affordable sound effects creation Asbjoern Andersen


Creating sound effects libraries doesn’t necessarily require a big budget – here, Glitchedtones founder Stuart Keenan shares his approaches to creating excellent SFX libraries without breaking the bank:
 

Hi Stuart, please introduce yourself and Glitchedtones:

Hi Asbjoern, I’m an indie sound designer based in the northeast of England. I release sound effects and atmosphere libraries through my label Glitchedtones. My libraries are primarily aimed towards film, game and music productions but are suitable for a diverse range of projects, such as art installations, theatre and audio dramas. What really draws me to sound design is having the freedom to experiment with a wide range of sound sources and having little in the way of creative boundaries.

I’ve learned to use whatever I have at my disposal to its full capability and maintain a relatively simple setup which I know well

Glitchedtones is a less-than-part-time venture as I have a day job in an office four days a week. After time constraints, budget is a factor as there’s little left in the pot for nice gear and software after the bills are paid. However, I’ve learned to use whatever I have at my disposal to its full capability and maintain a relatively simple setup which I know well.

 

For great-sounding results, using affordable means, what sort of equipment would you recommend?

I’d recommend as little as a basic laptop, some decent studio headphones and a copy of Audacity! For more options and some luxury, an audio interface, microphone, monitors, a MIDI controller and a portable recorder are invaluable. There are many budget gear options available these days, one drawback is cheap preamps on recording devices though. It’s difficult to produce high-quality professional field recordings with cheap gear, but that doesn’t mean you can’t use the recordings as source material for your own designs. You may not be able to release a pristine urban ambiances library from a Zoom handheld, but you could have an incredibly unique, high-quality library of planetary environments on your hands once you start processing.

What are your go-to tools and plugins?

Granular seems to work particularly well for creating Industrial, Dystopian, Sci-Fi or Abstract ambiances out of everyday recordings

For source material, I often use feedback loops, lo-fi field recordings and computer generated noise. I love granular samplers and processors, so these are a mainstay and something I always go for when it comes to shaping the sounds. There are lots of great free granular tools available online which are all worth exploring. Granular seems to work particularly well for creating Industrial, Dystopian, Sci-Fi or Abstract ambiances out of everyday recordings, with loads of room for creating variations of a single piece of audio. I also go for buffer and glitch plugins a lot and love anything with a random function as it’s great for inspiring ideas and building up source material to mangle later.

Fruits of the labor: Sound libraries from Glitchedtones:

Here are some of the sound effects libraries created by Stuart Keenan and released under the Glitchedtones label (more here):

  • Abstract Sound Design is a budget-friendly collection of unique audio material sourced from digital feedback loop experiments and granular processing sessions. Featuring 25 abstract atmospheres and 35 abstract FX, this library is perfect for those moments when creativity may be running dry, serving as an inspiring starting point for some serious sound sculpting. Of course, they may just fit your needs as they are, too!

    Add to cart
  • Horror Atmosfear Play Track 50 sounds included, 31 mins total $10

    Featuring sounds taken from lo-fi instrumental recordings, harsh noise experiments and granular synthesis explorations, Atmosfear is a gritty soundscape collection geared towards the horror genre. With a distinctly unpolished production style to bring a rough edge to your scenario, these sounds can be used to invoke feelings of suspense, dread, tension, fear and doom into your characters and environments.

    What does an industrial scale torture chamber in an abandoned asylum sound like? What about a high-voltage electrical possession? Find the answer to these questions and more with Atmosfear. Enter if you dare.

    Add to cart
  • Whether you work in film, game or music production, it's a standard requirement to have a wide range of whoosh and transition sounds at your disposal. With raw, organic textures alongside heavily processed Doppler FX, the sounds in this library can be mixed together to create a multitude of variations which will give your projects a real edge. Featuring power ups and downs, spacecraft passbys, robotic movement, machine failure, future technology sounds and more, Whooshes & Transitions features 150 unique audio files ready to process to your liking or drop straight into your production.

