Let’s record some fireworks!

Why wait with the new year’s resolution if you can start recording amazing things straight away! I wanted to record some fireworks for a long time and finally found a way to get it done without the hassles of extra permissions, etc. I found a frozen plane near my hometown and decided to record lots of different fireworks there at New Years eve. Got up early at 4am and packed everything that I needed. I bough fireworks for approximately 100 € and got a nice selection of rockets, firecrackers, and rocket batteries.

Planning A Multi Mic Recording Session

The first question that raised was: What kind of recording do I want to make and how am I going to do it? I wanted to get detailed and clean explosion recording of fireworks. I wanted to get the initial swish, the boom and sizzle from the explosions. Therefore, I had to use different microphones at different positions and angles. I realized that can only use 8 channels on my recorder and recorded everything in 192 kHz and 32 bit float format to get the highest fidelity and avoid any clipping of the recorders. I used an SD-Mixpre 10 II that served me well at temperatures around zero degree Celsius. The Beilen Li-Ion batteries did a great job as well and got me covered throughout the whole production.

Setup In The Field

Regarding the microphone setup, I used a close-up dynamic microphone. A Sennheiser MD-20. Putting a dynamic omni close to the source would give me a nice impact sound without too much proximity effect. The second mic setup was a close-perspective MS-Shotgut to get all the detail and a focused sound. I used a Senneheiser MKH 418s for that task, because I knew it can handle high SPL. The I positioned a middle distance MS-Setup consisting of a Sennheiser MKH-8050 and MKH-30. This would be the Main rig to capture the whole scene. The I want to capture the sizzle of the rockets exploding in the air. I used a long Shotgun for that reason, a Sennheiser MKH 8070, pointing in the air to the point where I guessed the explosion to happen. The last mic setup consisted of a stereo pair of Sennheiser MKH-8040 microphones in an ORTF array apron. 50 meters away to catch the reverb tail.

The Result

Now it was time to clean up the recordings and do a proper mix. I did some taming on the huge dynamics that were a result of the 32bit float recordings and then I did a lot of denoising (but without killing the sound) and after that I looked out for excessive bass, birds and other resonances from distant traffic or aircrafts etc. The result can be seen in the image below: This shows a missile battery with a lot of consecutive rockets fired in a short amount of time.

Video of the recording session

This little Fireworks Library will be avalible at the end of January 2020.
Thanks guys for the read. Hope you enjoyed the article! If you have any question or feedback, praise or whatever, don’t hesitate to drop me a line: info@systematic-sound.com

Fireworks Recording Session
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