Saturday, October 25, 2008

Audio Hardware/Software Response

I was very excited when I learned I would be building my own stereo microphone. I had worked with solder before; I've performed multiple repairs to electrical guitar wiring. I stripped my wires and connected them to my microphone capsules without any problems. I was surprised by how well my stereo microphone worked. I used it to record close up sounds, such as a dragged weight, and general ambiance, like underneath the Farwell Avenue bridge. I wish It was easier to control which noises I pick up, and which ones I don't. I wish I had better windscreens, even though the ones I made work well. I wish my recorder was smaller and had better controls. I also wish I could have no wires, but that's just dreaming...

I did not have any problems with operating the MiniDisc recorder, but I wish it didn't take as long to change the settings. If it were up to me, I'd want it to save the settings I had the last time I used it, or at least keep them until I changed the battery.

I used Audacity for my audio editing, and I had never used it before. I was satisfied with its capabilities, especially since it was free. I decided to use Audacity because it cost nothing and I thought it would be easier to get help if I needed it. I was very confused at first, but I began to learn the program's functions and things got easier. On one day in particular, I spent more than 4 hours trying all the different tools and filters. I felt like I was getting nowhere for a long time, but I eventually started to get the results that I wanted. Experimenting with the tools is the best way for me to learn how to use them. Once I began to understand the program, things became much easier. It took me a long time to tweak my recordings, and I'm still not sure if they sound exactly the way I wanted to, but I'm pleased with them. I will probably use Audacity in the future for my personal audio editing needs.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

10 Questions

1. How many different architectural ornaments can I find?
2. Where are the oldest buildings in the area?
3. Are there any historically significant locations in this area?
4. Are there any hidden nooks, paths, or alleys?
5. How many kinds of geometric shapes or patterns can be found?
6. Where is the highest place I can go that is open to the air?
7. Is there something around that seems out of place?
8. Is there a way of placing my microphones that will change the character of the sound?
9. How do surrounding structures affect the reflection of sound, how can I use this?
10. What differences are there at different times of day?

Drift Assessment

I ran into a few situations during my walks that aggravated me. While I recorded the truck sounds on Newhall Street, there were people leaving their jobs within the trucking building(shown in my picture and map). They were conversing very loudly, and hung around in the parking lot talking for a while. I was upset because I felt like I was wasting my time recording in that place, at that time. I almost packed up my gear and left, but I decided to wait. I'm glad that I was patient, because if I wasn't, I would not have captured the sound that I chose from the location. I recorded at about 1650 E Thomas Ave, and I was next to an alley, holding my mics high in the air, to capture the sound of a power transformer buzzing. A medical transport bus pulled through the alley, and I figured that it would add to the recording. I was pleased at the moment, but all of a sudden, the bus started backing up. I was very confused, but I kept recording. The bus stopped, the door opened, and the driver proceeded to ask me, "What the hell are you doing?" I explained myself, they looked at me like I was crazy and left. It was annoying, and I just wanted some good audio!

The audio from the parking garage is the last thing that I recorded on my final walk. I was very exhausted, and even though I was sitting on cold cement, it felt very rewarding to truly relax and listen, knowing that the final recording was being completed as I observed it. I finally felt accomplished and at ease. I also recorded at the northwest corner of North and Oakland for nearly 30 minutes with my mics clipped to my head like antennae. I stood in one spot and watched the traffic pass. It was strange for me, since I've never done anything like that before. I watched the rhythms of it all, and it was bizarre to see how certain situations repeated.

The truck recording was strange to witness when it happened. There was a semi that was dragging something on the ground when it drove around. I thought it sounded interesting at the time, but I was amazed by the recording. I love the way the truckers shout "Yo!" and how each time it sounds distinctly different. I was unsure if I would walk away from that location with anything that I could use, but it turned out well.I was expecting to record certain sounds in the parking garage, but I ended up very surprised by what I actually heard. I figured that I would get some cool machine and traffic noise from the area. I didn't expect someone to start their car nearby with music blaring, a shriek, or a car horn, and I especially didn't expect all three to happen in a row. I am glad that I was prepared for the situation by having my manual mic settings set low enough. It was an interesting situation. It felt strange and special when it happened, and I think the recording captures that. Each situation, especially watching traffic, brought something to my attention. I never realized how rhythmic everything in our lives can be until I took the time to stop and observe it. It makes me want to attempt to manipulate and translate that rhythm to something else.

My favorite place was the alley behind The Twisted Fork. I almost felt like it was calling to me or something. I loved the graffiti, the sounds, and the feel of it. It almost seemed out of place, I never expected it to be there and when I found it, I was pleasantly surprised. There was a fence that separated it from the rest of the alley. I wonder if I would have entered if it weren't for the employee that said I could. I guess I was in the right place at the right time. It was somewhat secluded, so I was outdoors and near traffic, but it wasn't as loud as it would have been if I were next to the road.