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I'm doing a little project and would like to capture a soundwalk, or I should say, a "soundride". I do about 15 miles every morning on the old bike through a really nice mix of loud urban, suburbs and even a little bit forest, or as close to forest as I'm going to get in a NYC borough.

I'm trying to eliminate myself from the audio picture as much as possible, trying to get the vibe as if the bike is driving itself. I'm thinking that mounting something to the front-center of the handlebars might be the best way to go. All I've really got right now is my Gorillapod. I did a test run with my D50 mounted to the stem with the pod and the positioning seemed just about perfect, perhaps a bit too much bike noise and headwind, but decent. Problem was that there was just way too much handling noise to get anything usable out of it.

Got any ideas for mounting this thing as shock-free as possible? It's a street ride, but even the slightest bump was too much for the occasion.

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I've tried this with a Sony PCM D-1 gaffer taped to my bike a couple times, recording my commute to work. Sony recorders will hiccup if they're jostled too much. I lost the take the first time I tried this. After some experimenting I got a nice bike onboard.

Some suggestions:

  • I'd recommend doing anything to decouple the recorder from the bike frame. A Gorilla pod just won't cut it IMHO. I'd suggest using a nice thick, firm piece of packing foam and gaff taping your recorder to it. Then gaff the foam to the bike, a poor man's shockmount. There's really nothing that you can't do with a ton of gaff tape.

  • Face the recorder backwards and mount it behind you on the bike. On the underside of the seat worked best for me. Of course, I wanted to pick up some of the tire and chain noise. That way your body acts as a windbreak, the recorder sits in the slipstream, the mics aren't facing into the wind, and you won't record yourself breathing.

Good luck.

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  • Good tips, thanks! Shock absorption is obviously key. – theodorejordan Oct 14 '11 at 20:43
  • +1 on mounting the recorder behind you for drafting purposes. drafting is key in all mobile recording mic placements. – Rene Oct 14 '11 at 21:12
  • Yes. I tried it too. It works with my H4n + Rode Dead Kitten. Thanks! – Kurt Human Oct 19 '11 at 12:29
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I wasn't after ambiences, but rather bike sounds themselves, so here's one approach using a small condenser mic, a SD 702, and a mafer clamp. Can be applied to mounting a PCM-D50 or similar behind your backside for wind reduction (as per Justin's second bullet point), or for rigging external mics with proper wind and shock protection that are hard to rig up with handheld recorders. FWIW, just might help reframe the challenge, although I realize your recording hardware is different.

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  • Nice article! I was really hoping for a head-on recording, but will experiment with a butt-mount too. Thing is, I ride an early 1970's Austro-Daimler with rather loud Suntour freewheel. Don't want it to dominate too much. I was actually considering getting or making a little windshield of some kind to mount on the handlebars. – theodorejordan Oct 14 '11 at 20:47
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    If your rear cluster is loud, yeah, back-facing recording would be less ideal. Really the best solution is to jam your D50 into a Rode Blimp or a Rycote Windjammer, and mount the pistol grip to your handlebars or top tube. The suspension in the pistol grip will give you some cushioning from vibration. Also, run your tires at LOWER PRESSURE than you normally would, as low as you can without risking a pinch flat or harming your rims. That'll help cushion the mic mount, too. – NoiseJockey Oct 14 '11 at 21:59
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How about getting one of the Rycote Portable Recorder Suspension? alt text http://sicharles.com/photos/picturehosting/041119_AUDIO_RECORDER_SUSPENSION.jpg

They are incredibly good at reducing the handling noise, I use one with my D50 all the time (well, most of the time!) You could still use your gorilla pod to attach to the bike.

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  • Well that thing looks interesting! – theodorejordan Oct 14 '11 at 21:59
  • You'd still need wind protection, but this is one of the better HH recorder mounts out there! – NoiseJockey Oct 14 '11 at 22:00
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My friend did this exact thing for one of his final pieces at university, it was accompanied by video which was good.

He used binaural earphone mics and had some fluffies over his ears and it worked well.

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