Hello all! As the title says, I am an up and coming sound designer. A composer by trade, I know that sound effects design is a beast all it's own, and I have been ... side-railed, in a couple of projects, to compose as well as sound design. All I have to use as far as a DAW and microphone is a:

Blue Yeti Microphone and Fruity Loops 10.

Aside from my near clueless knowledge of where to start to begin finding useable sounds to put into a game (I was bent on studying various sounds and figuring out what they are comprised of and going from there), do I have a chance of producing something of even intermediate quality with what I have in my "arsenal"?

4 Answers 4


To answer your last question... " do I have a chance of producing something of even intermediate quality with what I have in my "arsenal"?", the answer is yes...Sound Design really only requires three things... two ears and a brain, and I'm going to assume that the fact that you are here and asking these questions puts you in possession of all three! :)

Simply put, sound design is NOT having a thousand plug ins, and every mic known to man, it's a mindset, and a CRAFT. Tools can make the craft easier, but they are NOT the craft themselves. As I often remind my interns, students, etc Sound Design for Film existed long before Ben Burt et al brought it to public attention - the squeaky fan belt that was recorded to make the scream of the giant Ants in "Them" is one of my favourite examples. All that the earliest sound designers (dating back to radio and even theatre) had were their minds, hands and ears, and a willingness to put them to use.

So to follow up on Mark's answer, ask/lurk around here (do try and be a little more specific than "how do I design sound?"), check out resources like designingsound.org, and filmsound.org, read everything you can get your hands on - I will recommend Yewdalls "The Practical Art of Motion Picture Sound" to start - a quick search here will yield a years worth of good material at least. Check out the extra features on DVD's and BluRay's and open your mind. While it's not learned overnight, like all crafts it CAN be learned through persistance and dedication. One thing that we DO have that those designers of old didn't is the wealth of easily available knowledge.

And above all else, have fun! Good Luck


People say this a lot but listen (analyse) to the different mediums where sound design is used. I'm no expert but when I'm listening I ask myself why that sound is used as pretty much everything you hear was a conscious choice, I always try to keep that in mind. Also many sounds sound alike, think about what you think it sounds like and how you would create it not only to kind of deconstruct the elements used to create it but you can also get behind the emotion it's trying to convey to tell the story which is the main goal of sound design. Find the overused/cliche tricks used and take advantage of them but in a way that it seems new and not forced, take camera angles for example they say when you look at a character from a high angle their supposed to be weaker and smaller but when seen in a low angle they are more dominant and stronger than the other, what would be the sonic equivalent to that? How can you make a listener distinguish the difference between a good guy and bad guy?.

A lot of thought is put into a good "designed" soundtrack, when I was starting out like most people I thought it's just about creating cool sounds and plugins used to process them until I did my research. Hope this is helpful, good luck.


Sound design is not something you can learn overnight, and it's far more than just sourcing sound recordings. Perhaps you should work with a sound designer on these projects and ask them to let you in on a bit of the process so you can learn in small steps.

You might even find someone to help here....

  • No, I understand that wholeheartedly. Just like composing, you grow with time, and even then, you never stop growing. Perhaps I could ask to shadow a sound designer on a project they are currently own so as to gain insight on the mechanics of sound design? Commented Jun 8, 2012 at 15:11
  • thats the best way to learn the process, the above comments are very spot on, its all about your ears and brain, BUT developing a solid workflow is one of the main keys, because once you have that then you can concentrate on the creative aspects. Commented Jun 8, 2012 at 20:22

Sound design by itself is not different from composing music, it just works on a different level and operates on a different set of processes, rules and theory. Generally it may also focus on different types of sounds ("musical sounds" vs. basically any type of sound that fits for the purpose). But in a musical context or as well in a media context those two are interchangeable, i.e. there's not just (or at least I think there shouldn't be) "music composition" or "sound design", but rather just an entity, which comprises of elements of both and involves both ways of thinking. Sound is music and music is sound, IMO.

Because the two are interchangeable, the term "sound design" also means very different things depending on in which context you're viewing it. It might be sound design of a single sound element or sound design in the context of the entire soundtrack. And sound design is practiced on all levels. You might work on sound design of a single sound or you might work on an entire piece of sound design (which involves dialogue/music/SFX).

Basically you don't need some "special tools" to begin with, because sound design technically is just editing, processing (when needed), mixing and placing sounds on a timeline (in linear media). The tools are just sound shapers and the majority of sounds start from recorded sources, either self-recorded or sourced from sound libraries, rather than coming out of a plug-in.

I suggest reading a book or two about the aesthetics of "sound design" (in the context of an entire soundtrack, e.g. "Sound Design" by D. Sonnenschein [regarding film sound], "From the Shadows of Film Sound" by R. Bridgett [regarding games from the perspective of film sound] or maybe M. Chion's "Audio-Vision") to get a better idea of how it works in a visual context and what's its purpose. Or enrolling in a course or trying to get someone to mentor you regarding the topic (forums are pretty good for this). Then practicing on creating sound overlays for videos/games/something or actual projects and maybe trying out different approaches to see how they affect how the visuals and/or story are perceived. Then it's pretty much learning by doing basically.

Finding/creating specific or suitable sounds can be difficult sometimes, but there's nothing magical in the process itself (apart from maybe highly "inventive" sounds or inventive usage of sound). Offline or online sound libraries, preferably a recording setup to record things that you cannot or don't want to get from libraries, a DAW/audio editor with some plug-ins (FL Studio has a brilliant stock plug-in set) and a vision about what you need to create and off you'll go.

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