AM Static Voices

The hum of an AM radio morphed into a dusty, warbly choral pad.

The story

UPDATE v1.1 (18 MAY 2022): The DecentSampler version of this instrument now includes a patch that allows you to sustain the notes indefinitely. Thank you all for the feedback on this issue. Hope you enjoy the updated library!

About two years ago I found an old AM/FM radio in a hardware store near where I lived. It was the only one left in the store, and encased in a beat-up cardboard box. To my delight, it had a headphone output—perfect for sampling and recording. I decided to pick it up (to the rather amusing incredulity of the elderly lady running the shop at the sight of some Gen-Z kid wanting to buy an old radio in 2019), and took it home with the intention of making some recordings.

As these stories go, I ended up barely touching the radio over the next two years, only making the occasional recording of static hum for certain projects and very occasionally using it to (gasp!) listen to music.

Fast forward to the end of 2020, Pianobook launched its Winter Voices project (which I took part in), and I was very inspired by all the submissions, particularly from those people who had made use of creative sampling and processing to make wonderful choral sounds out of all manner of everyday objects and unique instruments. This spurred me to try making such an instrument of my own using what I had around the house, which inadvertently got me thinking of my old radio, collecting dust in the corner of the room.

I thought of how AM radio static, amidst the chaotic wash of noise, contains a low, but very much audible, hum. I thus sought out to make an instrument out of this low hum, and using various EQs and reverbs to bring out this hum, while dialing back the wash of white noise. I then sampled the result into Logic’s Sampler, put on some fluttery delay, then in turn resampled that using Logic’s Auto Sampler to create a multi-sampled version of the instrument, with all the delay / reverb tails baked into each recorded note for a more natural reverb tail (as opposed to an artificially pitched one).

The result was a dusty, warbly choral pad sound which I found to be very emotive and playable, and very surprising considering the chaotic, noisy origins of the base sample. I then thought what better place to share my first sampler instrument with than the Pianobook community that inspired me to create this instrument in the first place, and here we are.

Be safe, and have a great year ahead everyone! 🙂

– E-Reng

My links if you wish to follow my musical adventures!
https://www.facebook.com/fallingislands

https://www.youtube.com/fallingislands
https://fallingislands.bandcamp.com
https://www.instagram.com/fallingislands/

Reviews for AM Static Voices

  • Sound
  • Character
  • Playability
  • Inspiration
  • GUI

Leave a review to let others know what you thought of the instrument!

  • A kind of melancholic textured pad

    I really dig this sound. I can seriously start losing myself and zone out for a while as I play this. It won't turn heads, but it will definitely spark your imagination a little bit. It might be a little weird to hear the samples not lasting that long though, and even with the attack all the way down, it still takes a while to reach the peak. Honestly though that's how I would use it anyway.

    Alex Raptakis01 November 2021
  • Nice soft sounding samples

    This gives a lot of inspiration when you play it. I would like that the samples could be elongated when playing the sustain pedal, which for some reason doesn't work for me; there could be more uses for this instrument in that case.

    OsvaldoDeJesusG25 October 2021
  • Lovely airy pad

    This sound has a lovely airy pad. The attack is permanently quite long, and it sounds like there's reverb permanently applied to the sample. These two things limit the flexibility and usability a little bit, but even so, it's a lovely and useful pad with good character, and a worthy download.

    Sam Ecoff03 November 2021
  • Beautiful airy choir

    This is a really great instrument. I would describe it as a lofi ambient choir. Its very dreamy and soft. There is also kind of a dark pink noise sounding sound that is blended in with the sound that gives it alot of texture and character. It would be good to have more control over the attack and release of the sound but this instrument is still really great and inspiring.

    septemberwalk08 November 2021
  • Haunting post apocalyptic lofi choir

    This is a great "character sound" which immediately transports you to another time a place. Can see this being really in an atmospheric game style score, or indeed any setting where you want to great a desolate, haunting, intriguing soundscape. Love the story of its creation too and just goes to show the enormous range of ways in which inspiration can strike.

    Mark Lord11 November 2021