As I am working through a scene, and contemplating this question on my own, I thought it wise to tap into the experiential resource that is SocialSoundDesign.... Let's get your insight!

The sound: Ambient "battlefield panic" to accompany several (and I mean SEVERAL) scenes throughout an American Civil War documentary. Cannon shots, men screaming, horses, more cannon shots....the works!

The situation: The most distinct sound in this scape is, of course, the cannon and gunshots. I have a limited selection of raw samples of each to work with. ...and no, I am not in a position to create any more of my own. That opportunity has passed.

Do I, A) use only a few of the best sounds MANY, MANY times each (going loony with Pitch, and TCE to change it up), or B) do I use a variety of my available samples regardless of tone, perspective, and timbre?

I'm leaning toward a mixture of the two options, emphasis on option A. The real question here may be: Which will an audience notice less - repeated fx, or mismatched timbre?

3 Answers 3


I would go with variety, but do it in a sneaky way. Layering sounds together will benefit the end result, meaning layering and combining the good with the bad. If your samples are in stereo I would re-import the layered sounds in mono, this way you can easily pan them to match the location of the original sound. You can stack up a bunch of samples, even from different source material, you'll just need to adjust the volume and add reverb (you should bus the mono track to a stereo reverb) to make it seamless. I think in this situation layering and spotting sounds is your best bet to create a varied and believable environment.


I think I would personally go for your second option- so long as the samples aren't really terrible- I think a wider variety is important. and surely tone, timbre and perspective would change anyway if there are cannons at different distances etc?


Another vote here for variety. Years ago there was a very good British TV documentary series called 'The World at War' about WW2. It used a lot of archive footage of battle scenes but had the same sound effects over and over again - the same rocket barrage or ricocheting bullet. This was quite noticeable.

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