Low Low Fi

Discussion in 'Recording In Progress' started by preactor, Jul 27, 2019.

  1. preactor

    preactor Tele-Holic

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    I was listening to Woody Guthrie sing This Land Is Your Land yesterday and really loved the Low Fi sound...like a record playing on a cheap phonograph. I have heard this sound on some Hank Williams recordings also. How can I get a SIMILAR effect with a Tascam DP-03 or cheap digital recorder? Highs were missing and the entire recording almost had a muffled sound with minimal amount of distortion DSCN3242.JPG .
     
  2. codamedia

    codamedia Friend of Leo's

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    That's exactly what you are hearing...

    That sound is easy to get on a computer/DAW with plugins... but would be more difficult on a standalone recorder like you are asking about. IMO, the best option would be to record the song as you want it (minus the degraded tone) and mix it down to stereo. Take that stereo track and send it to someone to apply the "lo-fi" sound. They will likely charge you for it, but it won't cost much because it will only take them moments to process.

    If you really want that sound on your own... on something like the Tascam DP-03
    • Record a track of record static... there will be free samples on line that you can loop over and over. That will give you the "snap, crackle,pop" throughout the song.
    • Boost 1K on every track... at least 3db.
    • Roll the low and hi off each track at least 3db
     
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  3. Ben Harmless

    Ben Harmless Friend of Leo's

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    Isn't it great? That kind of sound really puts you in a time and place. I mean, we all know that the world didn't sound that way, and wasn't really in sepia tones, but there's still something special about listening to old Lomax recordings and whatnot that transports you somewhere else. Robert Johnson. Leadbelly. All of it.

    I love lofi recording. LOVE it. I spend a lot of time doing it. You've got options. Codamedia's thoughts above are among them, for sure. You probably know a lot of the following stuff, so forgive me, but I LOVE me some lofi music, and LOVE talking - and LOVE talking about lofi music...

    I'm also a big fan of rule-breaking. The great thing about lofi is that 97.4% of the rules and limitations of recording are there precisely to maintain HIGH fidelity and low noise, and half of them serve no other sonic or artistic purpose. So, I'd add the following:

    Old school recording media was more bandwidth (frequency range) and dynamically (loudness range) limited than we have now. Again, you probably know this. The Lomaxes recorded with a big, primitive machines that lowered the gas mileage in their car, and you've got about a billion times the capacity sitting right there on your table. It just doesn't sound as bad. And by bad I mean cool.

    You've got two recorders. Do you have guitar pedals? If so, play the recordings back from one recorder, through a pedal, and into the other. Watch the levels - the playback levels will probably be significantly higher than a guitar or mic signal, and could cause unavoidable distortion (the bad kind) on the way through, but lowering the playback levels and boosting them again just creates noise. Again, normally that's bad. Now it might be good. It might also be bad and digital sounding, but we're being mad scientists here, and we don't write things off immediately. Most overdrives cut lows automatically, and their tone controls cut highs. You don't need to dial in any dirt. The points where these things cut tend to vary widely though, so you can experiment, and you may not find anything in this area. If you dial in any dirt or compression, I'd do so sparingly, but you might find something there, too. If one of those pedals is an EQ, or if you have some other means of running the tracks through an EQ (again, recorder-to-recorder, or back into the same recorder, if that's a feature you have) then try to lop off everything below 300 hz and above 3k hz. These points vary depending on what you're trying to achieve. If the EQ says 250 hz, try it anyway. The old-school "telephone" frequencies are roughly 300-3k, but most of the EQs we have are rather shallow slopes, and so to get a satisfying rolloff, you might have to start with a more extreme frequency than you're really targeting. For intentionally distorted sounds on individual tracks, I tend to cut the lows more than the highs. The highs are where the important stuff for intelligibility of steel strings and vocals are.

    Then you can get real weird. You have speakers? Headphones? Try physical filters. Play the track back out of headphones, through a folded bandanna, and into the built-in mic on the other recorder. That kind of thing. Try different materials, speakers, and mics if you want. Get the stuff inside spaces like boxes or cans. Try different angles inside the same box. I know you're not going for art-school, Flaminig Lips weirdness, but you'll get the sense pretty quickly of what sounds right and what doesn't.

