In my college-age past I was a radio station engineer. Due to short-staffing and a non-existent budget I was also the guy who ran the mixer board during interviews and the late-night Heavy Metal DJ. Such multi-hatted jobs were the norm there. But of all the duties given (and taken) during that time, my favorite to get stuck with was field recording.
The goal with field recording was to tote out a decent-quality recorder (in our case, a big reel-to-reel monster that one wore with a huge array of straps) with a good, wind-socked microphone on a boom-pole and just record "wild sound". Students cheering at a hockey game. Trays clattering in the dining hall. Cars zooming back and forth down the main drag. It sounds pretty basic, sure. The resulting audio was used as back-fill for ads, shows or other productions going on around the station.
Most of the fidelity would be lost due to the cheap gear we had and the sheer number of times things were dubbed, dropped to mono and then re-dubbed yet again. If you got to listen to the recordings before all the lossy processing, though, it was a big magical. I could just close my eyes, listen to the tapes and feel like I was actually there even though I was sitting in the studio. There's just something spatially satisfying about a good stereo (or binaural, when I could wrestle the mics out of the AV department's grasp!) recording played back on headphones. My biggest regret is never copying some of these sessions to keep for later years. They'd be great memory triggers.~~~~
Now add 20 years. What used to take a backpack of gear that only the station could afford can nowadays be done for a few hundred bucks with a modern digital recorder. A while back I picked up a Zoom H4n portable field recorder to let me pick up better audio when shooting HD video on my Canon 5DmkII (it has a horrible internal microphone and needs an external option badly). I've got a few things patched together I'll share sometime soon, but then it occurred to me... here's a palm-sized unit, complete with a good stereo mic set, which I can take anywhere
. So why the heck don't I?
LiveJournal is a good tool for capturing memories to refer to later. I've data-mined my own journal so many times that it's silly; it's like an external memory system. Adding audio into that mix just makes sense. I might as well share these little audio memories with all of you. So, in the spirit of Quiet American's "one-minute vacations"
, I present to you BlueNoise
. Any LJ entry of mine with the 'BlueNoise' tag will be an audio snippet I want to share.
A few important tech things I want people to know about the BlueNoise posts:
- All audio clips will be in .MP3 format. Usually very high bitrate, often VBR too.
- The sounds will be recorded at 'intake volume' -- natural to how I hear them without any auto-gain. This means if I'm recording something quiet, it's going to be quiet; I won't 'expand' it artificially to come up to a certain volume level.
- If the clip is a loud one -- or if any part of it is going to make sudden, loud sounds -- I'll post a warning above the clip. I don't want to annoy folks by slamming them with harsh sounds without warning. I also don't want you to be afraid to turn it up if you want to; no 'screamers' or other ha-ha-gotchas, ever.
- Similarly, if there's not-worksafe material in the clip I'll post a warning (such as someone in a crowd shouting vulgarities).
- All clips will be relatively short. My target is about 1m:30s, with a 5m:00s maximum size.
- The posts will be short and unobtrusive, unlike this annoyingly long intro post. Details about a clip, if any, will be behind a cut tag. Both a click-to-download and a streaming link will be provided. And no -- the streamer will not autostart! :)
- Most importantly -- all these clips are designed to be listened to with headphones if possible. Just take a minute out of your day, put in your earbuds, close your eyes and listen.
Thanks for listening to all this. :) To kick the BlueNoise sessions off, here's the first clip. Future posts will look like only the section below this line.~~~~
(Outdoors. Low volume. No warnings. Recorded 12/10/2009.)
Download link: BlueNoise #1
( Details about the clip. )