Weald - A Wood Based Sound Effects "Processor" and IR Library

Discussion in 'Effects [BG]' started by michaelwayneharwood, Dec 11, 2015.


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  1. michaelwayneharwood

    michaelwayneharwood Builder of the Wastelands Commercial User

    May 1, 2014
    Colorado
    Owner Melodious Resonance Constructs
    I have been posting a bit in this thread in Luther's Corner, and am posting here to continue the discussion as this seems to be a more appropriate venue for what I am doing. Here's the story....

    I was recently sick as a dog and on OTC medication that kept me from using power tools, which kept me out of my shop building instruments. The side effects of the chemicals in my system, and my general malaise, banished decent night time rest and I was up at odd hours. Lack of sleep does funny things to my already strange mind, and for some reason my thoughts centered on the process of creating impulse responses to capture resonant spaces. I have used acoustic body resonances to create interesting effects on recorded bass lines and wondered if anyone had created IR's for different wood species. I could not find anything, so I pulled out a few of pieces of scrap (maple, shedua, cedar, walnut) and recorded the sound of my striking them with the handle of a screwdriver with a condenser microphone. I then converted the resulting recordings into IR's and experimented with them. Applying the IR's to a recorded bass line produced results that I very much liked, and I was intrigued. The maple IR affected the tone in the same way that many people say maple affects tone of an acoustic guitar. I then looked up the published properties of the other species on the Tonewood Datasource, which is a web site dedicated to compiling information of this sort. Interestingly enough my very rough samples were affecting the tone very similarly to what was documented on the site.

    Not satisfied that my samples were truly representing the EQ of the wood due to the methodology I was using to collect the samples I ordered a tactile transducer and proceeded to collect samples using a sine sweep, which produces more accurate results. The resulting IR's are much cleaner, and reinforced the results from the first round of tests. I was giddy. The way the IR's affected the tone was wonderful to my ears, and I immediately thought that it would be a shame to keep this to myself. The results also spurred on new lines of thought. Could this be used outside of the studio? Absolutely - a $200 IR loading pedal could free these for use on stage. Woods that would be impractical or undesirable to use in an instrument build (e.g. balsa, etc.) could be "modeled" and used to color tone if the effects are found pleasing. I am in the process of gathering wood and producing IR's, which will be released to the general public as a free IR library.

    Traditional IR's are not able to capture as much of the physical properties of how sound is affected when passing through a material as I would like....what could I do to replicate this experience? A pedal...perhaps a large pedal, depending on how large the wooden modules will need to be to produce significant differences between wood species.... What if the modules were in two varieties? Solid blocks will produce tight sounds, and hollow modules *might* produce more resonant effects.

    I have ordered all of the parts to build a prototype and have no doubt that it will produce something useful, even if it's not what I expect. I already have a list of the things I know will be problematic, and certainly more will become apparent as I play around. I think that the foot switch will need to be in a separate enclosure to avoid large spikes of noise being picked up by the microphone in the unit. It might be larger than is desired. Would a piezo with a large frequency response included in the module provide interesting results? It would require an additional preamp built in, but that's doable. What about having both a piezo and a condenser mic....perhaps with either a switch, or additional blend pot... There's a lot of potential for an interesting and unique effects "processor".

    If there is any interest in this I would be happy to post my pedal build here, and provide links to download the IR library when it's done. I feel compelled to state a few things just so you know where I am coming from:

    1. I did some experiments and observed some interesting results.
    2. I discovered I could create some things *I* think are cool.
    3. I am sharing all of this with you so you can do something of your own with it if you are interested.
    4. I am not trying to prove anything, or convince anyone of anything, and refuse to engage in the tonewood debate. Proselytizing and/or debating is not my thing, sharing is. ​

    Any interest?
     
    Marial, rwkeating, karla684 and 10 others like this.
  2. mapleglo

    mapleglo Gold Supporting Member

    Sep 7, 2013
    phoenix, az
    Very interested! Sub'd.
     
  3. michaelwayneharwood

    michaelwayneharwood Builder of the Wastelands Commercial User

    May 1, 2014
    Colorado
    Owner Melodious Resonance Constructs
    The basic working theory on how the Weald outboard unit will work is thus:

    1. Signal comes into the pedal and is split into two paths. One path goes to a blend pot, and the other goes into a small audio amplifier
    2. The amplifier uses this signal to drive a tactile exciter (transducer) which is attached to a wooden block, or small wooden box.
    3. The sound emanating from the wood is captured by a small microphone, which is routed back to the blend pot.
    4. The blend pot controls how much of the affected signal is mixed with the source signal, and then the mix is sent to an output jack.
    The wooden modules are intended to be self contained units that include an exciter built in, and the design needs to take into account easy swapping out of the tone modules.

