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Sound recording of Steam Locomotives

Discussion in 'Steam Traction' started by Respite, Dec 1, 2014.

  1. Respite

    Respite New Member

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    I was wondering if anyone on this forum was an experienced sound recorder? I am looking to buy a digital recording device and would like recommendations as to suitable models and microphones. I have recently experienced some super runs with steam and would like to be able to capture these.

    Thanks for any help.
     
  2. rule55

    rule55 Member

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  3. Spamcan81

    Spamcan81 Nat Pres stalwart

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    Have you a budget to work to or is money no object? Will you be recording from the line side only or will on board recordings feature?
    I use one of these http://www.solidstatesound.co.uk/sony_pcm-d100.htm and the fluffy for the built in mics is ok for winds of up to about 10 mph but anything stronger and it loses its efficacy. For on board recordings I use the Røde NT4 http://www.solidstatesound.co.uk/mics-stereo.htm#NT4 inside a Rycote wind cage and fluffy - effective in much higher wind speeds. A cheaper alternative is the Audio-Technica ATR6250. Not the "quietest" of mics but perfectly OK for on board stuff.
     
    Last edited: Dec 1, 2014
  4. Spamcan81

    Spamcan81 Nat Pres stalwart

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    Avoid foam windshields. They muffle wind noise, they don't eliminate it. The trick is to get the mic in still air and that's what wind cages and fluffies are designed to do - reduce the speed of the wind before it reaches the mic.
     
  5. Respite

    Respite New Member

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    Thank you for the information. I don't have a set budget but was hopeing to get one for less than the Sony which costs £559.
    I will be recording mostly from the train but would also use one lineside.

    Having followed your leads I see there is a Roland DO5 for £169 on a review site at
    http://www.dawsons.co.uk/blog/digital-recorder-reviews

    I
    believe these are good but I don't know how good they would be for outside work.
     
  6. Steamage

    Steamage Member

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    I've been very pleased with my Sony PCM-M10 digital recorder. Small, light, excellent analogue-to-digital converter, and not too expensive (around £170-£200). The only disadvantage is that it doesn't have "balanced" microphone inputs, so you may sometimes get mains hum, mobile phone interference, etc. if you use it with a mic with a long-ish cable. (Balanced audio systems cancel out most such interference. The mic splits the signal into 2 copies and inverts one before sending to the recorder, which re-inverts the inverted copy and adds them together. In the process, it also inverts one copy of any interference picked up by the cable which cancels out the un-inverted copy of the same noise. It's not 100%, but it's very good)

    All the small digital recorders suffer from handling noise, and are quite hard to operate using the built-in mics without causing bangs and crackles. For this reason, and for wind muffling, it's best to use a separate mic, in a shock-mount with a good wind shield.

    The Sony ECM-MS957 is a nice stereo mic and quite a good match for the PCM-M10, but it's a bit big for the Rycote baskets. (Rycote and Rheinhardt are the best at audio mountings and mufflers.) The Rode "Blimp" is a bit bigger that the Rycote equivalent, with simpler, more flexible shock mountings inside (basically just pairs of crossed rubber bands) and might be just the job. It's cheaper, too. Get the "Dead Wombat" (seriously!) furry cover to go with it.

    Include a good pair of headphones in your budget. They are just as important as having a viewfinder on a camera.
     
  7. Sir Nigel Gresley

    Sir Nigel Gresley New Member

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    At least, these days, you don't have to lug equipment like this around! (August 1981, on the Saalebahn)

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    The 2-stroke roar of passing Trabants adds to the flavour of the recording!
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
    js5646 and rule55 like this.
  8. rule55

    rule55 Member

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    Nice motor. I once had a mk1 RS2000 (white with blue go-faster stripes!)
     
  9. Spamcan81

    Spamcan81 Nat Pres stalwart

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    I had two Rolands. The R-01 - that fell apart on a trip to SA. Keeping it going for the duration was fun. I then purchased the R-09 and found that, in the words of another user, it hissed like a back of snakes. That's what pointed me in the direction of the Sony as that has much quieter pre-amps - not perfect but better than either Roland and it's proved to be quite robust. I had a long chat with the guy at http://www.solidstatesound.co.uk/roland_r-05.htm before deciding on the Sony. You could do worse than speak to him about your requirements. As it's on board recordings you're most interested in, I can't emphasise strongly enough the importance of an external mic with a good wind cage and fluffy. Under the right conditions you'll be surprised at how high a speed decent recordings can be made.
     
  10. Spamcan81

    Spamcan81 Nat Pres stalwart

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    Is that a Sony unit?
     
  11. Jonno854

    Jonno854 New Member

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    I have a Yamaha Pocketrak W24 which I bought approx. two years ago. Mainly bought for recording from moving trains and does this very well without the need for a sound box as long as you keep the mike below the edge of the window and close enough to the window side to be out of the airflow. I have found that in limited circumstances, holding the recorder just inside a baseball cap whilst outside the window can work.

    http://uk.yamaha.com/en/products/music-production/portable_recorders/pocketrak_w24/

    The size is very helpful as it can fit in a jacket pocket (you don't have to plan to take it, it just sits in the camera bag for when it is needed, Spamcan81's recorder, whilst giving better quality is enormous) and on several occasions the recorder has had a footplate ride whilst I have sat on the train. A 8gb card will give you something like 11 hours of recording, very useful for long trips away.

