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Sound Design - Processing sounds to feel calm to the listener

For the work, I have been doing for the projects Super Auto Pets and Joon, a common challenge in the sound design for each of these projects is creating sounds that are exciting to listen to but have a calm feeling to them. While both of these games are vastly different in their design, they have this shared audio philosophy that I wanted to share and how I have been able to work through that challenge. The way it's done will be different depending on what you are designing but trying out some of these ideas may just do the trick.


Transients

This one took a while for me to understand - to briefly explain the audio design for Super Auto Pets, the game is what the team would call a "Chill Auto-Battler", the player assembles a team of pets and then they battle it out. These pets have unique calls whenever they are picked and their sounds can range from anything abstract to something more threatening. The challenging part of this is designing sounds for a creature that is calm, but also unique.


A common way I realized to make a creature sound calm and less aggressive was to use transient designers like the free Kilohearts transient designer. Using a slower setting like below, it's fairly simple to take a more aggressive-sounding monster and make it a little more soothing for the listener.



Frequency Control

To briefly explain Joon, it's a task list game for kids where tasks they complete in real life allow them to progress in the game and take care of their pets (otherwise known as Doters). It's a really cool way to help keep a child focused while allowing them to have fun and play the game.


Because of the nature of the project, I have to be incredibly careful about frequency control, anything that is too harsh or too much body could cause a child to lose interest so it was crucial to maintain frequency control. There are 3 main ways that I worked through this that are all kind of the same thing but working in different ways: EQ, dynamic EQ, then multiband compression.


Using EQ to generally roll off the ultra high end and most of the low end, allowing for the sounds to not distort when being played back on mobile devices - this was one of those things I ended up leaving on the main out and I designed everything to this. Alongside this was Dynamic EQ, which was done using the plugin Soothe. Soothe is essentially a hypersensitive dynamic eq that targets resonant frequencies and this allowed me to easily target certain frequency bands and tame any harsh frequencies within the sound I was designing. Finally, I used multiband compression as a general "even it out" tool so that there weren't any general frequency ranges that poked out and everything felt very similar.


Below are some example settings that I used across the project.



I hope this inspires you or helps!


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