Hello everyone. I wanted to get your opinions about a very important decision in my life. I hope my question is not very off-topic for this site.

I am going to be 24 in a couple of months. I'm studying literature and I'm going to get my equivalent of Bachelor's Degree this year. Approximately a year and a half ago, I had an enlightenment and decided that I had to do something about music in life. After studying electronic music on my own, I fell in love with sound design.

I don't have a technical or musical background. I don't have any experience in programming. But I am very enthusiastic about this whole thing and so I started studying math, and I will be studying physics later to understand how sound behaves.

Currently I am trying to learn Pure Data. Although I normally use Windows, I am thinking of switching to another system. Should I go with Ubuntu Studio or do I need a Mac or should I hang on to Windows for a while? I want to learn Ubuntu Studio as I understand that more can be learned from it. On the other hand, some say that it is not worth the trouble and one should go with a Mac when it comes to audio. What would you say about it?

So what do you think? Do I have a shot in becoming a sound designer? What do you recommend me to do? How should I proceed? I hope my post is not that awkward as it was written in a moment of "chaotic pessimism".

Thanks everyone for your time!!!


7 Answers 7


One of my classmates at Vancouver Film School is 47 years old and has no experience in sound design and is actually good at his work. Its how badly you wanna learn. As far as finding a job goes, I know people who've been in this field for a very long time but still don't have a job. Finding a job has got to do more with how good you are at your work (1st) and how good you are with people. Its a very easy choice man. As of wanting to know about the basics of sound, there are shit loads of books you can refer to. This book is highly recommended in order to really understand the non-technical ( or what I like to call, The Artistic side of sound). The first four chapters of this book will give you a pretty solid idea about the basics of sound physics and other technical terms. I think these books will give you a fair amount of idea sound design. One of the things you would wanna do besides all this is watch a lot of films and read Film scripts. Not just the ones with big action sequences and explosions, but all the genres. Some of the most difficult scenes to design sound for are the ones with very minimal elements in it. Watch films by different directors, different periods, different countries and just get a feel of it. Ask yourself how is sound changing how you feel about the character or how is it helping the director tell his story, how would you feel if there was no sound at all in that scene ask how it was done and ask WHY it was done and so on... It is a very unpredictable industry and no school or university can guarantee you a 'job' as a sound designer. If you think that you can withstand all the pressures of deadlines and creative tensions among your co-workers and be able to maintain a balance between personal and professional life and you think you really can be good at this, you should just go for it. Age don't matter! Hope that helps.


Just do it.

Know that you're taking a risk financially, because there's no guarantee for work (you have to be active in finding it) and there are a lot of people working in and studying for the field, with the same or stronger determination as you. So you need to be active in networking and giving yourself out as someone that people trust and will want to work with or hire instead of person B. But don't get into some stupid "I'm competitive" mode, you need allies and your attitude has to be sound (among the people that you work with). It can take a lot of time (like closer to 10 years or more) to form a professional network where you can find work as a freelancer/entrepreneur. But you can also get lucky or get a position in a company (which although isn't necessarily secure either, because smaller entertainment firms or sound houses tend to be quite volatile, bigger as well, because that's the nature of the entertainment industry). One key to boost your employment prospects is to be versed in another art form or skill that's applied in the medium that you work in, in addition to sound. You definitely shouldn't pursue this because of money, but rather because it's like "the only thing" that you want to do and you want to do it professionally, rather than semi-professionally/as a hobby and getting your income from other sources. You need determination and motivation or you can burn out, you need to know that the work can be quite hectic and stressful at times (deadlines) and you may need to do creative work even when you're not inspired or personally don't care about the product that you're working for.

I would not overstress the decision as a "very important life decision". I think you should approach it primarily as a fun hobby that you like to do, rather than "a job". If you get paid for it, then that's even better, but you shouldn't base your decision on it. Be ready and open to other stuff as well than just sound/music. If you plan on getting a degree, then you should think very carefully, I wouldn't recommend going into debt because of this.