    The most important thing is that at some point during this process, you turn your brain off and forget what you did to get the sound that you got. Examine it more objectively. Pretend like you just discovered the recording laying on the bottom of a water-damaged cardboard box under a whole bunch of other 48s in the locked storage room of a brewery that was abandoned in 1954 when the eccentric owner lost the keys. Ask yourself if that's a realistic scenario for the sound you're hearing. Otherwise you'll just keep thinking "oh, it just sounds like I recorded it with my iPhone inside my toaster oven next to an Eggo waffle" and you won't be able to get out of that toaster oven and onto the rocking chair next to Woody Guthrie. Remember - there are cues that you're listening to an old recording, but they won't be consistent among ALL old recordings, so just get yours to sound like some version of the broader field. Remember that no one listening will know about the Eggos, and so they'll be judging the sound against the material that they DO have in their heads.

    It's also worth noting that performance is a big part. I mean, I know you're not Woody, but there are approaches to guitar and vocals that were much more common back in the 20s than they are now. Can you hear Eddie Vedder's arpeggiated crooning in that sound? Heck no. Guitar strings were harder come by, too, and they didn't sound or feel like they do now. Try to match Woody's delivery and see what's different about his and yours. You don't need to sound like him, but you might hear something cool.

    Ironically, I recorded Arlo Guthrie once, and if I'd tried any of this garbage, I'd have been smacked by my boss - who wasn't Arlo, and sure as &%$# wasn't Lomax.
     
    Last edited: Jul 27, 2019
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  4. woodman

    woodman Grand Wazoo @ The Woodshed Ad Free Member

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    Ben — great to see you around here again!

    ... Sorry for the outburst, folks, go back to what you were doing.
     
  5. codamedia

    codamedia Friend of Leo's

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    @Ben Harmless ...

    Great post! I didn't even think about suggesting guitar pedals, something I used to use all the time with my old Tascam 244 back in the 80's. I could imagine a Boss overdrive at a very low drive setting would be "lo fi" enough to pull this off... but the options are limited only to the imagination - as you aptly point out.
     
  6. preactor

    preactor Tele-Holic

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    Y'all have got it going on and know exactly what I'm looking for....WOW! Great ideas...I really love and want to try those "telephone" frequencies. I have a guitar looper so I'm going to give it a whirl in the mix also. Maybe try recording my headphone speakers?

    I think I may be able to get some record hiss off my drum machine DR-5 and doctor that up!

    Instead of thinking, unthink and rethink. Again, y'all are the greatest. When I get my free time...I'm gonna have a blast!
     
  7. Ben Harmless

    Ben Harmless Friend of Leo's

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    You too! It's been 4-5 years - I actually posted in the Welcome Wagon because of my absence...

    EXACTLY. I have an SD-1 sitting next to me, which is the first thing that I think of. Actually, that's not entirely true. The first thing I think if is this:
    [​IMG]

    I actually have two of them. They've even got settings for non-guitar sources, and the "mic" setting has a ton of gain to boost the signal back up. They're somewhat rare, but I found one used in a shop, and the other at the MIT flea market in Boston. They're a little limited in that the frequency rolloff maximums are fixed, so the final midrange content only gets so narrow, but they're INSTANT lofi, for sure.
     
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  8. simoncroft

    simoncroft Tele-Meister

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    Very imaginative! :cool:
     
  9. popthree

    popthree Poster Extraordinaire

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    ditto! Ben is one of the good guys from way back.
     
  10. woodman

    woodman Grand Wazoo @ The Woodshed Ad Free Member

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    IIRC, Ben posted the first thread on the RIP forum! That was in 2007 ... can it have been that long???????

    Sorry, OT, on with the show, mates!
     
  11. Teleterr

    Teleterr Friend of Leo's

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    I m sure there's an app for what you want. Record it than transfer over to your phone, do the sound mod there. Or maybe just record on the phone to start w since the mic won t be a factor.
     
  12. preactor

    preactor Tele-Holic

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    I'm looking to get an Equalizer to isolate those frequencies that sound like an old recording of sorts.
     
  13. pixeljammer

    pixeljammer Tele-Meister Ad Free Member

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    1. Get it playing through a ****ty garage sale speaker (maybe poke a hole or two in the cone) and then record it with your digirecorder.
    2. Take an mp3 file of the song and a six pack of decent beer to McDonald's and ask them to play it though the squawk box; record it with your digirecorder.
    3. Get it playing on your stereo and put your head into your biggest pasta pot along with some crinkly wads of tissue paper.
     
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  14. woodman

    woodman Grand Wazoo @ The Woodshed Ad Free Member

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    I like your style! Then filter it through a bathroom door and you'd have the sound of the radio on the counter at a 1950s gas station!
     
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  15. preactor

    preactor Tele-Holic

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    Lot of truth in all that.
     
  16. johnny k

    johnny k Friend of Leo's

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    Bullhorn maybe ?
     
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