At least for me it was first introduced in the Transformer movies, but it has now found its way also into game titles such as Mass Effect series and Injustice. Now I know this question has been asked like kazilion times, but I think someone here knows exactly what piece of software / hardware people use to get that synthetic signature sound that seems to be so ever popular among professional sound designers?

Obviously Transformers sound design is more than just those synthetic transforming sound, but I do not want to concentrate on the over all sound design of that franchise. I´m more keen on understanding the core-signal chain behind that synthetic sound they on the franchise. Now I´ve been doing some research on the topic, the Transformers Fall of Cybertron used guitar sounds to emulate the transform sound, Jean-Edouard Miclot seems to be an avid Kyma user and to top it off some say those sounds can be re-created with a pure synthesis with a synths like Native Instrument FM8. Sooo... I would like you to discuss this thing with facts not assumptions if it´s alright to you all?

  • I personally have no idea what this "signature sound" you're describing is. Could be subjective, unless it can be specified more clearly with e.g. examples? There's quite a bit of difference between granular and FM though, because the other is applied generally on real samples and the other on short waves from a wavetable. Commented May 11, 2013 at 5:21
  • youtube.com/watch?v=XT7L5w_Ljgs This video is full of them, just check the about 0:10 when the transform logo is introduced. Yes, I´m well aware of the differences between those two synthesis types and both, done correctly could be utilized to create such sounds. Granular synthesis draws it´s source from small grains of audio and frequency modulation utilizes operators and carriers to create similar kind of sound effects. Commented May 11, 2013 at 5:39

5 Answers 5


I achieve those sounds in different ways. Ableton Operator, Reaktor, short resonant delay lines and so on. You may start with a simple FM synth, just a carrier and a modulator, and a square LFO on amplitude. Here is a simple raw example made with Operator: http://soundcloud.com/lucacapozzi/ableton-fun-transformers-sound

Cheers, Luca


Ville, have you read this excellent article about Transformers sound design?


It gives some clues, but not much. What surprises me is that I have not seen Kyma mentioned in any interviews about the Transformers sound design. The movie has a lot of "Kymaish" metallic sounds, but of course they could have done it in other ways too.

Has anyone seen any mention of using Kyma from the actual Sound Designers of the film? Jed has told that he used Kyma heavily to make his library and it sounds really good and close to the real thing.

  • Thanks Miska, I´ve seen to miss this article. Will read it straight away. I do agree that nobody has publicly talked about kyma when it comes to transformers sound design but everyone seem to agree that a lot of those sounds used in the films have that very particular kyma sound. Commented May 27, 2013 at 5:39

Hi + 1 for the delay lines and FM synthesis (I'd use Fm8). Kyma can do just anything so you could replicate a technique or a synth just knowing where to go.


the sound design of dubstep is fast becoming the dubstep of sound design. just saying..

  • 1
    remember when The Matrix was cutting edge? signature sounds tied directly to a technological process tend to date badly imho....
    – user49
    Commented May 26, 2013 at 20:25

@Luca Capozzi I actually don't know how to achieve those really high pitch ones tho. If you know how to please share! ;)

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