A couple of weeks ago I was asked by a couple of my good sound designer friends, Daniel Martin Nielsen and Nikolaj de Haan, to create some designed freebies for their new sound library. The challenge was that I had to create all sounds from just 4 sounds from their new library, so today we’ll take a look at how I made some of them and hopefully in the process show you how you can get a lot out of very little!
I’ll take you through 4 of the sounds I designed, that I think you have the biggest learning potential from.
For reference later, here’s the 4 sound I was provided with (download link in the bottom of the post):
Let’s get started!
If you want to check out the library or purchase it, you can find the bundle right here: https://www.asoundeffect.com/sound-library/the-old-cash-registers-bundle/
Or each individual library here: https://www.asoundeffect.com/sounddesigner/audio-bits/
It’s really a great library full of all sorts of mechanical sounds from cash registers. I’ve personally used it for big mechs, buttons, switches, gun layers so far. But if you wanted, you could of course use it for cash registers as well!
Designed Sound Number 1
So this sound is pretty straight forward, but it lays the groundwork for some of the other sounds.
All I did for this sound, was to layer it until I got a nice little sequence. That’s usually a pretty good tip when designing mechanical sounds. Most mechanical sounds have some sort of rhythm to them, it’s especially the case when listening to older mechanisms. So, even when you layer together a quick sound like this, try to create some sort of rhythm that you really like.
While layering, try to also listen to what frequencies you feel are missing. This of course depends on the sound you are making, but much like when creating music, get in the mindset of thinking “ooh I would really like some bass here or some melody right here”, just with frequencies of your sounds instead.
I wanted this to be a pretty impactful sound, so I slapped a compressor on it to give it some more punch. It can be a pretty subtle effect, but it ties the sound and dynamic together nicely when used correctly.
It also needed some more low end that I couldn’t get from the samples, so I used Lo-Air from Waves, which sort of generates overtones in the lower register of the sound. This is a great effect whenever you need some more punch in your sound or just want it to sound really full.
I created some more variations of this (also included in the freebies), so that I could layer these sounds together later for even bigger sounds. Sometimes it can be pretty overwhelming to create really big sounding sounds from almost nothing, but if you focus on just building some semi-big sounds first, you can then layer these together later for the effect that you want.
Designed Sound Number 2
This is one the sounds where I used layering of previously designed sounds to make it sound even bigger. The impact of this sound is exclusively made out of them, no added effects except from a layer being pitched down a little bit. Goes to show how powerful this technique is.
Now, the cool thing about this sound effect is really the build-up, which is surprisingly also made out of those sounds from before and it’s all with the help of a really useful pitch shifting algorithm in Reaper.
If you take a look at the screenshot above (which is from the effect track of the first layer), you can see that the algorithm is set to “Simple Windowed”. I have no idea what this actually does from a technical standpoint, but it creates some great sounding artefacts when pushed. This is basically the sound you hear during the buildup. If you want to create sci-fi UI sounds, robotic vocalisations and such, this is the mode for you!
To give the sound that buildup effect, I just reversed that original sound. Combined with the pitch effect and the rising volume, you have a buildup. This can be used a ton of ways.
Designed Sound Number 3
Who doesn’t like reverb? I mean seriously… I’m going to show you a little technique that really useful when creating ambient/atmospheric sounds, I’m going to call this “Reverb Stacking”.
The technique is basically this, stack a bunch of reverbs on top of each other. Done! In all seriousness, what makes this technique good is that it is almost impossible to predict the outcome, which then in turn gets you into a very creative mindset because you have to explore to find something good.
There some different ways to use this, but if you take a look at the screenshot above you can see that I just use a little snippet of sound to activate the reverbs. I recommend setting your reverbs to have very long decays so that you can stretch them almost infinitely. Also, the weirder reverbs you have, the better.
Once you have activated the reverbs using a short sound like me (or a long sound, doesn’t really matter), you can then adjust your settings until you find something really cool. I promise you that you will find a ton of extremely cool sounds using this technique!
And remember, you don’t have to only use reverbs, you can put delays, distortion, pitch shifting and so forth in the chain as well.
Designed Sound Number 4
Speaking of rhythm in our sound again, it is also possible to create machine-like sounds by cutting at the right places. This sound is basically a very small snippet duplicated a bunch of times to make it loop.
Now what really gives this sound the “machine” vibe, is the use of Valhalla Space Modulater. This is one of those great experimentation plugins, where you just fool around with a bunch of setting until you get something very cool. It’s basically a flanger, but you have to many fun options with this, especially if you want to make fun ability sounds (or huge machines).
The depth and feedback is really what makes this sound low and huge. The 100% feedback almost acts like a reverb, tying the snippets together so you don’t hear those awkward transitions. Depth actually pitched the flanging down a bit, which gives some really cool low-end to the sound.
Now go buy it!
That’s it for today! Hope you all learned something. These techniques are pretty simple, but usually simple is more than enough to get the job done!
Thanks to Daniel and Nikolaj for the chance to design some sounds for this!
You can find Daniel here: https://twitter.com/gminorscale
And Nikolaj Here: https://twitter.com/nikolaj_dehaan
And lastly, if you want to get a hold of the 4 source files I used, you can download them here: https://www.dropbox.com/s/arniozesua0nc9a/Audio%20Bits%20-%20Cash%20Registers%20Freebies.zip?dl=0
See you all next week and remember to check out the library 🙂