Sennheiser proves to be an essential component for recording extreme locations

Sennheiser proves to be an essential component for recording extreme locations

Sennheiser proves to be an essential component for recording extreme locations

Worldwide – Sound recorder George Vlad travels to some of the most remote places on the planet to record the sound of nature. From recording the winds in the icy mountains of the Romanian Carpathians to capturing the sounds of the Ethiopian desert in scorching heat, his Sennheiser microphones and headphones are essential tools of his trade that go with him everywhere.

Vlad’s love for sound dates back to his childhood in the Romanian countryside. “I’ve always liked sounds,” he recalls. “People would ask me why it was so important to me. I had never questioned it; that was how I lived my life. In the early 2000s, I was a DJ for a while. I was very enthusiastic about electronic music and producing my own music using computers. I realized I was more excited about the sound design aspect than anything else and spent days creating a synth patch that sounded great to me. After a while I got interested in natural sounds and using them to create new sounds. From there it was very easy to move on to recording my own sounds.

While studying at the University of Edinburgh for a degree in sound design, George also worked on projects for clients. He was thrilled to be working in the field he loved, but the workload resulted in 100-hour weeks. “I was exhausted and I wasn’t creative anymore,” he says. “The best way for me to solve this problem was to take a month off in the winter. “

Vlad returned to his native Romania, rented a car and disappeared into the mountains. “I did some sound recording and photography. I didn’t know what I was doing, I was just trying things out and stepping away from notifications, having to respond to customers all the time and whatever was on my mind. After a month of doing this, my creativity returned and I vowed to myself that I would never forget mental wellness and my own time.

From there, things developed organically, with Vlad starting to explore new places like Sweden and Norway. Then, in 2016, he was offered an artist residency in South Africa. “I made a lot of sound recordings there,” he recalls. “Then I started to organize my own expeditions to Africa, South America, Asia. I never felt like I had to do all of this; I was still excited about it and started building on it.

The result is that the 36-year-old Surrey-based man now specializes in exploring and recording the beauty of the most remote places on our planet, and customers around the world are using the self-funded services and sounds of Vlad. Hollywood movie studios, game development studios, and production companies like Netflix license its content.

“I was recording the sounds of the Erta Ale volcano in Dallol, Ethiopia, and it was a life-changing experience listening to lava boil with my Sennheiser MKH 8060,” Vlad recalls. “I was traveling with a group of guides, militiamen, police and porters. For them it was probably the 100th time at the edge of an active volcano, nothing special at all.

“I’ve been asked why do I record this stuff? I passed my HD 26 headset to one of the locals and he was overwhelmed. Until then, they only knew the reflected sound of the volcano, but had never heard the direct sound of the caldera. One of them was so moved when he heard it for the first time that he started to cry.

Vlad notes that the heat is not the only limit he reaches when recording: “I was in Romania to record high winds in the mountains at night with two MKH 8040 and an MKH 30, but the wind almost disappeared and the temperature quickly fell well below freezing. . “Sometimes the recorder’s batteries run out too quickly or the buttons freeze, but it has never had a problem with its Sennheiser microphones” … in all outdoor conditions from -37 ° C to 49 ° C. “

While location recordings often require innovative approaches, Vlad has a very unusual method of capturing surround sound in nature: “My favorite device for recording is four MKH 8020s, placed around a tree. It sounds a bit cheesy, but it gives me the perspective of the tree listening to the environment at 360 degrees. Of course, a tree doesn’t listen to anything. But if you think about the grooves and texture of the bark, it’s something like a trans-reflection related to the head, like your nose, face and its outlines. The sound bouncing around the tree colors it in a certain way. So listening from a tree’s perspective in the rainforest is my ultimate recording technique and I will use it whenever possible. The low background noise, high build quality and excellent bass response of the Sennheiser 8020 come in handy when recording in nature. And they perform exceptionally well in extreme humidity, especially when you look at the competition. “

Vlad also shares his travel experiences and selected recordings with his social media community, giving tips and advice on techniques such as making his rig as low-key as possible so passing baboons don’t destroy it, or building a covered with leaves, brush and twigs on its microphones in the rainforest to prevent raindrops from falling directly on them to keep the sound more natural and keep the feeling of immersion. “I documented this on one of my first YouTube videos and a lot of people are doing it now,” he smiles. “They love the idea and I’ve heard much better rain recordings. So, I’m really happy to come up with these kinds of tips to facilitate good sound recordings.

A lot of time is spent planning these exotic trips; Vlad performs extensive risk assessments and has taken remote first aid and medicine courses to mitigate as much as possible. Its expedition to Gabon, for example, took eight months of preparation, a month in the field and up to six months of post-production. Apparently, no task is too difficult for Vlad, like getting to Congo by flying to Gabon and then continuing by car. “And renting a car in Gabon is more expensive than buying it directly, but as a Westerner you are not allowed to buy a car or even leave the capital,” he said. “I built my expeditions on top of each other and pushed my comfort zone really slowly, so I never really got out of it. There were times when I felt a little threatened. My friend and I were the only westerners in the Congo rainforest and sometimes the locals weren’t so keen on us being there; we did not know the local customs, nor the social norms. But sometimes I think it can be much more dangerous in central London than in the Congo rainforest! “

Vlad’s upcoming plans include a major Antarctic expedition in 2022, which he has been planning since 2019, as well as trips to Madagascar, Sumatra or Papua New Guinea. “It’s pretty hard to find repairers locally, but I’ll do my best and probably visit the country that is relaxing its Covid restrictions first. “

Wherever it is, its Sennheiser microphones will go with it.

photo: George Vlad

Sennheiser proves to be an essential component for recording extreme locationsSennheiser proves to be an essential component for recording extreme locations

25 November 2021

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