    Here is the parts list. With the exception of the condenser which was purchased through Amazon, and the wood, everything was ordered from Parts Express: the #1 source for audio, video & speaker building components:
    Various wood species for the sound modules, and eventually the enclosure
    (1) Cyelee Lavalier Microphone Clip-on lapel Unidirectional Condenser Mic
    (1) Sure AA-AB32131 2x2W at 4 Ohm Class-D Audio Amplifier Board
    (1) Parts Express 3PDT Stomp Box Foot Switch 9 Pins Latching
    (2) Rean NYS229 1/4" Mono Jack Non-Switched
    (1) Red 5mm Diffused LED
    (1) LED Bezel
    (1) 2 Slot AA Cell Battery Holder
    (1) Dayton Audio DAEX13CT-4 Coin Type 13mm Exciter 3W 4 Ohm
    (3) 3.5mm Mono Chassis Jack
    (2) 3.5mm Mono Plug​
     
  4. Hamish MacCleod

    Hamish MacCleod Supporting Member

    Jul 13, 2014
    South America
    I can see a couple of possibilities. Using wooden blocks as inserts into the device would allow people to choose any species they desire. Or, making files of the species of wood that people could download into the device might keep the footprint veey small. Perhaps using an app for a phone or tablet would completely free one from the pedal format. Just some thoughts. The idea is intriguing.
    Rondo
     
  5. michaelwayneharwood

    michaelwayneharwood Builder of the Wastelands Commercial User

    May 1, 2014
    Colorado
    Owner Melodious Resonance Constructs
    Bear in mind that there are two distinct things I am working on:

    1. An IR library that can be used in a DAW via an IR loader, on stage using something like a Logidy EPSi, or even with a mobile app that can load impulse responses.
    2. A physical device that blends wood into your signal path.
     
  6. Hamish MacCleod

    Hamish MacCleod Supporting Member

    Jul 13, 2014
    South America
    I see, some of the technical detail escapes me but I understand ( I think). I have some thoughts about how the concept would be most useful, I'll pm you. All in all I would find a pedal/preamp that gives me wood (tones) more useful than many other effects.
    Rondo
     
  7. mapleglo

    mapleglo Gold Supporting Member

    Sep 7, 2013
    phoenix, az
    I think this is an awesome project, and I am very much interested in seeing (and hearing) your progress!
     
    michaelwayneharwood likes this.
  8. michaelwayneharwood

    michaelwayneharwood Builder of the Wastelands Commercial User

    May 1, 2014
    Colorado
    Owner Melodious Resonance Constructs
    Thanks so much! I have been waiting on some soundproofing foam to come in the mail so that I can built a small isolation box for my microphone, and the IR's will be recorded in short order after I have that little project done.
     
    mapleglo and Will_White like this.
  9. This is aweseome!

    (PS - Queue the LC take over of Effects)
     
    mapleglo and michaelwayneharwood like this.
  10. TheEmptyCell

    TheEmptyCell Bearded Dingwall Enthusiast Supporting Member

    Jul 16, 2005
    Los Angeles, CA
    Nobody that uses pedals wants to eff around with what are, essentially, cartridges or cassettes to get the right tone color.

    Seems like there's too much bias in this too. How big a piece of wood are you gonna use? How are you going to control wood blocks for exact density, thickness, porousness, etc. Do these not all affect the tone?

    Oh, and Signal shreds a cardboard Strat Will there be a cardboard simulator? Because that thing sounds like a Strat to me.

    Foam does not soundproof something. You need density and isolation in order to cut transmission. This is why studio's have huge, dense, heavy doors, multi-layer walls that are isolated from each other, the door, the floor, the ceiling and hung fro the studs. A little foam is just going to stop high frequencies from getting to the wood.

    But once you've got that thing on a stage floor with the subs and your amp thumping away, you're f*****d. Seems more like you need a lead box with a shock mount to suspend the whole unit in.
     
  11. mapleglo

    mapleglo Gold Supporting Member

    Sep 7, 2013
    phoenix, az
    I'd argue that the actual wood pieces used to create the IR are not significant, in that a variety of "sound fields" will be created, which which to modify ones tone. That the sound fields are modeled from a piece of wood is not so much significant as one will have several fields to choose from. I think it would be pretty neat to have a cardboard "sample" - it may sound interesting. A stainless steel sample might be pretty interesting as well (the best IR for metal?). I'd imagine one could sample a Harley engine, and use that for a sound field - how cool would that be!
     
  12. @michaelwayneharwood

    After reading @mapleglo 's last post, I thought that you may be on to something serious here. You could very well have a licenseable product here, once you have it you could sell this to TC. This seems like it would go well with their "Tone print" line.
     
