Bell Recordings

s.ivin at n... s.ivin at n...
Fri Mar 1 09:57:01 GMT 2002

There was a rather useful article on this topic in the RW, 24/4/87, pp379 & 380.
In particular there is a warning against allowing the record level to go above
5 or 10 db below the max, because of the brief but high intensity upper partials
which occur at the 'strike' and die away before the meter can register them.

Of course it depends on the purpose for which the recordings are made. If for
analysis purposes then it is surely preferable to have the microphone in the
same space as the bell, say 3 or 6 ft. away. I have not found any sign of this
sound level being a problem to a condenser mic - which is preferable because
of the low inertia of the element. It should be possible to attenuate the
recording level on the recorder so that overload here can be avoided, although
I know Bill had some difficulties with his laptop recording at Dorking. One
suggestion is to plug into the less sensitive 'line' input - or with a PC
to select line and mute mic if both share a socket.

Recording with floor(s) etc. between bell & microphone obviously has the effect
of frequency-selective filtering, (fortunately for those ringing the bells!) and 
may lead to wrong conclusions. Another advantage of 'close' recording is
that ambient noise - even moderate wind noise - is not much of a problem, as
long as the automatic volume control is not used.

I have found with the MiniDisc that the mechanism itself can be disrupted if
it is used in the bell chamber, and it reports disk errors and refuses to
continue (Sharp MD MS200H, I haven't tried with my Sony MZ-R35). Initially I
was a bit concerned about the audio compression (ATRAC) but a quick comparison
of the same sound recorded with a Sony DAT (TCD D3) showed no discernible difference
in the case of a single bell strike.

Personally I have found the rather cavalier comments about microphone quality a
bit alarming!

Stephen Ivin

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