error zen



thanks quicktime


BTW that error occurs whenever I shoot video with my little Canon s100 point & shoot camera, and leave it running too long. It seems as soon as the file size gets past 2GB the file becomes unreadable when the CF card is taken out of the camera & put into any USB card reader attached to computer. The only work around I have found is to put the card in my old Zoom H2 and do a USB transfer direct from it = slow as a wet week but it works! Talk about jumping through hoops!?!

Its a car door, how many fckng microphones do you really need FFS?


I don’t know (or particularly care) what the answer is to that question, I was just trying to make the longest URL ever… but in this case the answer is ten.

I’ve just spent two days attempting to capture full coverage of a vehicle, for the first HISSandaROAR Vehicle library. And now I know we need another two days, and maybe some more microphones & recorder channels :)

The setup we were using was:

engine bay = MKH8020
interior = MKH8040 between the two front seats, MKH8020x2 by rear seat headrests
exhaust = MKH8050 + MD421

fixed stereo = MKH8040 ORTF
follow action mono = MKH8070
follow action mono = MKH8060

Thats what we used for recording passbys, up & stops, start/aways & enough other actions to fill two A4 pages with cues…. Its quite odd, having sync’d all the tracks up in ProTools & being able to jump perspectives around inside the car and then to the roadside perspectives…. as they were discussing on QI just before, the centre of the observable universe = wherever the observer/listener is!
So when it came time to capture doors, boot, bonnet etc I thought why not? But it was also motivated by hearing Emile (who was driving) get into the car from 50m away – we were in a fairly quiet location & I momentarily noticed how thin the door slam sounded from that distance. We are all used to the idea of high frequency roll off with distance, but low frequency roll off with distance? Of course it occurs, but predicting it is a different story. So when it came time to record the doors I was interested to hear it, close in stereo, medium wide and really wide… We left the onboard mics rolling too so should I ever need it I can play a door close from INT engine bay… I just bet my favourite re-recording mixers can’t wait for me to front up to a predub with a car door close spread across ten tracks – NOT! 😉

Before recording horn dopplers we captured some static horn toots…
& after doing three or four suddenly noticed a crowd of observers had appeared…


Pavlovs cows?


‘you feeling licky, punk!?’



Day 1 = 27GB of audio captured
Day 2 = 32Gb of audio captured

Now to schedule Day 3 and Day 4, before our cicada overlords start to wake…


ps I didn’t realise at the time but that model of Toyota car came with its own built in drop shadow!


MKH70 vs MKH8070


I’m testing out a Sennhesier MKH8070 long shotgun mic this week – above is my MKH70 top, with the 8070 below… The 8070 is actually longer by about 6cm – 8070 = 46cm vs MKH70 = 41cm, although the 8070 is slightly smaller in diameter and is noticeably heavier than the MKH70… I’ll try & do a side by side comparison recording using my other MKH70, just need to work out how to fit the 8070 into my MKH70s Rycote suspension first!

Why such a long shotgun microphone? It seems it is the only way to achieve enhanced isolation and acoustic ‘reach’ – presumably by using some kind of voodoo science… While a Telinga dish provides directional gain, it doesn’t offer much side rejection and if you want to isolate a sound from its environment, side rejection is vitally important…

From the spec PDF:

The microphone operates on the RF principle that has been used by Sennheiser for more than 50 years, now brought to highest level of perfection. Among the many advantages of this principle are an extremely low inherent self-noise, the capa- bility to handle high sound pressure levels without distortion and a high resistance to adverse climatic conditions.

• Lobar pick-up pattern
• Very natural sound
• Off-axis sound is attenuated without colorations while a uniform sound structure is maintained
• Exceptionally low inherent self-noise prevents masking of delicate sound structures
• Symmetrical transducer technology ensures extremely low distortion
• Transformerless and fully floating balanced output: no coupling of spurious sig- nals, minimal distortion
• High output signal voltage ensures interference-free signal paths
• Rugged metal housing with non-reflective Nextel coating
• Extremely weather-proof due to high-frequency circuit

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An appreciation for empty grain silos

Two fragments of nostalgia; the first I have no doubt mentioned before, that on my parents farm we had three grain silos and some of my earliest sound memories are as a small kid running around inside them, generating thunder. And while that might seem like simple fun, the philosophical aspect I hold to be true is that at a very young age I got to learn that sound can be generated. Now we all generate sound, from our first cry at birth, then learning to speak & potentially learning to play musical instruments. But discovering you can create thunder?

