Using Norns as a tape-only recording device? Yep, you can do that

Before I wait many months to get my hands on one, I’m trying to confirm that Norns is a good fit for an end-of-chain recording device, especially in instances where all sounds are coming from outside the Norns. Easy non-laptop recording paired with the wifi file transfer would be a really great fit for me.

Based on the foldy PDF together with the tape overview in the docs, it seems like the answer to this is “yes”, but nothing says that explicitly and it seems to have been discussed on here only indirectly.

So yeah: Norns to record everything? Assuming it works, have people found any drawbacks with the approach that I might be overlooking?


yes it works
i do this regularly

only drawback is if you want to record modular synth straight into norns

it wont like a signal that hot


When I had Norns I did this all the time. Works great as a portable solution for recording.


I’ve been considering this, but with a modular signal output chain that is ALM Jumble Henge for stereo mixing → 4MS Listen IO → Norns.

I think I’m correct in thinking that the Listen IO will attenuate the signal from modular to line level, which the Norns can handle but would love someone to validate this.

It would also provide a nice loop if I wanted to take audio back into the modular from Norns using the line → modular level inputs.


Getting files off Norns is not too much of a hassle - it looks like this:

Open Cyberduck
Connect to Norns
Find file
Download file (download speeds never seem very fast - could be my end?)

I find it a bit of a faff, but it’s fine. It should work for file transfer through the browser, but I never seemed to get that working.

If you are specifically looking to record audio, I think there are better solutions that record to SD card and you can drop them straight into your computer but the Norns works fine as an audio interface/2-track recorder.

You can only record stereo on Norns obviously.


an output module like Out V3 | Befaco works, i record this way: Awake (notes, not audio) → Crow → Modular (audio) → Norns


For me when processing modular I use a Nearness module with the output jumpers set to cut the gain down to line level. I made a DIY 3.5mm splitter cable which allows me to take in the stereo signal to Norns (a shield in my case, hence the splitter) and it’s been fine level-wise.


I take audio from my modular straight to Norns Shield from Intellijel Mixup which I believe is modular level all the way. Attenuation for the three channels (fourth doesn’t have attenuator and I rarely use it) seem to be enough and still leaves enough control for mixing the signals without bringing them in too hot for Shield. So I believe any mixer with logarithmic attenuation should be enough, even if it doesn’t “officially” convert to line level, but of course you lose a chunk of usable attenuation range in the mixer.


Sweet, thanks for the confirmations. Now to just wait for the global supply chain to right itself so that I can put this into practice myself…

1 Like

If you’re able to use a command line, you could also try something like

scp -r norns.local:~/dust/audio/tape/ .

to copy all the files from the tape directory to your current directory. This works for me on OS X.


Even better, on my Windows machine the Norns just shows up under Networked devices, can just copy straight from the explorer!


You can connect to it on macOS too, from the Finder’s Go menu > Connect To Server (or cmd-k).

Mounts dust on your Desktop.



i was gonna suggest this route
then the process is no more tedious than dealing with any other ext drive

1 Like

A bit slower than a drive directly connected by USB, but still quite convenient.


I’ve been doing this exact thing so far :slight_smile: but is there a way, from the command line, to just copy the most recent recording?

1 Like

This doesn’t quite answer your question, but in practice I’ve been using rsync which only transfers files that have changed or been added from my norns to my laptop. This looks like a useful summary of how to use rsync.


I wrote a tiny script to pull the latest Norns tape recordings to ~/Music/Norns on my Macbook:

echo "Pulling latest TAPE data from Norns..."
rsync -v -a we@norns.local:dust/audio/tape/ "/Users/colin/Music/Norns"

Script should also be in ~/Music/Norns and you need to sub colin for your own home directory.


I wonder if it would be possible to mimic the tape part of an op-1. especially the loop shifting within the quantized grid and overdub functionality would be great. Could also have more than 4 tracks. D


you should try modifying this script to get some of those extra features


check out smb://norns.local. it opens a link to the file server which (on mac) has it as just another external device like a mounted sd card or external hard drive you can drag and drop into or out of.