Hey everyone!

I've been trying to refine and improve my sound editing process/skills and have been working from Ric Viers 'L-I-S-T-E-N' process from 'The Sound Effects Bible' (pg 187 for those of you whom have a copy within reach).

My variant of the process mixes it up a bit:

L - listen critically
I - identify clicks, pops, errors
T - trim / crop
E - examine fades
S - signal process
N - normalize / name

(Not to be construed as me sayings he's wrong, it's just how I've found myself working most efficiently as of yet - 'I' and 'T' are also interchangeable)

Practicing on some motorbike sounds I recorded, the aim of these edits is to act as 'raw' material for designing sound effects in the future, so this current edit process itself plays more of a fixing impurities and neatening up around the edges role. I've acted sparingly with signal processing (EQ, comp, norm) to try and keep the character of the takes and the bike itself.

Some takes - because of the mic positioning - focus on certain sounds or frequency ranges so consequently some edits end up sounding weak in certain frequency ranges, however when brought together later with a complementary sample recorded from another angle, really bring the bike to life. Would you edit/keep recordings like this that perhaps by themselves sound 'rubbish' so you could play with the sound later or would you mix it down so the sound was more complete instead of components? Personally I'd perhaps do both, favouring components however as it leaves more options.

Bearing this all in mind I was wondering how you guys/gals approach editing in regards to your own recorded material to make 'raw' sound effects (or building blocks if you will). How do you go about making your edits? Do you have an underlying system/process like 'LISTEN'? Or do you vary dependant upon the sound recorded?

Here's a few of the edited sounds using the described process above and PT10. Thoughts/Opinions/Feedback would be much appreciated also.


2 Answers 2


Personally, I stopped any activities in any way related to normalizing a long time ago. How I record sounds is how they go into my library. I don't mess with the dynamics, and I don't gain them up (unless I'm actually designing a sound for a specific use). I don't need every single sound peaking out at -.3 dBFS with an RMS of -10 dBFS. I'm never going to put them into a project at that level. I'd much rather have something closer to the natural dynamics of the sound. As long as they are properly gain staged and cleanly recorded, I can turn them up in the mix if I need to.

Ric's little acronym is a good starting point, but audio has very few rules that apply across all situations (and those that do are extremely non-specific). It's important to think about how the sounds are going to be used when you're "mastering" them. Just my 2 cents.

  • I agree/concurr
    – user49
    Mar 31, 2012 at 7:03
  • @Shaun Farley, great answer and very much how I approach my librarian duties as well. Mar 31, 2012 at 7:46
  • @Shaun Farley @tim prebble @Jay Jennings Thanks for the responses guys :) So it seems I should perhaps not mess with them too much unless I'm creating designed sound effects for packs, games etc where they'd need/be-expected to be processed as such. Interesting stuff, I'll definitely take this on board, thank you for being helpful as usual.
    – Alan Pring
    Mar 31, 2012 at 9:27

I agree with @Shaun on this. I think the confidence to not normalize or alter gain comes with experience.

My big a-ha came as I built my own library of ambiences: Adjusting gain in post would leave me with just as many variances in background noise and mic self-noise as my wildly varying input gain on my mic pre's in the field between outings, perhaps more. Gain staging and setting solid levels in the field are by far more important, in my opinion, are far more important than doing so as one files, masters and archives them. A sparrow chirp peaking at 0dB is just as bad as a close-up dump truck roaring at -19dB.

I'm more of an LTISE person than a LISTEN person. I'm an ENFJ, too, but that's a different kind of type. :-)

  • You made me snort out loud. Classic - Mar 31, 2012 at 6:30
  • @NoiseJockey Thanks for the response man. Yes I definitely attempt to get it right at the starting point when recording. Want to get the best out of the source/recordings and limit unnecessary work later fixing issues. With ENFJ do you mean the personality type or am I missing something? :D
    – Alan Pring
    Mar 31, 2012 at 9:32
  • Yes, ENFJ is Myers-Briggs personality typing. And sometimes Y. :-) Mar 31, 2012 at 15:37
  • I'm an ENTJ i think, but I was so enraged after taking it that I'm not 100% sure. Hokum and Malarkey. Yes, I just said HOKUM AND MALARKY!
    – sepulchra
    Apr 3, 2012 at 4:07
  • I hear you, @Sepulchra. The first time I took that test, my profile seemed to be more STFU than anything. :-) Apr 3, 2012 at 14:18

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