Making Noise #1: Personal Voice Recorders

I thought I would start a new blog post series where I briefly talk about a technique that I've found interesting lately or a piece of equipment, new or old, that has been inspiring to me recently.

For the first one, I thought I would talk about the handheld voice recorder that I bought a few months back.  There are hundreds of used ones on eBay, using micro-cassettes or normal sized one similar to the one below.

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 They usually have pretty cheap microphones in them that compress and distort whatever your recording, not to mention the warble and artifacts that come with the tape, which makes it a great tool for getting lo-fi sounds.  I've been using it for field recordings, recording people talking and outside noise, etc...  The other technique that I love it for is recording a pad, a drum beat, or even a whole track into the recorder, and then setting up a microphone and recording the playback of that back into Pro Tools.  This allows me to mix whatever level of the new sound I want back into my track, kinda like a parallel tape saturation/bit crushed/general lo-fi track.  They are super cheap on eBay, and well worth exploring for a number of purposes.  Anything from what I mentioned to recording the same thing twice and getting a really dirty tape echo, or using it like how Kieth Richards did on Street Fighting Man by The Stones.  Record a whole guitar track into the recorder and it becomes like a dirt pedal.  So many great techniques.  Try it out!

Here’ a track that I used it on:

And here's the Stone's song I mentioned: