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15 Fun Ways to Freak Out Your Sounds

I don’t know about you but I am always looking for new and exciting sounds to use in my music and sound design projects. I suppose I could invest in a bunch of sample libraries but that feels like cheating. I have way too much fun making my own sounds to give that responsibility up to someone else. How do I do it? Here are 15 ideas to get the creativity rolling.

  1. Bathe it in Reverb – Make your sounds swim in an ocean of ‘verb like My Bloody Valentine or the Cocteau Twins.
  2. Extreme Pitch-Shifting – I’ve talked about this at length in a previous post. One of my favorite effects.
  3. Mic it up rather than Recording Direct – Try running that keyboard or drum machine through a guitar amp set to 11 and recording it with a Shure SM57. You’re sure to capture some grunge and grind.
  4. Play it Backwards – Again, I’ve discussed this in a previous post but this always sounds great.
  5. Use Extreme FX settings – Whether it’s an Insane Ping-Pong Delay or Hyper-Limited Drums, turning your effects settings way up is fun, fun, fun.  My favorite effects package for this type of stuff is SFX Machine.  You should absolutely check it out.
  6. Run your sounds through Guitar Pedals – Bass, whether electric or keyboard, is obvious but what about sending that high-hat through a Phaser Pedal?
  7. Use weird, cheap Mics – Take it beyond the old “talking through the telephone” sound. Just about everyone have an old $15 Radio Shack mic. Try it out, sometimes bad is great.
  8. Play your instrument in Unusual Ways – Strum your guitar behind the bridge or nut. Use a violin bow on your cymbals. These three techniques can produce some very eerie sounds.
  9. Over Distort – Over and over again. Repeat process…
  10. Convolve it – Convolution is not just for reverbs. Try superimposing a lion’s roar over a Hammond organ patch. Sound Hack is great for this.
  11. Mess with the Bit Depth – There’s a reason the E-mu SP-1200 sounds so cool. 12-bit & 8-bit drums are where it’s at.
  12. Screw with the Sample Rate – This is more subtle than bit reduction but can still yield some very retro sounds.
  13. Varispeed – That rubber-band sound. What does a yo-yo sound like? This used to be a control on analog tape decks but you can find it nowadays in digital plug-ins.
  14. Change the Order of your FX – Delay before compression? What about Limiting into EQ into Reverb? Try it, sometimes it work, other times your gear just blows up. Just be sure you have a mic around to capture the explosion.
  15. Send it to Tape – Analog rules! Another one where you may want to repeat the process again and again…

I bet you have a bunch of tricks like these up your sleeve as well. Let me know. Email me or leave a comment explaining your Favorite Fun Ways to Freak Out Your Sounds. If we get enough I’ll compile them in a future post.

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