Sound Module: Sound Recording Journal

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Individual ‐ Due Wednesday Nov. 5, 6pm

Record the world around you:

1. Capture a minimum of ten minutes of raw field recordings using a portable device (Zoom H1) [25 points]. Remember to use wav format instead of mp3, and use preferably 44100 Hz and 24 bit following the instructions at "Setting the recording format" from the Zoom H1 manual at http://www.zoom.co.jp/products/h1/downloads/

2. Note time and location of these recordings [25 points].

3. Listen to your environment and make note of what you perceive. Listen to the recording and make note of how the recording differs from your original perception (use good headphones/speakers!). Write a paragraph describing these differences: upload with recording to Gallery as “Sound Project 1: Sound recording Journal”, and give critique on others explanations [Comments: 25, Critique: 25 points].

You can download the documents on the basics of recording from Riccardo Schulz from

https://www.dropbox.com/s/wcptrbimp91ku0m/SoundModule%20Documents%20Class%201.zip?dl=0

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Discussion 45
  • From the Stairs Outside Doherty
    Dan Cheng
    Dan Cheng Posted on 2014-11-12 19:36:36 -0500.

    Nice analysis! The microphone does sound more sensitive than human ears. When you were recording, there were a lot of things going on so you may not pay attention to all of them. But it is not the case with the microphone, it picks up everything it can "hear". I really like the sound of people walking close and then away, it is very 3 dimensional.

  • Way to lunch in the UC
    Amber Jones
    Amber Jones Posted on 2014-11-07 18:46:08 -0500.

    I agree that the effect of walking through the crowds sounds cool. I noticed that the fading in-/out conversations especially became prominent around 8-9 minutes. Especially around 8:30, when I assume you're walking around at that point. It's interesting to think of how the mic automatically determines which sounds get more prevalence in your recordings.

  • Hunt Library Floor 4
    Amber Jones
    Amber Jones Posted on 2014-11-07 18:28:05 -0500.

    Fair point, Amanda. I definitely agree. And Abhishek, that's an interesting question. In my case, the amplified sounds of the mic didn't feel normal for me throughout my recording process. I feel like if I recorded for maybe 40-60 minutes straight I would begin to be unaware of it. That actually has happened to me before when recording sounds on my own time.

  • Sound Project 1: Sound recording Journal
    Kristen  Smith
    Kristen Smith Posted on 2014-11-07 03:49:36 -0500.

    I like the spot in which you chose to record; it lends itself well to having a lot of layers operating at several volumes. I love the moments in which both the leaf blower and the wind are audible. The bass sound produced by the wind complements the high pitch of the leaf blower nicely, though I'm sure that wasn't intentional. You said that you spent more time focusing on the subtle sounds in person, though the microphone didn't pick them up particularly well. Would you consider the voices a subtle or more prominent sound from your in-person listening experience? On the recording, it's more quiet than I imagine it was in person.

  • Sound Project 1: Sound recording Journal
    Eric  Wang
    Eric Wang Posted on 2014-11-06 19:46:08 -0500.

    I liked how you pointed out a lot of the differences between your own hearing and the recording. This just shows how powerful our brain is to drown out garbage noise and zoom in on more important things to you. Though hearing the recording really puts in perspective how many types of things we don't naturally perceive like you said.

  • Crickets in the Courtyard
    Eric  Wang
    Eric Wang Posted on 2014-11-06 19:42:22 -0500.

    It seemed really apparent that the crickets create a sharp rhythmic sound throughout your recording. Have you noticed this before listening to the recording? And I agree with the above comment regarding the fine line of defining the crickets to be foreground and bacground.

  • Sounds of Morewood Crosswalk
    Eric  Wang
    Eric Wang Posted on 2014-11-06 19:38:52 -0500.

    Even though the recorder can pick up extremely detailed sounds up close, it picks up too much detail as well. As a result it is harder to pinpoint exact sounds like you mentioned footsteps etc with the excess of background noise and vibrations. I think this is an interesting to note comparing the human perception which narrows down and specific sounds for you and block out others, and the recorder.

