Sound Design Planning 101 (What you should know)

Sound Design Planning 101 (What you should know)

When it comes to planning sound design, one must understand the importance of creating and implementing audio elements in a production. But did you know that sound design planning consists of various components?

Sound design planning involves creating and implementing audio elements in a production. It is important to consider the audience, tone, and atmosphere, and collaborate with the director and other creatives to ensure the sound enhances the overall experience. Careful planning can result in a cohesive and impactful production.

Sound Design Plan

A sound design plan is no more than a sequence of actions that you are aware of and consists of a few stages. Having an idea is step one. To determine whether it is a good idea or a terrible one, you should have an artistic view developed.  After that, you should know which live or virtual instruments you may need and other equipment which will come in handy. Then, you have to plan the sound effects and plugins that you will use.

Having lots of practice is another key factor. It’s understandable that if you are a novice in the sphere, it will be quite foolish to expect that you will create a masterpiece from a single take. It takes a lot of hours and meticulous work to develop one’s skill set and ability to compose breathtaking pieces.

Artistic view

None of the things that we mentioned will matter if you don’t have an artistic view. Sound design is a symbiosis of creative and technical processes. While you can spend lots of time getting into the nuances of how the technical aspect works, if you don’t have creativity blooming in yourself, well, it all may be in vain.

The artistic view is powered by the power of imagination and the capacity to visualize the sound inside your head and then compose it with the help of equipment. Without a properly developed imagination, you will end up with sad and boring tracks that nobody would listen to, even you. Each track starts with an idea, which is later expressed with the help of music.

Equipment

When we talk about equipment, we mean that you ought to have a top-quality compact studio that has everything you might need for sound design. Every compact studio starts with a powerful computer as a PC or a laptop, which is badass enough to handle everything that you will throw at it. Parameters that you need to focus on are ample RAM and a fast processor.

Next, you should choose the DAW in which all the work will be done. Depending on the operating system that your laptop or computer has, you can choose between a lot of options. In particular, Apple Logic Pro, Apple GarageBand work only with Mac OS. At the same time, Ableton Live, Image-Line FL Studio, Steinberg Cubase, PreSonus Studio One, Cockos Reaper, Reason Studios, Bitwig Studio, and Avid Pro Tools are compatible with both Mac OS and Windows.

Then, it’s time to choose an audio interface and microphones. About the latter, it’s better to have at least one of each type of mics, meaning dynamic, condenser, and ribbon microphones. No one will argue with the popularity of dynamic mics as they are true workhorses of music production. Unlikely that you will find anything better for recording vocals than condenser mics. To overthrow your audience with a warm tone, you should use ribbon mics. You shouldn’t forget about having extra cables and stands so that it’s possible to connect all audio equipment and hold mics in place.

For accurate sound representation, you should have top-quality studio monitors and headphones. Then, you have to obtain a MIDI controller for unimaginable easiness in manipulation with DAW and any virtual instruments. Of course, you should choose a few sound effect libraries to add variety to composing, as well as you might want to have a few libraries of virtual instruments. Lastly, it would be a good idea to browse for plugins that will make your job much easier.

Plugins

It’s imperative to have a few plugins for enhancing and restoring the sound, except those that you have already embedded in the DAW. Surely, you would want to add a compressor, maybe even not only one. As lots of compressors are recreations of vintage equipment, you should choose the sound of which you already like. In addition, you should have at least one multiband compressor, which is extremely helpful in smoothing any rough edges and any problem areas.

Next, you should look for distortion plugins, which are based on vintage machines and can add pleasant coloration to your sound. While choosing, you should pay attention to the authenticity of the emulation, which means that it is a high percentage that you will end with the sound that you have in your head. Then, it’s time to add some time-based effects, such as choruses, phasers, delays, reverbs, and flangers. Those beasts will add lots of fun and excitement to the workflow. Of course, you shouldn’t forget about adding a few EQs, at least one of each type, such as shelving, graphic, and parametric equalizer.

What is sound design

From a simple perspective, sound design is no more than a process of creating audio and audio elements for music, television, film, games, and other spheres of media. Sounds themselves are created to be in a supportive position. In other words, to enhance a story, show hidden meaning, create an atmosphere, be sound effects, and more. The process of sound design consists of making audio for a specific purpose, which is recorded, edited, and mixed into the final project that is used in accordance with the initial idea.

Sound design for music production is a meticulous process that has a tandem of technical and creative sides to create sounds with the help of recording, synthesis, sampling, and manipulating.

When we want to record sound, we use acoustic instruments and dedicated mics in order to capture sound and then use it for creating textures and foleys, which are processed afterward. Most people believe that sound design equals synthesis. Though, when we want to create sound with the help of waveforms and oscillators, we use synthesis. Despite not all music producers being in favor of using samples in their work, the process of sampling involves using previously recorded audio to create brand-new sounds. When we say manipulating the sound, we mean that the sound is taken from any source and then is being processed by FX and similar devices to make certain changes.

We can’t stress enough the importance of sound design in music production and in other spheres like filmmaking. If your track sounds poorly, it’s highly unlikely that the audience will be interested in listening to or purchasing it. Also, there is a high possibility that you won’t reach the set goal with the said quality of audio. Sound design helps to convey emotions or feelings that the author wants their audience to experience. Also, when audio is mixed correctly, the listener will have a unique experience and will be satisfied and happy, if that matters.

Main elements of sound design

The ambiance is widely used to set the atmosphere, despite most of the time it is background noise. Despite having only a background supporting function, the ambiance should not sound “in your face” but rather a pleasant humming that emphasizes the main line.

Foley sounds are mostly used in filmmaking, but there are a lot of examples when music producers use foley sounds to set the perspective in the right way. Foley sounds mimic real-world sounds and are created with the help of a specific object and a mic.

Audio effects, which are most widely known as SFX, are sounds that were artificially made with the help of a computer and dedicated software. Mostly, music producer uses a combination of oscillators and filters, creating lots of layers and sometimes using other tools at their disposal.

Voiceovers are typical for filmmaking but can sometimes be used in creating music videos. Basically, it is the voice of a person that reads a script and is nowhere to be seen.

Scoring involves a lot of music production and is typically used in filmmaking as the main audio for the whole movie. It can be totally instrumental and involve a lot of composing or include songs, which need to be recorded, edited, and mastered.

When we talk specifically about the main elements of sound design for music production, we mean pitch, timbre, and loudness. The combination of these elements helps to create any sound one would want. Pitch is characterized by the lowness or highness of the sound and is based on the vibration frequency of the source of the sound. Timbre is something that distinguishes one sound from another and is based on the harmonics. Loudness is based on the amount of energy that sound has.