To celebrate my 200th blog entry on the O'Reilly Digital Media site, I thought I'd look back at some of the sounds behind the stories. In this episode, you'll hear how a bad pianist inspired the first computer music program, the surprising benefits of high-resolution distortion, and sneaky uses of voice recorders. (DMI 04-24-2008: 12 minutes 50 seconds)

Production Notes

The audio examples in this episode came from my blog or the sites I mentioned. I used Ambrosia Software WireTap Pro to record the output of various Web players, then cropped and faded them with BIAS Peak 6.

Once again, I used an SE USB2200A USB mic to record my voiceover into QuickTime Pro, which doesn't trigger my Mac's howling fans the way more complex music programs tend to do. The initial voiceover distorted at the mic, so I activated the –10dB pad switch and recorded again.

After recording, I used Peak to snip out P-pops, tongue clacks, and false starts. Next, I imported vocals, the music examples, and the background music into Ableton Live and enhanced the vocals with Izotope Ozone. After adjusting levels with envelopes, I rendered the mix into a stereo AIFF file. Finally, I converted the mix to an MP3 in iTunes, where I added the cover art.

Robot Yo
Speech synths are a favorite blog topic. (Robot photo by AZAdam.)

The Digital Media Insider theme music came together in Live as well. The opening sound effect is a compressed mouth noise spliced onto a tone cluster I generated in Native Instruments Reaktor. The main groove is from Steinberg Xphraze. (Jim Aikin turned me on to both virtual instruments in his article "My Five Favorite Soft Synths.") The piano is from the Garritan Personal Orchestra, which I discovered when we interviewed Gary Garritan.

The theme also features a few percussion samples dredged from my hard drive. Altogether, it took just six tracks. Effects processing was courtesy of Live's default plugins and Freeverb.

Dog Calliope
This hand-carved calliope graced at O'Reilly's Foo Camp and Maker Faire. It's driven by punched paper encoded from MIDI files. Read more in this blog entry.

Blog Entries Mentioned in the Show