Posts tagged “trains

Field Notes #3: Texas Freight Train by Kyle Hughes

CM3s Near Train Freight Train from Under Bridge, Denton, TX_KyleHughes R26 Under Train

Kyle describes how he approached the freight train recordings he’s shared with the club, over on his blog.

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Field Notes #2: Texas Freight Train by Rene Coronado

train by 2

I was recently on my way back home to Dallas from visiting my alma matter in West Texas.  I always put a rig together when I travel – mostly to gather ambiences, but also to capture anything else interesting I may happen upon.  In this case I had a pair of schoeps CMC6 mics with the MK2 omni capsule, as well as a pair of Crown PZM 6d mics.

The ride back to Dallas along I-20 runs parallel to a long stretch of rail tracks, and its common to see big freight rigs crossing the state along with us.  About halfway home my wife and I spotted a train running the same direction as us, so we passed it and let it fall just out of sight of my rearview mirror before finding a place to pull over and set up.  I didn’t realize how fast that train was moving though, and by the time I got the trunk open the gates were closing and the train was already on top of me.

I closed the trunk, and we headed out again.  We caught up to the train relatively quickly, but this time I gave us a really good buffer of time to make sure I could get set and rolling without rushing.  I passed the train and kept increasing my distance for about 15 miles after passing it this second time.  When I pulled over again, I found a spot where I could cross the tracks and set up in a way that the train would pass between my rig and the highway on which I was traveling, obscuring the sounds of other passing cars.

My wife jumped out with her camera to take some rustic photos of the farm we were parked by, and my baby boy kept sleeping in the carseat while I pulled out my rig and got set up.

I placed the two omnis about 2 feet apart, and put the PZMs on the same general plane, but about 6 feet apart.  I had concerns about the omnis being phase-coherent without a jecklyn disk at that close distance because I had run some tests earlier in the trip that didn’t go as well as I had hoped – hence the PZMs, which I knew would be good for phase.  Once I was set up, rolling and slated I heard the train’s horn in the distance.  Trains are required to blow their horns at each intersection they cross that doesn’t have a gate with the clanging bells, and this train was one intersection away from me.

train setup

 

The train blew its horn one more time and then it was upon us – whooshing by with its crazy array of box cars, empty beds, tank cars, double decker cars, and open freight cars.  Each car had its own sound, and it created a real variety of unique dopplers as it cruised by.  Somehow the baby boy slept through all of this even though the back car door was open.

train by 1

Back in the studio I put the tracks up and was pleasantly surprised by how well the omnis did with regards to phase – even without a disk in-between.  They captured the low end perfectly and just had a remarkably clean sound all the way up.  The crowns (which I love) sounded very bite-y and midrangey in comparison, and also quite a bit “cheaper” than the schoeps omnis.  No surprise given the actual price difference, but pretty eye opening regardless.

I output three final files – an omni recording, a pzm recording, and a mixed recording that captured the best of both worlds.  Outside of gain matching, no processing was done to these files in any way.

enjoy!

train pano

 


Field Notes: Spontaneous Train Recording in Dallas

Rene Coronado has kindly shared a recording he grabbed on the fly this week (members can check it out in the ‘Trains: Design’ collection).  Here are his field notes to explain in full:
I was driving home last week down my normal route which is a 4 lane street next to a highway that runs across an active rail track.  I noticed that a bus was stopped at the intersection even though the light was green, and then a split second later I realized that the train crossing gate was coming down.  I zoomed up to the crossing in my car and stopped as quickly as I could, and then I looked left.  Sure enough, a giant freight train was approaching less than 50 meters away.
Time seemed to slow a bit, but I kept my head about me and did the following in about 5 seconds:
 – put the car in park
 – turn off the radio (I forgot to turn off AC)
 – roll down the window
 – reach beside me and grab my PCM M10 from the passenger seat
 – switch the button from hold to on (I never power this device down, I just put it in hold mode)
 – hit record
 – hit play (always important)
 – adjust the volume way down (metering ambient noise just barely)
 – hold the device out the window
Its actually a fair amount to get exactly right in that short of a period of time, but I managed to do it and just barely caught the horn as it began to blow.  The train gave me a nice full blast right as it entered the intersection 10 feet in front of my car and I managed to capture it without clipping anything.
Once the horn was by I just popped the recorder up on the roof of my car and let it roll while the train continued passing.  By then other traffic had pulled up and stopped around me and the bus as well.
When the train was all the way by I let roll as long as I could, then the gate went up, I grabbed my recorder, rolled up my window, kicked the radio back on and kept on driving.  🙂
Here are the few things I learned from this:
 – I can get from zero to rolling in about 5 seconds if my tools are set up around me well.
 – The PCM 10 even in high gain mode can record incredibly loud sounds without clipping.  Mics may have clipped a bit, but its really difficult to tell if that was them or just the air ripping around.
 – Even in traffic next to a highway with very ambient omni mics I can get a really good recording of a loud enough sound
 – The built in wind protection and always on battery management of the PCM M10 are incredible
 – this recording wouldn’t have happened with a PCM D50 (wind protection) or a zoom H4n (wind protection + startup time)
 – that train didn’t doppler very much, as it wasn’t traveling exceptionally fast
enjoy!
-Rene