March 28, 2009
so hot!

so hot!

By Mathew Letersky

A Dork Ballet

March 27, 2009


More Zoom H4n samples – external microphones

March 23, 2009

I know next to nothing about microphones or recording, but I’ve had a few queries about the H4n’s performance when using external mics.

So here are two samples using the H4n’s XLR inputs.  The first is taken with an OctavaMod MK-319 large-diaphragm condenser.  The second with a Shure SM57, which I think is not ideal for this kind of job (but it’s the only dynamic mic I have).  The MK-319 is recorded at about 12 inches away, and the SM57 at about 6 inches.  I have no idea if these are appropriate distances.  Today’s reading comes from an old Intellivision brochure.



Discover Realism

Discover Realism

Noise levels sound okay to me, but I’m not obsessing. The 57 might have a bit too much preamp hiss for this sort of work, but I’d never use it to record a quiet voice anyway. For a guitar cabinet or a snare drum it’d work fine. The MK-319 does sound a bit darker than it should, though. It might need a hotter signal than the H4n can provide, or it might be that I didn’t have the gain set high enough. Further testing will be done — hopefully in a band setting — and I still have a cheap pair of small-diaphragm matched condensers to try out.

Zoom H4n Samples

March 21, 2009

Rio Karma's bigger and different brother

Partly an effort to get some good samples out there, partly to attract the blog some real traffic, I give you ten recordings taken with my brand new Zoom H4n.  And lest I start to sound like a commercial, let me warn you that these samples will do little to enhance Zoom’s reputation.  The naysayers will not be disproved, for my recordings are crude and unprofessional.

But they’re also wonderful.

note: I normalized some of the files, though others are a bit quiet, so you might have to turn up your speakers.  Proceed with caution.

Sample 1

I am eating cookies; note the salivary detail.  We are already off to a good start.

Sample 2

Taken in Hub mall.  The surround imaging is excellent.  It really feels as though the cart-pushers are pushing carts while I sit and drink coffee and watch them.

Sample 3

In the humanities building, strange drones come and go, especially in stairwells and near doorways.  Matt’s surprised reaction is at a drone that suddenly disappeared (you, dear listener, will be less surprised now that I have warned you).  Please note that most of the noise you hear in this clip is not microphone-preamplifier hiss, but rather the ambient sound of the building’s ventilation system.

Sample 4

The sound of a bar sink, at varying levels of pressure.  Try listening with headphones for a fun approximation of water-torture.

Sample 5

Here’s me, enjoying my new recorder very much.  The background noise is from my speakers.

Sample 6

Rutherford Library at about 7:30 in the evening.  I had to boost the gain on this one a bit, since the room was so quiet (as a good library should be!)

Sample 7

This sample contains a simple rendition of beneaththecastle favourite “Desafinado”, played on a ukulele.  For the listener’s sake, I will not divulge such information as preamplifier gain settings or recording distance.  You do not need to know these things.

Sample 8

This sample begins outside the Chemistry Building, where the listener should note an interesting ambient tone, and the participants’ conjecture as to its origin.  Then, gravel footsteps, clear as a bell, lead our protagonists to the Business Building, where a spontaneous Tetsu Inoue jam occurs, until our protagonists enter the building, encounter a wonderful new ambience, and proceed to the nearest vending machine, only to be disappointed.

Sample 9

This horrible sample is of the urinal on the 14th floor of the Tory Building.  Again, the background noise here is not preamplifier hiss.  The urinal stands next to a large heating vent, which was running as I recorded.  At the end Matt spits into the sink.

Sample 10

The last (and lengthiest) recording in this post is of Churchill Station.  The recording begins as a train arrives, giving the listener another interesting surround image.  Passengers disembark, the train leaves (but not before emitting some weird cool buzzing noise), and another train arrives with its own cool buzzing noise.  Some old men talk together, and then I get up to covertly record two ladies conversing in a language which I admit I do not recognize at all.  Finally I ride the escalator up to the ground floor, as laughing children descend the stairs beside me.

Please, dear readers, I would love nothing more than to hear your opinions of these recordings!  And for those of you arriving from other recording blogs, don’t forget to comment on the noise levels and preamplifier quality.   And for those of you concerned about hand movement, you had best listen to this.

That’s all for now, but watch this space for more recording fun in the future!

Update: external mic samples here.

John Darnielle on Steely Dan (from five years ago)

March 10, 2009

Excerpts from a discussion on Brent Dicrescenzo’s assessment of Two Against Nature:

“Steely Dan’s name has been popping up as a hip musical crush. Remember, this glossy bop-pop was the indifferent aristocracy to punk rock’s stone-throwing in the late 70’s. People fought and died so our generation could listen to something better”

(DiCrescenzo’s “concept” for this review being, apparently, vengeance toward the band that deservedly won a Grammy over Kid A, his hyperbolized little favourite)

And after the standard accusations against the band are laid out:

“aor at its most unimaginative…”

…a plea for help!

“where the fuck is d4rn1elle when we need him?”

Darnielle hears the cry, comes to the rescue!

click to read about it!


March 3, 2009


1962 –  Half frame 35mm.

Original price was $50 way back when. The “EE” stands for “electric eye.” We were nuts about electric eyes back then. I remember the electric eye that would open the door at the supermarket. The door would go “bong” when it opened.

My Uncle Eddie had an electric eye on the dashboard of his Oldsmobile. It dimmed your headlights if it saw a car coming toward you at night. It didn’t make any noise, though.

My father had a Pontiac. You had to dim the headlights by stepping on a big old switch to the left of the clutch. It was a real manly switch.

There was an Indian Chief (Native American) on the hood. His head lit up when the lights were on

Now dimmer switches are on the steering column. They’re part of the windshield wiper/washer/directional light switch. That switch costs a lot of money if you need to replace it.

Speaking of old cars: Why does AM radio reception suck nowadays ?

article via www.westfordcomp.com

Desafinado (scary version by david) –UPDATED–

March 3, 2009


*UPDATE: on the advice of my attorney, I have made slight changes for enhanced excitement.