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Field recording and avoiding ambient noise
  • I need to record some sounds in a park in Philadelphia. There will be a small problem: the park is not that far from busy roads, and in the footage I shot, there's this constant hum of traffic in the distance. It's not detailed sound, i.e., there aren't horns and particular engines. Just a hum of cars in the distance.

    I'll try some noise reduction or frequency-filtering in Adobe, but I'd like to go out there with a Zoom and record better tracks. Any pointers to recording general nature sounds in a way to reduce that hum?

  • 11 Replies sorted by
  • I use iZotope RX to wipe out constant noise thru its feature of sampling the noise recorded and subtract it from the whole audio file. I think that this system is available also in other software.

  • I start with a blimp. The less you record, the less you have to remove. I use iZotope too.

  • Choose an appropriate mic before reaching for izotope.

  • If you are recording wild sound outdoors, one thing I discovered works well is to bring the mics very close to ground level. I think low-frequency (ie long wavelength) sound changes its phase by 180 degrees as it reflects off the ground, and you can use that to your advantage. It will hopefully cancel traffic and distant aircraft sounds.

    Use a pair of headphones and experiment with the height if mics above the ground that gives you the best ratio of wanted to unwanted sound. About a foot above the surface is the sort of distance I'm talking about. Make sure you keep the mic a fixed height above the ground once you find a good spot, as there will be comb-filtering effects from the cancellation. If you keep the mic still you will not notice that.

    Finally use any natural boundaries (earth banks etc) as a way of further screening the unwanted sound.

  • Ratio sn=distance from source to noise, so use a cardioid or super, get as close as possible, use a foam baffle as a reverse reflector, then process in post.

    Plan B: find a spot with no traffic.

  • Plan C: Find a time with no traffic. (Sunday morning?)

  • The last three comments are right on, get as close to the source as possible (to lower your gain levels and reduce the background noise), choose your location carefully (as far from the traffic as possible) and pick a quieter time like Sunday mornings. Noise reduction software can be very helpful but it should never be an excuse not to make good initial recordings.

  • How come no-one suggested high pass filter? Go to time 02:55 in the video.

  • Cut off the low frequences from about 200Hz by 18dB/octave

  • @Brian_Siano out of interest, what is the sound you are recording? All very well for people to suggest things but it does depend what you are trying to record..