Using Frequency Manipulation to Create Sound Effects

Before you can begin creating professional, top-of-the-line effects, it is imperative to have a basic understanding of sound frequency. Generally referred to as audio frequency or audible frequency, frequency is simply the range of vibrations heard and/or discerned by the average human ear.

While the precise frequencies that can be heard varies create original music widely from person to person and also depends on environmental factors, the standard range of human auditory frequencies is between 20 and 20,000 hertz. Numbers on the lower end of the frequency scale reflect lower frequencies (think bass) and higher frequencies (think screeching tires) are on the higher end of the frequency scale.

To create sound effects using electronic sound manipulating equipment, you generally manipulate existing sounds by changing their frequency to attain the sound you desire. Let’s face it, creating just the right combination of effects for any project, whether film, radio, video games, television, or multimedia, can be a daunting task. Even if you know exactly what effects you are looking to achieve, creating the precise sound you have in mind may, at times, seem impossible. To create professional sounding sound effects you will need some basic equipment that contains standard controls. Understanding these controls and more specifically what they contribute to the creation of your coveted effects is a great first step for any aspiring sound engineer.

– Level/Gain: This control is designed to allow you to attenuate or amplify a given set of frequencies.

– Cutoff Frequency/Cutoff Point: This is the point in which a filter begins to affect the sound in question. It is used for determining the part of the frequency spectrum the filter works on.

– Attenuation: Reduces the targeted frequency(ies).

– Bandwidth/Q/Emphasis/Resonance/Peak: Effects the range of frequencies from each side of the cutoff point (measured in Hertz) related to frequency.

Using the Tools at your Disposal

Creating professional sounding effects goes above and beyond simply having the right tools. Sound designers who not only have the right tools, but also know how to properly use them create the best effects. It is more important to know how to use the tools of your trade than to have the best equipment on the market. In fact, it is possible to create impressive sound effects using dinosaur-esque recording, mixing and editing equipment. However, having the best of the best is a definite plus