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Sounds Of The Snow
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Sounds Of The Snow

March 20, 2008 Article Start Previous Page 3 of 4 Next

Preparation for the Field Recording

Preparation is everything in all work. That is where you save time, money, extra work and nerves. Harder and more demanding work needs more preparation. Preparation can be done in many different ways. Everyone has his own style, but I think it should include at least these:

  1. Check that you have all needed equipment
  2. Check that all equipment works
  3. Charge all batteries
  4. Make an organized and well-planned task list
  5. Eliminate all unwanted sound sources. For example, tape bag straps, shoelaces, etc.
  6. Double check!
  7. Take enough clothes and maybe some snack with you

It is good to make every little adjustment when you are still inside because, when you go to out in -40F (-40C) weather, I think you may want go to back inside and repair that broken cable in there... instead of outdoors.


The most important thing in recording in winter is definitely clothing. There are two important things about your clothes, in fact. Firstly, clothes keep you warm. Usually best way is to wear three different layers which have their own important task to keep you warm and dry. You can read more about it from trekking websites or Wikipedia. I could easily write another article about it -- but let's stay focused.

Secondly, your clothes should be made of something which doesn't make unwanted rustling. It can affect your recordings. The bad news is that if you follow instructions on what your three layers of clothes should be, you may not get your desired results. Yes, you might keep warm and dry, but almost all technical winter clothes are really noisy.

Of course, what you're wearing should be fitted to what you're doing. If you are recording something which doesn't include moving, then you can wear whatever you want. But if you have to move at the same time as you record, then you have to think twice about what you wear. If you want to record natural snow footsteps, for example, then you have to wear clothes that don't rustle.

I have been using one or two layers of underwear -- something which fits perfectly and keeps you dry. Fleece is good mid-layer material. It keeps you warm. The important outer layer should be something which protects you from wind, because wind will multiply freezing situations.

I have been using a jogging suit because it doesn't make any unwanted sounds. It is not warm, but it will keep you warm if you move. It is important to keep in your mind that it is bad to wear too much clothing. You will get sweaty, and you will feel cold after a few minutes.


New digital hi-tech equipment has lots of extra functions and looks fancy. Unfortunately most of them are not built for hard conditions, so technical problems might arise. For example, LCD screens freeze, memory cards don't work, or the battery goes low extremely quickly.

I solve this problem with a heat cable which works with a small battery. I wrap my recording equipment with towels and wrap this heating cable in it. This system keeps recording device warm for about three to five hours.

If you don't want to build your own heating system, then you can save your battery with the power button, though this may not work with all devices. Some of them will not restart before you have warmed them again. I'd rather keep power on all the time. Of course it depends what you're doing, but I think it is the better way. That's why you need extra batteries.

One of the most irritating things is that microphone cables will go stiff. If you coil your cable up, it will freeze in that shape. When you untie it, it will be hard to get straight. The easiest way to avoid this problem is take a few different lengths of extra cables to your bag. If you need a shorter cable, you can just change it.

Article Start Previous Page 3 of 4 Next

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