Recording Water – Part I

Recording water and hiking are two of the things I enjoy most. And thankfully you can do both together pretty often. From frozen and playful streams in Poland to the calm but strong and exciting Pacific Ocean in Chile, water has the powerful effect of transferring their main qualities to my state of mind while recording. In this post, the first in the series I will be covering flowing and bodies of water recordings.
There’s something about recording streams to waterfalls, sea and oceans that I find absolutely captivating. Being the relaxing white noise type of sound the most common component in the recordings, there are several aspects influencing the different nuances in how these natural phenomenons sound. From scale, depth to temperature, from the impact of wind to where waves are crashing, water recordings become truly unique. Listen below to some of the flowing water I captured while travelling or hiking throughout some wonderful places.

La Chorranca waterfalls – Valsaín Valley, Spain
The recordings shown in the next video took place in the Valsaín valley, Segovia in January 2015. While the video’s sound is down-mixed to stereo, during the actual recording I went for a very convenient Double MS setup consisting of a couple of phase coincident Sennheiser MKH8040 for the M front and the M rear along with a Sennheiser MKH30 as the bidireccional, side microphone. All three of them fitting within a Rycote stereo windshield and signals were feeding 3 channels from two Sound Devices 702. 
For Double MS resources out there, I would recommend you having a read over the MS Recording article by Tim Nielsen at Also, the fantastic posts on Quad Miking techniques (quad miking techniques and listening test and quad miking dual MS update) by Rene Coronado in his blog “The sound my head makes” provide a very good overview on the setup and its results.
In order to decode the recordings into either quad or stereo I used the DMS plugin by Schoeps. Routing is pretty straightforward, signals are sent to the track were the DMS plugin is inserted. Then depending on the decoding option, I routed the output to quad or stereo channels for a simpler monitoring and rendering.
Double MS routing in Reaper
Double MS routing in Reaper
Make sure you download the file in this link in order to listen to an excerpt from the QUAD coded recording at 96kHz/24bit!
Pacific Ocean – Viña Del Mar, Chile
In this piece we can listen to the largest world’s ocean. The recordings took place at noon, in a sunny day in Viña del Mar, Chile – April 2013.

Aim was capturing the movement, low frequency swell and distinctive calm yet powerful crashing of the Pacific Ocean waves against the sea wall. Recordings were carried out with a DPA4061 pair feeding a Sound Devices 702.

Frozen Stream – Wąwóz Kraków, Poland
Here I captured a small stream flowing below a layer of frozen snow. The recordings took place at noon, in a sunny but still cold day in Wąwóz Kraków, Poland – January/February 2014.

Wąwóz Kraków, in the Tatra mountains is one of the most beautiful gorges in Poland. Recordings were carried out with a Sony PCM-M10 in the initial part of the gorge, trying to capture a very close and clean perspective of what was going on below the ice. 

Gorge Krakow_Stream
Stream – Abel Tasman, New Zealand
These are part of the first recordings I carried out while travelling the world. 
They were captured while hiking the Abel Tasman National Park in New Zealand by December 2008 with a Roland R09 handheld recorder. Abel Tasman National Park is the smallest national park in New Zealand, located at the north end of the South Island. 

Stream – Ushuaia, Argentina
Recordings were carried out while hiking Tierra del Fuego National Park close to Ushuaia, Argentina in February 2010. 
I grabbed a Sony PCM-M10 with me at all times. Thanks to the harsh environment I had the opportunity to record some good ambiences along with rivers and quite a few footsteps on mud. 

Bearing in mind that in most of these cases, there are little chances to scout beforehand, what techniques do you find useful when recording flows and bodies of water in non-planned environments?

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