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Advice on field recorder and eurorack modules (sampling)
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Author Advice on field recorder and eurorack modules (sampling)
xndr
Hi all,

I know there exist some separate threads on field recorders and threads on sampling modules, but I would like to know if any of you have specific experience with one of these options.

What I want to do
Record everyday objects indoors and outdoors (hammering on a piece of metal, office sounds, cat eating, etc.) and then mangling these recorded sounds in my modular. At the moment I am mainly interested in creating percussive sounds, but I want to keep options open to use field recordings for other purposes of course. I will be heavily tweaking and mangling in my modular rack.

What do I need for recording?
I probably need a field recorder, makes sense to record in stereo I guess? I heard from some sound designers that I should go for a Sony D50 or D100, everything cheaper means making concessions. Any opinions on this? Obviously, the Zooms and Tascams out there are way cheaper. Any experiences regarding workflow with any of these machines?

What do I need for processing?
So, here it gets a bit more vague. I would like to be able to work with granular processing and be able to scrub through recording, make weird sounds with the recorded material. I had a Morphagene on loan for a while, I liked the sounds, but I didn´t quite got the workflow, had to switch back to the manual for basic things. What are the alternatives or do you have experience with other modules? I was looking into the 4ms Stereo Triggered Sampler, seems like a good option, does anyone have personal experience with this module?

Important for me as well is that the workflow is quick. I want to record a sound, then take the sd card out, put it in my rack and start tweaking with the recorded sound straightaway, integrating it in a piece of music or a beat. This should be possible I guess.

Ok, long story, let me know if you have any advice for me!

Thanks
cptnal
A quick thought - if you're going to mangle your field audio why not just use your phone? Fidelity needn't be an issue, and lo-fi can be interesting in itself.

I do some of that myself sometimes, and rather than get it on a SD card I play the audio from my phone into a goose-neck mic that's routed through my Mackie mixer back into the modular. By the time I'm done with the audio you'd be hard pressed to recognize it, so it doesn't really matter how it started life. w00t
nangu
Here’s a silly idea..

Try to find a used Zoom F8 at a great price. Might be easier than usual since people may be upgrading to the F8n right now.

It has 8 channels, so it’s probably overkill for most normal field recording. But it’s brilliant as a portable mixer, especially because you can always instantly hit ‘record’.

It has Bluetooth and an app - you can control the mixer and most of the frequently used functions from an iPad, even if it’s in the next room.

Mine is currently perched on a camera tripod (it has a threaded attachment point for doing that) and it’s living in a corner of the studio that would otherwise be wasted space. It’s submixing a 6U case of drum modules and effects, all controlled by a Polyend Seq/Poly combo..

[edit] Guess it doesn’t do scrubbing. It mutes while you relocate. Granular scrubbing on MiniDisc was awesome, but I haven’t seen much of that since.
maaaks
xndr wrote:
Hi all,
What do I need for recording?


Anything will do - especially if you're going to be heavily processing the sounds. Stereo isn't a necessity, especially if you're creating percussive sounds, though even the cheapest recorders come in stereo.

Quote:

What do I need for processing?


For granular processing the Nebulae V2 might work better for you if you're not into the morphagene. ER-301 is also worth considering.

Aside from granular, more standard effects will still play a big role: filtering, reverb, delays, distortion, feedback e.t.c. with so many modules to choose from, it comes down to personal preference.

I always like the look of Make Noise's now discontinued System Concrete, for a modular take on a classic music concrete approach. That may serve as a starting point if that kind of thing appeals to you at all.
1n
cptnal wrote:
A quick thought - if you're going to mangle your field audio why not just use your phone? Fidelity needn't be an issue, and lo-fi can be interesting in itself.


+1 for phone. if you have one with SD card, so much the better.

I use phone recordings a lot for percussive sounds and certain timbres that will work on my 2x Radio Music (traffic and anything mechanical; voices; plumbing; etc) plus through-processing.

A useful way to get percussion for low low prices is plug a piezo contact mic into an interface and record everything that happens (volume down when using headphones). Domestic field recording at its simplest. Edit that in Ableton and see where it goes. Here's a: song sketch with piezo percussion edited in Ableton
Devilwidget
Some counter advice - to do some 'mangling' effectively, you need a very high quality source. Phone recordings will make 'interesting' artefacts if you dramatically re-pitch them, but they won't likely be 'nice'. A better quality recorder (with a higher sample rate, and a wider frequency range, and a lower noise floor) will allow you to have a lot more room for both 'nice' and 'noisy' sounds. If your on a budget, the Tascam range (d70, for instance) are by far the best IMO. The Sony ones are good / better, but not by much, and they are out of production now I think.
nimmen
I'm eyeing tasty chips gr-1, it has 2 cv inputs and 1 gate output for eurorack integration. At the moment using olympus ls 100 with external mic's for recording(pretty happy with quality, but would like more than 2 tracks) and nebulae v1 for playback. In terms of recording, looking at upgrading to sound devices stuff or maybe zoom f4. But since I'm very low on
Will probably wait for next year smile
xndr
cptnal wrote:
A quick thought - if you're going to mangle your field audio why not just use your phone? Fidelity needn't be an issue, and lo-fi can be interesting in itself.


Yeah, very true. Although I can imagine I sometimes want to use a crystal clear recording and just play around with sample start, add some cv´ed reverb etc. For lo-fi definitely an option though.

nangu wrote:
It has 8 channels, so it’s probably overkill for most normal field recording. But it’s brilliant as a portable mixer, especially because you can always instantly hit ‘record’.

It has Bluetooth and an app - you can control the mixer and most of the frequently used functions from an iPad, even if it’s in the next room.


Nice one, I´m going to look that one up and read some info on that
xndr
maaaks wrote:

For granular processing the Nebulae V2 might work better for you if you're not into the morphagene. ER-301 is also worth considering.


Somehow the Nebulae was not on my radar, gonna look into it, thx!
xndr
Devilwidget wrote:
Some counter advice - to do some 'mangling' effectively, you need a very high quality source. Phone recordings will make 'interesting' artefacts if you dramatically re-pitch them, but they won't likely be 'nice'. A better quality recorder (with a higher sample rate, and a wider frequency range, and a lower noise floor) will allow you to have a lot more room for both 'nice' and 'noisy' sounds. If your on a budget, the Tascam range (d70, for instance) are by far the best IMO. The Sony ones are good / better, but not by much, and they are out of production now I think.


I think so, too. I can always degrade a hq sample, but not the other way around smile You mean the Tascam DR70D with external mics or a pocket recorder like the DR40/DR100?
xndr
nimmen wrote:
I'm eyeing tasty chips gr-1, it has 2 cv inputs and 1 gate output for eurorack integration. At the moment using olympus ls 100 with external mic's for recording(pretty happy with quality, but would like more than 2 tracks) and nebulae v1 for playback. In terms of recording, looking at upgrading to sound devices stuff or maybe zoom f4. But since I'm very low on
Will probably wait for next year smile


gr-1: nice but hihi and I´d like to keep it eurorack for integration with my sequencers etc.
Devilwidget
xndr wrote:
Devilwidget wrote:
Some counter advice - to do some 'mangling' effectively, you need a very high quality source. Phone recordings will make 'interesting' artefacts if you dramatically re-pitch them, but they won't likely be 'nice'. A better quality recorder (with a higher sample rate, and a wider frequency range, and a lower noise floor) will allow you to have a lot more room for both 'nice' and 'noisy' sounds. If your on a budget, the Tascam range (d70, for instance) are by far the best IMO. The Sony ones are good / better, but not by much, and they are out of production now I think.


I think so, too. I can always degrade a hq sample, but not the other way around smile You mean the Tascam DR70D with external mics or a pocket recorder like the DR40/DR100?


I meant the DR70D. I have one, and whilst I have owned better field recorders in the past, the Sony dm100 is the only thing that was the same sort of price range that compares. The (cheaper) Zoom recorders, though popular, are horrible to my ears.
andybizarre
andybizarre
If you go with the more expensive handheld recorders, there`s so much to explore. You could hook up external microphones with different directional charakteristics and use M/S processing in your modular afterwards. Or think the other way round: add a battery speaker to your kit and re-record your modular sounds outdoors or in unusual spaces. Again, use M/S technique. The environment really becomes part of the instrument here. Om

Here`s more on M/S: http://www.muffwiggler.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=183894&sid=a1b8a99553 80d587b20ec596bae0856b
xndr
andybizarre wrote:
If you go with the more expensive handheld recorders, there`s so much to explore. You could hook up external microphones with different directional charakteristics and use M/S processing in your modular afterwards. Or think the other way round: add a battery speaker to your kit and re-record your modular sounds outdoors or in unusual spaces. Again, use M/S technique. The environment really becomes part of the instrument here. Om

Here`s more on M/S: http://www.muffwiggler.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=183894&sid=a1b8a99553 80d587b20ec596bae0856b


very interesting indeed, but would love to keep it compact for now. I like the idea of having a handheld device I could just take with me and record instead of setting up a rig.

M/S is cool, agree. Had a short chat with Morgan from Worng at Superbooth actually, the module with all the letters SMRLRL-whatevs is on my list SlayerBadger!
andybizarre
xndr wrote:

M/S is cool, agree. Had a short chat with Morgan from Worng at Superbooth actually, the module with all the letters SMRLRL-whatevs is on my list SlayerBadger!


