Recording outdoors? Read this.

[Another guest post by Jess Walter. – AC]

Tips for Effectively Dealing with Wind Noise When Recording Outdoors

Live music is extremely popular in the US, with 52% of the American population attending at least one live music event every year, according to recent report by Nielsen Music. While many live music events are held in concert halls and other indoor venues, many also take place on outdoor stages. Although there is a definite appeal to outdoor performances, recording music outdoors comes with a unique set of challenges. One of the biggest challenges faced by anyone wanting to record music outside is wind noise. Despite the technological advancements that have been made in recent years, we are yet to come up with a way to control Mother Nature.

Thankfully, there are a number of ways to reduce pesky wind noises to render a more high-quality sound.

Use the right microphones

When recording music outdoors you ultimately have the choice between directional and omnidirectional microphones that each come with their own benefits and disadvantages. In general, omnidirectional mics are more skilled at reducing wind noise and other unwanted background sounds, as their diaphragms are substantially more robust than those found in directional mics. Still, they are not ideal in every situation — specifically when you will be stationed some distance from the sound source. 

Directional mics are often used when recording audio outdoors, as they are designed to reject sound from the sides and back, focusing solely on the direction they are pointed at. As effective as these mics may be for eliminating background noise, it is important to note that one may not suffice if you are planning to record an entire band on stage. If this is the case, consider using a few mics and place them in an X/Y formation for best exposure.

Invest in a deadcat and other protective gear

Unlike traditional foam windscreens, a deadcat works extremely windy conditions. Depending on its size, a deadcat may also go by the names deadkitten and deadwombat. These shields work in a similar way to open cell foam shields, effectively absorbing the wind energy that collides with the mic capsule. The denser the deadcat, the greater protection it provides against wind noise.

While a deadcat can make a huge difference to your recordings it is important to note that those made from a very dense material can reduce higher frequencies which may result in them needing some post-production boosting. If a deadcat will not resolve your wind issues, consider investing in a blimp that is known to offer an even greater degree of wind protection.

Simply EQ the wind away

By making use of equalization tools, wind noise can be dealt with before it even reaches your recording equipment. Wind noise is mainly made up of low-frequency sounds, which means you can make use of a simple high-pass filter that will allow only the higher frequencies to pass through while blocking out any low frequencies. As effective as this method may be, you need to remember that no two recordings will ever be the same. Thus, a curated EQ process will be required for every recording. The best way to address this concern is to make use of a fully-automated EQ process by adjusting the read/write function in most DAWs.  

There are many reasons why someone would want to record music outdoors. As long as you deal with wind noise effectively, you will be able to pull off a quality recording without too much trouble.

(Feature photo by israel palacio on Unsplash)

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 30+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

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