  • Wind & Keys
    Eunice  Oh
    Eunice Oh Posted on 2014-11-06 09:29:51 -0500.

    When you walked into the elevator, and opened the door with the keys, I felt like I was also walking through the apartment. The sounds are very distinct and familiar, bringing back my own experiences in walking back home. We never really pay much attention to these familiar sounds during the experience and our brain becomes trained to drown them out after repeated exposure. This brings me to wonder which ones you immediately recognize and those you don't in this recording.

  • Crickets in the Courtyard
    Ivan Wang
    Ivan Wang Posted on 2014-11-06 09:24:30 -0500.

    It's intriguing how you say the chirping made up the foreground because they're repetitive. I feel that normally rhythmic repetitions tend toward background sound; however, in this case, the crickets' chirps were high enough in pitch to stand out. It's interesting how these sounds go on all the time, but only when you pay attention can you make them out.

  • Breakfast in Schatz
    Mauricio Cano
    Mauricio Cano Posted on 2014-11-06 09:22:21 -0500.

    I agree with Amanda. I had a similar situation where I was focused on my work, rather than on listening and so was surprised when I heard the results of the recording and noticed sounds that I hadn't picked up when I was doing my work!

  • Wind & Keys
    Ivan Wang
    Ivan Wang Posted on 2014-11-06 09:19:25 -0500.

    I definitely had a similar experience with my recording. Much background noise that I didn't notice as an observer was revealed to me when I listened to my recording. The rattling of keys, opening of doors, and other changes in location were a nice touch and almost added a narrative element-- I could imagine you walking around and hearing all these environmental noises.

  • Working Inside
    Teddy Lee
    Teddy Lee Posted on 2014-11-06 09:14:49 -0500.

    i think I was more surprised that my perception changed so much, as in i never notice just how loud it is.

  • Macrophone
    Dan Cheng
    Dan Cheng Posted on 2014-11-06 08:42:43 -0500.

    There is a clear distinction between the background and foreground sound in your recording.
    It is very interesting that you did not hear the sound of paper and pen since you were paying attention to class at that time, and the sound of the paper and pen became very obvious. The raw sound we heard is very subjective, we chose to pay more attention to certain sound than the other. Like in this case, if you listen to the recording, the sound of papers and other noises are sometimes a lot louder than the teacher's voice, but when you were recording, you ignored other sounds and focused on the teacher's voice.

  • Outside Maggie Murph
    Dan Cheng
    Dan Cheng Posted on 2014-11-06 08:32:21 -0500.

    I agree that the microphone seems to amplify the distance of the sound. I feel the microphone is more sensitive to the sounds than our ears do. Also, when we are listening the the raw sounds, we are subjective and tend to pay more attention to certain sound, not like microphone, it tries to pick up all the sound.

  • Macrophone
    Naomi Sternstein
    Naomi Sternstein Posted on 2014-11-06 08:12:12 -0500.

    There were a lot of different layers in this sound that I found interesting. Besides the sound of your voice, your neighbors voice, and the teachers voice, the background had a lot of undistinguishable conversations going on. The noises of a door opening and closing and of the shuffling of papers earlier on the recording both stood out very clearly against the conversational sounds that we were becoming accustomed to. I wonder if those other sounds would have stood out as much if the conversations weren't something consistent that we were becoming used to hearings.

  • The Fence
    Naomi Sternstein
    Naomi Sternstein Posted on 2014-11-06 08:04:24 -0500.

    I also recorded outside, and became more attentive to the sound of the wind after listening to my recording. What was interesting about this recording was that there was a constant talking or chattering in the background that never really stopped, and in the meantime it was the sound of the wind that grew louder and softer and then louder and softer again.

  • Wind & Keys
    Naomi Sternstein
    Naomi Sternstein Posted on 2014-11-06 07:58:37 -0500.

    There were a lot of interesting sounds going on in here. What was especially interesting was that it seemed like a cycle: first we hear the keys, then walking, then the elevator. And then it seemed to happen again: the keys the walking and then the elevator. I was able to put myself in the room with the sound: these were sounds that connect to certain actions and I felt by hearing these specific sounds I knew exactly what was going on.

  • Hunt Library Floor 4
    Abhishek Tayal
    Abhishek Tayal Posted on 2014-11-06 00:22:14 -0500.

    I was intrigued by your idea of sound being heightened during the recording. I also found it cool that you were listening to the recording in real-time, as it was recording. Could one make an argument that listening in realtime can change one's expectations from one's sense of sound? In other words, can the weird sensitivity of the mike become a new normal for one's hearing if one is exposed to it for long enough?

  • Sound Recording Journal I: ASA Chili Sale
    Abhishek Tayal
    Abhishek Tayal Posted on 2014-11-06 00:14:42 -0500.

    I feel like yours is the only recording that seems to accurately reflect what you actually experienced! This, to me, is rather surprising, especially since you recorded in the UC, which, as you said, can be a noisy place. Why do you think your recording was so true to life while others weren't?

  • The Sounds of Tabling
    Abhishek Tayal
    Abhishek Tayal Posted on 2014-11-06 00:11:40 -0500.

    I found your observation of the Recorder's blind spots pretty interesting. I had a similar observation. Seemingly soft sounds are picked up clearly when from particular directions while loud sounds from others are rejected. In a sense, could you say the recordings give a not necessarily inferior, but simply different interpretation of the tabling than experiencing it live? Would you have picked up that soft conversation at the end on your own if you were walking past the tables?

  • IDeATe Room in Hunt
    Amal Sahay
    Amal Sahay Posted on 2014-11-05 23:34:41 -0500.

    The way the recorder doesn't pick up the same things that you do is particularly interesting in this case. Would you elaborate more on the conversation you missed in the recording? Where those blind spot issues in the case of the recorder, or do you think that was due to the inherent limitations in recording? You raise some good issues when you talk about the fact that certain conversations only appear in the memory of one or the other, and I think that's something that you should go deeper into!

  • Breakfast in Schatz
    Amal Sahay
    Amal Sahay Posted on 2014-11-05 23:25:38 -0500.

    I absolutely agree with the way the recorder makes you focus on different sounds. In your case, however, it seems you had sort of the opposite experience that I did - the sounds in the foreground were your own and the background sounds were stronger in the recording. In my case, I could hear the tabling really well, bu the background noises were sort of lost. It's interesting that your situation should be different from mine - but then, the way in which you recorded was different because you were engaged in another activity!

  • Outside Maggie Murph
    Jeremy Sonpar
    Jeremy Sonpar Posted on 2014-11-05 21:20:52 -0500.

    Yeah the microphone definitely seems to pick up things differently than we do. I think humans are more inclined to pick up speaking than other things while the microphone may be being a little more "objective."

  • The Fence
    Jeremy Sonpar
    Jeremy Sonpar Posted on 2014-11-05 21:09:54 -0500.

    That's interesting, I recorded inside and I came to an opposite conclusion, while listening initially I did not really hear other people talking very much but in the recording other people's conversations were very audible. I think that's probably because being inside I did not have the wind drowning out everything else that was happening during the recording.

  • Crickets in the Courtyard
    Amanda Marano
    Amanda Marano Posted on 2014-11-05 20:36:23 -0500.

    Do you think the sound of you typing and the sound of the crickets would change in volume if you pointed the recorder away from outside on the windowsill and towards the inside of your room? Also, how did what you heard on the recording compare to what you perceived in real-time? Did you notice the crickets and did they bother you, or are you used to the sound at this point so hearing them on the recording was a surprise?

  • Working Inside
    Amanda Marano
    Amanda Marano Posted on 2014-11-05 20:34:08 -0500.

    Do you think that the volume/amount of sounds you picked up would be noticeably different if you pointed your recorder a different way or perched it somewhere else? You seemed surprised by how loud the sound of you using the computer was, but doesn't that seem like it should happen because that's the direction you pointed the recorder in? Do you think that the recorder wouldn't pick up those sounds nearly as much if you faced the recorder the other way or put it on the opposite side of the room?

