3 Sound Design Myths that Are Holding Us Back
Let's talk about the most interesting subject in the entire world...
Texas. 👏🏽 Airport. 👏🏽 Logistics. 👏🏽
Oohhooo yes you're in for a real humdinger today.
You see, many moons ago, an airport in Houston, Texas was getting a ton of complaints.
Why? Well, the checked bags were simply taking too long to come out onto the baggage claim carousel.
So, the airport thought of an obvious solution: hire more people to make things faster.
Even though bags were now coming out much much quicker, people were still complaining at the same rate.
So, they thought of a perfect solution: Instead of speeding up the process, they slowed down the passengers. They moved the baggage claim further away so that, by the time passengers got to the claim, the bags were ready to be picked up.
It actually took objectively MORE time to pick up the bags, but all the complaints stopped entirely. It felt like the bags got out onto the carousel faster, but it was really just a myth.
And although some myths, like the one above, can make us feel better, there are many that can hold us back, especially when it comes to our work.
So let's cover a few of the most common myths that sound designers hear and tell themselves all the time.
"So, Akash, you molten chocolate marshmallow bonbon," you ask "what are we going to be covering today?"
Part 1: Gear, and how much it matters
Part 2: Free sounds
Part 3: Paid plugins
First, we hear about gear all the time
And how it doesn't matter that much.
And yes, that's 100% true. So long as you have a working microphone and a working computer, you'll be fine. You can get an amazing amount done with just those tools.
But the real power of gear is convenience
I, personally, always optimize for convenience over quality. I always have my phone on me, and so I bought a tiny little microphone that attaches to it.
Does it record as well as a field recorder? Absolutely not. Have I still gotten an amazing array of sounds because of it? Yes.
When it comes to gear, I don't really care about quality so long as it's "good enough." Instead, I care about how quickly I can use it and get into the creative flow. So, instead of looking for "the best," look for the most convenient to you.
But, we can't always record our own sounds. At some point we're just going to need to use sound libraries in our work.
And that's where free libraries come in
It's easy to think that the free stuff isn't as good as the paid stuff, especially when we're using websites like Freesound.org to find our sounds.
But, there are absolutely great free sound libraries out there. To that point, I recommend you download every single GDC bundle that Sonniss has put together.
All told, they've put together about 135 gigabytes of free sounds, curated from the best sound effects libraries in the world.
Just getting their free stuff will set you up with a totally amazing library that would have cost $10,000 just 10 years ago.
And speaking of getting stuff for free, this mindset also tends to transfer to plugins.
And yes, there are tons of great paid plugins out there
But honestly? Most of the free stuff is amazing.
For example, Billie Eilish and Finneas have used exclusively stock Logic plugins to create and produce their music, and they've won countless Grammies and have billions of plays on their songs.
If the free stuff is good enough for them, it's more than good enough for us.
Granted, there are absolutely times where having a more specialized plugin is worth paying for, but having decent reverbs, EQs, and compressors will get you most of the way there, and pretty much every DAW has great ones built-in.
"But Akash, you red velvet zebra mini-bundt cake," you say, "you're making it sound like I already have everything I need to be creating great sound design!"
Yes! You almost definitely do.
Now, it's time to learn and to practice.
So let's summarize what we went over today:
1. There are a lot of myths when it comes to becoming a sound designer
2. We think we need the best gear... Instead, just go for what's convenient
3. We think paid libraries are the only option, but a lot of the free stuff can be great, such as Sonniss' bundles
4. We think the paid plugins are what we need, and while they are nice, the stock plugins in most DAWs are more than good enough
So, while that Houston airport perpetuates the myth of speedy service
Let's stop perpetuating these sound design myths both within our heads, and within the community as a whole.
And if you have any questions Get on my mailing list and respond to any of the emails you get from me to ask me your questions directly. You'll also get 2 free courses, free sound effects, and much more just for signing up!