Recently on designingsound.org/ Erik Aadahl talked about his blimp catching on fire and watching fellow recordists nearly get torched by fighter jets.

Erik Aadahl http://designingsound.noisepages.com/files/2010/03/Erik_Aadahl_Recording.png

I was wondering if anyone else had had their own misfortunes while recording?

I had a near miss with a Hippo nearly chomping my mic, but that's about it!

Looking forward to hearing some stories.

7 Answers 7


I've had a couple. I climbed over a fence one dark and moonless night to get recordings of some cows I had seen earlier that day. Inexplicably, the cows in that field had been replaced by horses which decided to stampede me (probably for the apple slices I had in my pocket to tempt the cows with).

I fell through the ice on a lake once, trying to get an authentic ice cracking sound. It was only thigh deep and I kept the 722 and mic out of the water, but it was a long, cold, mile back to the car.

  • 1
    But did you get the sound?! "Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed sounds..."
    – Mark C
    Commented May 8, 2010 at 20:28
  • I managed not to make a peep during the whole crash and splash! Unfortunately, I ended up Folying the sound, as the real sound was....unimpressive.
    – Donna
    Commented Apr 15, 2012 at 21:38

No me but, Dane Davis killed a couple of MKH 800's recording for one of the Matrix sequels. Sennhieser must of thought it was pretty cool because they posted an article on their website about it... Couldn't find the original anymore so here's a link to a reprint.


A bunch of teens in a car were continuously driving past and hurling abuse at me one time. I was in the park trying to record the sounds of owls. "There are no owls here buddy!" they kept yelling, they said i was crazy "Get outtttta here!" I would yell back

I took all the recordings to the police shop with the voices of the youths, one of the officers told me to calm down.....but that he would look into it i remarked that it would be more like, he would be "listening into it" hahaha

So if anyone has any good owl sounds, let me know


I was recording a thunderstorm in Maine once when lightning struck a tree about 30 feet from where I was standing. The electricity traveled down the trunk of the tree, under the foundation of the building I was in, up a power line and exploded a power strip right next to my ear, scattering debris all over the place.

But I got the recording! Thank God I lived to tell the tale -- I think the soles of my shoes were smoking a little bit, though…

  • 1
    Ha... crazy!! That reminds me of an experience with lightning once... I was on break from an ENG gig, and was outside by my car. It wasn't storming yet, but thunder clouds were overhead. All of a sudden lightning hit a power line and the transformer exploded! Everything turned pure white for a split second. I've never seen anything so bright before! It sounded like a giant tesla coil going off. Boy, do I wish I was recording when that happened!
    – Colin Hart
    Commented Mar 20, 2010 at 2:16
  • My situation was similar -- my entire field of vision went white and my ears immediately shut down. All I heard for the next 1 1/2 minutes was ringing. Commented Mar 20, 2010 at 4:46
  • Unbelievable! Shouldn't y'all have been doing that with earplugs or the like?
    – Mark C
    Commented May 8, 2010 at 19:56
  • @birdhousesound I can't believe you got the recording! From a personal standpoint that must be the most prized sound in your library! But from a professional standpoint, is it as good as I imagine it sounds? Commented Jul 20, 2010 at 14:38

I've had an SM57 fall off of the wheel well mount I had on my car, get run over, than drag behind me until I stopped the car. A few scratches on it, but the mic was actually perfectly fine. So, not a disaster, but a near death experience for the mic. At least its a cheap mic...

Also blew up a contact mic while recording fire crackers the other day. I sort of knew it would happen, since I taped it to a fire cracker, but I was hoping I had reinforced the side well enough. I guess not. I got a few takes out of it before it went though! Again, cheap mic (a few bucks worth of parts and 5 minutes of soldering).

The same day, I was playing with underwater explosions. I wasn't quite thinking straight, and decided to put a fire cracker in a large, thick stemmed glass. I lit it, submerged it, and decided to keep the glass in my hand. Boom! Glass everywhere, I was soaked... Luckily the rain cover was over my 744T, plus I didn't actually get hurt - just very wet. After that, I switched to metal containers, for obvious reasons. Although, I would like to do the glass one again and get a some cool glass / water recordings. Unfortunately I wasn't recording when this happened, just checking levels...

Another time, I was testing out an optical mic I was building, and still had some alligator clips and bare connections and all. I was plugged into my Mbox 2 and playing with my mic's response to a green laser, and I crossed some cable by accident. Poof...channel 1 on my mbox gone. Don't know why - must've sent a strong voltage down one of the lines by accident. That was an expensive mistake...

