How to Record Thunderstorms – The New York Times

“You have to be patient because you can’t control thunderstorms,” ​​says Frank Bry, 59, a sound effects recorder who creates sound libraries that he sells to video game, TV, movies and white noise. Bry has four collections of thunderstorm records collected over 30 years from his home in rural northern Idaho. Know that the landscape around you will shape the sound of thunder. Bry lives near a large lake surrounded by mountain ranges, which imparts a volume and resonance he calls “bodacious.” Yet he covets the way thunder rumbles over the deserts of New Mexico. “I heard some pretty phenomenal thunder recordings from there,” Bry says. “The sound is crisp and dry.”

For professional-quality sound, find a quiet place free of traffic, train horns, and airplane noise. Cities are almost impossible; sound waves bounce off buildings erratically and thunderclaps can set off car alarms. Thunder is most prevalent in spring and summer. “I’m thrilled beyond belief if I get five good hits from a summer,” Bry says. Whenever you have to deal with lightning, put your safety first. “No thunderbolt is worth your life,” says Bry, who sets up two pairs of stereo microphones under fir trees 75 feet from his house. He runs cables inside, where he stays safe with his recording device.

Thunderstorms are often accompanied by rain and wind. To prevent wind distortion, cover your microphones in faux fur muffs called Windjammers. Protect your equipment from water by building a shelter out of absorbent fabric (raindrops hitting plastic or wooden shelters create audible rattling). Bry drapes loose wool-blend blankets in the branches above his microphones.

Download radar and lightning tracking apps. Bry uses one called My Lightning Tracker Pro, which he has set up to alert him whenever a thunder system develops within a 30-mile radius. Even with apps, you’ll sometimes miss a storm. “It can be heartbreaking,” Bry says. Try to let go of your disappointment. The atmosphere is wild and turbulent; each year there are approximately 16 million thunderstorms worldwide. You will have another chance.

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