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Community Soundscape Recording Instructions

Metal bird cage with blue roof hangs from a small stubby branch of leaning cedar tree.

Zoom H2n inside suspended Bird Cage.



Build awareness of the soundscape in the Almaguin Highlands region by sharing soundscape recordings made by local residents.  The recordings collected are for presentation in the “Community Soundscapes” exhibition and for listening on the Aporee Sound MapBack to Top.

Recording Kit

NAISA will provide you with a recording kit housed inside a bird feeder that you can use for making a 12-hour recording. The kit includes the following:

1 x Zoom H2n audio recorder
4 x AA Batteries
1 x 32 GB micro-SD card
1 x wind cover
1 x earphones
1 x Bird Feeder (for housing the Zoom H2n)
Back to Top.

Choose Location

Part of a mature cedar tree trunk leaning in a forest of young trees.

Spend some time listening in the vicinity of where you wish to record. Based on that experience select a location that has some natural protection from direct wind gusts and precipitation. The bird feeder can be hung from a tree at a height that is easy to access. Best to choose a location that is not going to pick up human conversation or a lot of human-generated sounds like furnaces, dryer vents or frequent car traffic. Back to Top.

Choose Time Period

Choose a 12-hour time period where it is possible to access the recording site at the beginning and end of the time period. Including dawn and/or dusk in your time period is recommended. Also, it’s best to select a time period with a weather forecast that is relatively calm (warmer than -5 C, less than 15 km winds and no heavy precipitation). Back to Top.

Making the Recording

You will start the recording and leave it at the location unsupervised for the 12 hour time period. This is so that your presence in the location has minimal influence on the sounds you are recording.

Follow these instructions for setting up the Zoom H2n:

Finger pressing power button of Zoom H2n audio recorder.

  1. Turn the power on the Zoom H2n by sliding the power switch downward. The switch is on the side of the unit to the right of the display.
  2. The grey dial on the right controls the microphone sensitivity and 5 is a safe setting.
  3. The volume +- tabs on the left side control listening volume only and do not affect the recording. Plug in earphones to check that audio is coming in. 80 is a common listening level.
  4. The battery level is shown in the upper right of the display. It should be at three bars. One set of 2 batteries will last 12 hours. An additional set is made in case you wish to make a second recording.
  5. The SD card should show enough space for 12+ hours of recording.
  6. Cover the top of the Zoom H2n with the furry wind cover. Slide it down as far as it will go – probably just above the display.Finger pointing to Record Button of Zoom H2n audio recorder.
  7. To start recording press the red button at the bottom of the Zoom H2n. To verify that the recording is running you should hear audio from the microphone in the earphones and the time counter should be counting upwards and the red light just above the display should be illuminated.
  8. Turn on the Hold function in order to prevent the recording from being stopped accidentally.  The hold button is the same as the power switch.  Just slide all of the way to the top.
  9. Remove the roof of the bird feeder. Place the Zoom H2n while it is recording inside the bird feeder with the display facing the red mark. It should rest at the bottom and in the middle. Then cover the bird feeder with the roof.
  10. Hang the bird feeder from the branch of a tree, as close to the truck as possible. The red mark should face what you consider to be the back of the recording microphone.

After 12 hours return to the recording location. If the recorder is turned off then the battery or SD card is probably used up which is not uncommon. Bring it indoors and turn the Zoom H2n back on (if necessary, use new batteries). Subtract the remaining time on the card (shown in the lower right of the display) from 15 hours to estimate the length of recording that was made.  If the length is still close to 15 hours then you may not have pressed the recording button. In which case redo the recording on another occasion and check that the time is counting upward and the red light above the Zoom’s display is illuminated before putting the Zoom in the bird feeder. Back to Top.

After Recording is Made

Bring your recording kit back to NAISA. NAISA is open from 10 am to 4 pm Thursday to Monday. No need to remove the card or download/upload any files.

Information to Share

For the display information for the exhibition, please provide us with the following information in an email or printed statement:

  1. Time and Date of when the recording was started
  2. Description of the Recording Location
  3. Intersection and village closest to the recording location (or relative GPS coordinates) – not to be publicized

Additionally, we would like to prepare a write up about the experience everyone had doing the recording. We would be grateful if you can also answer the following questions:

  1. What are your favourite spring sounds?
  2. What is the most dominant sound at the recording location?
  3. What sound do you identify with your property?
  4. What did you learn from listening to the sounds at the recording location?
  5. Any additional experiences or notes you wish to share?  Back to Top.

Why make these recordings?

The exhibition created from the recordings will provide to residents and visitors of the Almaguin Highlands insight about the distinctive sounds that make the region a special place. We hope that going through the recording process and visiting the exhibition will also deepen your appreciation for the soundscapes of the region. Back to Top.

What is a Soundscape?

The sounds in the environment which are produced by animals (biophony), weather and other natural elements (geophony) and those created by humans and other human-made technology (anthropophony). The field of acoustic ecology studies the interrelationship between these forces and their impacts on the health and overall functioning of an ecosystem. Back to Top.

Enjoy a Soundwalk

To help select your location it might help to go on a soundwalk – or what is a silent walk where your senses are focused on listening rather than on looking.  During the walk refrain from speaking to other people and from looking at your surroundings. Every few minutes stop and be still so that your sounds do not cover up the other sounds that are taking place. Listen as outwardly and deeply as possible.

After the walk take note of sounds that interested you and others that surprised you. Was there a particular place on the walk that appealed to you more than others? Did that surprise you?  Back to Top.

Contact Info

Nadene Thériault-Copeland – naisa at naisa dot ca

Darren Copeland – artisticdirector at naisa dot ca