Techniques and Effects for Modifying Sound for Use in Ambient/Sound Design
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Old 14-06-2017, 03:40 PM   #1
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Techniques and Effects for Modifying Sound for Use in Ambient/Sound Design

Hello all,

This is my very first post and I just registered minutes ago. I've been looking all over for like-minded people and it looks like this is one of the only places I've found. I'm excited to join the community.

With all that said, I would like to gather and make a list that's hopefully good enough to sticky. The list I'd like to create is regarding what techniques many of you use to take samples and modify them into something useful for Ambient music or sound design. By modify, I mean it could be modified either beyond recognition or simply modified into something that sounds good and useful.

So, let's list your techniques AND how you perform that technique. I'll start off with a basic few:

REVERB - This one is obvious and there are a ton of plug ins available. There are also different kinds of reverb, convolution reverb for instance. The plugins I've found most useful are Aether (for realistic, high-quality reverb), Altiverb (a good convolution reverb), Ambience (a good free-verb), and I personally love Valhalla's Shimmer (great for that BIG reverb sound).

I usually only use reverb when I feel I need to, as the practice of slapping reverb on everything I feel becomes overbearing. But a good pad or piano-type sound or even a spacious drone can use reverb to great effect.

DELAY: I think everyone knows what delay does and how it works. Just find a plugin that works for you. It could be the generic one that comes with your audio editing software (AES, for discussion purposes) or DAW and that should work fine. I use Wave's Manny Delay, which produces interesting delay sounds.

CHORUS/FLANGER - These are simple effects included as plugins with most DAWs and some AES. I've used it before and it's a useful tool in the box, but I'm not sure how to explain it.

CHANGING SPEED - This is often available in AES (I use Audacity) and in some DAWs. It does what it says it does and can be good for slowing down your sounds. I employ this technique as you could imagine, simply slowing my sound down.

CHANGING TEMPO - This effect is available in probably all AESs and DAWs, however I should note that the one in Audacity is especially unique to what I've seen. It does a high quality tempo change while optionally maintaining the pitch. The only issue I've had is that it sometime induces unwanted audio artifacts, but not always. This effect creates really interesting slowed down sounds.

CHANGING PITCH - This can work especially well to make a sound lower or higher, which can produce an interesting effect. Incuded on all DAWs/AESs.

TIME STRETCHING - Based on my research there are different types of time stretching. There's the basic time stretching algorithm found in AESs/DAWs, but in the professional sound design and academic world there is phase vocoder time stretching and time domain harmonic scaling (TDHS). As far as software that will do this kind of complex and high quality time stretching, I've only found that Time Factory II (Google it) does this sort of stretching, but it's very expensive. Another interesting time stretch that many of you may know about is paulstretch, which is available for free as stand alone software (complex) or used very simply as a plugin included with Audacity. Paulstretch can do extreme time stretching and can create beautiful drones and soundscapes, however, if you use it enough, you'll notice it has a very paulstretch-y sound that's recognizable. There are other plugins, I'm sure, and I'd like to know what other people have used, especially for more extreme time stretching, as I find this of great interest.

CONVOLUTION - This technique is an effect that uses what is called Impulse Responses (IRs), which is basically another sound, and it takes your audio and convolves it with an IR sound to create either a realistic reverb sound (such as with Altiverb) or if a non-reverb IR is used, such as any WAV file, it will create very strange sounds, completely mangling your audio. This can be used to interesting effect, but shouldn't be overused in my opinion, as it gets tiresome sounding. A free convolution plugin would be SIR (Google it, and SIR2 is not free). Reaper also has a free EQ called Reafir that not only does EQ, but allows left and right channel convolution (free also). There are others as well.

DISTORTION - I don't really use this and it's better for instruments like guitar and bass or drum beats. But it does have some interesting effects with the right synth sound. Plugins are widely available, but I don't have one to recommend since I don't use it much.

MORPHING/SPECTRAL MORPHING - I just discovered this one. It produces a strange and potentially annoying sound, but sometimes it's interesting. Perhaps I just haven't used the right plugin. I use Waves' Morphoder. Also suggested, has been another type of morphing called spectral morphing. Some of these plugins include Zynaptiq Morph and Melda Morph, which apparently work especially well with modulation.

