What Is Sound Design

You've heard it in nearly every movie or TV show you've watched. You can even hear it in the theater and on the radio. It's sound design: the process of manipulating, fabricating, or creating audio elements to generate a certain effect and evoke emotion within the audience. It doesn't end there, though. Sound design is utilized in a range of disciplines to convey messages, provide dramatic effects, create ambiences, and more.

In many cases, you'd be unaware that sound design is even a factor in production. Imagine an eventful scene in one of your favorite films. Whether it's a building collapsing or a car chase scene, chances are the sound you hear wasn't recorded alongside the image you see. More often than not, that sound is produced later on in the studio.  

What Constitutes Good Sound Design

Good sound design can be defined as seamlessly integrating sound effects with visuals in a way that's unnoticed by the audience. When the audience is unaware that the sound effects they hear were produced separately from the actual visual, the sound designers did their job right. A common misconception in sound design is the louder, the better. While wall-shaking explosions can create a dramatic effect for the audience, creating loud sounds is certainly not the essence of sound design.

Additionally, good sound design may depend on the emotion it evokes within the audience, regardless of visuals. Sound effects often play a key role in the audience's reception of the production. Whether it's subtle ambiences or a theatrical impact, that added sound can ultimately affect how the audience perceives the production. Simply put, good sound design doesn't have to rely on high volumes.  


Though often overlooked, sound design can be a crucial factor in the success of nearly any production. Speaking mostly in terms of film, sound design plays a key role in how the audience perceives a production and how they are affected by it. Some notable examples of great sound design in film are the opening battle scene in Saving Private Ryan designed by Gary Rydstrom, the voice of Wall-E by sound designer extraordinaire Ben Burtt, and Walter Murch’s incredible work in Apocalypse Now. As mentioned, sound is manipulated and fabricated to achieve a desired effect or mood. Without it, that effect is lost.

From radio commercials to film productions, the importance of sound design remains the same. It's essential in effectively projecting messages, evoking emotion, providing suspense, and much more. If you’re looking for quality sound design for your next production, consider Creative Media Design in NYC. You can contact us here to learn more about our services.