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Sound Unzipped

September 9, 2009


Even after listening to the descriptions of the various polar patterns for each of the microphones, I was still a little skeptical as to just how much of the sound would not be picked up at certain locations around them.  When we hear sound, it seems to come from everywhere, so why wouldn’t the mics pick up sound from all directions?   Going into the studio, I set out to prove what all the theory explained, and it was correct.  Along the sides of the figure 8 mic, the sound of the pink noise generator was pretty much cut out, while it was audible from the front and back of the mic.  With the omnidirectional mic, the sound in the headphones stayed constant as the mic was rotated.  And with the cardioid and hypercardioid settings, the sound cut out as expected in certain areas around the back of the mic.  The timbre did not change as the microphone rotated, but the sound did become muffled in some cases, potentially due to hearing pink noise not through the headphones.

For my sound object, I chose to record zippers.  We use zippers so often in our daily life that we don’t really stop to listen to the differences in them.  But, in fact, they all sound different, whether it is related to how they are sewn into the fabric, how strong the teeth of the zipper are, or what sort of metal the zipper consists of.  I used zippers from items which I encounter everyday, including a tote bag, the coin purse of a wallet, a smaller purse, a jacket, and an InCase laptop case.

Here’s the link to the zipper sounds on Freesound:


2 Comments leave one →
  1. September 12, 2009 2:34 pm

    Zippers are definitely sonically very interesting. You can get a wide variety of sonic characteristics like roughness, rhythm, pitch, brightness, … It would be nice to explore in more depth each of these qualities.

    It is difficult to describe and tag all these different sounds but we have push language and that will help us be more conscious of all these sound qualities.


  2. jaykadis permalink*
    September 14, 2009 7:45 am

    It is always a revelation to hear how much the figure-eight pattern rejects sounds from the side. This effect can be very helpful when trying to record separate sound sources close together. The timbre or spectrum of sounds changes as the microphone is rotated can be pretty subtle on a good microphone while cheap ones can sound quite different.

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