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I have a gig coming where I will need to record cars passing on a frozen race track (the temperature there will be around -40 degrees celcius.. ), I already did some car recordings in the past but never in that kind of conditions.

I dont really need to wire any microphones on the car as the sound needs to follow the camera position which will be on the side of the race track, for a "documentary style" kind of result.

I had a look in the forums and already had a lot of very useful advice on how to handle very cold temperatures especially with the recorder and mixer ( keeping them under your jacket to warm them up seems the way to go).

Unfortunately i couldnt find any advice and experience on how the microphones and cables would react to freezing conditions.

Does any of you have experience with that kind of weather?

Living in China I dont have a large choice of microphones I can rent, my choice is pretty much narrowed to Oktava Mk012, Sennheiser MKH416, RODE NTG3 and my Sony PCM50 recorder. I can record with a Sound Device mixer ( Mixpre or 302) on a Tascam HDP2 or Zoom H6.

Thanks a lot for your usefull advice!

Gaetan

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I have recorded here in switzerland about -20 C or more. I can recommend you this: Recording in low temperatures are not such a problem, the difficult parts are putting the gear out in the cold air an back.

Going into the cold: -You need to acclimate your gear before using. If you come out of a car (+25 C) into a winterday (-25 C) you have a difference from 50C! This needs in minimum 2 houre to acclimate your microfones, more is better! Put it into a backpack or a bag, always use windshields for microfones. This makes the temerature-shock softer to the equipment. If there would be a small layer of condense or moisture (I don't know if this is the correct word in english) it will freeze immediately on your equipment and will break it.

-put your equipment a day in rice to bring out all the moisture of the equipment. Be sure to not have a lof of dust later on the microfones!

Going out of the cold: -Same procedure: The equimpent must be acclimatized slowly to room-level. Otherwise the water in the air will freeze on your minus cold equipment and makes a layer of ice, which could break everything. Minimum 2 houres, and never put it out in this time. Put it into a bag, backpack or blanket.

-Recorders: Are not such a problem as microfones, because they get warm if they run. -Batteries: Lithium Batteries are more resistent than normal batteries but bring enough of them with you. You never now how they behave. If you can, make a test before. Then you can see what they do. It makes no sense to start recording and all batteries are down because of the coldness.

-Microfones: If they are not enough acclimatized, they start popping, crackle, making some other fancy noise you don't want. You need to wait until they are silent, but in general, you have more unwanted noise than normal.

Let us know how it was. Minus -40 degrees is quite cold. Take some gloves with you :-)

Best

Guido

  • how are you experiences with regard to stiff cables in these conditions? – Arnoud Traa Nov 18 '13 at 15:03
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    This is a good question. And I remember, it's an annoying thing. Cables get stiff and frozen and very unflexible. I've had no problem with broken cables but it's simply an annoying thing. Of course it's wise to have spare-cables with you. Also for recording in the snow it is wise to care about connectors lying around in the snow. Make them waterproof, otherwise they get wet. I remember the foam falls out of my headphones. The glue froze and stoped working. – Guido Helbling Nov 18 '13 at 16:42
  • Thanks a lot to all for your really helpful answers :) ! Hopefully they are being pessimistic when they say -40C (better be prepared for the worst though). I am thinking about getting a small de-humidifier box to make sure all my gears are as dry as they can get when going out in the cold! As for cables, I think I'll get as many spares as possible! – Gaetan Nov 22 '13 at 7:57
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Wow, -40 C is quite cold indeed. I'd try a MKH416 as a mic. I used the Røde in cold conditions before and had some issues with it, so I wouldn't recommend it.

As far as the recorder is concerned, I'd avoid the HDP2. I used it last winter at temperatures around 1C degrees and after a while it started to have signal dropouts. I can't say anything about Sound Devices or the Zoom.

Keeping the recorder (and especially batteries) under your jacket or near your body sounds good, though it might be hard to reach the controls of the recorder/mixer. I'd also stick sone silica-pads near the recorder in order to keep the humidity away from it.

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0Hi,

I've worked with sound recordist Pepijn Aben http://www.pepsound.nl/Noordpool.html He has recorded on the Northpole and shared his experiences in a Dutch Audio magazine. I can translate it if you want?

But i would go for the mkh416 (their though!) and experiment/test cables by putting them in the fridge (although i doubt a consumer fridge will go this low). Use the sound devices but also sent them an email for any advice on low temperatures.

In general try and keep batteries dry and warm. Also, try to create a system where you let the gear adapt to the changing environments (warmth, humidity). Never just walk into the cold from a warm location, the moist in the air will freeze inside machines.

Arnoud

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Here's a blog that Tim Muirhead did about cold gear.

here's another thread about it over at JWSound.

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