  13. michaelwayneharwood

    michaelwayneharwood Builder of the Wastelands Commercial User

    May 1, 2014
    Colorado
    Owner Melodious Resonance Constructs
    For the IR's I am using sound boards that are 5" by 8" by 3/8" thick. For the outboard device - I am not sure yet. Part of the fun for me will be in the discovery of what works, and what doesn't.

    The sound proofing is not for the pedal, it's for a sound isolation box I am going to use while recording the IR's to eliminate, as much as possible, the influence of the room I am recording in.

    That's a really kind thing to say. I am very invested in releasing the IR's for free rather that trying to capitalize on them. Who knows - maybe one of the other IR makers will like the idea and make their own wood IR's. It would be nice to have lot's of options to choose from in the market place.
     
  14. TheEmptyCell

    TheEmptyCell Bearded Dingwall Enthusiast Supporting Member

    Jul 16, 2005
    Los Angeles, CA
    I guess I'm confused as to what we're trying to accomplish... You take instrument X, which is made from woods and metals A-P, and then plug into a box that somehow models something about a lump of wood. And then that something is applied to your instruments tone, which is made of so many factors ABCDEFGHIJKLMNO&P, so as to later something over your original tone.

    I honestly don't understand the usefulness of this. I would argue that making the wood tone something produced outside of the physical instrument itself is just not really something I'd buy into. Cabinet IR's make perfect sense. A wood IR? I think tonewood is snake-oil anyway. I think a lot of tone has to do with: instrument construction (quality), strings, and pickups. What woods they're stuck into can affect sustain, and maybe a microscopic bit of tone, but given a quality instrument into a powerful EQ section can do the same things as a piece of expensive tonewood.

    More power to you for doing this. I bet some folks will dig it. I can see this being more useful for acoustic instruments where tone is colored more by the woods the soundbox is made of.
     
  15. Hamish MacCleod

    Hamish MacCleod Supporting Member

    Jul 13, 2014
    South America
    @TheEmptyCell
    Dude, lighten up. He is just experimenting with an idea to impart wood tones to instrument sounds. No different than people who dig fuzz or reverb or any other effect. If it isn't for you, fine... move on. BTW, did ya know we landed men on the moon?
    Rondo
     
    scotch and Nic. like this.
  16. TheEmptyCell

    TheEmptyCell Bearded Dingwall Enthusiast Supporting Member

    Jul 16, 2005
    Los Angeles, CA
    Yes, I know, it's not for everyone. I'm iust wondering the really application. Like in the end, what might be achieved with these IRs that can't be done with EQ? I patiently await the results.
     
  17. michaelwayneharwood

    michaelwayneharwood Builder of the Wastelands Commercial User

    May 1, 2014
    Colorado
    Owner Melodious Resonance Constructs
    The same assertion could be made in regards to cabinet and microphone IR's, or a spring reverb that uses actual springs. There are a lot of ways to achieve a tone that pleases you. My reasoning for pursuing this and posting it here is:

    1. I did some experiments and observed some interesting results.
    2. I discovered I could create some things *I* think are cool.
    3. I am sharing all of this with you so you can do something of your own with it, if you are interested.
    Furthermore I want to be clear that I am not suggesting a single thing about how wood affects the tone of a solid body instrument, or what specific acoustical and spectral properties you can expect from certain species of wood. I am not trying to prove anything, or convince anyone of anything, and refuse to engage in the tonewood debate.

    Proselytizing and/or debating is not my thing, sharing is.
     
  18. michaelwayneharwood

    michaelwayneharwood Builder of the Wastelands Commercial User

    May 1, 2014
    Colorado
    Owner Melodious Resonance Constructs
    Here's a few sound samples from my Hard Maple IR. All of these sound clips were recorded direct into my recording gear. The pickup is a Lace Alumitone Bassbar 4" located at 30.25" on a 34" scale fretless bass, and the strings are D'Addario Black nylon Tapewounds.

    The original bass tone with no processing:


    The same bass clip with the Hard Maple IR - mixed 50% wet and 50% dry:


    The same bass clip with the Hard Maple - mixed 100% wet:
     
  19. Hamish MacCleod

    Hamish MacCleod Supporting Member

    Jul 13, 2014
    South America
    Suppose I have a very meh sounding bass, nothing spectacular, I decide I want to give some color to its tone but I'm not interested in distortion, fuzz, reverb... I just want to enhance the tone without going into effects overload, this might be a way to do that. I'm curious enough to support Michael's experiment with suggestions and encouragement.
    Rondo
     
    MrWolf14 likes this.
  20. Hamish MacCleod

    Hamish MacCleod Supporting Member

    Jul 13, 2014
    South America
    Very cool, Michael. Definitely noticeable.
    Rondo
     
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