You know...with a hammer, hitting things.

I'll run them into my compositions for some metallic bite.

Does anyone have any tips on recording these high dynamic range signals?

ie. Stereo/mono, record clean or get a bit of distortion, distance from the object?

I won't be in a studio environment so noise may be a concern.

Tools will be 1/2 hammers, fostex FR2-LE with Rode nt5 mics, and whatever I find that I can bash!


4 Answers 4


Those NT5s may end up sounding too bright given what the source material is. I'd advise looking for some darker mics if you can find them.

Also, I'd experiment with many different mic positions on the anvil. What you're looking for is going to be incredibly difficult to capture well with just one setup. Give 5 good whacks (allowing time for ringout between each hit), then move the mics, rinse repeat.

Don't be afraid to aim the mics away from the anvil on some takes, and also to move them at least 10 feet away on some takes Put them under the table the anvil is on as well.

then, in post you can combine the different persepectives into a single hit captured from multiple angles.

I once did some bat hits at a major league batting practice that way. I only had one mic on me (416) and didn't expect them to start BP with no music on. When it started happening I aimed at the batter for a few hits, then started aiming at various reverb points in the stadium. Combined them all up and got the most realistic bat hit sound in my library.


Don't be afraid to let the impact sound clip out/distort. Since the impact is such a transient sound, the distortion will add character to the recording, but be short enough in duration that it shouldn't sound like the horrible mess it would on a sustained sound. Recording at a hotter level will let you capture the ring out with some decent level. If you don't trust yourself on the distortion angle, an alternative would be to have two similar sounding mics with different gain settings: one to capture the impact without distortion, and one to capture the ring out/tail at a good signal level (where the impact WILL distort).

Also, multiple perspectives. Clean and close miking is great, but having a variety of distances will give you a more versatile collection of sounds.

  • On your idea of identical mics with different gain settings, presumably with a delicate crossfade you could combine the two and have the sound with a clean impact and an extended ring off/release.... interesting. Nov 27, 2012 at 16:29
  • +1`on recording multiple perspectives. A distant and a close mic placement will give allow you to combine the hard transient of the close perspective with the body and decay of the distant. It's a full sound you can't really capture with just one mic.
    – Matt Glenn
    Nov 27, 2012 at 17:34
  • @Mark Durham - yep. that's the idea. ;) Nov 27, 2012 at 17:51

I also think a contact piezo will get some interesting stuff, ad the metal is so dense it'll pick up lots. If you've got a spare channel, wouldn't hurt.


Anvil: the story of Anvil? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FF4H8lB2Y_o

Sorry, I saw the title, and couldn't resist. [/friendlytroll]

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