Sep

1

2020

Ambisonic vs SASS vs Iso-Binaural vs MS – Microphone rig comparison

Soundscape Microphones: SASS, Iso-binaural, MS & AmbisonicThere are a range of approaches to making audiophile, stereo recordings of natural soundscapes. Some of these technologies have been around for many decades, while others are more recently developed.

Last year, Doug Quin and Andrew Skeoch had the opportunity to put four state-of-the-art rigs to a side-by-side test.

Each array uses top-end microphones, deployed in the following configurations:

MS (mid/side): Pair of Sennheiser MKH 30 + MKH 40 in Røde blimp. This has been an industry standard option in film and TV for many years. (DQ)

Ambisonic: Soundfield SP200 Ambisonic, upright in Røde blimp. Ambisonic is a new technology offering multi-channel recording from a single microphone, with the ability to simulate various array patterns when decoded in post. (DQ)

SASS: pair Sennheiser MKH 20s in original Crown SASS head. The SASS has been described as quasi-binaural array. While the original Crown units are no longer available, many sound recordists have made DIY versions. (AS)

Iso-Binaural: Pair Sennheiser MKH 8020s, ~20cm apart, oriented 180º with convex baffles. This is also a quasi-binaural array, capturing a spherical soundfield with a light and versatile rig. It is a custom DIY design – info here. (AS) more »

Aug

6

2020

Capturing Wildlife Sounds: A Useful Guide

Roger Boughton Steven Shepard - Capturing Wildlife Sounds - book coverSome of you will know the ‘Overseas Representative’* on our committee, Roger Boughton. Roger is the co-author of a new book on the art of wildlife sound recording. With decades of hard-won experience, he is a most authoritative and dedicated recordist.

I warmly recommend Roger and Stevens’ book –  it is a privilege to be able to share in their wisdom.

Here’s the publication announcement:


Roger Boughton (Lancashire, UK) and Steven Shepard (Vermont, USA) are pleased to announce the publication of their new book, “Capturing Wildlife Sounds: A Useful Guide.” Written primarily for beginning wildlife sound recordists, the book is a comprehensive primer on the craft of capturing the sounds of the natural world.

“We wanted to produce a book,” says Boughton, “that would provide all the information necessary for a beginning sound recordist to get started, in the same way that a nature photography primer does for a budding nature photographer.” more »

Jun

27

2020

Latest Audiowings Published

Audiowings Journal, June 2020Our latest Audiowings journal has been produced, and may already have landed in your postbox.

If there’s a theme to this edition, I feel it is a concern for the health of the environment. Vicki Powys, Sue Gould and Tony Baylis each contribute articles on species that are deeply threatened; Speckled Warblers, Regent Honeyeaters and the Kroombit Tinker Frog respectively. In each case, vocalisations and behaviours are discussed in fascinating detail.

Sue also contributes a thoughtful summary of our human impact on the natural soundscape. She details a sad story of degradation to both physical and acoustic habitats, and puts our situation in this country in a global context regarding the activism and initiatives that offer positive approaches to issues.

There’s also some great tech tips. Tim Duck talks about the how to’s of live streaming, in light of his experience contributing to International Dawn Chorus Day on May 1st. Tayler Brook from the Macaulay Library introduces the functionality of Cornell Lab’s Merlin bird identification app, and also writes about how to contribute recordings to their nature sound archives. Tony also compares an Audiomoth with Songmeter and Bioacoustic Audio Recorder as part of his passive monitoring project.

As usual, the accompanying CD is packed full of remarkable listening, much of which complements the articles.

Thanks again to AWSRG’s dynamic editorial team; Sue Gould (journal) and Tony Baylis (CD, production), with John Campbell assisting and on this occasion, also penning a fine editorial.

Audio wings is posted out to paid up members, and is a benefit of joining the AWSRG. You can become a member by following the link above.

Jan

2

2020

AWSRG into a new decade

I’d like to be upbeat and wish all our AWSRG friends a happy new year. But I just feel heartbroken at the moment. We have members who I know live in beautiful locations that are now in the path of the flames, and all I can do is hope for their safety.

