Detunized – Room tones interview

Recording-DetunizedFind Detunized @
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Tell us a little bit about yourself and your SFX libraries?

Hi Zdravko, thanks for inviting me to this interview!

I am Stephan Marche from Dresden/Germany. After many years working as video editor and recording engineer for numerous TV stations and production companies I have decided to go one step further and founded my own company Detunized in 2009.

Under this brand I develop themed sound libraries that are sourced from vintage and not so vintage synthesizers, that are created by processing audio files from my ever growing sample stock or that I just record in the field.

How do you prepare or should we say, how does one start making sample libraries?

I´m not sure how others do but I think I have a pretty unconventional approach. For the majority of my more than 60 available libraries I created the name as first.

Further steps depend on the topic. Multi – sample libraries that will lead to virtual synthesizer instruments I start by investigating for old synthesizers or acoustic instruments. There are a lot of sources available. I have many friends that collect or even fabricate and modify synthesizers and there is a constant exchange between those guys. From time to time I pick up a particular device in order to sample it. But sometimes it is pure accident. Once I found a pretty rotten piano in a backyard of an old factory which I pulled out and later recorded in the studio.

When it comes to designed libraries I often start with just a lush description of possible content and some rough ideas written on paper. Then I start processing samples and after a while the focus gets sharper. The difficulty here is to keep creating sounds that then match the topic.

A third type of libraries emerges from Field Recordings. The ideas for these I get whenever I am on the road, while reading a book or investigating in the internet. There are so many topics out there. The most relevant point is to listen to your environment with a more sophisticated perception than your average neighbour would do. There are some years of practice necessary but generally speaking this is not magic at all.

How did you come up with the idea of Room Tones and what is the idea behind Room Tones?

Room Tones (but also Wind Turbines or Abandoned Shelters) is a really good example of the things mentioned before. A friend of mine owns studio spare in an industrial building. I visited him frequently and was always fascinated by the dense textures I heard upon entering the long floors. As this building was constructed more than 30 years ago nobody took care of noise cancelling or energy saving precautions and therefore everything is covered with blank tiles and thin plastering. They also installed an in-house drainage. I´m not an architect and therefore don´t have any explanation for the necessity of this but whenever it rained I could hear the flowing water surrounding me.

Additionally I´ve always wanted to go into multi channel library creation and the soundscape in this building was exciting enough.

What kind of equipment have you used while recording Room Tones?

For this particular Library I´ve used 4 Sennheiser MKH8020 omni microphones for their very low noise and huge frequency range. As recorder/mixing rig I used a combination of Sound Devices 633 and a Shure FP-33.

How much planning was involved into making the library? Of all of the recordings that you made, how many did end up in the final release and why? – The decision process

The planning wasn’t very complex this time as I could enter the building whenever I wanted. I did the recordings on the first Sunday this year so that I could be sure not to have too much ordinary traffic noise from outside. Also most of the people were still on vacation and nobody felt disturbed. After a short visit at the buildings security staff I then could freely move through the building. Compared to e.g. my Passing Trains library – where Police caught me for a couple of hours – this session was really relaxing.

I spent a long day in the building were I recorded about 6 hours of 4 channel audio and the material for the product video. Then I spend three more days in the studio selecting and editing files, inserting metadata and all the other necessary steps prior to a product launch.

A questions from one of our readers: Interesting idea to record IRT surround with Omnis. Could you shed some light on this?

IRT surround was invented by Dr. Günther Theile from the German Institute of Broadcast technology (IRT). He published many papers about audio specific issues.

Mr. Theile describes the IRT cross as a possible solution for capturing 360° ambiences. It benefits from light weight and high portability and is always applicable where a dedicated center signal isn´t necessary.

In its original definition the IRT cross refers to a combination of four cardioid microphones with a certain distance. Later developments revealed a better frequency response – with a little loss of image detail – by using omnis with a larger distance. I think both applications are worth trying it. For the particular Room Tone library I´ve decided to go for the bigger omni-solution as I wanted to capture all the low rumble that´s available in such a large building.

Any specific “lessons learned” on a project (Room Tones) that you could share with our readers?

Well, not any specific lesson in this case. But library creation is often a learning by doing process and with each new library I gain more and more experience. Be it how to organise recordings, which equipment and editing software to use or how to schedule the whole process at all. Also I did many time consuming test and comparisons throughout the last years which helped to select the most effective equipment. Sometimes not the most expensive tools are my first choice but on the other hand you can´t deny the superior quality of e.g. Sennheiser or Schoeps microphones.