Whether you realize it or not, you’re surrounded by electromagnetic fields almost everywhere you go. Anything with an electric current has one. That means your computer, phone, TV, hair dryer, vacuum, toaster… everything electronic. Recording an electromagnetic field as sound isn’t a new idea; this is the way the pickup on an electric guitar creates sound. The guitar produces these fields in a way that (hopefully) translate into beautiful, musical tones. The electromagnetic fields surrounding most electronics, however, aren’t exactly musical. But that doesn’t mean they can’t be beautiful!
Recently, I set out to capture some of these strange sounds with a small pickup meant for telephones. I went around my apartment waving the pickup around random electronics. I ended up with a bunch of beautiful hum, buzz, static, clicks, clacks, and other kinds of chatter. Check out some of the results below.
I want to mention that these aren’t the raw recordings. Everything in this video is compressed and has EQ applied to either bring out or cut certain frequencies. In the case of the cellphone I took out a very loud buzz that drowned out some of the cool sounds from operating the phone. Everything else was generally EQ’d to make them ‘beefier’.
My favorite? Actually the hair straightener. If only because it was completely different than I expected. It almost sounds like a growling robot. I already have plans for it!