Second fragment: decades later a friend bought one of the first Roland samplers, I can’t remember the model – maybe an S10? But it was a rack unit, had a mic input, saved to floppy disks and had a total sample time of 4.4 seconds! What can you do with 4.4 seconds? Well, I joined up three extention power cords, and took the sampler out to the grain silos and with a beaten up old acoustic guitar sampled myself playing a single chord. And while it sounded great, the next step (which must have been a built in function) was to create a backwards/forwards loop. So from nothing grew this massive reverbant acoustic guitar chord, which built to a crescendo and then disappeared back into the massive reverb trail, cycling like a king tide. I loved that sound, and despite losing the floppy disks a decade or two ago, I can still hear that sound in my head any time I like….

So I spent a few hours yesterday messing with a grain silo – ages ago when I decided to record a library of heavy metal sounds, one of the first props that went on the list was an empty grain silo… And after attempting to find one on my own that I could access locally, I started asking friends… and through a friend of a friend, at last found one (thanks Rob!) So I loaded up the car & left home early Saturday morning for the 90 minute drive to get to the farm location at Gladstone in the Wairarapa.

I met the farmer & he took me across the road to their yard & showed me the props


Until this point I didn’t know if they were the ‘right’ silos i.e. would they actually sound as I remembered them. Thankfully the three on the right of that photo were, due to the solid metal angular base which provides the source of solid metal hits & resonance, and which then reverberates in the space. By comparison the silos on the left were made of flexible corrugated iron and rattled but had none of the solid resonance I was after.

So I rigged the silo with mics: a pair of MKH8040s on fully extended stand, as high as I could get them inside the space, then an MKH8020 omni inside for the low end, an AKG D112 for the attack and a pair of Trance Audio Contact Mics on the metal frame – I tried the contact mics directly on the metal body and they instantly over loaded no matter what I did – contact mics built for subtle vibrations of an acoustic guitar or piano are not built to cope with the massive vibrations coming from a silo!


I recorded until I had exhausted all the sounds I could think of – apart from hitting the body with various grades of hammers, mallets & velocities I also did a lot of recording hitting the steel pipe support structure, which pushed a sharp higher pitched metallic strike into the reverb field of the silo – just watch until I pitch you down an octave or two!!

But before I moved on to the next prop, I had one more set of sounds to capture


I fired a dozen or more shots with my starter pistol into the silo, and then carefully climbed up the outside of the silo and fired a few sets into the top… then on to silo #2


I didn’t spend so much time with this silo – it was very rattly & lighter sounding, but I was also keen as hell to get on to recording other big metal props which just happened to be sitting in the yard, and the farmer had kindly encouraged me to try any of them…


This sheep truck made some great impacts & rattles, but after capturing those sounds i got totally obsessed with two metal attachments on the side of it.


I’m not sure what their purpose was, but these two long bracket things were hanging freely, so by lifting them up & releasing them I could get great gravity powered rhythmic decay from their impact! And if I timed the release I could generate a real-world ping-pong delay effect…


next was this heavy metal plate thing…


then on to these suspended truck deck sides – I recorded from the outside & noticed how the decay from an impact travelled along the side, and when I ducked down to have a look discovered I could get inside it…


There were a number of machines parked around the place, and after one hit on this digger bucket thing & hearing the deeply resonant tone produced I immediately rigged it for recording.. it has a purity of tone that reminded me of big temple bells


By now I was getting tired – physically from wrangling gear & hitting things, but also psychologically from discovering the sounds hidden in these props…

I hadn’t even noticed these props when I first arrived, but again it took one listen to know I wasn’t leaving without capturing them. I started off doing straight impacts & hits, but then discovered if I offset the angle of the steep plate I could use its own weight & gravity to make a more complex, extended impact….