  • How did the firecracker recording turn out? What an excellent idea. Also, were you recording the bottle incident above ground or under water?
    – Mark C
    Commented May 8, 2010 at 20:00
  • I have some recordings from the firecracker here: colinhartonline.com/?p=141 The bottle / glass incident had a contact mic in the water and a CSS-5 stereo mic outside. Same session.
    – Colin Hart
    Commented May 8, 2010 at 23:33

Funny thing...I've done a lot of really unhealthy things to get great and unusual sounds and ambiances over the years, and always came through more or less as unharmed as I was before. One day though, while out on a fishing trip by boat with a good friend, I found a not very big pasture with cows grazing around, looking mighty intellectual the way only a good cow can. It's against my very nature to let an opportunity like this pass without a good reason, so I entered through the rocky shoreline, turned on the fieldrecorder, and headed to the critters. I've done this lots of times before, and knew full well what to expect; At first they gonna look at me with the look of two braincells trying to connect, and then they all gonna surround me in a "circle of cow" with the head cow right in front of me, staring at me preeminently, trying to figure out whether to stomp me to kingdom come, or if I'm a pathetic lifeform not worthy of their stomping time and no threat of trying to eat them or their offspring. It always end up after about half a minute with the leading cow (here an Norwegian Telemark-cow, having very long and extremely point horns) sceptically take a few steps towards me, who's just standing there minding my own business, take a sniff at my reached out hand, and figuring I'm not exactly capable of doing anything at all against them. Then lose interest in me completely. So they did this time too.

Anyway, for some reason, the leading cow (the one with the tremendous pointy horns) stopped at her way back towards the meadow, and turned her head towards me. With a speed I'd NEVER expect from a humongous lummox like this, the goddamn thing turned 180, lowered her horns, and gave out the most wicked bellow I've ever heard. With me running like a gazelle scared xxxxless back to the shore it went forward in full attack-mode. One's not too cocky when a 500Kg pissed-off hamburger wanna turn you into a barbecue skewer while you're standing on a not very big stone in a lake, trying to neighter fall in the fieldrecorder-killing water nor become the new horn-decoration for a (possibly) man-eating cattle... To make things even more interesting, it was a BIG lake, and the boat was a slow one with an electric motor barely able to outrun an infant even with full battery. This one wasn't full. And my friend was on the other side of an equally large island in the middle of the lake as not to disturb my recordings... I whipped out my cellphone and called my friend, yelling (quote) "Get the beep over here this *beep*ing instant!!!" (end quote) at the top of my lungs. After about (read: exactly) 11 minutes 24 seconds from when i pressed the disconnect button, I finally put my first leg back in the boat, ending this nice little (very one-sided) chat between me standing on the not too big boulder two meters from the shore, and the smug looking and noisy bastard, who's been reminding my very convincingly the last nearly 12 minutes who's da boss.

Somewhere around 20 minutes later I remembered to turn off the Fostex :-)


This is only a little thing, but one I've never forgotten & in that sense was an incredibly valuable lesson to learn.... Very early on in my career i.e. only a year or so out of film school, we needed a powerful onboard engine sound for an episode of a TV series, so I tracked down someone with a hot rod with a V8 and went off to record it. Using a Nagra 4.2 and a 416, I sat in the back and recorded the very throaty, loud exhaust as we drove around, being careful not to overload the recorder. Thanked the guy, got back to the studio only to discover all the recordings were hopelessly distorted. I learned that day that you can cleanly record a distorted signal and the moral of the story is about using the right microphone for the situation (SPL of the exhaust was way too much for the 416). I'm happy to say I've never repeated that experience in the 20 years following - mistakes are only bad if you don't learn from them! But its also better to learn from others mistakes, then you don't have to make them yourself ;)

One other annoying record accident - I had to record a tug boat so we did a whole stack of onboard recordings, then I got them to drop me off on an isolated wharf so I could record passbys, up/stop, away etc... We finished doing that recording, and just as they came over to pick me up I wiped the side of my head & knocked my glasses off into the sea... plunk.... glasses gone... Had to drive home very slowly & then go get another pair made... Whenever I'm near water now I have one of those little rubber band things that mean my glasses cannot fall off, and I take a spare pair of glasses when travelling. If you're myopic, nothing stops you in your tracks like losing your glasses!

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