What is this old radio/record player sound?

Hello all,

I’m new to these forums, but I think this is in the right place. I’m trying to understand and replicate the distortion found in this audio: https://vocaroo.com/i/s0EwY79DIuRC

I’m not sure what the source of this is, nor what was done to it. I am fairly sure that the original recording was (relatively) high quality, and it was modified in some way. Does anyone have any ideas on what kind of equipment/effects were done to this? Could this be replicated to some extent in Audacity?

I think this may be a recording from real equipment, perhaps a very old radio or record player? If anyone can identify what kind of device would produce audio with these characteristics, that would be very helpful too.

Most of that recording sounds like “surface noise”, e.g. … http://freesound.org/people/hifijohn/sounds/244676/
[Plenty more of that on Freesound … https://freesound.org/search/?q=surface+noise+record ]

Thank you for your reply! I’ve managed to come close to the original recording with the following: https://vocaroo.com/i/s1XiLAakrCBq (first 5 seconds is original, second 5 is edited.)

I managed this by applying a -48dB high pass then low pass filter at 1000hz, and then doing it again. I then applied a plugin to make it sound like a vinyl record.

However, it is still missing some aspects of the original recording that I noticed (I’m no sound engineer, so I don’t know what the proper terms are:) the slight “wobblyness” of the tone, the breaking up of the audio at certain points (especially past about 30 sec), and the somewhat “tinny” or “electric” quality of the audio.

Again, I’m not really sure how to describe it properly, but I am very curious as to what kind of equipment would produce such sounds, even if its not easily to replicate using Audacity. It reminds me of some old radio recordings I’ve heard from the shortwave bands.

If you’re trying to make recordings sound like old vinyl (or even shellac) than you may have some fun experimenting with the iZotope Vinyl plug-in that is available for free download an works with Audacity.


If you do download it and install it - just try taking off the four corner “screws” :sunglasses:


1000Hz is too-low a cut-off point : should be 4000Hz at least to have intelligible speech.
Try the “Telephone” equalization-curve preset in Audacity’s equalizer, (maybe apply it twice).

Thank you for the tip, I downloaded that plugin a long time ago for another project, but I never knew you could take the screws off!

This is a good idea, but I don’t want the speech to be intelligible. Rather, I want it to sound like the singing in the original audio: https://vocaroo.com/i/s0EwY79DIuRC. I chose 1000hz because it looked like that was the most used(?) frequency in the original audio, according to the spectrum analyzer.

The original audio still sounds different from the result I achieved. Even if its not possible with software, I am still wondering about what kind of devices cause the distortion in the original audio, and what the nature of that distortion is.

Thank you all for bearing with this strange question!

Cute eh?

I’m just an inveterate fiddler :nerd:


“singing” : It sounds more like someone playing a kazoo. there’s a plugin for that … https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kpJzuxLZg60

Upon further research, I’ve found that the source is a show from 1994. That means that it is definitely not an old record. Though, I suppose they may have recorded it and deliberately “aged” it, but I doubt they would have gone through that process just to produce what is essentially a long sound effect.

I noticed that the original sounds somewhat like an AM station being listened to with a very narrowband SSB radio, specifically a width of about .5 kHz. I tested this on this website: http://websdr.ewi.utwente.nl:8901/, by finding an AM station, then selecting LSB, and manually dragging the outermost edge (under the spectrum display) inward.

Can anyone verify that this is the sound of a radio, or what kind of transmission it may be? I know that there are many possibilities, but any insight would be good. knowing the process used to create this audio would make it easier to replicate digitally.

I think that they may have just held a speaker up (or just had her sing) to the microphone of a CB, and recorded the result from a slightly off-tune reciver down the hall.

It is singing, there is no question.

Someone on the REAPER forum made a custom plugin for “radio degradation”. Sounds very realistic. There’s an interesting thread about it on the Cockos’ forum:


I’m afraid the plugin is REAPER only, but there’s a full functioning demo if you want to explore this.