Guide to Field Recording

Capturing your own field recordings can be a fun and exciting way to add unique sonic characteristics to you music, create your own sampled instruments and support video projects. You can capture audio using a range of equipment from your smart phone to competitively priced handheld sound recorders; here are my top ten tips for capturing quality recordings:

1. Heighten Your Awareness
It might sound obvious, but heighten your awareness of the sounds around you to identify interesting recording opportunities. Be aware of how sound reacts in different environments as you may be out and make sounds yourself to capture in space (eg. shouting in a tunnel).

2. Find Interesting Locations
Undertake a mind mapping session considering locations you think may provide you with recording opportunities. Think about locations near where you live or work and when visiting somewhere new plan ahead.

3. Consider the Weather
The weather can play a big part in capturing successful recordings. While in some instances the weather may be part of the sound you're trying to capture (eg. a storm), more often than not the weather can be hindrance. Unwanted wind noise is the most common spoiler of recordings so make sure you always carry a windshield with you and avoid recording on the breeziest days.

4. Timing is Key
Sound changes at different times of the day. For example, an early morning adventure will allow you to capture sounds before most people are awake, this it's perfect for capturing natural ambiences and wildlife recordings. In contrast, if your aim is to record city sounds it would perhaps make more sense to capture your recordings at peak times such as rush-hour and busy shopping days.

5. Plan Ahead
When you have decided on your location it can be beneficial to list the sounds you hope to capture. This will inevitably developed on the day, and there are always 'happy accidents', but thinking through what you would like to record in advance increases the chances of coming away with recordings you are happy with.

6. Carry Spares
Batteries run out and SD cards reach capacity, so make sure you carry spares with you to avoid disappointment and wasted time, particularly a longer excursions.

7. Duration of Recording
Always capture audio recordings longer than you think you will need. It is much easier to edit a recording down and it is always best to avoid looping which can become obvious, particularly when a short sample is repeated numerous times.

8. Record 48kHz - 24-bit Audio
48kHz - 24-bit audio is industry standard in film and TV so recording in this format is essential if this is the intended use for your work.

9. Stay Safe
Be aware of your surroundings and never put yourself in danger. You might want to consider taking a friend with you to act as a look out for you and warn you of any potential dangers. A second set of ears can also be useful for identifying exciting recording opportunities.

10. Have Fun
Most of all make sure you have fun. Don't be afraid to record everything, you can delete what hasn't worked as planned once you return to the studio.