Monday, 30 May 2011

How to become a Sound Designer?

I guess if you are looking at this blog then you are interested in Sound Design and might be considering it as a career path.  So how do you become a sound designer?  Well in my experience most end up in this field almost by accident.  Until recently there was no way to study sound design academically.  This meant people either ended up sound designers from other associated fields or worked they way up through the industry.  For my own part, by accident, I have been able to turn my hobby into my primary career.  I never meant to end-up here it just sort of happened to me.  Having said that I'm very happy about my new career and very grateful to the happy coincidence that led me to my present location.

So what advice would I give someone that wants to get into sound design?  Well I think the step-by-step advice given by Andrew Diey ( says a lot of what I'd want to say.  In addition to this, if you are just starting out I think I'd offer the following advice.  First, study the science of sound, normally called acoustics.  You really need to understand how sound "works" if you are going to be able to replicate different audio effects and synthesis required sounds.  Second, in the early part of your career do not restrict yourself to one form of sound design.  As I have said before, sound design is a varied and multifaceted discipline and although you may have a greater interest in one area than another, you need to develop a wide range of skills to be viable.  Finally, train you ears - learn to dissect every sound.  What frequencies does the sound contain?  How does it change with time?  Does it have multiple layers?  What are the layers? Does it sound the same to both ears?  How do you perceiving the sound?  What sound components match the sound you are hearing?  This takes practice as it is not something most people don't do it instinctively?  There are tools (level metres, scopes, spectrum analysers, goniometers, etc.) you can use to help you with these questions, but there is not substitute for a good pair of ears.

Another thing to bear in mind, in this day and age you need to be technologically competent and this likely to be computer based.  It is not about learning one particular tool (DAW) over another, but rather about learning the underlying principles.  Then if you need to use a tool you're not familiar with you should be able to make the switch.  With this in mind, I would recommend that you learn one of the major DAWs (Cubase, Logic, Pro Tools).

What does all this add up to?  In short, all this adds up to learning your trade....