A multi-disciplinary journey in music, sound, and field recording.

The Paymaster Ribbon Writer

Posted: June 9th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: found sound objects, sound design

The bottom reads, "WARNING: Beware Unauthorized Personnel." How true.

My downstair work neighbors are an art collective, and all sorts of weird things show up in our lobby from time to time. One that caught my eye was a vintage adding machine. It sat in our lobby for weeks, unclaimed and unmoved (the thing is about 20lbs, despite being the size of a lunchbox), so I decided to borrow it and see what sounds I could get out of it.

It’s in amazing shape for its age. There is a panel that is removable, ostensibly for where paper tape or imprinted ribbon would come out; removing this panel let the inner mechanisms be heard more clearly.

Having close-miked small objects many times before, I guessed that this wasn’t a job for my usual small-condenser hypercardioid mics. The result would be too bass-heavy, sounding “out of scale.” If the sounds were going to be repurposed for, say, the mechanisms of a heavy doorway or industrial machine, the low frequencies would be deepened with downward pitch-shifting anyway. I wound up using a large condenser mic, since I was going for brightness, detail, and clarity.

Here’s a compilation of some of the sounds it generated, stitched together from the two or three dozen discrete sounds I culled from it.

[Røde NT1A microphone into Sound Devices 702 recorder]


2 Comments on “The Paymaster Ribbon Writer”

  1. 1 Rob said at 8:07 am on June 13th, 2011:

    That’s really awesome. Clear, punchy and detailed.

  2. 2 soundslikenoise said at 11:54 pm on June 26th, 2011:

    Very clean/crisp recording. With electronic checkouts being the norm everywhere these days the recording of this clip could be filed away under “endangered sounds:.

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