ACL makes a M/S module as well. However, any module with sum/difference function will do the decoding (I`m using MI Kinks or Intellijel uMod). For encoding to stereo you`ll need a mixer with at least 3 attenuverting channels and 2 outputs. I`m using the A-138m for this. IMO, those utilities can be put to great use in nearly every patch, while a dedicated M/S module is more like a one trick pony.
ersatzplanet
A phone will work great, especially if you spend the money for a decent external microphone for it. There are many decent mics made for just this. It is a great reason to keep an older iPhone with a headphone jack, any older model phone. Just wipe out all the apps but the ones you need to use to record and you will have plenty of memory for recording.

A hundred bucks can get you one like this thunderbolt one

dubonaire
There are quite a few good threads on field recording if you can find them and lots and lots of resources on the web.

Some points I might add:

Choose a recorder that is small, easy to carry, has long battery life and that you can quickly and easily start recording, navigate and transfer files. You know all those sounds that you hear and want to record? When you have your recorder with you and ready to record they mysteriously vanish. It's good to have one with you as often as possible and ready to go quickly.

It's good to get a recorder that can work with a mini tripod. It's very easy to pick up the noise of you handling the recording device, especially if the mic is fixed to the recorder.

It's good to be able to monitor your recordings with headphones while you record.

When you are recording percussive sounds pay attention to the reverb, often the reverb won't be to your liking and you are largely stuck with it.

As well as a stereo mic like the one erstazplanet posted, you should also consider a shotgun microphone which has a narrow field, especially for percussion sounds.

If you want to record outdoors and you live in a windy place you will need a windscreen so look into those. Even low levels of wind will ruin your recording. Recording when there is no wind is best, better for reverberation elements too if you want them.

For all those reasons I recommend getting a dedicated recorder, the Tascam or most recent Zoom (much better preamps) recorders will be fine.

For the kind of processing you do I think having a visual representation of the waveform is extremely useful and for me necessary, especially when you are scrubbing through the waveform. I recommend the ER-301, which also has good file management.
Chartreuse-J
LOM has some new omnidirectional electret microphones that look pretty sweet. Check out the Usi Pro.

Also Hydrophones can be connected to XLR and that can make interesting field recordings so i've heard.

Here is the link.

https://store.lom.audio/collections/microphones-accessories
grep
My Zoom H5 has never let me down. I was recording early morning fish market noise in Mexico and a mosquito just happened to fly right by the XY mic. Amazing stereo capture!
Abyssinianloop
I also recently found myself interested in field recording for use with modular among other things.

My research led me to the Sony PCM-m10. It's out of production, but can still be found. I bought one new on ebay last month during one of their 20% off sales. It has a great preamp, lazer fast operation, and best of all it's extremely portable. If I want to take it to the next level and set up external mics and other gear I can. But you can't beat the portabililty with this quality of preamp, and it sounds great on its own.
peripatitis
Interesting, usable (for their extramusical value) field recordings are very difficult to take. I wouldn't skip on gear and for a lot of that stuff not only do you need good recorders but specific microphones.
This is not a comparison between a 200eu and a 400eu module where you wonder about their differences, the results are easily perceivable.
maaaks
Chartreuse-J wrote:
LOM has some new omnidirectional electret microphones that look pretty sweet. Check out the Usi Pro.

Also Hydrophones can be connected to XLR and that can make interesting field recordings so i've heard.

Here is the link.

https://store.lom.audio/collections/microphones-accessories


I can vouch for the Usi's - excellent low noise, low priced omnis. Plus LOM are just an awesome collective.
xndr
Thanks for all the comments, lots of information to browse through.

love this community! Guinness ftw!
Stab Frenzy
andybizarre wrote:
xndr wrote:

M/S is cool, agree. Had a short chat with Morgan from Worng at Superbooth actually, the module with all the letters SMRLRL-whatevs is on my list SlayerBadger!


ACL makes a M/S module as well. However, any module with sum/difference function will do the decoding (I`m using MI Kinks or Intellijel uMod). For encoding to stereo you`ll need a mixer with at least 3 attenuverting channels and 2 outputs. I`m using the A-138m for this. IMO, those utilities can be put to great use in nearly every patch, while a dedicated M/S module is more like a one trick pony.

You're gonna want a -6dB gain stage at the first mix as well to do MS properly, otherwise you end up with a really hot signal which will probably clip whatever you're processing it with, as well as not being able to effectively A/B your processing.

You also don't get an accurate result using pots that have a fairly large resistance tolerance, I originally tried it using the A-138M before I designed the LRMSMSLR and the stereo image is nowhere near as solid as when you're using a dedicated module. That's the reason there's no pots on the module, small inaccuracies can mess up the stereo processing.

Regarding a mid-side processing module being a one trick pony, I find there's lots of utility uses to them. They can also be a Unity mixer, CV averager, voltage inverter, CV difference calculator and complex CV processor. For patch ideas check out the LRMSMSLR manual or have a watch of DivKid's recent video on the module:

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