High Fidelity

Somewhere in the Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams talks about a society that's done away with all diseases and disabilities.

The doctors had put themselves out of a job by curing anything that can go wrong with a body - including most forms of death. There were still psychiatrists of course, because no one's found a way to cure the universe, but the planet is full of healthy, bronzed individuals in peak condition.

And they're bored. Because nothing's a challenge anymore. So the doctors are suddenly back in employment, recreating all the diseases they'd cured, in handy portable form.

I only mention it because of the path my latest song is taking.

I've spent today recreating the sounds of cheap vinyl turntables with unstable speeds, and tape decks that lose power at odd moments. Later I'm going to add saturation distortion - the effect of overloading ferrous tape with a too-loud signal.

And when I've recorded the vocals, they'll probably get some fuzz - a lovingly detailed recreation of the horrible sound of a bad loudspeaker from 40 year ago. Plus analog vacuum tube noise - on noiseless digital circuits.

After that, vinyl crackle, amplifier hum, and the joys of records pressed off-centre, courtesy of some free software. All the infuriating imperfections of old technology, now packaged as features in new technology.

And finally, something from a program I only discovered today - a feature I'd never think to ask for, but now have a strange compulsion to use. Tape hiss.


  1. Umm, you might hate me for this but iZotope (they of Ozone fame) have a great thing called 'Vinyl'.

    The ultimate lo-fi weapon, iZotope Vinyl uses 64-bit processing and advanced filtering, modeling and resampling to create authentic "vinyl" simulation, as if the audio was a record being played on a record player.

    and it's free!

  2. @Camy:

    Yes indeed, "Vinyl" is the one I have.

    I've not had a chance to use "Ozone" yet - though some of the good folk at Songfight aren't impressed.

  3. Wouldn't it be easier to get a tape recorder, press record, and hold it over the speaker as the song played? I'm sure you'll get the same effects. Maybe even get your parents or the pets to make some noise in the background.

    Let us know when you'll have the final product.