SPECTRAL SHIFTING - This was suggested for something to produce interesting sound designs. I'm not sure how it works, but plugins include Zynaptiq Wormhole, Melda Transform, and Grm Tools.

IMAGE BASED SPECTRAL EDITORS/SYNTHS - Another user has recommended this technique, as it produces a variety of effects. Plugins include PhotoSounder ("made for the export and import of images, so it basically also transforms your image editor into a sound editor") and iZoptope's RX6.

GRANULAR SYNTHESIS - This, according to many, is the latest and greatest technique for making interesting sounds out of samples. There is a great article by Sound on Sound explaining how it works (Google "granular synthesis sound on sound", because I can't post links). Some of the top plugins include Steinberg's Padshop Pro (really top notch), Ambient (very cheap, but very good), Moodal, The Mangle. Others include Native Instruments' Form, and also Flesh. UPDATE: Soundmorph's Dust is amazing. I use it now. I recommend it. It's very versatile and great for live stuff too. Also, for a free granular synth, try Monolake's Granulator II.

HARDWARE SYNTHS - Plenty of hardware synths are geared towards ambient music. One user recommended the Moog Voyager and the Strymon BigSky (I think he was recommending hardware synths here, but I did not look it up; in any case, this category still holds true). Please feel free to recommend other synths that work well for ambient music.

Well, that's all I have for now. I hope the response to add to this list is enthusiastic. I'll keep updating it as I come across more. Thanks to everyone's contributions!

Thanks,
ambtconnoisseur

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Old 14-06-2017, 03:57 PM   #2
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Re: Techniques and Effects for Modifying Sound for Use in Ambient/Sound Design

Granular samplers / synthesis (however you want to look at it)

This exact thread happens quite a bit around here, will link in case you find the previous incarnations useful (once I find them, they always have unique titles)

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Old 14-06-2017, 04:10 PM   #3
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Re: Techniques and Effects for Modifying Sound for Use in Ambient/Sound Design

Vault O))),

Thanks for your reply. So, granular synthesis. I've started reading up on it since you posted this. Do you recommend any particular hardware or plugins for the most extreme types of granular synthesis? My main goals in sound design is to take samples and make the unrecognizable, but also so they still sound good and are useful.
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Old 14-06-2017, 06:35 PM   #4
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Re: Techniques and Effects for Modifying Sound for Use in Ambient/Sound Design

Steinberg's [Only registered and activated users can see links. Click here to register]
and / or [Only registered and activated users can see links. Click here to register]
..either are really good for all things granular. Padshop Pro costs around the 80.00 mark..while Ambient v3 is only 10.00..but don't let the low cost fool you into thinking it's a crappy program..it's not..it's a very powerful little gem of a program, trust me.

Also check out [Only registered and activated users can see links. Click here to register]
from tritik, which will set you back 75.00..but is worth it.

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Old 15-06-2017, 02:06 AM   #5
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Re: Techniques and Effects for Modifying Sound for Use in Ambient/Sound Design

Ambient is terrific, albeit it's not a vst plugin. AM had a nice post somewhere on these tools with screen shots.


Also check out The Mangle for granular synthesis. [Only registered and activated users can see links. Click here to register]


Other tools in this vein are Native Instruments Form and also Flesh. The latter is intended to generate serendipitous results, so it only allows you indirect control over its behavior, but the results can be intriguing.
Also some really good iPad apps. Soundscapes and Samplr are born to be used as Ambient machines. iDensity as well and TC-11. Best part... they usually run around $15-$20.

Other than that, perhaps a Moog Voyager and a Strymon BigSky?

Delay and reverb...

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Old 15-06-2017, 07:08 AM   #6
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Re: Techniques and Effects for Modifying Sound for Use in Ambient/Sound Design

Granular is the shits when it comes to ambient. It needs to be mentioned. It's the equivalent of garlic, salt and curry when talking about food.

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Old 15-06-2017, 07:14 AM   #7
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Re: Techniques and Effects for Modifying Sound for Use in Ambient/Sound Design

I tend to find that the most interesting results are usually gained by simply changing the pitch. Usually to lower.
Also playing sound backwards sometimes produces interesting effects.

Depending on the style you aim for, then you might apply other effects or e.g. granular processing.

