Sound Design: 7 Ways to Create Your Perfect Sound

sound design

Sound design is the way that you make the timbre of the basic building blocks in your tracks.

The term “sound design” might seem technical, however, the truth is that each producer is a sound designer.

Even so, sound design has some meanings relying on the context and situation.

In this article, we will go through the basics of sound design and provide you with an idea of the tools and techniques sound designers use in their creations.

What’s sound design?

Sound design is a broad discipline that consists of everything from creative recording and mixing techniques to sampling, editing synth presets and tweaking effects chains. It also consists of techniques in film scoring and soundtrack work like foley and special effects.

Sound design for film and tv

Sound design is a vital part of film and tv production.

Professional sound designers working in this area make diverse sonic elements that bring onscreen photos to life.

That means a film sound designer’s role can include responsibilities as diverse as dialogue capture, editing, mixing, foley, and music.

However, sound film and TV sound design usually require making new sounds.

Think of the iconic swoosh of a Star Wars lightsaber. Parts of sound design could be as important to the identity of a film as any character.

Sound design in music

sound design graphic

The term “sound design” probably originated with film sound work, however, today sound design refers to any situation where you manipulate the texture of your sounds.

The sonic elements in your songs could come from so many different places.

Whether your raw sonic material originates from VST synths, sample packs, microphones or somewhere else, the basic character of the sounds you work with is created via sound design.

How do you shape the envelopes on your synth plugins? How do you order the effects in your vocal chain? Where do you put your room mics? What samples do you select for your kick drum?

These are all basic sound design questions.

Sound design tools

Sound design is so open-ended that almost any process in music production can be utilized for it. Actually, there’s no simple method to say how to get began with sound design.

The best way is to easily dive in, find the strategies and tools that work best for you and follow your intuition.

Here’s a list of the different kinds of tools you could use in your sound design workflow.

1. Effects

Manipulating sound with audio effects is a powerful sound design technique. Effects could take a boring sound into outer space and back.

There are no rules in terms of effects for sound design. Combining effects, changing their order, and routing them in creative methods are all good techniques.

In case your purpose is to change a sound rather than improve it or make it sit in the mix, you don’t have to worry about preserving the original texture either. Feel free to go wild.

2. Experimental recording techniques

There are many methods to get creative during the recording process itself. Sound design begins at the source.

Experiment with mic choices and positioning, signal chains or any other off-the-wall techniques you could consider.

Use the studio as an instrument!

3. Your DAW

Some of the original sound design effects came from basic operations that can be performed with analog tape.

You could still utilize lots of the same techniques in your DAW. Changing the speed or playback direction of an audio clip has a large impact.

Even simply reversing the playback direction of audio on the timeline could sound alien.

Backward audio won’t be trippy!

4. Sampling

Sampling and samplers are also good sound design resources. There is an almost infinite number of samples out there to select from.

Even something as simple as selecting which samples to use can be thought of sound design.

Samplers almost always include built-in synthesis tools like filters and envelope generators.

What do your sample packs sound like if you manipulate the attack, decay, sustain and release?

Or how about making your own samples?

Resample your sounds after tweaking them with effects to form completely new textures.

Or pick a sound and spread it across the keyboard. How does it sound at different pitches? Better, worse or just different? It’s up to you!

5. Synthesis

Synthesis is one of the most fundamental sound design strategies. You are actually making a sound from nothing!

With a synth, you get to control every single aspect of the sound you make. That means that each parameter decision is a sound design choice.

Take the time to learn and know the influence that oscillators, filters, LFOs and envelope generators have on your signal

When you are new to synthesis try brushing up on your synthesizer terms or the basics of subtractive synthesis.


MIDI is another digital tool that can be utilized for sound design.

Controlling various features of musical efficiency is what MIDI does finest.

Experimenting with word patterns, CC messages and MIDI results like arpeggiation are all legitimate sound design strategies.

Don’t underestimate MIDI in your sound design workflow.

7. Field recording

Field recording is capturing sound from environments outside your studio to bring into your compositions.

It’s a fantastic way to use to get your sound design workflow out of the DAW.

Artists who make field recordings usually use dedicated portable recorders, however, basic field recording may be accomplished with something as simple as a mobile phone.

Experiment by recording anything and everything—you never know what can come in handy where!

Design inspiration

Sound design is a vital part of every producer’s workflow. The individual sounds in your compositions could be sources of inspiration themselves.

Whether your weapon of choice is synthesis, sampling, effects or otherwise, everybody could benefit from taking a hands-on approach to sound design.

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