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  • Recording Thunderstorms

    Hi Everyone,

    This year, Summer has provided my area with its fair share of thunderstorms with some excellent sounds to record and I was wondering if anyone has tips to share for recording thunderstorms especially ones with a lot of rain. I record with the handy Zoom H2N recorder. Keeping gear dry is a given in these wet situations. Usually when It is raining, I put the recorder underneath a car port with a metal roof for the recorder to stay dry, but that catches a lot of the loud sound of rain on a metal roof that I don't necessarily want all the time. My questions are how do you record storms/rain without capturing the sound of whatever is protecting your gear? and What are your own tricks for recording storms with the best quality possible? Thank you in advance for your help.

  • #2
    My most successful attempt at recording a thunderstorm was back in the early 1990's when I set up my TEAC A3440 Reel to Reel recorder in my garage with 2 external microphones at the edge of door. Noise interference from the rain on the roof and other surfaces was minimal as the mic's were close to the ground. The reel to reel also recorded actual sound levels as opposed to the auto leveling or peak limiters on some of the hand held devices that I've used - make sure you turn these off otherwise any thunder bolts or loud sounds may be affected resulting in a less than desirable outcome. I've added a link to the 20 minute prairie thunderstorm that I recorded - minimal to no post processing on this track. Enjoy. Would be interested in hearing your samples.
    from the album Planet Pulse - Water World: Earth Ambience for Meditation, Relaxation and Sleep Therapy
    https://open.spotify.com/artist/4fMEkacUl5m5P9HvhKzxzS
    https://soundcloud.com/cosmic-cadence

    https://cosmiccadence.bandcamp.com/

    Comment


    • #3
      Thanks for your response and the link. Right now i only have one good one posted on soundcloud with one really close crack. Last night we had a few really strong storms roll through the area with very little rain and missed it due to the fact that i had no space left on my card. Had to punch myself for that one! I will try the next storm i record close to the ground to minimize the roof interference... here is the link to my soundcloud post... no auto compressor, mic gain set to around 5 or 6

      https://soundcloud.com/cetusthewhale...a-182307-tsutr

      Comment


      • #4
        My phone is waterproof. No need to worry about protecting the gear. There is a great app in the Google Play Store called "Field Recorder". I like the sound of rainfall so didn't take any steps to minimise or remove it.

        Check out track 29:-



        In fact, check out the entire album
        Whatsisname's Little Fluffy Clouds | Campsite | Hearthis | Orfium | SeismicTC | Twitter | Ello

        Comment


        • #5
          I've tried recording thunderstorms using a Zoom H1. I've either positioned it on a tripod just outside the front door under the entryway roof (not much protection there from rain - the wind had to be blowing the right direction...) or, at our new home, out on the covered deck. Lots more protection from rain here - but more rain-on-the-roof noise as well. My biggest problem everywhere though is wind rumble. I need to get a MUCH better windscreen for the H1. The foam one that came with it is almost useless. I've actually had better luck with wrapping a bandanna around it to stop rumble from a light breeze. For any more wind than that...forget it with this recorder. I think that the wind noise is also coupled into the recorder case from the tripod, so finding a solution to isolate those vibrations is, I think, also a concer
          Extreme complication is contrary to art.
          — Claude Debussy

          Hear some of my music at hearthis , Soundcloud, Bandcamp, or just say Ello! Also see H.P. Dronecraft collab with ontol.

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by windspace View Post
            I've tried recording thunderstorms using a Zoom H1. I've either positioned it on a tripod just outside the front door under the entryway roof (not much protection there from rain - the wind had to be blowing the right direction...) or, at our new home, out on the covered deck. Lots more protection from rain here - but more rain-on-the-roof noise as well. My biggest problem everywhere though is wind rumble. I need to get a MUCH better windscreen for the H1. The foam one that came with it is almost useless. I've actually had better luck with wrapping a bandanna around it to stop rumble from a light breeze. For any more wind than that...forget it with this recorder. I think that the wind noise is also coupled into the recorder case from the tripod, so finding a solution to isolate those vibrations is, I think, also a concer
            Thanks a lot guys for the responses.

            I had a lot of trouble with wind rumble until I bought a furry windscreen from Huanor. Now I can hold the recorder up to a fan blowing at medium speed and not pick up a bit of rumble.. just the motor of the fan. Heres a link to the amazon page where I found it. Not a bad investment for 11 bucks...

            https://www.amazon.com/HUANOR-Microp...h2n+windscreen

            Cosmic Cadence, I really enjoyed that thunderstorm...high quality recording for sure. What external mics do you use?
            I am listening to the AO Compilation Vol 9 Pt 2 now

            Comment


            • #7
              CetustheWhale Thanks for the link!! I'll look into that. wind rumble has been a total bugaboo for me in attempting to capture field recordings. Not just during storms. Wind is just a fact of life here!
              Extreme complication is contrary to art.
              — Claude Debussy

              Hear some of my music at hearthis , Soundcloud, Bandcamp, or just say Ello! Also see H.P. Dronecraft collab with ontol.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by CetustheWhale View Post

                Thanks a lot guys for the responses.