Granular and chorus/flanger and such do induce their own "character" to the sound though. So generally I decide, whether I want to add that kind of character or not.

Granular very often produces "technological" sounding sounds. Same goes for many other effects.
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Old 15-06-2017, 09:15 AM   #8
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Re: Techniques and Effects for Modifying Sound for Use in Ambient/Sound Design

pan automation and a fuck ton of reverb on everything pretty much.
Also grab paul stretch aswell
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Old 15-06-2017, 10:15 AM   #9
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Re: Techniques and Effects for Modifying Sound for Use in Ambient/Sound Design

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..AM had a nice post somewhere on these tools with screen shots..
That would be over in "[Only registered and activated users can see links. Click here to register]
",..come to think of it, that thread is way overdue another post. I'll have to do something about that.

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Old 15-06-2017, 11:16 AM   #10
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Re: Techniques and Effects for Modifying Sound for Use in Ambient/Sound Design

Image-based spectral editors/synthesizers like Photosounder and iZotope RX 6: The most flexible option for sound design imo. RX 6 even allows for using VST plugins in specific and variable frequency selections over time, among many other options. Photosounder is made for the export and import of images, so it basically also transforms your image editor into a sound editor... both programs can be used for all kinds of well-known and new effects, time-stretching and more. That's where I do a lot of my more complex sound design these days... Also, some wavetable synths such as Serum can import image files as well, giving many nice options for synth preset design.

Spectral shifting (Zynaptiq Wormhole, Melda Transform, Grm Tools..) and spectral morphing between different sound sources (Zynaptiq Morph, Melda Morph): can be awesome for all kinds of sound design, especially with modulation.

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Old 15-06-2017, 01:52 PM   #11
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Re: Techniques and Effects for Modifying Sound for Use in Ambient/Sound Design

Wow, some damn good replies and information in here. So, it seems granular synthesis is the way to go, as well as other techniques/plugins. I grabbed a copy of Ambient because it is cheap, but it seems to do very interesting things to samples. Really cool stuff. I'm going to check out Padshop Pro, The Mangler, etc. for more granular synths. I also want to look at all the other stuff suggested such as spectral morphing, wavetable synths, chorus/flanger, and so on. I'm going to add all this stuff to the list and hopefully it will be useful to others, though I know apparently this is a common topic. Thanks all!
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Old 15-06-2017, 01:54 PM   #12
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Re: Techniques and Effects for Modifying Sound for Use in Ambient/Sound Design

Also, how do you thank people on here? (I know there's probably some sticky around here that tells you how).
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Old 15-06-2017, 07:07 PM   #13
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Re: Techniques and Effects for Modifying Sound for Use in Ambient/Sound Design

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Also, how do you thank people on here? (I know there's probably some sticky around here that tells you how).
Don't bother, it just goes to their heads. The last thing we need is inflated egos around here!

There should be a 'Thanks' button right next to the 'Quote' button on the bottom right of the post. You may need to have a minimum number of posts for it to show up. Quite frankly, while it's a nice way to show support for ideas and/or people, I don't think anyone's getting butthurt about not getting thanked around here. If you hit the 30 post mark and don't see it, you might holler at one of the mods and see if there's something wonky.
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Old 16-06-2017, 01:39 PM   #14
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Re: Techniques and Effects for Modifying Sound for Use in Ambient/Sound Design

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Don't bother, it just goes to their heads. The last thing we need is inflated egos around here!

There should be a 'Thanks' button right next to the 'Quote' button on the bottom right of the post. You may need to have a minimum number of posts for it to show up. Quite frankly, while it's a nice way to show support for ideas and/or people, I don't think anyone's getting butthurt about not getting thanked around here. If you hit the 30 post mark and don't see it, you might holler at one of the mods and see if there's something wonky.
Hah! Well, in any case, I would like to thank everyone for their contributions to this thread. I guess when I get enough posts I can start thanking people, if they care. Thanks to you too for the info.
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Old 20-06-2017, 03:41 PM   #15
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Re: Techniques and Effects for Modifying Sound for Use in Ambient/Sound Design

I stumbled across a fairly new piece of granular synthesis software, Soundmorph's Dust. It's pretty amazing. So nice that I forked over $100 for it instead of going for something cheaper like The Mangle or even something modestly priced like Steinberg's Padshop Pro. I've added it to the list in my first post. Anyway, Dust is excellent. Check it out.
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Old 21-06-2017, 10:04 AM   #16
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Re: Techniques and Effects for Modifying Sound for Use in Ambient/Sound Design

Quote:
Originally Posted by ambtconnoisseur View Post
I stumbled across a fairly new piece of granular synthesis software, Soundmorph's Dust. It's pretty amazing. So nice that I forked over $100 for it instead of going for something cheaper like The Mangle or even something modestly priced like Steinberg's Padshop Pro. I've added it to the list in my first post. Anyway, Dust is excellent. Check it out.

Yeah..I'd read about that before, but I found the UI to be a little "distracting"..like they're trying to make it look really cool, when all it is a granular synth. I don't mean to disrespect them or their offering..I just feel they aiming this at those who think they need the latest thing in order to make good music, rather than giving them a tool that will teach them how to actually do something, which is more the case with PadShop Pro.

But hey, all this is just my take and personal feelings on this..if Dust helps you be more creative and you find it fun to use, then more power to ya, my friend..that's all that counts in the end.

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Old 21-06-2017, 06:59 PM   #17
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Re: Techniques and Effects for Modifying Sound for Use in Ambient/Sound Design

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Yeah..I'd read about that before, but I found the UI to be a little "distracting"..like they're trying to make it look really cool, when all it is a granular synth. I don't mean to disrespect them or their offering..I just feel they aiming this at those who think they need the latest thing in order to make good music, rather than giving them a tool that will teach them how to actually do something, which is more the case with PadShop Pro.

But hey, all this is just my take and personal feelings on this..if Dust helps you be more creative and you find it fun to use, then more power to ya, my friend..that's all that counts in the end.
That's true, they definitely put a lot of effort in the UI and that's certainly one of their selling points. But beyond that, I like the way that it functions and that you can layer up to 8 samples, convolve, create automated knob adjustments, etc. Maybe other granular synths let you do that, but at the very least Dust is pretty interesting. I totally get your point though. I'll probably still get Padshop Pro as well and see which one I like better. They're both the same and very different all at once.
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Old 22-06-2017, 04:58 AM   #18
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Re: Techniques and Effects for Modifying Sound for Use in Ambient/Sound Design

You use Live - good choice. All you need is the Granulator II by Monolake, it's free in M4L

The Mangle was a good mention, but you use Live and Granulator II is king


And it's free

STILL NOT CONVINCED?

Just 1 easy payment of $0.00

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Old 22-06-2017, 05:39 AM   #19
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Re: Techniques and Effects for Modifying Sound for Use in Ambient/Sound Design

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Originally Posted by Vault O))) View Post
You use Live - good choice. All you need is the Granulator II by Monolake, it's free in M4L

The Mangle was a good mention, but you use Live and Granulator II is king


And it's free

STILL NOT CONVINCED?

Just 1 easy payment of $0.00
So true, I use a lot of Falcon for granular stuff but Granulator II is awesome!

However, Dust looks interesting and beautiful to me, to be honest I appreciate a nice GUI and it seems to have at least some originality, but I couldn't find a demo version for it. I would like to see or read some in-depth comparisons with other granular software but didn't find much in that regard. It also seems to be available as an effect version, which could be nice...

Talking about granular stuff, I'm not sure if Uhbik-G has been mentioned, which is one of my favourite granular effects (part of the Uhbik plugin bundle).

Oh, and another nice effect for Ambient might be Adaptiverb by Zynaptiq, a harmonically adaptive reverb with some nice tricks...

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Old 22-06-2017, 03:28 PM   #20
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Re: Techniques and Effects for Modifying Sound for Use in Ambient/Sound Design

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Originally Posted by Vault O))) View Post
You use Live - good choice. All you need is the Granulator II by Monolake, it's free in M4L

The Mangle was a good mention, but you use Live and Granulator II is king


And it's free

STILL NOT CONVINCED?

Just 1 easy payment of $0.00
Hey, I'll take free any day. I'll add this one to the list and download it when I get home from work. Thanks!

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Tipper sound. Need help understanding the sound design. Bozoe Sound Design, Mixing, & Studio Techniques 3 27-08-2012 07:09 AM


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