Last was this metal gate: sitting on top of the large metal box meant there were a ton of variations to be had, and I wanted to pursue it as I had set up something similar in my back yard & really liked the complex decay & variations possible. But at home I used a 44 gallon drum as a resonator, whereas this gate was heavier & the box far larger…


Here’s the setup at home for comparison:


Apart from the metal recyclers in Paraparaumu I’ve also done quite a lot of recording at home for this library too, and while these sounds are mostly all LOUD high SPL sounds the only time I’ve had trouble with distortion was in a weird situation. The MKH8040s can handle up to 142dB so if the gain staging is carefully managed, there should be no distortion. Dealing with such loud sounds requires constant vigilance, but there was one instance where I was recording a sound that didn’t seem so loud and my gain staging was definitely ok, but… when I checked the recordings in my studio the 8040s were distorted. Here is the setup:


So the mics are actually inside the drum, and while that particular steel drum is a standard size 44 gallon drum, this one weighs about two or three times what a normal 44 gallon drum weighs.. So it is VERY resonant, but the mics should have been able to handle it and I still don’t know why they didn’t – I can only guess that the resonance at the fundamental frequency is huge inside there & overloaded the mics at that frequency – so I was doing the classic noobs trick of cleanly recording distorted microphones!

But thankfully it was a prop I own and could easily re-record, so I set it up in my foley room and re-recorded it, this time placing the mics just outside the drum…


Problem solved!
And by being in foley room I could capture more subtle material too!

So I have one more recording session to do this week – I want to revisit the 5 ton concrete block, swinging on the crane at The MetalMen recyclers (I just can’t have enough of that sound!) & then the library is all captured…

When people ask me whats involved in making a HISSandaROAR sound library I usually offer the slightly glib response of ’20+ years working in the film industry and hundreds of hours of research, recording, editing, metadata, video editing, output, marketing etc’ but this image illustrates a point too:


Note the timeline – while all the regions are not closely joined up, that’s still a 12 hour span across all the existing material.

The folder on my RAID with all of the material for SD021 HEAVY METAL IMPACTS = 416.44GB
(although that includes the native compressed video and the ProREZ version for video editing)

So my quandry now is managing the size & scale of the library for release. So if you are someone who supports HISSandaROAR and are interested in this library, what is your opinion on size? Whats a viable maximum download size? This library could easily end up being 30GB download – is that viable?
Over the last four years I’ve had maybe two people complain about download speed eg ‘why is the download so insanely slow?’ When I pursued the issue with one of them it turned out their idea of insanely slow was it taking 3 hours to download 10GB!?! Sheesh, I wish I had those sort of download speeds! When for example I buy a large Kontakt instrument library, I don’t complain about it, I just leave it downloading overnight and it really isn’t a problem. After all, it is a scenario of downloading it once & using it for a lifetime…. And it is that long term thinking that motivates me…

And equally whats your opinion on pricing? I have always aimed to avoid increasing the price of my libraries, but this library is shaping up to be the largest scale HISSandaROAR library yet and even if I only included the MKH8040 recordings, US$99 seems under priced… My instinct is to sell the library for a step up in price, eg US$149 or US$199 (still with a significant early bird discount) and include all the mics, but make the primary library include: [the MKH8040s and a mixed/processed version] with the recordings from the other mics [MKH8050 or 8020, the AKG D112, and the contact mics] included in the library but as secondary downloads.

I do appreciate for beginners the scale & depth of this library may well be overwhelming, and would require more from them than they have to give – it is far easier to grab the fast food equivalent of such sounds.
But as I said, I am not thinking short term. People soon evolve past being beginners and a core aim of HISSandaROAR is to release libraries that are on a scale that in the past, only large facilities or projects with deep pockets would have had access to.


If you’d prefer to discuss directly, feel free to fire me an email


Here’s the teaser video, featuring the previous recordings for this library:


Scattered Light 157


metaphor shot at Ocean Beach 9th October with Canon 5DmkIII and EF16-35L lens

Detritus 321

▶ interesting idea: ‘found’ field recordings via youtube





▶ DPA at AES: “The heavy-duty 4060 and 4061 microphones….. features stainless steel housing, sturdy cable relief and a thicker .08-inch cable. Both enhanced models are exceptionally durable and ideally suited to the rigors of various productions.”





“▶ …to make sense of the world everything is contradiction and paradox and no one really knows much for sure, however loudly they profess to the contrary….


Scattered Light 156





#2 in a series? (#1 here) – shot today in Gladstone, with Canon 40D infra red with EFs10-22mm lens

Unobtanium obtained!

Ages ago I wrote a rant about unobtanium – outboard gear that was so rare as to be unaffordable eg the EMS SciFli etc… Anyway my vigilance on local Trademe site paid off a few days ago & I am now the proud owner of this:


I paid about a third of the going rate on eBay, or I would simply never have bought it…
I wont repost the info about the MuTron BiPhase, have a read here

Scattered Light 155




shot at Ocean Beach yesterday with Canon 5DmkIII and EF16-35L lens