John-North-ShoreOne of the great things about working at a recording studio is the opportunity we get to record any number of interesting or bizarre things – anything from famous actors and voice-over talent to strange instruments and sound effects from peculiar locations.

Capturing really great sound effects, in fact, can be one of the most challenging tasks associated with getting the right tone for a radio spot, TV ad or podcast. We’ve recorded the sounds of winter ice at Afton State Park, raucous pubs in Bavaria, Porsche 911’s snaring the corners at 120+mph, dishwashers that leak and creak (my own, actually… how convenient), and even the sound of a rider ditching out an ATV at high speed – although (ahem) that last one was slightly “unintentional”.

Often the key to getting really great sound is to steal a page from the world of photography and it’s approach to long exposures: have an interesting subject, use a steady hand, grab a good focal point, be patient, and maintain a willingness to move and refocus as conditions change.

John hones in on getting some choice North Shore tones

Just for fun, our own John Lukas went up to his family’s cabin on Minnesota’s North Shore a couple weekends ago to see if he could capture some (forgive me) Great Lake sounds for our sound effects library. He brought along our Neumann RSM 191 Stereo Mic and its zeppelin, an ibook, an Mbox audio interface and, no doubt, a beer or two. With just a few minor location adjustments over the course of his time there he was able to capture the unique sounds of the North Shore’s waves on the rock beaches and huge granite slabs that line the coast in front of the cabin. John said it was amazing to hear how dramatically the sound of the waves shifted and mutated based solely on the distance from, or the composition of the coastline.

We put together three quick samples of the sounds he recorded to showcase the striking contrast you can get by simply moving a scant 60 feet one way or another.

This sample is of an inlet in the granite slabs where the waves wash in.

Here’s a sample giving an overview about 20 feet from the waves.

This third sample gives you a perspective from the rock beach. (Note the backwash of the stones in the waves.)

So, if you got an idea germinating that might benefit from having that “weekend at the cabin” sound vibe, know that we’ve got you covered. And, if instead you need the sound of scuba diving in Fiji?

Well, just buy me the plane ticket. I’ll bring the gear.

I might even spring for Red Stripe or two.