Take the 2-minute tour ×
Sound Design Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for sound engineers, producers, editors, and enthusiasts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Hello Friends,

I come seeking advice about a potentially awesome opportunity to record an amazing group musicians in the amazon jungle in a couple of months. The Doc will revolve around the journey into the jungle, and recording the musicians improvising off of natural sounds of the jungle. So this will require me to record the ambiances of the jungle in real time, wile also recording the musicians playing along to the sound of the jungle.

The core question is, which mics are best suited to handle the extreme conditions of the amazon jungle. Which mics are least susceptible to humidity? Additionally what other gear (audio related or otherwise) do you think would be essential to recording this experience successfully ? Have any of you doing something similar to this? What was your set up like?

The gear that I plan on bringing with me so far is as follows:

Tascam DR-680 field recorder Rode NTG-3 Shotgun (I have to get it repaired first) Sony PCM-50 (Planning on using it to record stereo ambiences, but do the built in mics handle the humidity well?) Marantz 661 AT 2022 stereo mic (again, will humidity be an issue?) Sennheiser G3 lav kit

I also have about 6 dynamic mics of the usual sm57 to 58 range. How well do dynamic mics hold up in high humidity?

Oh and lastly instrumentation break down is a keyboard, guitar/singer and bass/singer, (which i'm hoping i can run DI from their amps/ portable pa system) and 2 percussionists/singers playing hand drums

I know i just asked a lot. I'm looking for any and all input, experience, thoughts, questions, concerns.

Thank you very much for your time everyone!

Cheers

-Kevin

share|improve this question
1  
The first thing that pops into my head is, don't "hope" you can run DI, don't assume anything. Assuming things WILL byte you back. Amazing gig! congrats! –  Filipe Chagas Sep 13 '11 at 10:34
    
Thanks Filipe! It was just confirmed to me that the musicians will have line outs out of their amps. The trip is still about a month and a half away so I'm getting the details in piece meal. I'll keep all of you informed as things progress. –  zenandtheart Sep 13 '11 at 19:00
add comment

4 Answers

I'd recommend switching to a Sound Devices recorder with Sennheiser condenser mics and keep the Shure dynamic mics.

Whatever you plan to take, test it all in your bathroom. Leave the shower on for a good 30 minutes and then close the door and let the recorder and mics run for at least a couple of hours, also leave a radio on so you have something to record.

Compare the recordings and if the latter part sounds dull compared to the start you are obviously going to have problems. If they sound similar you should be fine.

share|improve this answer
    
I'm going to put in a request for a 744t and some MKH mics and hope they have the budget for it. That's a brilliant solution! I'll be sure to test out all my gear in that fashion. Thank you Iain! –  zenandtheart Sep 13 '11 at 19:22
add comment

That sounds like a great gig.

As for mics - well, the Sennheiser MKH series are your best bet in high humidity situations. Don't know what kind of budget you have available or if you can rent mics, but perhaps a pair of MKH 8040s would suit you well - they'd be great for both ambience and music recording.

The NTG3 should perform very well in high humidity as well.

I'd be a bit concerned about the DR680. The build quality is so-so and I really wonder how it would hold up in a demanding environment such as the Amazon. At the very least I would look into a good bag solution that would keep the recorder as unexposed to the environment as possible. Mind, the DR680 might have no problems whatsoever, but I think it's a risk.

Maybe consider getting a Sound Devices preamp/mixer to go with your D50 as a backup solution that is built more solidly than the DR680 in case the Tascam does break down.

//edit I just remembered I recently bought this album, which consists of a very long field recording in the amazon: http://fieldcraftrecords.com/album/a-deep-forest-creek You might want to contact that guy (David Michael) through the contact form with some questions? He used different gear than you would take with you but he might have some good tips.

share|improve this answer
    
I'm super pumped at the chance to do this! MKH series, because they use RF technology right? Are there any other mic companies which employ RF technology aside from Sennheiser? The DR680 will be housed in a petrol bag 602. I've had great experience with this set up and am not too worried about the build quality since the bag is fairly sturdy and protective. I'm looking at the Mix Pre D as possible front end to the D50. What do you think? I'm listening to David's work now, WOW! his recordings are amazing. I sent him an email asking advice, I hope to hear back from him. Thanks Daan! –  zenandtheart Sep 13 '11 at 19:45
    
@zenandtheart, well I believe the NTG3 uses that RF technology as well, it's supposed to be a copy pretty much of the MKH416. Other than that, I wouldn't know of any other brands/mics. As for DR680, have you taken it into hot/humid environments before? I own one myself and sure, I can put it in a bag so that when it drops or something bangs against it it won't immediately break, but I have a feeling it won't necessarily survive when it gets very hot or humid. –  Daan Hendriks Sep 13 '11 at 20:45
add comment

Great suggestions so far.

I would like to add this:

Bring a few of those packets which are placed in microphone boxes and in shipping boxes and place them in your blimp and keep them with your mics when you store them at night. I would go so far as to bring a humidity meter so you know at all times what's going on in the environment.

Also, acclimatize your mics before using them in the morning. I would store them in plastic bags (ziplock) in case there are rains or unexpected downpoors.

And keep an ear out for any malfunctions while recording on your tracks. I'd do a spot check at night to your recordings to ensure you've got good recordings.

Among the other mics mentioned, Schoeps CMIT-5U and the MK series I have found in my experience to have great rejection to humid and extreme conditions - Florida heat and humidity as well as Russia cold and freezing.

Depending on your sound and what you're going for, I would ask that they leave the PA off - unless they absolutely need it on. I personally like isolated tracks to work with. Easier to mix.

share|improve this answer
    
I've actually had some grave humidity issues with the CMIT-5U, I'm hoping that's my usual luck, but I've heard several other complaints about CMITs "boiling over"... Great mic anyhow :) –  Olle Sjöström Sep 13 '11 at 19:41
    
ah yes, those anti humidity packets, great idea! I'll be sure to pick some up. I've checked weather.com and in Lima, the humidity levels are in the 78-90 percent range! Do you know of any online references which detail the acceptable amounts of humidity mics can handle? Ziplock bags, Got it. Hmmm, I'll look into the CMIT-5U, although Olle's comments leaves room for concern. You haven't had problems though eh? I would prefer the PA off too, however i don't think we'll have an elaborate monitoring set up, so the other musicians will have to hear the PA. thanks for your advice Utopia! –  zenandtheart Sep 13 '11 at 20:23
    
@zenandtheart Hey - I don't know exactly how humid it was but it was Florida and my clothes were nearly soaked. I would take Iain's idea and moist up a room to that amount of moisture (78-90%) and see how your mics fair. Take DI inputs for sure of all the instruments and don't forget to do cool things like a far mic to pick up the natural echo of the band. I find a long mic in a live performance solidifies the track (even if you only have the fader up 20-30 percent) –  Utopia Sep 13 '11 at 21:08
add comment

I know this was posted some time ago, but I might have a little to add.

I'd considered in the past going on a field recording workshop run by Francisco Lopez in the Amazon. On that page, he has some notes on his experience of the practicality of recording in humid environments:

"Because of the high humidity it is highly recommended to keep all recording gear inside water-proof bags. We haven't experienced any humidity-related problems for a very wide range of the typical digital recording devices used today. However, we do have experienced problems with most condenser microphones (humidity condensation producing noise), while this never happened with electric ones (like the ones in Zoom devices). It is thus highly recommended to bring contact cleaner and/or "Detox-it" for cleaning cables and connectors (see note 2 below)"

"[Note 2: List of previously used equipment NOT affected by humidity (all kept in water-proof bags when not in use): Digital recorders: Sound Devices 702, 722, 744, Sound Devices MixPre, Tascam DR1, Edirol R09HD, Fostex FR 2LE, Marantz PMD670, Sony PCM D50, Zoom H2 & H4 (although some people won’t recommend the last one for other reasons, namely motor noise). External microphones: DPA 4060, 4061, Soundman OKM Binaural, Røde NTG-3 Shotgun Microphone, Sonic Studio DSM-1S/H, Shotgun Audio Technica AT815ST, Aquarian Hydrophones H1a, Bat detector Pettersson Elektronik D 200. List of previously used equipment affected by humidity (also after being kept in water-proof bags): External microphones: Neumann KM184 stereo pair, Audiotechnica AT897 shotgun, Rode NT5 condensers.]"

If zenandtheart does read this, I'd love to hear the fruits of the project, sounds great.

share|improve this answer
add comment

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.