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MSFS Recording Engine Sounds

Messages
180
Country
germany
Heya folks,
I have the opportunity to record a historical Hirth HM60 engine for my current aircraft project and I have a few questions to those experienced with recording aircraft engines.
I never really fooled around too much with FS sounds but being a pro musicians I have some fair knowledge of recording processes and also own the necessary soft- and hardware to do the job (I hope so, LOL).
In detail I have:
- A laptop with Cubase 9.5 installed plus a Native Instruments Interface.
- Two dynamic Sennheiser MD 21 U microphones (others as well, SM58, MD521 etcpp but the MD 21 should be better suited).
- a Jecklin OSS disk

The aircraft is an open cockpit design, a Klemm L 25, to be precise, exactly this aircraft.
So how would you approach the job?
Should I record in stereo utilizing the Jecklin disk or rather mono?
Any suggestions as to microphone placement?
What kind of sequenzing do I need? I mean, I probably need 4 or 5 second streams at various rpm, startup sound and so forth.
Eagerly looking forward to your tips and ideas! :)
 
Messages
946
Country
australia
Go for the longest possible times (4-5 seconds is nowhere near long enough) you can at the various rpm. It takes time for the engine to stabilise and there is always some variations which can make looping difficult. You should discuss this with the pilot at the time because for various reasons pilots don't like to run their aircraft at max RPM for 30 seconds while on the ground.

Best placement is around 4 O'clock towards the exhaust which will produce the biggest sound. You don't want to be completely behind as prop wash will destroy the recording. Ideally though you'd set up mics in front and behind so that you can pan the engine sound based on external viewpoint. Then you'd also need something inside the cockpit to record the internal sounds.

I've used multiple portable recorders such as the Zoom H6 which can be quicker to setup than multiple mics, stands, cables etc.

If you can get startup sound without combustion that would be great. You can edit sounds to create that sound but if you can get it at source then that's better. Again, depends on the aircraft and if the pilot would be willing.

Also, sounds get really really loud so there is a risk of overload. Either account for that or be prepared to ride the levels. There is a huge difference in volume level of real aircraft (MSFS sounds are nowhere near the real volume changes)

Don't forget to record switches and flight control movement sounds.
 
Messages
180
Country
germany
Great, thank you very much, Anthony!
Thanks also for reminding me of the existance of portable recorders! :) I totally forgot that I have a Tascam DR-40 laying around here.
Guess I'll be using that one along with another borrowed device.

As to Mic placement, one meter at 4:00 about one meter away from the exhaust and another one about two meters in front of the spinner sounds good to you?
I don't like to use compressors at realtime, so being prepared for a level of about 110db sounds good, too?
 

DragonflightDesign

Resource contributor
Messages
936
Country
northernireland
I'd get a db reading first before going for microphone placement. I don't know much about recording aero-engines but I know a bit about sitting behind them. A nice fat P&W Whirlwind has you shouting in the cockpit even with a good headset. I'd guess the Hirth has little-to-no silencer so it's going to be pretty loud. Lastly, I also ride vintage motorcycles and something from the 1930s with a straight-through exhaust pipe (no silencer) will easily hit 110db+ plus. That's loud and if you're not using a compressor, I'd think you stand a fairly good chance of overloading the microphone.
 
Messages
946
Country
australia
I usually go about 5-10 metres from the engine. One meter away and you're still in the wind zone. In external view you are not looking at the aircraft 1 meter away. Your view is 10-20 metres. Also, did I mention how loud aircraft engines are? You don't need to close mic an aircraft engine. Move the mic back and you'll still easily pick up the sound without risking overloading the mic. If you get too close I would fear that you won't get a full representation of the whole sound. 1m from the exhaust would mean you are mostly getting exhaust and might miss out on the rest of the sounds. Ideally, if you can get a couple of runs you can choose multiple positions.

As DragonflightDesign says, even in the cockpit engine sounds get really loud on old aircraft. I almost always have to manually adjust the mic input level when recording internally as at take-off it's damn loud. This is why portable recorders are handy. You can quickly see the level and adjust if necessary.

Just a tip, when recording the Tiger Moth (which I mention because it too is an open cockpit design like the Hirth) I got a good sound by holding the recorder between my legs. It kept the mics out of the wind surprisingly well.

Get some dead cats too. Outside the wind blows and even the slightest breeze can very quickly ruin your recording.

EDIT: One final suggestion. Practice recording your car/lawn mower/motorbike first so you are used to the issues you need to deal with when field recording (like forgetting to press record).
 
Messages
180
Country
germany
Excellent advice guys, that was exactly what I was looking for, so thanks a lot!
I'm now off practicing with the lawn mower! :cool:
 
Messages
4
Country
unitedstates
If you have a recorder (or can rent one) that will record 32 bit floating point, you won't need to worry about overmodulating the recording because you can change the levels during editing. You will just have to worry about exceeding the SPLs of the mics you are using. The Zoom F6 can do this and it's small. Also, it might be worth recording with a binaural mic for the first person cockpit sounds. If you're not familiar, it's 3D positional sound recorded with mics that look like ear buds. I have a set of Roland binaural mics that I got from B&H that work really well, but they are fragile, so don't break them. When recording binaural, you need to keep your head facing in the same direction as the camera, so straight ahead I guess, for the duration of the recording. It will give you the most realistic environmental effect of being in a space. The recordings will be in stereo for that. For other things like recording switch sounds, the squeak of a rudder or elevator or pedals, you can get away with recording those with a shotgun in mono. Try to record everything. Even record wheel/tire sounds rolling on different surfaces like grass, gravel and tarmac by having someone push the aircraft around with the engine off. And try to get clean recordings without other background noise like other aircraft or people talking. Good luck. Sounds like a fun project.
 
Messages
180
Country
germany
So guys, raising this topic up from the grave.
After a more than one year long struggle with continously bad weather at the target location, time and dinstance constraints and other real life issues I finally have the mighty 85hp Hirth engine sound in the box.
Been down in Southern Germany this weekend and had a real good time there with the nice fellows of the FSG Böblingen.
Thanks to your invaluable advice I was able to record everything in a breath. Anthony, Dragon, Feint, thanks a lot, you really saved me a lot of trial and error, thanks so much for that!
I used three Tascam handheld recorders. I've just been listening to the recordings and I don't hear any serious issues so far. No peaks, no distortion. Conditions where good, bright sunny day with a steady 5-10 kph wind, nothing the dead cats wouldn't be able to deal with.
Here's a little raw and dirty sample, just some ambient stuff while walking next to the aircraft taxying back to the hangar.


Cheers guys and thanks again, Real happy camper here. :)
 
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