Improvised Field Recording with the Zoom H1

Today we went for a long walk with my wife, taking advantage of the ‘freedom’ we are enjoying after months of lockdown. I told her: ‘Why don’t we take the little Zoom H1 for a walk too?”. Has it been a good idea? Sure. After today, I will never go out without bringing with me any piece of gear: taking with you even the smallest or simplest recording gear whenever you can is a must-do if you are into the craft of audio and you want to take any chance you have to practice your recording skills.

IMG_20200621_134124After two hours of wandering and recording stuff, I realized that I had some good takes (considering the humble gear, of course), taking into account that the Zoom preamps are not the best for quiet ambiences and that the H1 is, by default, quite limited. But during the editing process I noticed a few interesting things:

  1. ALWAYS check twice your recording levels. My first recordings were too low today and some of the beautiful and unique nature sounds I recorded and I surely wanted to keep in my library are quite low.
  2. Wind is always an issue when you are working with handhelds, even when you are using a dead cat (I was using the H6 dead cat, but the wind is still there). To make some of the takes more profitable I filtered them with a low cut, using different cutoff frequencies depending on the noise harshness, but that’s not the best way to go in field recording, as you can imagine. I also had to remove the noisiest parts of some tracks, losing precious ambiences and sound effects, which is a real shame. Today I have just received my new WS6 Rode Windshield, and I’m still holding myself to buy a blimp. But I probably will need a blimp soon if I want to improve as much as possible my sound capturing in the field when it’s really, really windy.
  3. Next time I will take a shockmount with me too, and even a small tripod for holding the H1 still. They’re not so necessary for this kind of improvised and ‘light weighted’ field recording (I have a simple grip to hold my H1 and in most of cases it just works), but if you start to feel tired and your hands and arms move and shake more than usually these accessories start to feel more and more necessary. And remember: handling noise is horrible, as much as wind noise.

I’m waiting for a couple of Clippy Stereos EM172 mics to use with my H1 or H6 recorders, but I’m quite worried about the wind noise. A friend of mine recommended me a couple of round small windshields, because they’re pretty lighter and handier than the blimp. Maybe they are more versatile too and, if that’s the case, I will use them much more. I will think a lot about it during these weeks.

Tomorrow, I will try to de-noise some of these tracks to see if I can keep some of the most interesting sounds (more or less) isolated. I will use Brusfri and iZotope RX spectral de-noise plugins, to see what are the differences in sound between both approaches.

I’ve uploaded the tracks here, with some recording and editing details added. You can download and use my recordings in any project you are working on, commercial or not. You don’t have to credit me, but you can always contact me on social media or by mail and say hi!

Download: Field Recording – 2020_06_21 Sound Pack