I want to improve the SFX sound during mixing but I can't find much information about this on net. So I extracted two samples from movies. The first one is a fight scene from a Japanese Animation. All the punch, bodyfall, gunshots are punchy which sound like just in your face, without distracting dialogue. The second one is from the Dark Knight when Batman was interrogating Joker and got mad against him. That 3 punches have extreme low end which are clear and punchy. I have got the Boom SFX library with similar gunshots and punch SFX but just cant get the sound like the samples. How can actually improve SFX during mxing, with compression, limiter, EQ?? What should be done to create a great sound?

SFX Sample

2 Answers 2


Well, what i actually listen from just the sound engineer perspective, is the preparation and buildup of the punch.

the punch as a sound itself it just sounds like a sample which is bassy obviously but has a compressor leaving the attack untouched and compressing a bit of the rest so you have a magnified attack.

But think of it this way, we are talking about a punch, a surge of power actually released in a single moment so what you should actually be listening to , is the way the sound comes and goes.That's what's making it so impressive, it's like fshhPOW rather than just Pow...

Now the way the sound goes away, This scene sounds like it was filmed somewhere dark with reverbs and stuff BUT the batman punch must be clear, it's not an ambient effect (some of it will be lost in space tho) so you can create a reverby effect for a short time (just to fit in the context but still be very focused) with a gated reverb so you dont actually leave the reverb die it self , you cut it prematurely giving the sense that it was a fast hit.

Now the power lies in the bass following the accentuated attack of the sound, Go see an ADSR example, and then put it side by side with your sample, you can use some kind of transient designer (which is basically a gate with some dynamic processing but it's easier and more compact , thus fitting more to give you the idea). See what changes to the sound you make as you dial in more attack or more decay etc..

As a general rule when you have an envelope and you compress it leaving let's say 15ms attack (which is fairly small but could work in some circumstances) you will have a loud attack (cause it's unaffected by the gain reduction) and a not so loud rest of the sample.

Furthermore, you have to understand frequencies , bass is power and energy, hi's are presence and mids are body and generaly the more musical areas . These frequencies are divided in to smaller bands creating the low / low-mid / mid / mid-hi / hi.

So with that in mind , let's analyze the sound:

First of all there's no musicality in the punch so i'd take the most part of the mids out but not so much lower-mids or so much mid-hi, So using an EQ i would make something like a V shape (you have to get familiar with the EQ Controls and understand how it works) , What you acomplish with a V shape is that you have the presence which is the hi's ( Generally this is sound speed , hi freqs contain transients and generaly very fast signals) going straight to energy which is a pretty nice and powerful effect!

To achieve this you have to understand how envelopes , dynamics and frequencies work. So go and start messing around with Compressor and EQ , there are plenty very very detailed tutorials on how to use them.!

Good luck

  • Thanks so much, you give me useful advice this time too!
    – Ah Kei
    Commented Nov 9, 2015 at 3:29
  • why reverb is important?
    – Ah Kei
    Commented Nov 12, 2015 at 23:15
  • cause as u listen the scene happens in a reverb-y room so it's the context... You can do some stuff like add less reverb or add reverb with pre-delay so the sound is dry and reverb comes after like 20 ms or something but you can't ignore the context completely...
    – frcake
    Commented Nov 14, 2015 at 9:27
  • my main problem is gunshot and punch are easily eat up all the dynamics. The sound is just not lound enough. I've tried to use limiters like L1, but the sound just got mess up
    – Ah Kei
    Commented Nov 14, 2015 at 15:46
  • Try searching about loudness, the actual presence of the sound is at the high frequencies combine it with bass frequencies in a balanced way and you have the loudest possible thing without even having limiters. But if your bass lasts for too long or it's too low freq like 30-40hz it might eat up space that u can't even hear! When we go for loudness manytimes we ditch the mid frequencies go for a big Q dip in the mid , like a smile, search for loudness diagram and apply it to short percussive sounds giving them insane energy.
    – frcake
    Commented Dec 8, 2015 at 13:56

Don't underestimate the power that context provides. One of the most significant ways to make a sound more prominent relative to other sounds is to pull back or minimize the other sounds in some way. That could mean a reduction in quantity of other sounds (temporal), the loudness of the other sounds, the relative loudness, the spectrum the other sounds occupy... Contrast is extremely powerful.

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