10 Tips For Impressive Sound Design
When it comes to sound design, there are plenty of interesting possibilities. For this, we have compiled 10 tips that will serve as building blocks for your sound creations.
Whether it be layering multiple synth patches or creating layered drum sounds, combining separate sound sources is fundamental in designing sounds with depth and character.
To glue these sounds together, we recommend grouping them into one audio bus and applying gentle compression. If EQ is needed, do so on the individual layer that needs it. This avoids removing healthy frequencies from the entire group.
2. Double Panning
A stepping stone to layering, panning similar sounds in opposite directions is a fantastic way in creating width and fullness to your track. However, it’s important to remember that the farther away a sound is panned, the quieter it will be when collapsed to mono.
While distortion can create the gritty, metal-like sounds we’re so familiar with, it can also enhance the character and frequency content of a track. With a small dry/wet ratio, your track can sound brand-new, with no actual distortion being heard. However, this effect can get loud, so try to match the output gain with the original input gain.
Reverb, one of our favorite effects, is a great way to create an “artificial space” in our mix. Instead of inserting it directly onto your track, use an AUX return with 100% dry/wet. With this, you can add reverb to any track in your mix while creating one cohesive space.
5. Custom Delay Times
While tempo-synced delays are a great start, they can often sound dull. By adjusting the delay time manually, you not only have full control over its feedback response, but your track will often sound more human.
EQ, another one of our go-to processing effects, is one tool for manipulating the frequency content of a track. By boosting or subtracting certain frequencies, we can help a track sit in a mix, as well as shape its overall sound. To avoid any mistakes, we recommend to keep the entire mix playing while adjusting.
7. Multi-Band Compression
Controlling the dynamics of independent frequency bands will improve the overall spectral balance of your track. Especially useful for sub bass (<= 80Hz), you can keep certain frequencies under control without removing it completely with EQ.
With digital music, it’s easy for things to sound too “perfect.” Detuning your oscillators or layered audio tracks by just a few cents is a great way to introduce new depth and character to your overall sounds.
9. Taming Transients
Smoothing out the transients of a sound, better understood as its “attack,” is a technique that’s often overlooked in the shadow of compression. By utilizing this technique, you can control the punchiness and overall energy of your sound. Check out these free transient designers.
Limiters, while typically used for clipping prevention, can also push the limits of your individual sounds. Unfortunately, this technique will often crush your dynamics. However, applying limiting to a single track will often make it sound “louder” without bringing up the dB.
We hope you found these sound design tips to be helpful!
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