There are so many wild places I’ve recorded in over the decades – Waratah Flat and Errinundra Plateau, where I first began recording – now gone. Forests near Mallacoota, where I recorded recently, also gone. Those ancient Gondwanan forests, koalas, gliders, sooty owls with their lovely trilling calls…

It feels too vast a tragedy to really comprehend.

I know members will feel similarly. I’d like to suggest that we each consider what the AWSRG can contribute to the social discussion that will evolve out of this catastrophe. Maybe, once the immediate situation subsides, we can arrange an online hookup to share ideas, or just our feelings.

Meanwhile – is this young magpie giving voice to the new Australia, or a requiem for the old?

(If you can’t view this video, try ABC Sydney on Facebook, that’s where it was posted)

Jan

1

2020

Latest Audiowings Journal + CD

Our journal team of Sue Gould (editor), Tony Baylis (CD editor and publishing) and John Campbell (proof reading) have excelled with the latest edition of Audiowings, which was posted out prior to Christmas.

Regular readers will note an unusual cover for this edition. The bird cages suspended above Sydney’s Angel Place are a sound sculpture by Michael Thomas Hill, called ‘Forgotten Sounds’. Several of the cages have weatherproof speakers installed which play calls of birds which would once have inhabited the location, with recordings supplied by our own Fred van Gessel.

Inside the journal, and as Sue notes in her editorial, honeyeaters form a recurrent theme. The vocalisations of noisy miners are examined by Lucy Farrow, Lloyd Nielsen describes the differing calls of two races of north Qld’s graceful honeyeater, and Sue writes on three of PNG’s meledectes honeyeaters. Honeyeaters also feature in the creative contexts of the multimedia performance of ‘Where Song Began’ by Anthony Albrecht and Simone Slattery, inspired by Tim Low‘s book, plus the aformentioned ‘Forgotten Sounds’ installation.

more »

Sep

21

2019

The decline of nature’s song

An article published this week confirms that bird populations in North America are rapidly declining. A researcher from Cornell Lab of Ornithology reported that population losses of 29 to 53% have occurred equating to almost 3 billion birds. Losses are occurring across all habitats impacting common and threatened species alike. The largest factor driving the declines is habitat loss.

When asked to comment on the state of Australia’s bird on Radio National yesterday, Sean Dooley from Birdlife Australia said that the losses are likely to be even more severe in Australia.

https://cosmosmagazine.com/biology/the-decline-of-nature-s-song

 

Jul

19

2019

Smiths Lake nature sound conference report

The AWSRG’s 2019 conference has just been held on the shores of beautiful Smiths Lake on the NSW coast. Thirty of us gathered for the week, and whilst nature was the common bond, as a group we represented considerable diversity; experienced recordists to beginners, science researchers to artists, newcomers to some of those original members who began the group in the 1980s.

L-R: Janeene Willis, Arwen Ximenes, Marg Eller, Sue Boardman, James Harris, Michael Hannan, Bruce Robertson, Leah Barclay, Jurian Hoogewerff, Nicole Carol, Elena Gorgeva, Tim Duck, Virginia Hillyard, David Secombe, Sue Gould, Sophie Hoogewerff, Melinda Barrie, Rob Garbutt, Doug Quin, Rod Thorn, David Stewart, Michelle Scully, Graeme Chapman, Mike Fitzgerald, Andrew Skeoch & Jeff Eller (absent: Sharon Nott, Diana Hodge, Neil Boucher & Clem Fitzgerald)

more »

May

14

2019

Draft Program – AWSRG Workshop 2019

The AWSRG’s 2019 workshop (July 8-12) will be a week of immersive listening, nature sound recording, field craft and artistic engagement with nature.

Our venue, at the University of NSW’s field station at Smiths Lake on the north central NSW coast, will put us in the midst of habitats including subtropical rainforest, eucalypt woodlands, coastal heaths, wetlands and beaches. The perfect place to explore a range of sonic environments and how to record them.

