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Thanksgiving and ambient audio

The Zoom H4n Handy Recorder
The Zoom H4n Handy Recorder

In the midst of all the cooking and football, Thanksgiving is also a great time to record ambient audio.

Consider this: the house is full of people and activity.  Pots are banging, mixers are buzzing, glasses are clinking, cousins, nephews and nieces are laughing (or screaming bloody murder).  This is all great fodder for a future recording.  Whether select pieces are chopped out and sampled, or an entire Thanksgiving dinner is just a backdrop for an instrumental piece, the opportunity to record some turkey day audio only comes around once a year.

A portable recording device is an invaluable tool for any recording artist.  Having a committed microphone set up in the studio is great, but the chance to catch strange sounds, impromptu live performances, and nature sounds can only be achieved with a mobile device.

There are several amazing portable recorders.  The M-Audio MicroTrack II ($200) is easy to use, comes with a T-shaped stereo condenser mic, and can record in multiple formats depending on quality and duration needs.  The MicroTrack also has two 1/4" line-ins and can be used with any microphone. 

The TASCAM DR-07 ($170) has a built-in microphone and an 1/8" line-in jack, and has added functionality for listening back to recordings for the purposes of rehearsal or practice. While the M-Audio MicroTrack II has a USB-rechargeable internal battery, the DR-07 can run on AC power or two AA batteries.

The Zoom H4n Handy Recorder ($300) is one of the most interesting looking portable recorders out there, with its angled on-board condenser mics.  The H4n has 4 tracks for multi-track recording and is an extremely versatile and hi-quality piece of gear. For the artist looking to do something more complex with a portable recorder, this is a must-have device.

While the turkey is roasting, grab a portable recorder and get all of those kids running around the house to sing a song.  Sample the sounds of a busy kitchen or the cheers and jeers of the football game.  Just don't forget to eat!


  • room34 5 years ago

    Great tips! And don't forget... anyone with an iPhone already has a portable audio recorder!