Sound Recording Tutorial from Wildlife Sound Recordist John Acorn

I thought I would share the first experimental attempts of John Acorn (University of Alberta) and I to find the best way to record a walking interview whilst also capturing the surrounding sound-environment.

Merle and John walking, recording sound and video through Hawrelak Park, Edmonton. Still photo taken from GoPro moving footage.

The following sound file acts as an introductory tutorial from Dr John Acorn to the basics of sound recording and documents our attempts to find the best way of recording people moving through landscape (in our case Hawrelak park) and develop a walking interview technique that captures both the sound environment and the interview:

Click on the link to access the sound file: Sound Tutorial

Or play directly on page by pressing the ‘play’ symbol (it may take a few minutes to buffer as it’s a large file):


After experimenting with a few different recording devices ( Zoom H4 and H4n recorders, a Sound Devices MixPre preamplifier, a Sennheiser ew100G3 lavalier mic, a Sony ECM 680S stereo shotgun microphone, a Radio Shack lavalier microphone, an old Radio Shack boundary microphone, and various Rycote windscreens), it became apparent that the built-in mics on the Zoom H4n gave us all the quality we needed (at a gain setting of about 80/100).

John informed me afterwards that at least in theory we would get better sound from a separate stereo microphone, in a shock mount with a wind screen, fed through the MixPre preamplifier, but this would involve carrying and buying more gear. So for our needs the built-in mics on the Zoom H4n are sufficient.

By using a GoPro Hero camera on a monopod, we were able to combine ambient sound that includes the voices with a continuous video shot (with creative camera placement/movement), which enabled us to capture something much more like the experience of being in and moving through a place:

The video was shot using a GoPro HD Hero video camera on a Brunton monopod.

Next time we are going to experiment with a Sony ECM-680S hypercardioid mic, and its directional nature… tune in to discover how that goes!

This entry was posted in Creativity in the City, Cultural Cartography, Experimental Geographies, Mapping Sound and Sounding Maps, Sound Art and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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