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Degrading audio quality on purpose

Discussion in 'Sound, Music, and Intercom' started by gafftaper, Feb 22, 2009.

  1. gafftaper

    gafftaper Senior Team Senior Team Fight Leukemia

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    Hi all, we are using SFX for playback and Audacity for editing at the college. This is our fourth show with that combo. I know there are fancier products out there but I'm finding Audacity easy to work with without any real training. My students also like it. So I keep running into situations where I want to take a modern high quality digital recording and degrade it to sound more appropriate for the time period. I've been running a high pass and low pass filter in Audacity and that does a pretty good job but I would really like to be able to take it a step further and put a little bit of dirtiness and noise into it as well.

    Is there a feature of Audacity that I'm missing that will do this? Is there another program that will do this easily... without switching to an entirely different product? Are you yelling at the screen to tell me to not be so cheap and buy a better product than free Audacity that has lot's more effect features? Do it the old fashioned way by playing it through an old crappy speaker?

    Thanks for your thoughts!
     
  2. lieperjp

    lieperjp Well-Known Member

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    That's what I do! It's so easy!
     
  3. Eboy87

    Eboy87 Well-Known Member

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    I did something like this in GarageBand for a friend's school project. He wanted an old 50's PSA film strip sounding voice over, so I just ran it through an amp simulator. I've never really gotten that deep into Audacity (I'm a ProTools kind of guy), but search around for something like that.
     
  4. hsaunier

    hsaunier Active Member

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    Not sure what effect you are going after. Try recording the sound of a record player at the end of the album. Use audacity to get rid of the needle skip for every revolution, and then loop it. Mix that track in with your re eq'd vocal and vuala. Again, don't know exactly what you're after. Just a brain storm.
     
  5. gafftaper

    gafftaper Senior Team Senior Team Fight Leukemia

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    The problem is even with the high pass and low pass what remains is a high quality recording. I've been thinking about messing around with adding in a layer of static in the background as hsaunier has suggested but that still doesn't exactly change the fact that I've got a clean original signal.

    I think I saw an amp simulator plug in for Audacity. I'll give that a try too.

    Perhaps I should just go find myself a crappy old speaker. :rolleyes:
     
  6. ishboo

    ishboo Active Member

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    I haven't found an easy way to do this in basic Audacity (no plugins) and I've been in this situation before. I've done what you mentioned about adding a layer of static in the background, I've had relative success with this approach, just choose your static wisely.
     
  7. DaveySimps

    DaveySimps CBMod CB Mods Premium Member

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    If I had a dime for every time I heard that........... :grin:

    ~Dave
     
  8. lieperjp

    lieperjp Well-Known Member

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    Perhaps change that. Use an older mic or older recorder to record the sound so as not to get the cleanest record possible?
     
  9. JoeGriffin

    JoeGriffin Member

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    Quite a lot of it depends on what effect you're going for. Groove noise is a good thing to add if you want to make a record-player sound, but probably not if you're looking for a telephone. Think about what the characteristics of the technology you're trying to replicate actually are: limited frequency range? Tape hiss? Static? Groove noise? Turntable rumble? Tape compression? Radio station broadcast limiting? Small, underpowered speakers? Resonant EQ peaks?

    You can do an awful lot with EQ, not just high- and low-pass filters but boosting certain frequencies and cutting others (telephones will often have a boost somewhere around the resonant frequency of the human voice...funny how that works).

    Compression is also a great tool for "aging" a recording--certain compressors (and limiters) are less transparent than others and if you hit them hard they start to distort and filter the sound.

    Then, too, actual distortion is a great tool as well. The amp simulator idea above is a great suggestion, as is the suggestion to send the signal through another speaker and re-record it. In music mixing they call that "re-amping," and in film it's sometimes called "worldizing." Either way, run the signal through an overloaded amp into a cruddy speaker and you'll be well on your way. To something at least...
     
  10. gafftaper

    gafftaper Senior Team Senior Team Fight Leukemia

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    Just to clarify, for those unclear of what I am trying to do. My current example is I've got a perfect crystal clear CD recording of an orchestra playing a song... which is supposed to be coming from a 1940's radio. So I need to degrade the quality enough to make it fit the time period. We are going to try adding a layer of static next ("choose your static wisely"). If that doesn't work, I'm off to Value Village to buy a crappy speaker. I'm thinking I might have good results running it all through a mid range driver and the possibility of poking a couple holes in it is in the back of my mind as well.
     
  11. JoeGriffin

    JoeGriffin Member

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    Thanks for the specifics. For a '40s radio, that's a mono AM broadcast. I'd limit the bandwidth (at that period AM radio topped out at 5kHz, so roll off frequencies above that) and add some compression/limiting, and then try to use EQ to replicate the odd low-mid peak that AM broadcasts all seem to have. As far as static is concerned, I'd keep it kinda light and thin, and maybe fade it in and out so it isn't constant. The speaker idea is a good one, though you probably won't have to put holes in it.
     
    Last edited: Feb 23, 2009
  12. BillESC

    BillESC Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    In stead of an "old crappy speaker" you could get one of the new Behringers. That ought to give you exactly what you're looking for. :)
     
  13. David Ashton

    David Ashton Active Member

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    you could feed the signal into a cb radio and take the signal off another cb radio, but do not degrade the signal too much as 1940 radios could have a sweet tone, especially lows and mids, but were prone to signal fade.
    And don't forget the valve radio took about a minute to warm up.
     
  14. spiwak2005

    spiwak2005 Member

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  15. JoeGriffin

    JoeGriffin Member

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    Good thought--I had forgotten that plug was free. It's very useful for this sort of stuff.
     
  16. gafftaper

    gafftaper Senior Team Senior Team Fight Leukemia

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    Thanks, That looks like exactly what I'm looking for. I'll give it a try.
     

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