                I had a lot of trouble with wind rumble until I bought a furry windscreen from Huanor. Now I can hold the recorder up to a fan blowing at medium speed and not pick up a bit of rumble.. just the motor of the fan. Heres a link to the amazon page where I found it. Not a bad investment for 11 bucks...

                https://www.amazon.com/HUANOR-Microp...h2n+windscreen

                Cosmic Cadence, I really enjoyed that thunderstorm...high quality recording for sure. What external mics do you use?
                I am listening to the AO Compilation Vol 9 Pt 2 now
                Going back to 1991 when I recorded the thunderstorm, so am not sure exactly which mics I used. Looking around my studio, I may have used a Realistic Super Cardioid Dynamic microphone for one channel, and an Akai ADM-20 Dynamic microphone for the other channel.

                As far as wind screens go, I bought a Tascam WS-11 (dead cat) for my Tascam DR-05 recorder which seems to work quite well.

                By the way you captured one nice thunder bolt in your recording... This is a really tricky task, so I'm interested in hearing about other techniques to capture rain / thunder....
                https://open.spotify.com/artist/4fMEkacUl5m5P9HvhKzxzS
                https://soundcloud.com/cosmic-cadence

                https://cosmiccadence.bandcamp.com/

                Comment


                • #9
                  Funnily enough, a thunderstorm just passed over where I live. When one strikes, I usually stand at the open window (inside so I am dry) with my portable Tascam recorder (DR-40) equipped with a Rycote windjammer (https://www.bhphotovideo.com/images/...oom_964039.jpg). Suits me fine. The only problem I've ever had is when cars drive by or there's a loud-mouthed asylum seeker running past, ruining the recording. You still get the rain sounds, which are pretty much unavoidable unless it happens to be a rare dry storm. I once experienced a thunder-snow storm which would have been a perfect opportunity to get some rain-free recordings, but sadly I did not have my recorder with me then.

                  This Cosmic Cadence recording is pretty neat too. Enjoying this and the big lightning.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    I live beside a rail road track and a road that carries a good amount of traffic on one end and the other is a highway about 5 miles away, maybe less, but I still always hear them in recording around my house a lot of the times. I guess the rain can sometimes muffle the traffic, but nothing can overpower the sound of the freight trains that pass through.. I kind of enjoy the sound of a train in a rain shower.

                    Aw man hate you missed that one! I got some the night before last on the recorder, but they were short and quick recordings. I possibly have a chance to record a good one tonight. We will see...

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                    • #11
                      Something else I forgot to mention was when a lightning bolt hit the road directly in front of my house! Or it seemed that near anyway. Unfortunately I missed that one too, as I usually turn on the recorder when there's a flash, which gives me a few seconds before the thunder sound. But this one was pretty much simultaneous and I had no time. It was really close!

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Yikes! That can be scary, I know. I got one the other day where i was holding the recorder in my hand and it made me jump. When i jumped i turned off the recording by accident catching only the beginning of the crack.

                        I captured a storm last night, but in playing it back, i realized the built in auto compressor was turned on so some of the rain sounds funny cutting in and out with some of the thunder and rhythmic drips. Ill post it on soundcloud on monday and add the link here. I found my new favorite location for keeping it dry under a lean to on the side of my house. A lot less noise from the roof and some interesting things around that get dripped on

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                        • #13
                          https://soundcloud.com/cetusthewhale/raw-data-181308

                          https://soundcloud.com/cetusthewhale...a-181408-tsiaw

                          Here are 2 storms that I recorded over the weekend. The first is the one i described in the last post with the auto compressor on.

                          the second is recorded inside of a dug up well pipe on the property. I thought it would be ok to keep it dry in, but it came out sounding like it was in a tunnel. Still some neat effects were created. I might use parts of these for a track. Feel free to use them in your own projects.

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                          • #14


                            Here is a newer thunderstorm from a few weeks ago. A very large storm came through that produced some really loud booms.I returned the mic to the shed to keep it dry. Placed it on the floor at the doorway. I did some editing in Adobe Audition to even out the levels with compression and EQ.
                            https://soundcloud.com/cetusthewhale/night-storm

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              A shotgun mic like a Rode NTG-1/2/3/4 will allow you to point the mic at what you want to record at a distance and it will ignore local sounds like whatever is above or behind it. Good way to only get the rain and thunder sounds and eliminate the house/shelter sounds. Those Rode mics are good because they have a frequency response down to 20Hz so you can capture the bass of the thunder.

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