Sometimes to get original and really unique sounds that might came out of unexpected sources (like circuit bent devices, tapes, and all things not positioned for pro quality output) we need to accept their poor quality in understanding of industry standarts, and grab it just for its exclusiveness.

So whats your deal - standard sounds from quality source or go beyond to catch uniqueness?

4 Answers 4


I use a variety of sources although I'm definitely a fan of going beyond the ordinary. I like having sounds that people find hard to recognize but still gets the job done. Most sounds wouldn't be used raw or unprocessed at all so quality shouldn't be a concern unless poor quality is referring to noise that you don't want like hissing, crackles, etc, on top of your source material.

I do record "strange sounds" for my work and synthesize lots more with software like Pure Data, Super Collider, etc. Mostly because some sounds are just easier, better, and more controlled by generating it by software or glitching. Sometimes they are only possible that way.

I believe that there is a use for every sound and it just depends on the nature of your work. To be accurate and realistic, or to create a work of art.

  • @Hector Is being realistic not creating art?
    – Utopia
    Aug 29, 2010 at 23:38
  • 1
    @Ryan I'm not necessarily saying that being realistic is not art. That is why I added the word accurate in front. If being accurate and realistic is the goal, you might not be able to make much artistic decision to it. If it sounds that way and it needs to sound that way, there's nothing much you can change about it. Its like archiving something versus creating something.
    – Hector Lee
    Aug 30, 2010 at 5:07
  • agreed - it just depends on the nature of your work! correct
    – tobto
    Jan 15, 2011 at 15:34

Obv in the best cases you want both uniqueness and quality, and in all cases you should strive for the best of both worlds.

With that said I have had several circuit bent sounds in my library for years, and while they're interesting they're not often very useful. But high quality doors for example are a godsend, so I vote quality.

In reality though, this just seems like a mental exercise because we're never trying to make crappy source recordings, and we're never trying to record boring things.

  • hard to say anything definite - if i hear a strange and unique sound from ANY source it outcoming - i try to record it. and it become in most cases bad sounding, like it wasnt for record =) but there is other side - im trying to use only HQ sounds in works which in most cases are boring cause they built on proven scheme. Aug 28, 2010 at 18:36
  • circuit bent sounds are quite hard to use due to the nature of the sound. Especially the bleeps, bloops, and slides. Simply because they usually sound extremely cheesy in their raw state. Electronic sounds usually fit tech, abstract, futuristic materials better.
    – Hector Lee
    Aug 28, 2010 at 18:57

All I can say is: it depends.

It's very rare that a process I've worked out in my head actually works out perfect in reality. Usually the sounds that work the best were either:

  1. Accidents
  2. Never intended
  3. Just happened

To me its more important to have a mind that is open to ideas and sounds and be willing to be adventurous. Know your tools and rules and know how and when to break them. Experimentation/trial-error is the key.

If I find a sound that works but is not great quality, I try and recreate it or clean it up/look for a new sound if its beyond acceptable. Sometime its a fresh sound, sometimes its something I've heard before but just 'works'.


I think it's unnecessary categorizing of sounds and props, if one thinks of in terms of "pro quality" or basically in electrical or mechanical terms. Equipment from different time periods has its own auditive characteristics and its design lends itself to certain production styles and that's still its strongest point, because even as of today, digital does not cut the sound emulation (and why should it?), nowadays the production is basically unlimited by technology and the taste in sound and media has evolved as well, so sound producers of today (and those who focus only on today) tend to look for different things and do different things than in another time period. The richness of sound art is in not undervaluing the ability to source from different time periods, different cultures, different styles and different objects, but to study and take influence from even the more esoteric places and time periods and bring them to the modern time or draw influence from them to produce something new. Also, I think that we can always afford to have more of those who prefer to walk their own path, rather than sign to the generic or mechanical cut and paste styles and approaches that are so prevalent in a given time.

Uniqueness and quality are additionally terms that you can't simply qualify, because they exist in the ears of the listener.

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