.: 20 February 2015 :.

Entering the World of Sound Design

Nothing is more exciting than to dive into a totally unfamiliar design area. This time I was entering the world of sound design. The sound design course lasted three weeks and was done in collaboration with the students from Advanced Product Design.

The first week focused on audio sketching in order to get familiar with the sound design tools. The last two weeks formed a small design project in which sound was integrated into product.

These are two exercises I did in the first week.

Audio Sketching

For the first assignment we had to select an accessible and well-known existing product with little or poor sound design. Next, we were expected to define and describe a new sound design with keywords. In first exercise I worked together with Thuy Nguyen.
First we decided to design the sounds of a circle cutter. We developed a sound design concept by filming a preformed usage-scenario with oral-sounds to indicate the products new sound design.

Sound and Video

During the second assignment, we were provided with a mute movie of the BMW concept car Gina. We were free to choose a sound theme and design the sounds the car would make.

Choosing a sound design direction was really interesting. We thought that the car was very much like a living creature. Therefore we asked ourselves: “If the car would be a creature, where would it live, how would it behave and finally what sound would it make?” We imagined the car to be a underwater predator sneaking on his victims.

After deciding on the sound directions, we went straight into the field to explore making analog sounds. The model workshop turned out to be quite a good source. The sounds we got were quite aggressive and sharp, just as our creature.

Once we recorded a bunch of diverse sound files, we tried out different effects on Audacity and Adobe Audition. Most effects were quite destructive, therefore we tried layering our sound files instead. This was more successful, some combinations created interesting sounds. Reverse playing the sound of hitting an iron tube worked quite nicely as well. The sound became quite sharp.


The first week of this three week course was a lot of fun. I have realized the great value of oral sound sketching. Going outside and recording sounds was a great learning experience. It gave me a much better understanding of the nature of sounds. Sound design software can do magic, but you should not rely on them. Getting the result that you wish can be hard, especially with limited software experience. However, creating and recording sounds in a analog way is quicker and offers more control. Using the software to slightly tweak them creates quite nice results.

© 2020 Martijn van den Broeck
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