How to set up a field recording drop rig
- What are field recording droprigs?
Field recording drop rigs, also known as portable recording rigs, are specialized equipment used by field recordists to capture high-quality audio recordings in outdoor environments. A drop rig typically consists of a microphone, wind protection, and a portable recorder, all mounted on a stand or a pole. The droprig is then placed in a specific location, such as a tree branch, to capture the desired sound with minimal interference from external factors. Drop rigs are commonly used to record nature sounds, such as bird songs, wind in the trees, and water flowing. They can also be used to capture ambient sounds in urban environments, such as traffic noise, street performers, and crowds. One advantage of droprigs is that they allow for consistent positioning of the microphone, which can result in a more uniform and controlled recording. Additionally, drop rigs can be left unattended for extended periods of time, allowing for long-duration recordings and the capture of sounds that may not be immediately present. Overall, droprigs are a valuable tool for field recordists looking to capture high-quality audio recordings in challenging outdoor environments.
- Drop rig setup and preparation
My drop-rig setup centers around the Zoom F3 portable field recorder, which allows for high fidelity recordings with sample rates up to 192 kHz in 24 or 32 bits. Its compact size makes it convenient for field use, and it can be powered with a USB3 power bank. To achieve high-quality ambient recordings, I use the DPA 4060 high sensitivity lavs, a well-regarded choice for field recordists. These lavs have a low profile and can operate effectively even in harsh environments. To provide additional protection against wind and physical forces, I use lav concealers from Bumblebee Industries and secure them to objects using Nano-Tape. I also attach faux fur fabric to help reduce excessive wind noise. Once everything is assembled, I place it all in a dry bag with only the lavs cable hanging out for mounting onto the desired object. With this setup, I am able to capture detailed and immersive audio recordings in even the most challenging outdoor environments.
- Out in the field
I headed out to the Palatine Forest to set up my drop rig and attach the microphones to a tree, also known as a tree-ear setup. I quickly realized that traditional gaffa or nano-tape struggle to stick to wet natural materials. To ensure a secure attachment, it’s essential to apply the tape firmly around the tree and add a second round of tape to itself to provide additional support for the microphones.
Another useful tip I learned from Thomas Rex Beverly is to use Vinyl Electrical Tape. I also received valuable advice from Andy Martin, who suggested using bungee or paracord instead of tape. This approach is more environmentally friendly and helps reduce pollution in natural settings.
By following these recommendations, you will be able to securely fasten the microphones to trees and capture high-quality recordings in the Forest.