Natureguy Studio's recording engineer's background, techniques
Hi, my name is Bruce Rutkoski. I own Natureguy Studio, and do all the nature sound recording, editing, and mastering of the albums. I also do the photography and artwork. Natureguy is a nickname that fits me pretty well, since I really enjoy the outdoors. Some of my hobbies include backpacking, biking, rollerblading, outdoor photography (my photos all over this web site), 4 wheeling, and of course recording nature sounds. My professional background is in electronics, business, and wildlife research. I am also starting a company which develops and manufactures electronic equipment for wildlife research and the outdoor recreation industry. I obtained my initial knowledge about microphones and recording equipment by working at a nationally known microphone company in the late '80s. I started recording nature sounds for personal use while working there, and have since dramatically improved my equipment and techniques. Wildlife recording is largely a self-taught skill, but I also pick up a few tips from contact with other wildlife recording engineers. I record the sounds of nature, because I find it to have a beautiful and peaceful quality that is soothing to our souls, and I would like to share that with others. It is truly a gift to hear how much my customers enjoy my recordings.
Technological leaps continue to make dramatic improvements in recording wildlife sounds. As of 2007, I am recording in 24-bit digital audio format with a preamplifier I specifically designed to be better than any available on the market. My microphone preamplifier uses current, state-of-the-art, low noise front-end electronics, with extremely low distortion. The equipment uses the best ADC available to directly generate a digital stream with a true 120dB dynamic range. I also use the world's lowest noise microphones for my stereo recording system. The microphones are modified to perform in challenging outdoor environments. The resulting recordings are labeled Gold Series CDs, and they are some of the very best nature sound CDs and MP3s on the market today. Digital editing with a PC has become very important as well. Mixing and enhancing the audio further improves the listening experience. My careful attention to detail during editing results in a very life-like listening experience. You can clearly hear nearby sounds, and also the entire background of sounds, like a very good human ear would hear on site. I am careful to only add sounds that were at the location when the original recording was made. I do not add any type of music to my albums, only the pure sounds of nature are heard by my customers.
I have developed my own specialized sound-intensifier equipment for optimal recording in challenging outdoor environments. I am constantly testing new techniques and equipment to obtain better results. Previous to 2007, I recorded with low noise, 16-bit digital equipment and very good Sennheiser microphones. The equipment worked very good, but I now record with 24-bit systems as mentioned above. I primarily use two set-ups, a stereo field microphone pair with a specially designed wind screen, and a single, highly directional microphone, of my own design. Even though parabolic dish microphones are commonly used in the wildlife recording industry, I no longer use them, and have found that parabolic dishes result in tinny, distorted recordings. I am currently designing a 21st century parabolic dish microphone that will overcome the shortcomings of standard parabolic microphones.
I primarily record stereo, environmental soundscapes, and record single species at the same location. I spend a lot of time finding ideal recording sites and picking the best time to be there. The selected sites aren't always successful, and adjustments need to made. The areas require good sound levels, a good variety of species, an absence of undesirable noises, and such places are very difficult to find today. The weather must also cooperate, and calm winds are usually required. The best time to record is generally very early in the morning, which requires camping overnight. This is a good opportunity to record unique sounds heard only at night.
My personal goals are to produce nature sound CDs that capture the true essence of nature and create a sense of adventure that people will enjoy. I strive to record the environments as they would actually sound if you were at the location in person— often much better. I believe in preserving the sounds of natural environments for future generations to hear. I often feel that I am recording some of the last peaceful places where wildlife still thrives in a natural environment. I fear future generations may not know what they are loosing until natural sounds are completely overwhelmed by manmade noise.
Today, it is becoming increasingly difficult to find places that are free of human made noise, where good recordings can be made. Unfortunately, we tend to reside and play in the same areas that would be best for wildlife. My highly sensitive equipment requires a minimum distance of 30 miles from trains and planes, 10 miles from highways, and 3 miles from smaller roads and homes. Additionally, areas with abundant wildlife are rapidly diminishing, as are bird populations due to environmental stress caused by humans. Recording nature sounds has become incredibly difficult, and takes a lot of patience and perseverance. I seek out remote locations to avoid noise from motorcycles, cars, trucks, trains, oil/gas rigs, and everything else no one wants to hear in a nature sound CD. However, air traffic recognizes no boundaries and requires considerable editing. It may require 2-3 years of accumulated recordings to produce a single album.
Use of my sounds:
I occasionally get requests for use of my sounds for various projects. Understand that all my sounds are copyrighted due to the expense and effort taken to record them. Please respect that effort! You may request to use my sounds by emailing me. I will need to know specifically which sounds you are interested in, what your project is in detail, the audience size, and expected sales. I will write back with the costs and or release for use of my sounds. I occasionally give free sounds to non-profit organizations, or for a good cause. Don't expect free sounds for your CD/DVD project or production for resale. I may refuse the use of my sounds for any reason. Royalty-free sounds can be purchased elsewhere.