The View Up Here

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A Lack of Noise Measurements

Posted by Tom Benedict on 10/11/2016

When I built the Alice / TSB-2555B microphone, my intention was to get out with my normal recording gear, bring the Alice along, and get some side-by-side nature recordings to demonstrate how good or how bad the self-noise on the Alice is.

I have yet to pull this off. But in the process I became utterly paranoid about my gear, and feared I’d somehow broken it. In the process I made a number of completely useless recordings in the Upper Waiakea Forest Reserve and out on the Cane Haul Road north of Honokaa. I got some really interesting bird calls and some halfway decent coqui frogs, but most of all what I recorded was what sounded for all the world like… noise… (I’m pretty sure it was wind, but I’m giving away the punch line.)

This finally led me to do a series of recordings in the back seat of my car, parked in the relative un-quiet of my yard, under what is finally a wind-free clear night. In the process I think I demonstrated the excellent noise characteristics of the Alice microphone, and I’m pretty sure I recorded my own heartbeat from the seat next to my gear. (Yes, I had the gain cranked up that high.)

I found that the Alice edges out the Primo EM-172 capsules for noise, potentially by more than -3dB. I also found that even at ten o’clock at night there are very few windows of time when cars aren’t going by on the nearby highway. (I also found there’s a limit to how long I can sit still, not tic, and breathe shallow.)

With my faith in my gear restored and an expectation of the performance of the Alice microphone, I’m planning to head out Friday to record inside a lava tube. It’s not the rain recording I’ve been trying to nail for the past several months, but if I manage to get water dripping from the roof into underground pools, I’ll count that as something pretty cool.

This also gave me the confidence to order all the parts to build Jules Ryckenbusch’s MS Alice microphone. I still have mixed feelings about how mid-side is likely to fit into how I record in the field, but I know I’ll have a good mic to try it with.


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