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An important (if obvious) location recording tip

Always check your recordings…

I’m reviewing some of the location recordings that I did in Europe last month. Since the recordings were more for documentation than for release, I brought a very simple and compact setup: A Sony MZ-R55 MiniDisc and a Sony ECM-909A Stereo powered microphone. As we traveled, I would periodically whip it out and record. In order not to attract attention, I would usually stick the mic head out a pocket of my bag and have the recorder inside the bag. This let me be unobtrusive and also let me very simply get the sound as I travelled. I had done this previously in Italy to great success. I was busy having a good time, so I wasn’t checking my recordings as I went. This was a big mistake. I would have learned something obvious and important. In Italy I had a backpack, but in France I had a messenger bag. The differences are subtle but essential. All my French recordings, where I’m moving, contain the sounds of the bag shifting as I walk (the bag bouncing off my back) and the metal on metal sounds of the strap where it connects to the bag. So no matter where I was, it sounds like I was on a ship! Luckily I realized this halfway through the trip (when I actually checked my recordings) and made some adjustments, but it was too late for a lot of the sound. Either I will need to do an insane amount of editing or just chalk this one up to experience.
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