Imagine you're a talented composer and a client hands you a new orchestra: a monophonic cell phone. In this sound effect-packed episode, we talk with Peter Drescher, the audio artist behind the T-Mobile Sidekick. You'll meet annoying sounds, expressive sounds, the phone of the future, and a dangerously hot blues guitarist. (DMI 03-30-2007: 11 minutes 27 seconds)

Production Notes

Peter Drescher, being a sound designer, suggested we enhance the interview with sound effects. So I started by emailing him four questions based on his work. He then recorded his answers with a variety of microphones including a Neumann KM184 ("Phones of the Future"), a Neumann TLM103 ("What Makes Sound Annoying?"), and a Shure SM58 ("Road-Dog Bluesman Story"). He ran the "Expressive Sounds" section through a Roland V-Synth with VC-2 Vocal Designer card. The sound effects came from his personal collection.

I imported the audio files into BIAS Peak, trimmed them, and then balanced their levels and tone with Izotope Ozone. As usual, I then recorded my voiceover with a Rode Podcaster USB mic into Peak as a 16-bit, 44.1kHz, mono AIFF file. I used Peak's editing tools to delete false starts and tame mouth noises.

Next, I imported everything into Ableton Live 6, where I arranged Peter's examples around my voiceover and the theme music. I compressed and enhanced the voiceover with Ozone. Finally, I rendered the mix to an AIFF file, converted it to an MP3 in Peak, and then used iTunes to clean up the ID3 tags and add artwork.

Peter Drescher in Twittering Machine Studio

Peter Drescher in Twittering Machine Studios and playing with the HipPod, his "best of both worlds" blend of a HipTop phone and iPod Nano.

I produced the Digital Media Insider theme music 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. Then there are a few percussion samples dredged from my hard drive. Altogether, the theme took just six tracks. Effects processing was courtesy of Live's default plugins and Freeverb.

Source Articles

Could Ringtones Be More Annoying?!

People absolutely love annoying ringtones, and the annoying effect they have on everybody else around them. This is really good news for those of us in the audio business.

Could Mobile Game Audio Be More Annoying?!

Danger, Inc., sound designer Peter Drescher is a master at squeezing really cool sounds out of really small speakers. In this enhanced transcript of his Game Developers Conference presentation (seven movies and 19 MP3s!), he reveals how to make smartphones stand up and sing.

Julian Kwasneski: Inside Game Audio

Top video game composer/sound designer Julian Kwasneski of Bay Area Sound takes us inside the process of crafting audio for games.

Singing With Your Thumbs: How To Make User Interfaces Musical

Peter Drescher returns with another wonderful article on creative sound design. Triggering boatloads of MP3s, he walks us through the adventure of designing emotional sounds for really tiny speakers.

The Annoying Audio Blog

Peter Drescher rails about interactive audio technologies, with an emphasis on mobile devices.
Twittering Machine Studios

Twittering Machine Studios features Digidesign and MOTU audio interfaces, Genelec monitors, a Mackie mixer, a Macintosh PowerBook running BIAS Peak, and a Danger HipTop phone. Star Trek sounds are a constant source of inspiration.

David Battino is the audio editor for O’Reilly’s Digital Media site, the co-author of The Art of Digital Music, and on the steering committee for the Interactive Audio Special Interest Group (IASIG). He also writes, publishes, and performs Japanese kamishibai storycards.

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