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Fremantle Port Binaural Recording

6 Mar

A good friend of mine, Cynthia White, is working on a documentary and an exhibition on the Fremantle Port here in Western Australia. I wanted to give her an impression of the “1st-person effect” that a binaural recording offers its listener. I made her this test recording of the atmospheric sounds of the Fremantle port early in the morning.

On March 5. 2010 at 04:15 in the morning Cynthia and I drove down to the water in Fremantle with the intention of recording video and sound of the  freight train as it passes over the river transporting containers to the port. However, the train passed us just as we arrived. We tried a 2 second setup resulting in Cyndi doing some shaky cam work and me attaching my mics to the line out on my MD player. After laughing at ourselves for missing the train by a minute we decided to go home and sleep out our disappointment.

After driving Cyndi home  I couldn’t sleep so I stopped by our spot again and sat  by the water next to some large black water pipes. I don’t know what the function of the pipes is but they reflect and amplify sounds from the port adding to the industrial atmosphere.  The still photograph and the binaural recording below are both captured during the 20 minutes I was there. I love sitting by the water under the bridge. It’s one of the few places that I can feel alone and anonymous in Perth.

I didn’t have a tripod so my photo is shaky and dark but it does capture the atmosphere well I think. The recording is my first binaural recording outdoors. I just built the mics and they don’t have wind screens so it’s a rough recording. I think you get an idea of the place anyways; the light, the sounds and perhaps with a bit of imagination, the smell of the air blowing in from the sea and crossing the port on its way inland.

Fremantle Port, Mach 5. 2010, 04:15 WST

Fremantle Port, Mach 5. 2010, 04:15 WST (Click to enlarge in a new window)

To experience the 3D effects of a binaural recording you need a pair of headphones with the left/right speaker matching your left/right ear. In order to fully appreciate this recording press play, turn up the volume, kick back and relax.

Setup

I used the following equipment to capture stills and audio:

Audio:

Microphones: Homemade binaural mics. I built the mics from 2 small electret mic elements, a stereo jack and some shielded cable.

Recorder: Sony MZ-30 Minidisk recorder

Software: Audiocorder for Mac

Photography:

Canon EOS 350D