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Microphone Month 2

When Only a Grimy, Grungy Sound Will Do!

Many musicians, engineers, and producers are looking to optimize the sound quality of their recordings. For them, the latest generation of high-resoution DAWs are a noise- and distortion-free dream come true. But for other musicians and for certain styles of music, only the dirtiest, grungiest sound quality will do! Let’s say you want the drum sounds on your next album to sound like the original “old school” drum machines – or worse! Here’s an easy way to get that sound, and all you need is that old beat-up cassette tape recorder that’s gathering dust in a corner!

Your first step is to record the drum sounds onto a cheap cassette without any noise reduction (turn off the Dolby or dbx). Try to get as hot a signal as you can without getting so oversaturated that it doesn’t even sound like a drum any more (unless that’s exactly what you want). You might try recording three or four versions as you gradually increase the recording input level until the signal has the distortion you want. Then you can play back the cassette and transfer the filthiest drum sounds to your DAW or sampler for your final kit.

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