Soundman OKMII repair

I’ve had my Soundman OKMII binaural microphones for over ten years, and they are my favourite mics for urban field recordings. DACS is the UK supplier.

Soundman OKMII binaural microphones
Soundman OKMII binaural microphones

They don’t really work in wind, and they aren’t the quietest, but they are as stealthy as you can get, looking just like earbuds. A decade ago you still looked a little bit of a geek using them and monitoring on a recorder, but nowadays most people are looking at their smartphones, rather than the lamp-post/road they are about to encounter. On the off-chance that they do look up, they will assume you are just another human trying to escape the real world for the virtual one inside your phone, which happens to be a field recorder.

I was going for a general recce on the Somerset levels, looking for interesting sounds. I heard a lot of birds congregating in some trees, and started the OKMII. There was a lovely little flurry of about 100 starlings flying overhead at about 2 and 4 secs against a background of other starlings gathering in the trees

The OKMII isn’t really a birding mic, but it picked up some of the essence of these guys

and then I encountered this ghastly full-scale 0dBFS noise on the left

a bad contact on the left channel. After 10 years these mics don’t owe me anything, but I figured it’s worth a look if a fix is possible. Skinning the foam earpads shows this

OKMII Two plastic shells melted together
OKMII Two plastic shells melted together

It’s possible to separate these with a craft knife along the obvious seam, concentrating on the melted bits. The microphone is glued to the shell with a hole, try and keep this together to expose the contacts on the rear of the capsule. Continue reading “Soundman OKMII repair”

Storm Ophelia

Wind is normally the enemy of sound recordists, but going through some recordings from last year I found this recording of ex-hurricane Ophelia from the 16th October 2017. Ophelia had been pretty nasty originally and was still bad when it got to Ireland.

I recorded it in Glastonbury in the south-west, by finding a sheltered spot and pointing the mic in a windshield at a bunch of trees, which made a good recording given the wind. The key was that I had good shelter at the mic, but the trees were exposed to the full force of the wind.

The storm dragged up a load fo Saharan dust, making the sky the sickly yellow in the pic.

Fonnereau Way Soundscape

The Fonnereau Way has been used since the mid-1800s, although it’s been the subject of a fight when a incoming resident at the Westerfield end tried to block it up and have it stopped on several occasions. Network Rail has also had it in for the pedestrian level crossing but have also failed to have it struck off.

The path is slated to become a feature in the new Ipswich Garden Suburb development and the level crossing will be replaced with a bridge according to this document.

The Fonnereau Way is the mainly vertical line to the left, with a bridge to put ‘elf’n’safety at Network Rail out of its misery

Becoming a housing estate will clearly change this part of the Fonnereau Way, so I walked this to capture some pictures and soon to be historical sounds from the route. The farmland is intensively farmed and heavily sprayed as I’ve observed a few times, it’s quite possible that being turned into a housing estate may actually increase the biodiversity. Although the birds will be persecuted by hundreds of domestic cats and the gardens will no doubt be tiny, the farmland doesn’t support that many birds at the moment.

The Fonnereau Way starts from Christchurch Park, but I started where the changes will be made, where it crosses Valley Road. In the local plan all vehicle access will be from Henley Road rather than Valley Road.

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the nondescript entrance to the Fonnereau Way from Valley Road

and it’s a noisy place. It gets better quickly as the old path threads its way past some sports facilities and the playing fields

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before reaching farmland

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There are a few birds in the farmland, but to be honest the urban Brunswick Road Rec has more diversity to my ears, the birds are few and far between

A chiffchaff makes itself known.

 

Thorpeness boats

The Meare at Thorpeness is only three feet deep and even a light breeze seems to rock these boats making a lot of noise.

A nice place in the summer – not so rammed with people as nearby Aldeburgh can be, and the boating lake is fun. Easy reach of the beach, too. The lake gets a good view of the whimsical House in the Clouds water tower

The Peter Pan-themed lake and the House in the Clouds are the creation of Scottish barrister Glencairn Stuart Ogilvie at the start of the 1900s

Urban birdsong – Brunswick Rd rec dawn chorus

Ipswich council did a nice job making this rec better for wildlife while keeping the facilities, and it’s a pleasant little oasis of birdlife. The birds are getting up earlier than the Sunday traffic on the ring road, this recording is a lovely piece of avian exuberance and joie de vivre.

Recording started at 5:30 am

Brunswick Road rec wildlife area

Fonnereau Way pedestrian level crossing

There’s something charming about the few pedestrian level crossings that take footpaths over the railway, reminders that the footpaths were here before the railways.

Network Rail have hated this one on the Fonnereau Way for a while, trying to close it in 2012 and now they are back for another bite of the cherry.

In an attempt to show how lethal these things are, or perhaps how much the pedestrians are in need of a Darwin award they have erected this panjandrum to bark out dire audio warnings about walking into the path of an oncoming train while you are glued to your phone, distracted by children and various other hazards.

Fonnereau way (Westerfield) pedestrian level crossing
Fonnereau way (Westerfield) pedestrian level crossing

I stood by the annunicator tripping the PIR sensor to get the full sequence of announcements this thing barks out at passers-by. (recording edited slightly to shorten dead space)

To be honest, if you don’t pick up that something is amiss when you see thistrain

and hear this

then you’re tired of living and should spend all of your time in your phone, else go collect your Darwin award.

Network Rail is trying to harangue the local landowners into going along with their scheming

flyers posted by Network Rail’s henchmen

The Fonnereau Way has been used for a long time, although it’s been the subject of a fight when someone into horseyculture bought a property in 2009 at the Westerfield terminal, claiming to be all surprised there was a footpath there, trying to block it up and have it stopped on several occasions. Unsuccessfully, it appears. Nevertheless, Network Rail may yet succeed.

Waves at Hopton on the East Coast

The east coast has to be defended from the sea by placing massive rocks on the beach. Hopton is almost about as far east as you can get. The rocks make little inlets which make for an interesting soundscape, with the rattle of the pebbles against the long swoosh of the incoming waves, with some very low-frequency rumble from the rocks.

Binaural recording