  • Macrophone
    Amanda Marano
    Amanda Marano Posted on 2014-11-05 20:32:16 -0500.

    I think its interesting that it picked up your conversation with your neighbor and the teacher's voice at very similar volumes, even though she was farther away from the microphone than you were. This could be because the microphone was facing towards her and away from you, and that she was speaking loudly in order to be heard by the whole class. Was the volume difference that small in real-time? Or was the microphone just that perceptive?

  • Sounds of Morewood Crosswalk
    Amanda Marano
    Amanda Marano Posted on 2014-11-05 20:28:38 -0500.

    It's great that you point out the differences in perception between your own ears and the recorder. The recorder has a much more limited distance that it can pick up accurate sounds, while within that distance it is much sharper than our own ears. Our ears have a much farther range, but some sounds seem muffled. I wonder if those farther away sounds are there, but are so faint that they would only be able to be heard if the car noises or other overpowering noises were lowered. It would be interesting to find out how powerful these recorders are.

  • Architecture Studio
    Amanda Marano
    Amanda Marano Posted on 2014-11-05 20:26:16 -0500.

    I agree with Kristen that you're voice definitely sounds different to yourself in person than it does in a recording. The way you perceive your own voice has a lot to do with the way your head transfers sound.

    I also agree that the recorder picks up more background noise than we usually notice, because our brains ignore it to focus on more important things. Most of the people doing this journal realized that after listening to their recordings later.

    I think it would be interesting to place recorders at different locations in the studio (including close to where your head usually is) to see if what the recorders pick up is more similar/more different than what you are used to hearing on a regular basis in that space.

  • The Sounds of Tabling
    Amanda Marano
    Amanda Marano Posted on 2014-11-05 20:22:48 -0500.

    Its a cool observation that because of only recording sound and not video, and the limited range of these recorders, that you don't get the full experience of being at the table. You only get the most prominent sounds, like the cheers, but you don't hear anyone else, which would lead to the 'fake' feeling. It really helps you understand how important the combination of sound and audio can be in conveying a message!

  • IDeATe Room in Hunt
    Amanda Marano
    Amanda Marano Posted on 2014-11-05 20:20:17 -0500.

    Do you think that you missed out on conversations in the recording or the recording missed out on conversations you heard because of attention? Do you think that because you had decided to pay more attention to specific conversations, that you missed some of the others that the recorder picked up? Or conversely, that you were paying so much attention to a slightly farther away conversation, that was just out of the recorder's field of perception, but you heard it because you were trying harder to?

  • Wind & Keys
    Amanda Marano
    Amanda Marano Posted on 2014-11-05 20:17:44 -0500.

    I think its interesting that in the recording its noticeable when you step into different boundaries, like the UC courtyard or Fairfax, because of the sudden change in noise level. I can't help wondering, though, what this recording would sound like if you took the same walk at different times of the day, like at 10am or at 10pm as opposed to 5pm, when a lot of people and cars are around to make a lot of noise.

  • The Fence
    Amanda Marano
    Amanda Marano Posted on 2014-11-05 20:15:13 -0500.

    I was close to the fence in my recording too, and I had a very similar experience with the wind in my recording. In real-time, its much easier to filter out the wind in order to hear people's voices and get a sense of the overall sound in the area, but the recording is much more sensitive to the wind, and it drowns out everything else.

  • Hunt Library Floor 4
    Amanda Marano
    Amanda Marano Posted on 2014-11-05 20:10:49 -0500.

    Its cool that you talk about the overall consistency and randomness of the area you were in. In a library, the overall sounds tend to be quieter, and its easier to shut out soft sounds that happen often, even if they are not rhythmic or regular in appearance. Its easy to be surprised by the amount of sound in the area when human brains are so used to ignoring most of them.

  • Walking Home
    Amanda Marano
    Amanda Marano Posted on 2014-11-05 20:08:34 -0500.

