Field Recording Performance and Organization

I’m looking for hardware and software options for the playback and performance – layering, filtering, effects and the like – of field recordings. My idea is to compose tracks through the minute manipulation of timbral moments captured in the field.

Monome’s simplicity is compelling, but perhaps PUSH and Ableton integration and worth looking into?

I’m so new to all this, should I understand this project as simple sample-based composition, substituting beats for recorded events?


Paging @marcus_fischer… One of the most beautiful manipulators of field recording.


There are myriad fun and creative ways to do what your asking. Personally, I find myself most frequently turning to Audiomulch for real-time manipulation of field recordings (or whatever sound source I happen to be using). It presents an easy-to-read, logical roadmap from input to output. I’ll route my sound source(s) through parallel series of different filters, delays, and other effects which feed into multiple inputs of a mixer. I’ll then map mixer controls and effects parameters to some knobs and sliders on a hardware controller. It essentially becomes an exercise in live mixing. Improvising on the mixer with long field recordings leads to all sorts of surprises, but in a really fluid manner.

That’s just one of my approaches to playing live with field recordings. There are countless ways to do this. Sometimes, I emulate that Audiomulch setup with hardware effects (if I have enough pedals, though these days I’m getting pretty slim on the hardware).

I’d actually like to take your question a step further. Not only would it be great to see what people recommend in terms of gear for playback and performing of field recordings, but it’d also be interesting to hear how folks do so themselves.


And also give foresttones your recommendations.

Thanks for the compliment @declutter
When I use field recordings live I usually play them back via octatrack. It is a powerful (while still limited) device for live recording + playback of sounds. I make heavy use of the four inputs / four outputs on it. It makes it very easy to do quadraphonic performances.
I use the playback pitch/speed control and filters to manipulate them but not much else. The octatrack has some great internal LFOs for modulating parameters. I often use them to modulate volume + panning of the field recordings.


I agree the Octatrack is great, particularly for the ins and outs. I used one for a bit but got rid of it cause 1) I needed money and 2) I found myself too often at the computer instead.

I also like to process field recordings through my gotharman little deformer 2. It doesn’t have the I/O setup of an Octatrack, but it’s effects engine is a blast, not to mention its dedicated granular effects. It adds nice variation to subtle, ambient recordings.

@marcus_fischer Love your work, by the way. I wish we had met when I lived in Portland.

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Another Audiomulch user here. I tend to have multiple recordings lined up that I can trigger or fade in and out with a midi controller of some sort. I use effects in audiomulch a bit but tend to use my modular synth for the sound manipulation part. It’s got the usual delays, filtering and utilities such as VCAs to automate effects/sound levels. One thing in the modular I find really useful is a touchplate controller (sometimes in conjunction with a sequencer). It has 4 variable outputs per plate which I basically use as preset controllers to change single or multiple parameters of the patch I have set up.

here is a great example of using octatrack (make sure to read the notes on the video) by @Quasi: