I believe in preserving nature sounds so I work tirelessly to discover locations where true natural soundscapes can still be heard. Since I work to preserve endangered natural soundscapes, I want the listener to hear the sounds as if they were present themselves.
Natural Soundscape = A pristine soundscape devoid of all human-generated sound. This term is used by both myself, Andy Martin, and others.
- Rule 1: Field recordings including any human-generated sounds (i.e. planes, cars, and distant generators) must be thrown out. These sounds cannot be removed in Izotope's RX.
- Rule 2: Excision of human-generated sounds from long recordings and subsequent crossfading is not allowed. If a section is removed, then the sounds must be edited as two shorter clips.
- Rule 3: Sounds made by the field recordist can be removed such as handling noise, stomach gurgles, clothing sounds, etc. Also, sounds made by minor gear malfunctions may be removed.
- Rule 4: De-plosive, Spectral Repair, and Dynamic EQ (with a low shelf filter) can be used to reduce low wind energy.
- Rule 5: Limited use of high and low shelf filters is acceptable to reduce noise floor hiss, but never when sounds are present in those frequencies.
- Rule 6: Noise reduction is never allowed.
- Rule 7: RX Ambience Match is never allowed. I do not filter out low frequency noise pollution and then fill in the space with the unnatural sound created by Ambience Match.
- Rule 8: Mark recordings as “natural soundscapes”, or list what was removed in the Soundminer “notes” metadata field.
These rules are my humble opinions and are not meant to be universal to all field recordists. I am just striving for clarity in how I master my field recordings.
Libraries Where I Broke the Rules:
I follow my rules as much as possible, but occasionally I break them. If a human-generated sound was removed from a clip, it is marked in the Soundminer "notes" metadata field. For example, I might break my rules when I can easily remove a distant generator from an otherwise amazing clip of a Roosevelt Elk bugling. That said, if a recording has had a human-generated sound removed, I think it is imperative not to portray it as natural soundscape. For example, the chart below shows how I notate each change in the metadata:
- AMB25 Alaska: Rain - removed the distant generator hum from 11 of 24 tracks in RX.
- AMB24 Alaska: Wind - removed distant birds from 51 of 69 tracks in RX.
- AMB23 HDA: 6 Ravens, Javelina, and Foxes - removed birds and other wildlife from 12 of 19 tracks in RX.
- AMB22 Nature Roomtones: Deserts - removed noise pollution and distant wildlife from 23 of 44 files in RX.
- AMB21 Great Lakes: Active Nature - removed noise pollution from 15 of 35 files in RX.
- AMB20 Great Lakes: Quiet Nature - removed noise pollution from 18 of 24 files in RX.
- AMB19 Great Lakes: Sandhill Cranes - removed noise pollution from 15 of 18 files in RX.
- AMB18 High Desert Ambiences 5: Crickets - removed noise pollution from 10 or 30 tracks in RX.
- SD06 Wind Harp - birds were removed from 8 of 41 tracks in RX.
- AMB17 High Desert Ambiences 4: Coyotes - distant generator hums were removed from all tracks. These generators were from fire fighters and are not normally present in the area. Also, ranch dog barks were removed from some coyote choruses.
- AMB15 Pacific Northwest: Active Nature - removed noise pollution from 11 of 58 tracks in RX.
- AMB13 Pacific Northwest: Miniature - removed noise pollution from 5 of the 19 tracks in RX.
- AMB10 Northern Rockies: Common Loons - removed the distant generator hum from 9 of the 26 tracks in RX.
- AMB04 High Desert Thunderstorms - Birds were removed in RX to isolate the sounds of thunder.
Libraries Where I Followed the Rules:
- SD17 Curious Bears
- SD16 Giant Pinecones
- SD15 Wild Turkeys
- SD14 Metal Corral
- SD13 Bowed Cactus 2
- SD12 Piano Resonance
- SD11 Whoosh: Leafy Foliage
- SD10 Falling Rock
- SD09 Rock Creatures
- SD08 Whoosh: Desert Foliage
- SD07 Bowed Cactus
- SD05 Didgeridoo
- SD04 Harmonic Series Drones
- SD03 High Desert Chainsaw
- SD02 Ringing Rocks
- SD01 High Desert Hummingbirds
- AMB16 Pacific Northwest: Storm Waves
- AMB14 Pacific Northwest: Quiet Nature
- AMB12 Northern Rockies: Active Nature
- AMB11 Northern Rockies: Quiet Nature
- AMB09 Northern Rockies: Miniature
- AMB08 High Desert Ambiences 3: Quiet Nature
- AMB07 High Desert Ambiences 2: Active Nature
- AMB06 High Desert Ambiences 1: Miniature
- AMB05 New York | Gorges and Waterfalls
- AMB03 High Desert Winds 2
- AMB02 High Desert Winds 1
- AMB01 High Desert Trains