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Recording a Thunderstorm

edited October 2021 in In the Studio

Well, what does one do when one is awakened by a large thunderstorm after four and a half hours of sleep?

Normally, I'd complain and grumble and try to go back to sleep. However, resistance is futile with a storm as large as we experienced here in Adelaide this morning so I did what a slightly eccentric sound engineer does and recorded it!

The first part of this storm was quite intense and would've made a spectacular recording but I was still in bed and had nothing set up. So I scrambled out of bed, grabbed all my mic leads, fired up the studio computer, JLM1290 mic pre's and my Sound Devices 744T recorder and set up four of my large diaphragm studio condenser mics. I stuck my pair of Rode NT2a's in the big room, my AKG C414eb in the studio near a window and my Rode NT1a in the room I'm turning into my retro museum, also near a window.

I have a duct for my portable air conditioner in the door to the big room and that makes a great place to run mic leads.

On the other side of the door is my solar and battery system and I put the Sound Devices recorder on that and ran the NT2a pair into the recorder.

I set the 744T recording and also ran an output from it into my RME Fireface UFX in the main studio room and into REAPER. The output to REAPER from the recorder was mainly for monitoring and to use as a guide to align the audio file from the recorder when I import that into REAPER later on.

I ran the AKG and the NT1a into the JLM1290 mic pre's and from that into two more inputs on the Fireface and into REAPER. I LOVE the JLM1290! It is such a rich, warm and detailed preamp and is based on the Neve 1073 design.

I deliberately placed the mics in different rooms in order to capture a large sound field from the storm. This gives me a lot more options for upmixing into 3D Ambisonics which I've been mixing in for some years now. I can derive pretty much anything (stereo, 5.1, 7.1, Dolby Atmos bed, IMAX, Binaural, quad, etc.) from a third order, 3D Ambisonic mix simply by putting the appropriate decoder on the master. It is a lot of fun and sounds fantastic!

Oh, and I don't have to worry about power surges or grid failures recording during thunderstorms here either. As mentioned above, I have a large solar and battery setup with surge protection and auto changeover to battery if the grid or solar goes down. The batteries will run my home and studio in such an event. I'll be posting more about that in another topic though.

So, what did I end up capturing for all my rushed efforts? I got a few really good thunder claps and a very intense hail storm! It would've been great to capture the first half of the thunder but it was definitely not all in vain!

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