I'm trying to work out the best way to create varying levels of distance and wondered if anyone would share their techniques? At the moment I'm especially working on gunshot and explosion sounds, wanting to create a war-zone soundscape from lots of individual recordings (some close, some medium perspective)

I've been playing around with lowpass filters and reverb settings with some success, but any further hints or ideas would be appreciated.



ps. Really interested in how everyone uses reverb for outdoor sounds. Also, which reverb and are any algorithms better than others for this?

4 Answers 4


There are a few tricks, besides the EQ roll-offs, that you can use to situate things in an outdoor environment.

Reverb plug-ins typically have two main components: early reflections and reverb. Most outdoor locations don't trap in the acoustic waves, so you're going to want to reduce the reverb side of the plug-in significantly (maybe enitrely). Use the early reflections side to create the space. Even in the woods, you'll get early reflections. So you want some of that audio coming back.

For those wide open spaces that don't really lend themselves to those techniques (i.e. wide open field), I like to use divergence with EQ automation. To use the gunshots/explosions idea that you're referencing, picture this...You see a gun fire on screen, maybe 40% to the right of center. The gun's attack, that initial bang, would be panned there. Almost immediately after the attack though, you start increasing the divergence, so that the tail of that gunshot spreads to other speakers. Speed and duration is up to you, and how it should work in the piece. Now, just automate the roll of frequencies of your EQ to shift for the duration of the tail. The automation of the roll of should be fairly smooth and consistent.

You can combine the early reflections and the divergence tricks for "enclosed" outdoor spaces (alleyways, canyons, etc.), it will just require a different pace of automation for your EQ roll-offs. You'll probably also want to allow a little more of the reverb side of your reverb plug-ins into the mix as well.

  • Thanks for sharing your technique Shaun, this has led to some interesting possibilities with my current project, which is actually a sound design tool... more on that later! Commented Oct 26, 2011 at 8:52

Any chance you could Worldize your sounds at all? If you have the option to go out to various locations and re-record your sounds from a loudspeaker with mics at different distances you could get some useful results :)

  • Thanks for the suggestion Andy, I think Worldizing is a great technique, and something I long to have the time to do more of. I'm really wanting to find a solid effects chain to do this quickly at the moment though. Examples of worldized sounds would make a great post though... Commented Oct 17, 2011 at 13:00
  • wow, this is the first I've heard of this. Thanks for sharing! Commented Oct 17, 2011 at 15:22

Distant sounds will have a lower dynamic range, so I find compression works for making some sounds appear more distant. This might be less effective for discrete, short envelope sounds like gunshots.

I thinks it's interesting that although lower frequency sound can travel further than highs, rolling them off will immediately help them feel more distant - all about human perception I guess.


I think proximity effect but on a larger scale. Roll off lows and highs, diffuse the sound with some early reverb and add slap-back echo. You might have a play recording a few impulse responses. On a short a while back I was given the camera's built-in microphone track in addition to the others. Great reference to study.

  • Thanks for replying with some interesting thoughts Georgi, will try rolling off the lows as-well. Would be good to study some impulse responses, does anyone know of any impulse packs with the same sound recorded at different distances? Commented Oct 17, 2011 at 13:16

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