Pew pew! Recording guns

The other week I went out to a shooting range with Jonatan Crafoord and a mutual friend who is a member of a local shooting club (the same person I had previously recorded the handling of two guns with).
We had made a reservation on an outside range during the evening, to avoid other people at the range. Our friend, guide and safety intructor had brought his Glock 19 and Feinwerkbau AW93 and large amounts of ammo.

Here’s the simple setup we used:

  • H4n and its built-in stereo microphones, positioned 3 meters dead ahead on the ground from the gun
  • Two Shure SM57 plugged into the H4n, one very close to the barrel of the gun, one about 5 meters further away

Using this setup, we hoped to get a pretty good stereo image from the built-in microphones in the H4n, some extra ambience and reflections from the SM57 far away, and a more direct sound from the up-close SM57.
We also experimented with setting the H4n’s microphones to higher sensitivity to get a good, loud tail from the reflections.

The recordings turned out great.

Here’s a video shot with a regular digital camera, with a finished audio mix of the different sources.

We put a heavy limiter on the H4n recordings as well as the pair of SM57s and used different EQ techniques on the different tracks to get a good blend. We toyed around with the idea of mixing the in the audio captured with the tiny digital camera, but eventually left it out.

In the future it would be interesting to record bullet impacts in different materials. This poses some interesting challenges, such as using a source (most likely a rifle of some sort) that pushes the bullet much faster than the speed of sound, thereby letting the bullet hit the surface a short while before the sound of the actual blast reaches the recording gear.

All in all, it was an interesting and fun experience that produced great results.


2 Responses to “Pew pew! Recording guns”

  1. October 21, 2009 at 3:17 pm

    Pew pew! I was rather surprised at the lack of difference between the two placements of the SM57:s, but it seems to have had some effect that we were differently positioned ourselves between our sessions.

  2. October 23, 2009 at 6:21 pm

    Yes, the position of the person firing was definitely the most important factor, looking forward to try out more varied positions in the future.
    I just noticed that the early reflections from the SM57s vary slightly, making one of them a bit more attractive sound-wise.

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