My downstair work neighbors are an art collective, and all sorts of weird things show up in our lobby from time to time. One that caught my eye was a vintage adding machine. It sat in our lobby for weeks, unclaimed and unmoved (the thing is about 20lbs, despite being the size of a lunchbox), so I decided to borrow it and see what sounds I could get out of it.
It’s in amazing shape for its age. There is a panel that is removable, ostensibly for where paper tape or imprinted ribbon would come out; removing this panel let the inner mechanisms be heard more clearly.
Having close-miked small objects many times before, I guessed that this wasn’t a job for my usual small-condenser hypercardioid mics. The result would be too bass-heavy, sounding “out of scale.” If the sounds were going to be repurposed for, say, the mechanisms of a heavy doorway or industrial machine, the low frequencies would be deepened with downward pitch-shifting anyway. I wound up using a large condenser mic, since I was going for brightness, detail, and clarity.
Here’s a compilation of some of the sounds it generated, stitched together from the two or three dozen discrete sounds I culled from it.
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[Røde NT1A microphone into Sound Devices 702 recorder]