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

Stupid Lav Tricks: A Robotic Primer

Posted: May 20th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: found sound objects, gear

To paraphrase Ned Flanders, "That set my beatbox all the way up to Roomba!"

Lavalier microphones (“lavs”) are used with wireless transmitters and receivers all the time in the world of film and video production because, well, actors move. Sometimes it’s the best way to mic someone if you can’t keep up with their movement or a boom can’t get close enough, as with a wide shot. They’re not usually the first choice for miking talent, but they’re a common one and a good tool for certain conditions.

Wireless lavs are also handy in sound design for the same reason: Some things move. When they move, you need to pan your mic with it, or accept off-axis sound falloff, or be trying to get a Doppler effect. If you want your mic point-of-view to stay on something moving, and a cable’s going to get in the way, then a wireless mic system is just the ticket.

But, as with everything, there are some caveats.

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Roomba in da Kitchen, What I’m-a Gonna Do

Posted: September 11th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: found sound objects, sound design
The humble Roomba: Only a mistake could make it sound cool.

The humble Roomba: Only a mistake could make it sound cool.

We own two Roombas. When they’re not battling to the death like robotic Mexican cocks, they clean our floors.

I recorded one and, well, it wasn’t that interesting. A bit whiny. Not at all what one would expect from a 21st century robot: A lot of wide-spectrum noise without a lot of character.

But then I taped a contact microphone on the top of the Roomba…taped rather poorly, in fact. I followed it around all hunched over with a too-short cable, causing the contact mic to occasionally lift up from the Roomba’s chassis. (I could have turned it off to rig it properly, but y’know. Guy thing.) This sloppiness caused a pretty weird warbling as the flat piezo element wobbled around and slightly lifted off the robot’s chassis as it changed directions and the cable to the recorder alternated between taut and slack.

It sounded weird enough to post here, completely unedited other than trimming and normalizing, in all it’s lazy-man’s happy-accident glory.

Warbly Roomba by noisejockey
[Piezo contact microphone into Sound Devices 702 recorder]

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