Soundmap

The Cowling Arboretum Soundmap is optimized for browsing in Google Chrome.  Additionally, the Google Earth Plugin (Download) is recommended for viewing the map with maximum flexibility.   

A soundmap is a form of locative media that links a place and its sonic representations.  Audio recorded from locations is embedded into a virtual map.  Playback of the audio and associated information demonstrates the sounds that are located in the region and how environmental features alter the dynamics of sound propagation.

In addition to collecting data from Best Woods using the SM2+, I performed field recordings to capture high quality audio of the Arb.  On October 7th, I walked the entire Lower Arb and recorded audio at each path juncture.  Recording this soundscape in a condensed period of time ensured consistency of factors that may influence the propagation of sound, such as weather.  A Rode NT4 stereo microphone and Oade Brothers Modified Marantz recorder were used to capture the audio.  The gain level remained at +7db at each location to ensure consistent audio reproduction. High wind, with gusts above 25mph, occurred on October 7th.  Because the equipment used is very high quality, it is also very sensitive.  Thus, recording under high wind conditions posed a challenge, and three windscreen layers were used to minimize wind distortion.  The recorded audio is on a soundmap to hear how the sound changes throughout the Arb.  Of notable interest is how wind intensity changes due to geographic features and how the audibility of road sounds change throughout the Arb.

The Arb contains a diversity of landscapes with prairies, deciduous and coniferous forests, the Canon river, and ponds.   When the audio for the soundmap was recorded, the prairie grasses and deciduous-tree leaves were dry, and beginning to fall.

The extreme intensity of the wind makes many of the locations sound like hiss.  This is not wind distortion, nor is it a defect in the recording equipment.  It is simply the wind-strength interacting with geographic and biological features (terrain alterations, grasses, trees, etc.).

Recording wind is very challenging.  Sound recordists frequently question if wind itself can be recorded or if it is the effects of wind that are  captured on a record.   Oftentimes, microphones distort when recording under windy conditions.  Because I encased the Roode NT4 microphone in three windscreens, I was able to minimize wind distortion.  Nevertheless, the wind, or its effects, are often the only elements heard on the soundmap.  Thus, consider the Cowling Arboretum Soundmap to be a demonstration of wind at different locations throughout the Lower Arb.