Monday, April 2, 2012

An Unusual Way to Dirty Up Samples

I've got a new album coming out in a couple months and recently had to drive down to Portland to take some publicity shots.  Given that most of the music I like doesn't get a lot radio play, I plugged my iPod into the FM transmitter I had picked up for my wife so I could listen through the car's stereo.

Flipping through the presets to try and find a channel that would work, there was interference on almost every one.  I could hear my music, but it was coming through distorted and mangled.  Then it occurred to me that this might be a cool way to dirty up samples... "analog circuit bending" almost.

1.  Record the sounds you want to sample as a WAV or MP3 and import it onto your phone or MP3 player.

2.  Use an FM transmitter that allows you to manually set the transmitting frequency to send your phone/MP3 player's signal through the car stereo.

3. On your car's radio, locate a station that is just barely coming in with lots of interference.  Set the FM transmitter to that station.

4.  Play back your samples and use a portable recorder like a Zoom H2 to re-record your now filthed up samples.

Mind you, this is a very unpredictable way of messing with samples that doesn't give you a lot of control over how your sounds are distorted, but if you play around using different channels with varying degrees of interference, you'll be surprised by how wide a range of distortions/manglings you can achieve.


Frenchbloke said...

the old way of doing this with analog synths was to use a shortwave radio placed on-top or near by. Play the synth, tune in the radio and by the voodoo magic of interference, you can hear the synth through the radio without using cables. Totally unpredictable, very noisy (which is a good thing) and fun. Also works with the Monotron.
It's hit and miss with drum machines though (mostly miss) with them mostly producing blips and beeps.

Subterrestrial said...

Excellent suggestions! I love messing around with these transmitters. A trick I like to use is to plug one into my computer and play back a sample or instrument track with the output volume up all the way for an interesting type of overdrive sound. I then have a boombox nearby to record the sound onto cassette. I can then bounce the recording back into the computer and control the overall volume and the cassette coloration and radio interference is nice as well.