    I think its interesting that where you placed the recorder had an affect on the overall sound. Most others (including myself) placed the recorder nearby them out in the open to catch the most amount of sound, while you placed yours inside your bag, which drastically muffled sounds from around you but increased the volume of the sounds coming from the bag and your person.

  • Sound Recording Journal I: ASA Chili Sale
    Amanda Marano
    Amanda Marano Posted on 2014-11-05 20:05:13 -0500.

    It's a good observation that the activity you're focused on can take up all attention so that nothing else really matters around you, but for the recording everything is recorded equally. When you're not engrossed in an activity, like while listening to the recording later, its easier to recognize all of the subtleties of sound around you.

  • Outside Maggie Murph
    Amanda Marano
    Amanda Marano Posted on 2014-11-05 20:03:10 -0500.

    This is an interesting interpretation between the ranges that our ears pick up versus the ranges that microphones pick up. Because humans organize sound in our brains, how we interpret sound will necessarily be different than how a machine will pick it up. Interesting comparisons!

  • Listening in Hunt 106A
    Amanda Marano
    Amanda Marano Posted on 2014-11-05 20:01:32 -0500.

    I think that you are very aware of the affect that your attention and what you choose to pay attention to can affect how you perceive your environment. You said that you didn't listen to others' conversations the first time, but heard them much clearer the second time though the filter of the recording, it doesn't feel like eavesdropping if the conversation is old or you aren't listening to it directly. I also think its interesting that you had a direct affect on what the recorder picked up, because of your conversation with Jake and Francisco.

  • From the Stairs Outside Doherty
    Amanda Marano
    Amanda Marano Posted on 2014-11-05 19:58:40 -0500.

    I sat in a similar location, and was surprised also at how loud the wind became in the final recording, and how muffled the other sounds became because of it. I was sitting farther from the walkway than you were, so I think its interesting that the level at which you held the recorder affected what sounds you picked up, like the footsteps.

  • Breakfast in Schatz
    Amanda Marano
    Amanda Marano Posted on 2014-11-05 19:56:44 -0500.

    I think its interesting that you chose to do this activity while doing something else, which alters your perception and attention to what is happening around you. It makes sense that you were paying the most attention to your primary activity--eating--and not to other sounds around you, but you heard them all later when not engrossed in another task. Interesting analysis!

  • Chatter at the black chairs
    Amanda Marano
    Amanda Marano Posted on 2014-11-05 19:53:02 -0500.

    I agree with your interpretation, I found something very similar when recording my journal. To our human ears, I've found that constant or irritating background noise can be easily filtered out so we can listen to whatever we find the most interesting, while the recorder takes in everything regardless and loud or irritating sounds can overpower the recorded file. Nice interpretation!

  • Wind & Keys
    Jorge Sastre
    Jorge Sastre Posted on 2014-11-05 18:48:50 -0500.

    Comment deleted by Jorge Sastre.

  • IDeATe Room in Hunt
    Jeremy Sonpar
    Jeremy Sonpar Posted on 2014-11-05 18:00:51 -0500.

    This is a great picture.

  • Macrophone
    Kristen  Smith
    Kristen Smith Posted on 2014-11-05 17:48:12 -0500.

    Clever title. I approve.

    It was interesting that your teacher can be heard so much more clearly than the student who asked her a question at 11 minutes. Understandably, they were facing different directions and your teacher is projecting her voice, but it was still surprising that the mic picked up such a high difference in volume.

  • Architecture Studio
    Kristen  Smith
    Kristen Smith Posted on 2014-11-05 17:39:55 -0500.

    I believe that you are right in stating that the microphone picks up sounds that we wouldn't normally notice. I would also argue that there is another difference: some sounds are emphasized in the recording because of their distance from the microphone. For instance, the mic is presumably closer to the keyboard than is your ear, thus making the sound of typing louder in the recording than you perceived it to be in person.

    An aside: you are certainly not alone-- everyone believes that they sound different in a recording vs. real life. It's even more frustrating when you ask another person, "Do I usually sound like this? I sound like a large man in this recording," and they respond saying that your voice in real life and in the recording sound exactly the same.