A multi-disciplinary journey in music, sound, and field recording.

Toys in the Attic

Posted: May 14th, 2023 | Author: | Filed under: field recording, gear, nature recording

California’s winter of 2022-2023 was one of the stormiest and wettest on record. Near-constant atmospheric rivers and wind events for four months generally made going outside A Bad Idea.

Not great news for those of us that like to do field recording. But, as often happens, constraints do wonders for spurring inspiration.

During one especially torrential downpour, I was thinking about how loud it was on the roof…but we have an attic crawlspace between us and the roof, so how loud must it be up there? I had just created a small, compact ORTF recording setup (Sound Devices MixPre 6ii, two Schoeps MK4/CMC1U microphones, Rycote blimp), and its size allowed me to put the rig in the crawlspace, and let it record all through the night while I slept.

The results were deliciously unusual: The rain was close-miked, but it was still clearly an interior perspective. Its volume drowned out whatever neighborhood noises there might have been. The open-faced insulation batting in the crawlspace created a space with almost no reverb. The result took reverb in post very well, providing flexibly usable interior rain and wind tones.

In fact, I now have a similar setup using a pair of Line Audio CM3 microphones ready to be put up into my attic at a moment’s notice; I keep it up there most of the winter, and just plug a 5-pin XLR cable into it, running to the recorder, whenever there’s a blustery day or some rain. This “attic rig” delivers gold pretty regularly…assuming I can record at night. There’s too much noise of general house habitation during the daytime hours. The CM3’s are no Schoeps, but they are a whole lot more expendable due to their lower price, in case of a leak, particulate matter, or rodents.

Here’s a composite of heavy winds, light rain and some wind, and heavy rain from a few different recording sessions.

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