Saturday 27 June 2009

Chimera bC8 random knob-twiddling

Quick video of a random knob-twiddling session on our Chimera bC8.

The bC8 was set in single-shot mode with the button at the bottom triggering the envelope. Although this doesn't really plumb the depths of what this little white wonder can produce, it should give you a taste.

Also we've sorted around 50 (count 'em!) sampled loops, bleeps,bloops and droid incontinence samples taken raw from the bC8 for your downloading and sampling pleasure. Find them here - enjoy!

Friday 26 June 2009

Mic madness part 04 - the rest

We finished off the collection with some general recording of stuff around the house, not so much foley sounds as we've covered that before a couple of times in Future Music, but more interesting textures to throw through some FX. We also sifted through these recordings (made with the M-Audio Microtrack again using a couple of different mics) and took the most percussive sounding and made a Battery/Kontakt kit which was fun, and sounded surprisingly good when we knocked some example beats together using it.

It was our month for the sample pages photo so here's another sneaky shot showing what we get up to in MR Hoodees back garden on a normal working day!

Well that's about it for this months FM sample collection - been a fun one that's for sure. If there's anyone out there (hello.......hello.......) who would like this sort of write up done on some sort of regular basis get in touch, otherwise we'll assume no-one's reading and go back to the usual rambling and gear-porn photos!

Mo shaker box

A short video of one of our shaker boxes in action.

This is the plastic box filled with plastic BB shot run through an old, battered 80's Ibanez rack mounted delay, then into the moogerfooger phaser and moogerfooger MuRF. Perhaps not the best example of what these boxes can do but you get the general idea...

Mic madness part 03 - shaker boxes

Continuing with our spot of rough and ready DIY, we finally got around to making a couple of passive shaker boxes.

Basically all there is to it is a box of some kind, we used a plastic one and a metal one, with a piezo contact mic glued inside. This is then wired to some sort of audio output, we used an RCA (Phono) out put as it's small, simple to fit and we had a few knocking about.

We then covered the Piezo and wiring in glue to give them some protection and filled the boxes up with plastic BB pellets. So armed we then threw the shaker through as many stomp boxes and effects chains as possible.

A really simple little tool to make, a passive shaker box can be a source of lots of odd, ambient or just plain crazy sounds depending on which effects you throw it through. It's also not constricted to just shaking -tap it, scratch it, drop it, shout through it, use it as a mic in front of a guitar amp - it's all good. Of course changing the contents also affects the end result - rice, marbles, fishing shot, use your imagination and all this for around a fiver!

As a taster before FM216 hits the stands there's a few samples (along with some hydrophone stuff) here.

Wednesday 24 June 2009

Mic madness part 02 - Thunderwonderverb

After getting wet with the hydrophone we turned our attention to contact mics and a little bit of DIY. As they say a little knowledge is a dangerous thing so let me introduce to you..... the Thunderwonderverb.

Pretty hi-tech huh? Basically what we did was take an old speaker (from a home keyboard originally I think) and wire it to a 1/4" jack. This was then clamped and pointed down the sound hole of a spring drum (sometimes called a thunder tube) whose small drum head was miked up with a contact mic.

A spring drum is quite a basic percussion instrument - just a tube with a thin diaphragm/drum head at one end to which a metal spring is attached. As you shake, or tap the tube the spring vibrates, in turn vibrating the drum head making a thunder-like noise.

The blue cable you can see is attached to the 1/4" output of the contact mic that is masking taped to the body of the spring drum to stop it getting in the way.

Okay, we sent a variety of sounds through to the small speaker, which in turn vibrated the drum head and spring which was picked up by the contact mic. This signal was mixed with the original sound and hey presto a strange spring reverb effect.

We wished we had a bigger speaker, as this one was very toppy but the whole thing worked well enough for adding an unusual, cheap-sounding, low-fi, tight reverb effect to whatever we blasted through it. In the end it sounded better on drums so we fed a series of our vintage (and not so vintage) drum boxes through it.

Monday 22 June 2009

Mic madness part 01 - Hydrophone

Hi all

Just completed a couple of weeks of audio nuttiness for Future Music and thought we'd cover what we'd got up to in a bit of depth here.

First up we grabbed a hydrophone off Ebay -basically a piezo transducer (or contact mic) covered in waterproof liquid rubber, a hydrophone picks up vibrations in liquid rather than in the air (like a normal microphone).

With the blue wonder in hand alongside our trusty M-Audio Microtrack field recorder we headed out into the local countryside to chuck it in the river. Okay, okay, we did flush it down the bog first, as you would. Although this isn't as easy as it might seem as clonking the mic on anything (like white porcelain) causes nasty spikes/clips in the recording - so basically you have to have your hand down there as well....

Anyway back to the great outdoors and after dangling the mic into a slow-moving from a low bridge we hit on the first slight problem - there's not alot going on under the water, so there's not alot going on in the end recording either.

This was soon resolved but heading to the local weir just down the road from GCHQ and dangling it in the fast flowing water. Because of the long cable we could also throw it in and record it going over the weir and into the bubbling current. These more interesting results began a quest for bubbling streams, mini weirs and fast runs of water - resulting in Mr Hoodee standing knee deep in a stream being watched by an interested swan and the whole of the local playgroup out for a walk!

When we'd exhausted all our local rivers and streams we moved on to more experimental mucking about. Like the submerged tambourine in the plastic dustbin of water to the right. Marbles (an old GCHQ standby) were then thrown, dropped and flicked into/onto the bin. There was also a few minutes of utter madness involving an electric whisk which definitely carry a DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME KIDS warning.
This was then followed by glasses of tonic (gin-less I'm afraid), splashing about in the bath, the washing up bowl and British summer weather. All good fun!
If you'd like a quick preview of the sort of sample we came up with using the hydrophone head over to here where there is a couple of downloadable tasters.