amounts (37 inches vs. 31 inches). The main difference is that San Antonio gets its rainfall from sudden massive downpours, whereas Seattle is like living in a cloud. I now know to check the average rainfall, the rate of rain, and the typical types of storms before planning a trip. I also realize that recording during a rainy season could easily require me to wait out a storm.
    • Signal Chain Accessories: In previous blog posts, I have championed field recording minimalism. I have since changed my tune a little bit in regards to cables, chargers, and other accessories in my recording signal chain. I still like having the least amount of microphones and recorders possible, but having more redundancy with accessories would have been incredibly helpful on this trip. I’ve learned that extremely wet environments tend to cause accidents and I ruined several pieces of my kit during this trip.

    Upcoming projects:

    I’m focusing on some sound design libraries for the next few releases. Watch for them soon! I’m also busy planning my field recording trips later this summer and fall. If you need any specific sounds, please let me know and I’ll try to capture them!

    Thanks for listening,

    Tom

    A big thanks to Thomas Rex Beverly for sharing his insightful trip to the Pacific Northwest with us! Be sure to check out his upcoming Pacific Northwest libraries.

     

    Please share this:


     


     
     
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