When you are SFX editing placing effect like cars, horns, construction, birds, etc...

Say you have all of these recorded you've got them in a pallet of sorts and they are from different places. Some from a library, some personally recorded, and some from Wild Sound. Say for example they are all either in a city or a suburb meaning they have extraneous noise like city wash or other stuff.

When you prepare these SFX for print after the edit, do you make sure that they are Noise reduced? If they aren't noise reduced, do you use some kind of fitting method to make the mix fit into them?

What I've been doing is slight Noise Reduction and what I havn't been doing is dynamically EQing them to bring back some of the life. The result is a somewhat space monkeyed and less originally vibrant sound that has less background noise.


Since I dont own any good (interpolation) noise reduction software I only use volume and EQ automation as well as some very slight mutliband expansion. But it totally depends on the sound and where it is used. For example some cars edited into some city ambience can hide in the overall noise. Even though it's not the ideal way (cause you raise the overall noise) it works for me right now. I think the best way is to have good recordings that dont need to be edited and processed too much.

...on the other hand: I'm pretty bad in mixing, so I may not be the best person to listen to =)

  • Following on @Michael's point here, the phenomenon of masking is your friend. Don't assume something's unusable until you prove it to be so in a rough mix. Doing processing to isolate a hard effect outside of a mix may do more hard than good. Mix it and THEN assess, effect, or replace. – NoiseJockey Apr 3 '12 at 14:22

I agree with Alexandre that NR processing can be detrimental to the sound quality. In general, I tackle backgrounds and wild FX in this order:

  1. Use volume - Put the sound or sounds at an appropriate volume and see if the background noise is an issue. Make sure the entrance and exit (fade in/fadeout) of the sound is appropriate for the sound and for the context. Sometimes this is all the effect needs to blend, and offers the most clarity.
  2. Use space - If volume adjustment still doesn't fix the perspective, put a bit of an appropriate reverb/delay on the sound to push it back into the scene. Try making the aux send "pre-fader", then you can physically balance the level of the two faders to find the result you are looking for.
  3. Use dynamics control - One of my favorite signal chains for backgrounds is to have all of the specifics on a single bus and to put a compressor on that bus. If the backgrounds need to be more subtle and blend in with the background, then push the individual sounds up in level (pushing the compressor harder) and pull down the bus level. If you want more clarity in the specific effects, do the opposite.
  4. EQ - This is the point when I turn to EQ. Even now, I only use it subtly and to shape, not completely alter, the sound. Of course, if you know that the sound was recorded poorly, or has a lot of low frequency, then you'll know if it needs corrective EQ.

Hope this helps! ~Matt


I think the best way to get isolated sounds, is to record your sound in a controlled environment and get as little background as possible. The other option is to record or find an environment that contains exactly the elements you're looking for. This will avoid over processing your mix just to make random elements work together. In the long run probably a quicker solution.

I rarely use noise reduction tools to remove anything more than roomtone (computer hum, building rumble, ac units). Izotope rx is definitely my go to plug-in. The more you reduce the more artifacts you introduce, which can be even worst than simply lowering the volume, eq'ing your file to the desired frequency.

Smooth fades and cross fades, as well as global reverbs can help mesh your sounds together for a more unified environment.

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