Tips to Design Unique Sounds

We shared 5 of our design flows to inspire you.

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Sound design is a creative process with a bunch of experimentation involved.
Signature sounds in your music will be the result of signature sound design workflows.
 
We shared 5 of our design flows to inspire you:
 
  • Layering with Unique Recorded Sounds 
  • Using Multiband Compressor Creatively
  • Pitch Manipulation & Time Stretch
  • Trying Effects Fully Wet
  • Bounce & Reprocess
 

Layering with Unique Recorded Sounds 

 
Soft synths or other digital sound sources are used widely in music making process nowadays. Though these instruments are sounding more real everyday, there is a twist to designing unique realistic sounds.
 
Layering real instruments or analog synths with soft synths is a common practice for a strong sound.
 
If you want to take this to one step further, start layering more contrasting sounds.
Layer a rare world string with an analog synth and a wind instrument.
 
By using levelling, EQ and slight distortion, these sounds not just blend into one character but sound different and will add unique persona to your piece.
 
We built BLEND engine to make this realistic layering easy and creative, check it out.
 

Using Multiband Compressor Creatively

 
Multiband compressors are generally used during mastering or on a drum bus as a way to balance dynamic range throughout different frequency segments.
 
It is a taming tool, rather than sound design.
 
Though I love it as a sound design tool, but how? 
 
Think of any sound source, it has lows, mids, hi’s etc.
But you rarely like all parts of one sound source, so why take all of it?
 
What we do with Multiband is to just solo the frequencies we love and mute the other segments. Then do the same thing to the second source and mix them.
 
For example, you take the bass from one source, mids from another and hi’s from a third source. This way you can create full spectrum and unique sounds.
 

Pitch Manipulation & Time Stretch

 
The mix of pitch shifting and time stretching makes creative magic happen in sound.
The beauty is you can create completely different sounds from any source while not exactly knowing where the experimentation ends.
 
You can make a unique bass from a lead sound by stretching, then a kick from that bass.
The play between pitch and time will let you ride the wave of your imagination.
 
Another beauty of playing with pitch is that you can write melodies with a single sample.
Many modern day producers use pitch shifting to write melodies with vocals or other tonal instruments.
This is also true for creating variety in drums with different colours created by pitch shifting.
 

Trying Effects Fully Wet

 
You add effects to add motion, sense of space or improve some aspects of the mix.
Mostly keeping the dry sound and adding a lower percent of effect on top of it.
 
While sound designing, we love to do the opposite of subtle mixing approach.
Go to the extremes and see the limits of these effects.
 
Reverbs are great examples for this.
Just grab a reverb, put on a preset on or dial some numbers.
Then, make the wet knob 100% and dry knob 0%.
You will get a complete new sound.
 
When working with reverbs like this, trying small size on drums and larger size on sustained sounds will create unique textures while keeping usability.
 

Bounce & Reprocess

 
All of the above techniques can be used designing unique sounds.
Though there is one tip that can extend the possibilities endlessly.
 
You can use any sound design pathway and end up with a new sound.
Bounce it and continue.
 
Sound design is really an endless experimentation, the more you try the more fun you will have.
At some point, it becomes obvious that you can create any sound from any source.
The key to this is to keep bouncing and re-designing.
 
Enjoy these tips, hope they inspire you to design unique sounds!
Ozgur @ Rast Sound

Ozgur @ Rast Sound

Ozgur is the co-founder @ rastsound.com

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