Sound Stories: Edible Audio
Sound Designer & Field Recordist Niels Gabriel from Edible Audio sits down to talk all things audio, how he started in the industry, and what's planned for the future.
Hey Niels, thanks for taking the time to chat with us. Firstly, tell us a bit about yourself.
I studied Film & Television at Swinburne University in Melbourne, Australia and quickly drifted towards the field of sound in my second year. Both location sound recordists and sound designers remain scarce at film academies, so I became a highly demanded person among my peers. After graduating film school, I took it upon myself to contact every freelance sound designer and post-production sound facility in Melbourne eventually getting some work as a foley editor on films such as Den of Thieves, Winchester, Overboard, Dog Days and Father of the Year. I was also sound designing and mixing independent short films simultaneously. My passion remained with sound effects recording though, spending my weekends and days off collecting unique sound effects and atmospheres. I had the intention of collating these recordings and making them available to the independent sound effects community.
What mics do you use when field recording?
After numerous years of field recording, I’ve finally settled on a collection of microphones that I’m content with. This collection includes a;
This is my go-to microphone when recording atmospheres. The compact nature of this microphone makes it perfect for recording natural soundscapes and man-made environments that feature distinct reverbs. Due to the self-noise generated by the DPA 5100, I do not find it applicable for recording quiet atmospheres. This particular DPA 5100 originally belonged to the late Craig Carter, whose brother-in-law took upon the responsibility of making sure his microphones and sound recorders went to good homes.
Sennheiser MKH 8020 Stereo Pair
My stereo set of Sennheiser MKH 8020s was actually what got me into recording and collating collections into sound libraries. I always liked the idea of a side-hustle, something to channel creative energy into on weekends and days off. In 2017 I took the plunge and invested in these microphones, which I still regularly use today. Specifically, I use them for quiet atmospheres due to their low noise profile and sound effects/atmospheres that heavily feature low frequencies. It’s incredible the low range of these microphones.
Schoeps CCM4/CCM8 MS
Originally, I was only ever interested in recording atmospheres, however come 2019 I realised there was a whole range of interesting sound effects I was disregarding based on the microphones available to me. A fellow sound designer was selling his Schoeps CCM4/CCM8 MS microphone set up. I jumped at the opportunity to be able to record a new palette of sound libraries and provide consumers with the freedom to choose the wideness of the recording. I utilise this microphone set up to predominantly record sound effects (Doors, Garbage Impacts, Sauna Steam, Tortured Piano).
DPA 4060 Stereo Pair
These are great of incognito recording. I have run into some trouble recording at certain locations, which necessitated that purchase of two DPA 4060s. I am always of the philosophy that it is best to ask for forgiveness than to ask for permission. Specifically, at hospitals and museums where staff and security are more likely to refuse access and be unwilling to hear your side of the story. I don’t use these microphones regularly, however it’s great to know they’re available if I need to do any stealth recording.
I’ve found hydrophones to be a swing & a miss sometimes but the H2a Hydrophone as proven itself in my books. It captures more lower frequencies than most hydrophones and is a great alternate perspective when doing water recordings.
JrF C-Series Contact Microphone Stereo Pair
Lastly, I cannot speak highly enough of the C-Series contact microphones by Jez Riley French. They’re all handmade and made to order by Jez Riley French and capture a unique perspective of sounds.
Sound Devices Mix-Pre 6 & 788T
In terms of my sound recorders I’ve always been a huge fan of Sound Devices. Their equipment is of extremely high standard and they will last your lifetime if treated well. My decision to use the Mix-Pre 6 or 788T depends on the recording I am planning to do. The Mix-Pre 6 is great for smaller recording projects, whilst the 788T is my go to if I do any 5.0 recordings or recordings with multiple microphones.
What are you mainly listening for in your recordings?
That is a difficult question to answer as other sound designers are more likely to use my recordings than I am. I am unsure of what projects they will be using my recordings for and the requirements they have. For this reason, I always aim to create extensive libraries that feature a variety of different recordings. Whilst I don’t think it’s reasonable to think you can create a sound library that ticks all the boxes you can always strive to create a collection that encompasses a wide range of material.
How do you come up with new libraries to create?
I take most of my sound library inspiration from my surroundings. Natural atmospheres are the sound libraries I enjoy creating the most. It’s a chance to get out into nature and experience a diverse range of soundscapes. I also keep an eye out on platforms such as Gain Sounds to see what is missing from the independent sound effects community. I try not to get dissuaded by the existence of sound libraries on platforms such as Gain Sounds, instead seeing it as an opportunity to add a different perspective and provide consumers with additional options. No two sound libraries are the same; they’re likely to be recorded by different sound designers with different recordings techniques and equipment.
What’s the best sound / location you’ve ever record in?
I would have to say that the my favourite recording endeavour was the National Gallery of Victoria. For those who are unaware, this is an enormous art gallery in Melbourne that features unique spaces and reverberations of walla. I have visited countless times and each time and enthralled by the sounds of this building. It was on my list of ‘to record’ locations, however I could never figure out how to record these unique sounds. I had tried contacting the gallery and requesting permission, however this proved to be extremely complicated on their part. Ultimately, I purchased the DPA 4060s and created a stealth recording setup with my Sound Devices Mix Pre 6 and a large jacket. I spent the day avoiding security guards and finally capturing the sounds of this unique building.
One piece of kit you couldn’t live without?
You’re most likely expecting for my answer to be one of my recorders or microphones, but if I’m being completely honest, I would have to say that I couldn’t live without my Pelican Air 1605 case. I rationalised not purchasing a good quality hard case for a long time because of their price, but considering I have invested so much money into my recording equipment I thought it would be best to keep it safe and secure. The peace of mind knowing that all my field recording equipment is locked away in good quality hard cases is worth every cent.
Name a plugin that’s been a real game changer for you.
To be completely honest, I try and minimise the utilisation of plugins when creating sounds libraries. In a lot of ways, I am a purist and aim to provide sound designers with authentic sounds that they are able to manipulate as they see fit. Having said that, there are two plugins that I employ for each of my sound libraries: Fab Filter Pro Q2 and Izotope RX 6.
What would be the best tip for someone new to recording in the field?
I’ve had this question posed to me on a number of occasions, to which I have a multi-faceted response. If I had to narrow it down to a single tip, I would have to say that it is crucial to make yourself stand out from the crowd. The independent sound effects community has grown exponentially with it being easier and more affordable to make your own recordings and share them on sound library websites. This growth is a double-edged sword in my opinion. Whilst it means that sound designers have access to a huge selection of sound libraries, it also means as a vendor that it has become more and more difficult to make a sale. Creating a distinguishable brand is the best way to distance yourself from the rest of the sound library vendors. Over time it is likely that recurrent visitors to sound library websites will recognise your material and be more inclined to examine your content.
What’s next for Edible Audio?
I’ve recently moved to the tropical climate of far north QLD so I am currently making the most of a significant change in soundscapes. At the moment I am working on the following sound libraries; Daintree Rainforest, Monsoon Rain and Thunderstorms. What’s next for Edible Audio after the release of these sound libraries is anyone’s guess.
Niels, thank you so much for your time and we look forward to seeing what the future holds for you and your fantastic sound libraries.