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.



 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: