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Neither Snow Nor Heat Stays Sound Recordist’s Task

From recording winds in the Romanian Carpathian Mountains to capturing the sounds of the Ethiopian desert, George Vlad has recorded it all.

George Vlad
George Vlad

Surrey, UK (December 2, 2021)—From recording winds in the freezing Romanian Carpathian Mountains to capturing the sounds of the Ethiopian desert in searing heat, sound recordist George Vlad has recorded it all.

Under the name Mindful Audio, the Surrey-based 36-year-old specializes in exploring and recording the beauty of our planet’s most remote places, and clients globally utilize Vlad’s self-funded services and sounds. Hollywood film studios, game development studios and production companies like Netflix license his content.

“I was recording the sounds of the Erta Ale volcano in Dallol, Ethiopia and it was a life-changing experience listening to the lava boiling with my Sennheiser MKH 8060,” Vlad recalls. “I was travelling with a group of guides, militia, police and porters. For them, it was probably the 100th time at the edge of an active volcano, nothing special at all.

“I was asked, why I am recording this stuff? I passed over my HD 26 headphones to one of the locals and he was overwhelmed. Until then, they only knew the reflected sound of the volcano, but had never heard the direct sound of the caldera. One of them was so moved when hearing it for the first time, he started crying.”

Taking Location Sound to New Heights

Vlad notes that heat is not the only limit he reaches when recording: “I was in Romania to record heavy winds in the mountains at night with two MKH 8040s and an MKH 30, but the wind almost disappeared and the temperature quickly fell way below freezing.” Sometimes the batteries of the recorder drain too fast or the knobs freeze, but Vlad has never experienced any issues with his microphones, he says, “in any outside conditions from -37°C to 49°C.”

Vlad has an unusual method of capturing in-the-wild surround sound: “My favorite rig to record with is four MKH 8020s, placed around a tree. It sounds a bit cheesy, but it gives me the perspective of the tree listening to the environment in 360 degrees. Of course, a tree doesn’t listen to anything—but if you think about the grooves and the texture of the bark, it’s something like head-related trans-reflection, like your nose, face and its contours. The sound bouncing round the tree colors it in a certain way.

“So, listening from the tree’s perspective in the rainforest is my ultimate recording technique and I will use it whenever possible. The low noise floor, high build quality and excellent bass response of Sennheiser 8020s comes in handy when recording in the wilderness. And they perform exceptionally well in extreme humidity, especially when you look at the competition.”