Our keynote facilitator will be Prof Douglas Quin, from Syracuse University in New York. As a recordist, Doug has travelled widely and pretty much done it all, from terrestrial soundscapes and contact microphone work, to the extreme field practice he has undertaken in Antarctica. He’s used these recordings in film sound design, composition and installations. That is quite a breadth of experience, which Doug shares openly with warmth and clarity – he’s a born educator.

Doug will be joined by local experts in a program that will focus strongly on field craft and practical skills. Leah Barclay will lead a hydrophone lab, allowing us to explore nearby aquatic environments, from marine to freshwater. Dave Secomb, Andrew Skeoch, Sue Gould and others will conduct field sessions in terrestrial recording skills. And when it comes to documenting individual species vocalisations, we will be in the company of three of this countries most experienced naturalists; David Stewart, Graeme Chapman and Fred van Gessel.

These activities will allow us to get hands on with how to use a range of microphones and recorders. Once indoors, this will be complimented by sessions demonstrating software and the dark arts of digital magic for editing, processing, publishing & archiving.

Beginning with a presentation by local ornithologist Mick Roderick on the environmental significance of the local area, we’ll enjoy a week of fascinating talks. Among topics will be honeyeater dialects, anthropogenic noise and acoustic sanctuaries, gull subspecies, soundscape aesthetics, communication in flying fox colonies, zoömusicology, sonic recognition systems, birdsong mimicry and compositional practices. Graeme and David will lead a forum on the perceived decline of passerine populations, and sound artists will discuss how they communicate conservation values through creativity.  It’ll be a wide palate of ideas, fostering discussion across arts and sciences.

After a full day, we’ll relax of an evening with a program of live music performances and film screenings curated by Leah, utilising an immersive multi-channel playback system. This will be rounded out with an informal sharing of member’s activities, trips and adventures. We may even entice Doug to tell us exactly how he recorded one of the most extraordinary of all nature’s sounds; the vocalisations of Weddell Seals under the Antarctic sea ice.

As much as the program is shaping up to be memorable, it is the people and relaxed atmosphere at an AWSRG gathering that make it so much fun. And of course, the food. After working up an appetite, we’ll be settling down to a convivial sharing of gourmet cuisine from a talented local chef.

It will be an engaging week and a revitalising sharing of nature. We look forward to meeting old friends and new.

Bookings, costs, accommodation and catering arrangements

 

Poorly fed sound recordists resort to eating their microphone…

Mar

15

2019

Linda Macaulay – Profile

Many AWSRG members will be aware of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology in Ithica, upstate New York, and its archive of wildlife recordings; the Macaulay Library. It is one of the few such libraries dedicated to nature sound in the world, others being the British Library’s sound archive and our own CSIRO Wildlife Sound Archive.

The library has been named after Linda Macaulay, a prolific and accomplished recordist, contributor and supporter of the library.

In this engaging interview, Linda discusses her recording techniques and tells of some more memorable encounters (audio and spectrograms included):
Recordist of note—Linda Macaulay

Mar

8

2019

Latest Audiowings journal plus CD

The December 2018 issue of Audiowings has been out a while, and members will have received and devoured it well by now! However for those who haven’t, here’s a summary of what’s in our latest edition.

Nocturnal ecologist Julie-Broken Brow begins with an insightful article on how habitat and foraging ecology are related to ultrasonic microbat vocalisations.

Cetacean ecologist Jennifer Allen takes us under the sea searching for clues on how Humpback Whale songs are transferred so faithfully and quickly across vast distances from one population to another.

Sue Gould paints a broad-brush picture of Huon Bowerbird vocalisations, focusing on the overall pattern of singing behaviour and how that might relate to their social behaviour. She includes links to her online audio recordings.

Tony Baylis contributes a companion article on the birdsong of Papua New Guinea’s Huon Peninsular, focusing on vocalisations of the Emperor Bird of Paradise, with spectrograms. more »