Field Week 4 – Soundscapes and Audacity

Last night I recorded a series of sounds on my root into town from my house on my bike. I stopped at various locations and took a couple of sound recordings at each location and then chose the best one to keep after listening back to them. I was supposed to only record 5 but seeing as my partner failed to record their five and gave me the recorder with little work time left I was forced to do 8 rushed ones.

The recorder I used was supplied by the university. It is a Zoom H4 :

Handy Recorder H4Handy Recorder H4

It has a pair of X Y mics on-board, supports several different modes of microphone input with various levels of recording quality from MP3 to high definition sound quality.  I used the build in X Y stereo mic onboard – its fairly directional and so needs to be pointed directly at sound source for a clear level sound. The mic allows for nice panning sound effects if its revolved on the spot. The soundscapes were recorded in wav format.

I quite enjoyed stopping in a place and trying to identify some interesting sound in that environment and them try to capture it with the recorder.  Unfortunately I was a little rushed and did not really configure the settings on the Zoom properly for optimal recording quality. This meant most of my recordings were poor and not really suitable for the project. I would like to sign the recorder out again and take more time to find some more unusual or unique sounds around Cardiff – I had not really given myself enough time to do a great job.

I am also really interested in using the Zoom H4 to record some of my own music and sound experiments. I could see myself purchasing one myself one day, as the Zoom products do fall in the lower range of expensive and affordable if I were determined.

After going through our sounds in this weeks session with Alexandros, he instructed us to download Audacity and use it to clean, trim and resize our wav files that we recorded. By next week I need to have them processed and present them with their location photos and GPS co-ordinates with titles and tags.

After downloading Audacity I looked at the Audacity on-line manual and read over the section concerning the basics of digital audio including digital sampling, quality, sample rates, sample formats and size of audio files and compressed audio. Tonight I shall delve deeper into the manual and get the ins and outs of the Audacity software. I think it would be a really useful tool to add to my software ‘tool-set’.

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