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Entries in Portable Recorder (1)


Recording in Honest Ed's

One main problem with recording in stores or just about anywhere these days is that music is ominpresent in public spaces now.  Every store, every restaurant, even every bathroom seems to have canned music piped into it and this makes getting clean recordings of our world damn near impossible. But every once in a while you can luck upon a great recording and avoid capturing the music along with it.  

I recently got my hands on a Sony PCM-D50 (see review after audio samples below) and the day after i got it, I took it along on a shopping trip with my wife. Luckily on this trip a few things conspired to let me get a really great recording at Honest Ed's.  For those outside of Toronto Honest Ed's is a bit of an institution, located at a major intersection in the city the store has been in operation Since 1948.  

Ed's is huge its four stories covers a full city block and it sells just about everything you can think of and everything is massively discounted.  There are hand painted signs all over with "zany" sales pitches like "Honest Ed's is for the Bird's - Cheap Cheap" or "Honest Ed is Repulsive - But his Prices are Appealing!" and a big sign over the exit reading "Wasn't That Fun!"  This one store does over $65 million in sales a year on dime store fair, so it is a massive success.

One section of the store is for groceries and there is a strip of large very, very old freezers containing all the frozen foods, but unlike a traditional grocery store, this is a row of individual two door units instead of one huge aisle long unit.  So there is a humming chorus of all the compressors working away.  Thanks to the portability of my new recorder I was able to get in-between the fridges and record the ancient compressors  from the back of the units.  Luckily they were so loud and located a bit away from the ceiling speakers so that the music playing within the store was completely drowned out and a clean recording was possible.


I knew what I had got was going to be useful, both as literal refrigerator compressor sounds and as a base for for Sci-fi force fields and spaceship ambiences, with the help of some processing.

Here is a sample of the refrigerator compressors,  followed by some quick manipulation to transform the fridge into some sci-fi -esque sounds:

Honest ED'S Fridge Treated by azimuthaudio


After shopping on the way home we were on a particularly squealing subway car and I was able again to pop out the D50 portible recorder and grab some subway squeal.  Sadly I could not get everyone to be quiet for this recording (that would just be rude right?) so there is lots of subway passenger walla in the recording as well.

Subway Squeals by azimuthaudio



SONY PCM-D50 mini Review
I am really happy I finally got it.  I borrowed one from my friend Simon Edwards at Resolve Audio two years ago for a podcast I was working on at the time and it was great so I am not sure why it took so long for me to get one of my own, but so far I am glad I did.  Previously my portible recorder was the Zoom H2, and although it has had its uses it is really not a very good device.  The D50 is a massive upgrade in terms of the on board microphone and over all usability.  One of the things that drove me nuts about the H2 was how insanely long it took for it to boot up when you turned it on, on many occasions by the time it booted up the sound I was hoping to record had long since passed and the moment was lost.  The D50 boots up quick and is ready to go in seconds.  
I also picked up the Rycote mount for it so it is comfortable to hold and eliminates handling noise.  I can not go to deep into a review as I have only had a very short period of time but so far it has been a great addition to my gear closet and I am looking forward to more "stealth" recordings with it.