Microphones to Tibet

A feature article published in AudioTechnology magazine following Greg Simmons' first expedition to Nepal and Tibet (October 2004). The article appears as a pdf, and is accompanied by two mp3s containing recordings described in the article itself. All of the sounds were captured with a Schoeps MS pair into a Nagra V recorder, and appear here with no processing beyond the occassional use of a high pass filter.

Nepal compilation - Greg Simmons
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Tibet compilation - Greg Simmons
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Class of 5.1

A feature article published in Pro Audio Asia magazine following Greg Simmons' first 5.1 recording expedition through the foothills of Nepal and into Tibet, accompanied by a number of students from the Sydney campus of the JMC Academy.

Father of World Music

Greg Simmons interviews pioneering field recordist David Lewiston for AudioTechnology magazine. A great read contrasting field recording methods from the '60s with those of today.

Songs of the Volcano

Greg Simmons interviews Denis Crowdy about recording an album of stringband music with Bob Brozman in Papua New Guinea, in the shadow of a regularly erupting volcano.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are these sound expeditions only for audio students?

The sound expeditions are of great appeal and educational value to audio students, of course. However, they are open to anyone with a sense of adventure, an interest in the music of other cultures and the ability to get along well with others. In addition to audio students, the list of participants on previous sound expeditions includes industry professionals, musicians, screen writers, adventurers and others who are simply interested in having an amazing cultural and musical adventure.

Do I need to bring my own recording equipment?

All the recording equipment necessary to satisfy the goals of the sound expedition will be provided by Greg Simmons and/or by a supporting manufacturer. Sound expedition participants are encouraged to bring their own recording equipment, but are advised to keep it simple (e.g. Zoom handheld or similar).

What recording equipment is used on these sound expeditions?

A wide range of devices and brands are used, depending on the circumstances and what is considered to be the best option at the time. The preference is to always use the highest quality technology available to ensure the best possible recordings, although logistical issues such as size, weight and power consumption often influence the final choice.

 

The following is a list of equipment used in previous sound expeditions:

Interfaces from TC Electronic, MOTU and Apogee. Microphones from Schoeps, DPA, Sennheiser, Neumann, AudioTechnica and Rode. Portable recording systems from HHB, Nagra, Sound Devices and Zoom. Headphones from BeyerDynamic, AudioTechnica, Etymotic Research and Sennheiser. Studio monitors from Quested, Dynaudio and Grover Notting. DAWs including Wavelab, Protools, Logic Audio, Reaper, Triumph and Auria Pro. Microphone stands and related hardware from K&M and Manfrotto. Cables from Mogami, Klotz and Canare.

Who owns the recordings made on a sound expedition?

All files recorded on the supplied sound expedition equipment will be shared with all sound expedition participants. In cases where the recording equipment has been supplied by a supporting manufacturer, the files will be given to the manufacturer first of all (for promotional purposes) before they are shared with the participants. All recordings made by individual sound expedition participants on their own recording equipment remain the property of the individual expedition participants.

How many people are allowed on each sound expedition?

Each sound expedition typically has between four to eight participants. Previous sound expedition numbers have been as low as two participants, and as high as seventeen. Each sound expedition has a minimum number of participants required to make it financially viable, as advised in the sound expedition dossier.

Does a small group have any advantages over a large group?

The advantages and disadvantages tend to balance each other out. Small groups can move faster and are a bit more flexible, large groups have more 'influence' when booking transport, hotels, etc. 

 

The Reviews page has over 40 reviews from previous sound expedition participants, including many who attended in groups of up to 17. Few, if any, comment about the size of the group they were in.

Your sound expeditions require a minimum number of confirmed participants in order to depart. Many trekking and tour companies offer trips that are 'guaranteed to depart'. Why don't you do that?

As with every organised trek or packaged tour, every sound expedition incurs a number of 'fixed' costs and 'scaled' costs. Fixed costs remain the same regardless of the number of participants, such as the fee charged by a tour guide. Scaled costs adjust according to the number of participants and include things such as beds, bus fares, entrance fees, permits, porters, etc.

 

If an organised trek or packaged tour is promoted as being 'guaranteed to depart', even with one person attending, it means that the price charged to a single person is enough to cover all the fixed costs of the trip along with the scaled costs - and still make a profit. The profit on a single traveller may not be much, but it's enough to be worthwhile for the organiser(s).

 

Sound expeditions have significantly higher fixed costs than organised treks or packaged tours due to the costs of the recording sessions. Studios and similar venues have to be hired, and the musicians are always paid well in terms of their local economy. Furthermore, the use of expensive sound recording equipment often requires more secure - and therefore more expensive - accommodation. Finally, sound expeditions that include a 24 Hour Album Project have the cost of manufacturing 200 or more CDs. The additional fixed costs related to the recordings can escalate very quickly.

 

If a sound expedition was priced to be 'guaranteed to depart', the price for a single participant would have to cover all the recording costs in addition to the usual fixed and scaled costs. The price would become so high that very few audio students, sound engineers or musicians could afford to participate.

 

The price is kept affordable by spreading the additional fixed costs of recording over a number of participants. Hence, each sound expedition requires a minimum number of confirmed participants before departing.

Some sound expeditions include a '24 Hour Album Project'. What is that?

An initiative of Greg Simmons, the 24 Hour Album Project rejects the notion that recording an album should be costly and time consuming. The project is currently responsible for a handful of profitable CDs that are on sale in in Asia and the Himalaya, benefitting local musicians. You can learn more here.

What is included in the price of a sound expedition?

The price includes all transport, accommodation and some meals (when provided as part of the accommodation), from the participant's arrival at the expedition's start destination on the start date, to the participant's departure from the expedition's end destination on the end date.

 

It does not include any travel costs incurred by the participant to reach the expedition's start destination on the start date, and it does not include any travel costs incurred by the participant to depart from the expedition's end destination on the end date. It also does not include the costs of visas, vaccinations, travel insurance and spending money.

Cost estimates for airfares, visas, vaccinations, travel insurance and spending money are provided to all interested people. Detailed information on applying for visas, choosing vaccinations and buying the right travel insurance is provided to all confirmed participants.

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