A personal journey through sound.

Of Noise and Crows

Posted: June 3rd, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: field recording, nature recording

Recording crows...it's murder, I tell ya.

Thanks to SocialSoundDesign.com, I’ve discovered the joys of iZotope RX, an amazing noise reduction tool that has made real one of my hopes: To capture reasonably clean sounds in my own back yard. I live pretty close to a major highway, so getting usable recordings has been impossible up until recently.

A neighbor’s willow tree harbors a very chatty and schizophrenic-sounding European Starling. While recording some of its yammering, a crow flew in, circled over me three or four times not more than 20 feet overhead, and then left, as if to warn me that I was too close to the community tree in Birdsville. I tracked him with my mic as he flew. Well, after that, I packed it in. It wasn’t going to get better than that.

The sounds of the background are still there, of course, but much less prominently than they were. The crow was close enough and I tracked accurately enough that while there’s a volume dropoff, there’s not a lot of apparent Dopplering. The caws are fairly shrill, so don’t turn this up too loud. (Note: From a sound design standpoint, pitch shifting crow vocalizations down doesn’t sound that interesting. They sound like asthmatic dogs coughing up a cat’s hairball, and not in a good way.)

[soundcloud url=”http://soundcloud.com/noisejockey/crows” params=”show_comments=true&auto_play=false&color=dd0000″ width=”100%” height=”81″ ]
[Sennheiser MKH 50/30 mid-side stereo pair with into Sound Devices 702 recorder]

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9 Comments on “Of Noise and Crows”

  1. 1 Colin Hart said at 11:03 pm on June 3rd, 2010:

    Amazing stuff!! Everybody’s getting these Sennheiser rigs… I need to get one!! I already have a 50 and a 60, just need to round up money to grab a 3o!

    Again, awesome stuff!

  2. 2 Ian Palmer said at 1:07 am on June 4th, 2010:

    Really really nice recording!

    I’ve been known to extol RX, great bit of software!

  3. 3 mny said at 6:06 am on June 4th, 2010:

    Great recordings.

    Due to the fact, that I´m still looking for a good noise reduction software, I´m gonna have a second look at iZotpes.

  4. 4 Michael Raphael said at 6:55 am on June 6th, 2010:

    I don’t think those crows like you very much.

  5. 5 Nathan said at 11:35 am on June 6th, 2010:

    I can’t blame them. I am *SUCH* a jerk to crows. (Actually, I see crows “dogfighting” with other bird species in my area, so it might not just be me. :-p)

  6. 6 Haydn Payne said at 1:26 am on June 8th, 2010:

    Nice recording, i got some similar crow sounds from my bedroom window yesterday. The 7 series recorders have a feature where they turn on & start recording when mains power is applied, I plug my recorder into a remote operated mains plug – so when im in bed and hear a good sound outside I just press a button on the remote and it turns on & records. Lazy but it gets the job done :)

  7. 7 Nathan said at 6:44 pm on June 9th, 2010:

    Haydn, that ain’t lazy. That’s brilliant! :-) The auto-timer feature on the 7 series is also quite handy.

  8. 8 Miguel said at 10:10 pm on June 14th, 2010:

    Sounds very cool, Nathan! I’ve been trying RX and it’s a really nice tool. How much noise you had to reduce?

  9. 9 Nathan said at 10:40 pm on June 14th, 2010:

    Miguel, I’m not sure. I find that above 16dB of noise attenuation, the more one really needs to twiddle the advanced settings to reduce that signature noise-reduction “warble.” I think I set it to 10 to 12dB, which is pretty typical for me.

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