    I have also made a sound box from a plastic utensils box, a pieces of wood and some tights - very easy, very cheap and allows decent recordings from the lineside as well.

    My only issues with it are that the internal mike means that any use of the controls when recording can be heard - it does have a remote control but try holding recorder, control and baseball cap at an open window.... The other issue is that there is low volume hiss on the recordings, but this can at least be partially eliminated by editing through recording software such as Audacity.

    When recording from the train, take a moment to find the best position. Which way is the wind blowing (if on the side of the train the wind is coming from you will hear considerably less then the sheltered side, and you will have more issue with wind noise). Finding a sheltered droplight (the one next to the guards ducket in a compo coach is best, assuming I'm not already there) will reap rewards, a sign saying 'Sound Recording, please bu**er off (quietly) is also of help!
     
  12. Spamcan81

    Spamcan81 Nat Pres stalwart

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    Have you got the right recorder where I'm concerned? My Sony fits in a corner of my camera bag and easily in a pocket on my fleece. It's the mic and wind cage that take up the room. :)
    Regarding having the recorder just inside the window is fine but you run the risk of picking up so much chatter from fellow passengers. I used just such a method though behind 03 001 between Berlin and Dresden in 1995. Three of us had the front coach entirely to ourselves. No support coach so right next to the very loud action.
    I agree that Audacity is an excellent piece of sound software.
     
  13. Big Dave

    Big Dave New Member

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    I use a Fostex FR2LE recorder with a variety of mikes from Adio Technica BP4025 and a pair of hypercardiod mikes but I find myself favouring my old Beyerdynamic M69,s because compared to condenser mikes the are relatively insensitive, no bad thing when recording steam trains.
    For wind shielding I use the Rycote blimps expensive, but do what they say on the tin, I am also trying out Rycotes baby ball gags.
    Haven't got for a long time due to ill health but hope for a better 2015.
    If anyone knows how I would be pleased to put a couple of my recordings on here.

    Cheers Dave
     
  14. Jonno854

    Jonno854 New Member

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    Certainly the kit as a whole. I remember not having anywhere to put my feet in a pub in Par when it was in front of me!
     
  15. Spamcan81

    Spamcan81 Nat Pres stalwart

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    That's probably because I decided to use my biggest backpack to transport all my other paraphernalia too. :) These days I've a smaller backpack and take less junk with me.
    That was a cracking run with Ollie that day.
     
  16. Sir Nigel Gresley

    Sir Nigel Gresley New Member

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    It's a Technics RS(to go with the car!)646DS, still going strong, but not getting much use these days. It weighs a ton, mainly because of the inbuilt mains transformer.
     
  17. Spamcan81

    Spamcan81 Nat Pres stalwart

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    Thanks. On second look I can see it's bigger than the Sony I was think of. From 1976 I had a succession of JVC portable decks and then moved on to Marantz Superscopes.
    Is the reg on your Escort one that was issued to service personnel in Germany?
     
  18. Sir Nigel Gresley

    Sir Nigel Gresley New Member

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    Yes; and I'm absolutely astounded that I made so many visits to DDR without being harassed by the VoPo's because of it. On 'checking-into' the country you had to hand-over your car documents for photo-copying, and only one occasion I was asked what "BFG" stood for (the docs were in German as well as English), so I answered very quickly "Britishforcesgermany", which the border guard obviously didn't understand! I put the Union Flag on the front, to stop the natives having to turn round to see the nationality sticker on the back. It was quite amusing driving through a centre of population, and looking in the rear-view mirror, to see all the heads turning. It shortly afterwards acquired a 'Trabant' badge on the boot, which has adorned every car I've had since. So many interesting experiences; I could write a book, and I'm sure certain other forum members would agree!
     
  19. Spamcan81

    Spamcan81 Nat Pres stalwart

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    Pongo or crab? Like the bit about your Trabi badge. Saw a Trabi on the outskirts of Dresden in '94. It had been side swiped by an Audi. The bodywork on that side had been reduced to a cardboard jigsaw and the car looked like of of those cut away drawings that were a feature of The Eagle comic. Never thought to ask the man if he still needed his badge. :)
     
  20. Sir Nigel Gresley

    Sir Nigel Gresley New Member

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    Both; but a Brown-job at the time. Started my illustrious military career as a Rockape, left in a fit of pique to join the Dubai Defence Force, before becoming an infanteer (Royal Gloucestershire Berkshire & Wiltshire Regiment). The wheel turned full-circle, and I finished-up as the Executive Officer for an Air Cadet wing (back into my RAF uniform)!

    The Trabbi badge caused great amusement amongst the DDR Burgers - I told them it was the export version.

    Now back on topic!

    It's not a Merc!
    [​IMG]
     

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