Technically, your (main) tool is a DAW and a combination of microphones and recorders. What operating system you run is irrelevant, but macs are fairly popular, because OS X is technically simple to operate and poses far less problems with maintenance, drivers and stuff compared to Windows. And Apple's computers are pretty. Linux is very rare/almost non-existent in audio post work, because it doesn't have the necessary software (Pro Tools, Soundforge etc.), unless you run it through Wine. You can easily google for "linux audio software" and see what's available. I believe Ardour is the only formidable Linux DAW. Again, if you're only working by yourself, then you can choose freely what you use, but usually not, if you have to sync files with other people.

Pd is useful for learning about interactive sound sequencing and high-level audio and midi processing. It's not very relevant for "sound design", unless you have a very specific idea for a patch that you use it for + it's definitely not a fast tool to work with.

Oh, and I don't know how applicable advanced math and physics is in "sound design". This is an art field, or alternatively a trade/craft. I mean, if you want to program software, design hardware or design e.g. acoustic spaces or simulations, then definitely, and I personally stress the study of natural sciences as general education, even if you're not applying the knowledge, but for doing "sound design" i.e. soundtracks for media in the general sense, it's not that relevant, nor common. This work is about feeling, rather than formulas.


No you are not to old. I started at 30 and have been doing it successfully for 28 years now.

Get an entry level job (driver, apprentice, assistant) at a sound house. You will meet people and you will learn how it is really done.

A HUGE part of success is who you know.

You will find out quickly if you have the feel, the talent, the creativity and the temperament for the job. Some people just don't have the touch and never get it.

I have never seen a single person get a job by walking in with a degree ... not a single one.

You will work on freebies at first to learn your craft and earn your reputation. Be prepared for long days as you will typically work on these freebies after hours.

Go for it! GOOD LUCK!

P.S.- MAC,MAC,MAC, you really don't have a choice, at least in feature films here in Hollywood.


"Chaotic Pessimism". Classic.

Well, I'm finally working on my first real game at 29, but granted, i spent the better part of my 20s unfortunately not pursuing music and sound, however i do have a background in it. If you were great at sound design, no age would be too old. To start raw at 24 with no prior knowledge in sound and music can be slightly difficult, as most of us have at least dabbled in sound for a little bit. If it's something you want to learn, your learning speed will dictate how long it will take you to become proficient.

So, no, you're not too old.

With that being said, there is a SHIT LOAD that you'll need to learn. I also don't know that i'd start with puredata out of the gate. I'd start with learning how to record sounds and how to affect them and what effect families do.

Ric Viers Sound Effects Bible is really good and assumes little prior knowledge. Some sort of Dummies Guide to Audio might be good to grab too.

In all seriousness, do your research. Learn and play a little first to see what goes into it to see if you even like it. From what I've found on this site (and my own belief as well), we're here to help. Good luck with your decision man.

  • Maybe you're exaggerating a bit. There's technically/practically not much to learn, it's just simple software, recorders and microphones, and putting them into rational use. Cultivating one's personal taste for sound, social skills (it's a service occupation, unless you work for yourself) and perseverance/motivation is another thing though. However, Pd is fairly irrelevant for linear sound, most of what's needed to be done digitally can be found as plug-ins already and done with a DAW, but for game audio, you can build patches that play with some playback-related ideas. Jan 31, 2013 at 0:42

Hi Ati.

Please use the search function on this site. Typing in "age" got me these:

Age Discrimination in the Audio Industry?

Getting into business after 25? .)

  • HAHAHA !! I answered one of the previous queries and completely forgot! Feb 1, 2013 at 3:11

oh, not again. and.. 24!! just do it man


I made a good friend at college who was 28 and had no previous experience with audio. After finishing the course he went straight into a post-pro house in London with ease. So go for it man, It might take time and commitment, but what doesn't.

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