Geiger Counter in Battery

Battery has a simple random articulation setting under the apt moniker of Geiger Counter. Here’s a short post to explain how to get the most out of it.

What the Setting Does

Articulation Module

The Geiger Counter module randomly retriggers whatever cell it’s applied to. Its controls are very simple – Radiation controls how often the sample is retriggered, and Decay alters the volume envelope to shorten the sample. I typically turn the Decay knob all the way up and control the dynamics directly in the Volume Envelope section. In fact, my least favorite thing about this technique is that I can’t disable the module’s Decay setting entirely. Randomly triggering longer sounds could make for some interesting ambient designs.

Sample Selection

When specifically trying to imitate a Geiger counter, noise-like sounds are appropriate, but this technique is super versatile – it can easily be adapted to other situations that require chaotic random triggers, like spilling coins.

CellTab

For this example I used Battery’s 909 CR 1 sample, manipulating the Volume Envelope to turn it into a simple click:

Using such a short snippet of something so noise-like means that I can drastically alter the click’s timbre by simply moving the sample start position:

Modulation

If we stop there, we have a nice little mono sound, which is appropriate for a real, diegetic Geiger counter, but sometimes I want to encompass the listener in clicks, to make them feel surrounded by radiation, so I add one more tweak to turn it into a wide stereo sound.

ModulationTab

By attaching a slow, random LFO to Pan, each time the Geiger Counter module triggers the sample, it gives it a random stereo location.

Sometimes I’ll also attach a second random LFO to Volume or Tune to try to inject a little bit of organic variety. I don’t recommend modulating both Volume AND Tune, though; it starts to sound a bit like popcorn popping.