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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 NAISA’s local region by sharing soundscape recordings made by local residents. Back to Top.


Your sound recordings will be collected by NAISA in order to incorporate them into its current exhibition “Community Soundscapes.” The recordings will contribute to an immersive listening environment for members of the public to appreciate the soundscapes of the Almaguin Highlands, and the townships close to the NAISA North Media Arts Centre in South River. Back to Top.

Recording Kit

NAISA will provide you with a recording kit 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
2 x 32 GB micro-SD cards
1 x wind cover
1 x Bird Feeder (for housing the Zoom H2n)
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Choose Location

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

Spend some time walking through your property with your eyes closed, listening. Choose a location that has some natural protection from direct wind gusts and rain. Large cedar trees that lean for instance provide an area down on the ground that has a lot of protection. Whereas open fields provide almost no protection. The Zoom recorder can be placed on the ground or can be attached to a tree branch. The tripod legs are optional, particularly if they help with stability. Also, if possible, try to choose a location that is not going to pick up close human conversation or a lot of human-generated sound like a furnace, dryer vent or traffic. Back to Top.

Choose Time Period

Choose a twelve-hour time period where you are available at the beginning and end of the time period to start and stop the recording. Including dawn and/or dusk in your time period should offer the most activity. 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). A calm period just before or after a significant weather change (heavy winds or precipitation or a big temperature shift) might attract more animal sounds. Back to Top.

Making the Recording

The recording will happen without your presence so that you do not influence the sounds you are recording. Set up the recorder at your location and leave it recording unsupervised for the entire 12-hour period.

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 settings of the recorder have been preset and should not require any adjustments. The Zoom should be on spatial audio mode.
  3. The grey dial on the right controls the microphone sensitivity and 5 is a safe setting.
  4. The volume +- tabs on the left side control headphone volume only and do not affect the recording. Plug in headphones to check that audio is coming in. 80 is a common headphone level.
  5. The battery level is shown in the upper right of the display. It should be at full. One set of 2 batteries will last 12 hours. An additional set is made in case you wish to make a second recording.
  6. The SD card should show enough space for 12+ hours of recording. A second SD-card is available to make a second 12 hour recording on another day if you wish.
  7. 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.
  8. 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 headphones and the time counter will be counting upwards and the red light just above the display should be illuminated.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. 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! Redo the recording on another day 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

Contact Darren Copeland or Nadene Thériault-Copeland at NAISA to make arrangements to return the recording kit back to NAISA.


For us to acknowledge your participation in NAISA documentation please provide us with the following:

  1. Your Name
  2. Time and Date of Recording
  3. Description of the Recording Location
  4. If possible, relative GPS coordinates of Recording – not to be publicized

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

  1. What are your favourite spring sounds on your property?
  2. What is the most dominant sound on your property?
  3. What sound do you identify with your property?
  4. What did you learn from the soundwalk about the soundscape of your property (see below for info about what soundwalks and soundscape are)?
  5. Any additional experiences or notes you wish to share?  Back to Top.

Contact Info

Nadene Thériault-Copeland – naisa at naisa dot ca

Darren Copeland – artisticdirector at naisa dot ca


Going through the recording process should expand your awareness of the sounds and organisms that are audible in the outdoor areas of your home property. With it being the spring season, there are sounds specific to spring that are worth reflecting on and sharing with others. The sounds from your environment might cause other residents to reflect more on the sounds of their home and in turn add to a wider pool of community understanding about nature and people’s role in it. 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.

Soundwalk Instructions

To help select your location it is suggested to go on a soundwalk – or what is a silent walk where your senses are focused on listening rather than on looking. This can be done alone or with others in the navigable areas of your property. During the walk refrain from speaking. 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. Doing the walk close to dawn or dusk may a greater number of birds and other animals.

Reflect on where the sounds are coming from and how the shape of the landscape and the current weather conditions influence the colour and spatial impression of the sounds you are experiencing.

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.

Sound Editing Workshop

To learn how the sounds have been edited for the exhibition NAISA is offering you free admission to a sound editing workshop on April 30 and/or May 28 from 1 to 4 pm. You are welcome to attend one or both of those workshops and get introduced to editing sounds on a computer. This will provide you with a chance to explore the sounds you recorded and perhaps uncover some unexpected sounds that took place overnight or in the early morning on your property. You are welcome to bring your own laptop computer to the workshop. If you require one for the workshop then let us know. Back to Top.