    Add to cart

For those with a limited budget, what are some particularly helpful approaches for generating useful material? Any surprising sources of great material?

I’ve created lots of varied sounds just from jamming out on effects and it’s great for unique glitch and UI sounds

It may seem obvious but record everything! For example, if you are trying out a new plugin on one of your recordings (this is especially good with a synth or effect with random or generative functions), simply record while you play and then edit out the highlights. I’ve created lots of varied sounds just from jamming out on effects and it’s great for unique glitch and UI sounds. You can then use these edits to shape into something new again. By time-stretching or pitch-shifting and layering on some more effects, you can then start crafting drones and ambient atmospheres. Also, don’t get rid of any ‘bad bits’ such as preamps hiss, mic pops and cable crackles until you’ve fully explored their potential!

 

What are some of your favorite sound design techniques?

A great amount of my work has been built on recording and manipulating feedback loops using the No-Input Mixer technique, so this was a go-to for a lot of my early libraries and still something I really enjoy. It can be so random that you can’t recreate the same sound twice using the same settings but it is a lot of fun to explore! I use a Behringer 4 Channel Mixer and a bunch of guitar effects for this. It doesn’t matter much which pedals you use but I find having a delay pedal in there really gets things going. I’ve created many drones, glitches and electrical sounds using this technique.

 

Popular on A Sound Effect right now - article continues below:

 

Latest releases:  
  • Vehicles Skate on Board Play Track 112 sounds included, 22 mins total $49.99

    Skate on Board is an SFX library with the purpose of bringing alive the hidden sounds of skateboarding. This library has 65 stereo recordings with the best sound quality of actions such as jumps, pass by, and grinds over different surfaces like concrete banquets, and rail tubes. Furthermore, this library contains 47 mono audios of P.O.V perspectives which were reordered with different microphones attached to the skateboard to capture the full maneuvers and details of skateboarding.

    Add to cart
  • The west is still wild.  A collection of clean and loopable natural ambient atmosphere elements – each 3 minutes long. This collection represents my best content and works great in multitrack layers.

    The core of this collection are natural sounds captured in the wilds of Oregon, USA – Western North America. The wildlife in the forests, streams, lakes, coast, and deserts of Oregon are a good substitute for most US and Canadian states west of the Rocky Mountains, including Washington, California, Nevada, Idaho, Montana, New Mexico, Utah, Arizona, Colorado, British Colombia, Alberta, Alaska, and Wyoming.

    These recordings are from a pristine environment that avoid any human caused sounds.

    22 %
    OFF
    Ends 1566943200
    Add to cart
  • Animals & Creatures Broken Robot Play Track 87 sounds included $12.99 $6.99

    This library is a small “utility” collection of sounds great for use as Robot/Machines but also great for UI and Weapon design elements.  Servos, various metal objects and analog synths were recorded as source material to create this library.  The library includes raw servo recordings and meticulously performed or designed robotic/machine-like sounds.

    Bonus – Forge Sound Design Tool Sample Map

    If you own the Forge Sound Design Toolkit this library also comes with a specially curated sample map.  The sample map can be loaded into the sampler for randomization and the creation of more complex sounds.

    46 %
    OFF
    Ends 1566943200
    Add to cart
  • Electricity Electric Arcs and Energy Play Track 266 sounds included $39.99 $19.99

    Electric Arcs and Energy is essentially two separate collections of sounds.  The first, Electrical Arcs are more raw.  These arc sounds can be manipulated and mangled to be used as design elements in your project.  They are highly flexible and can easily be pitch-shifted -48 semitones or more.  They remain remarkably useful and clean giving each sound multiple “dimensions”.

    The Electrical Energy collection is a series of more specified design elements that I created – Impacts and Powerups.  Meant to be used in Weapon or UI design they should be flexible enough to be used as stand-alone effects or layers in more complex sounds.

    Recording and Editing

    This library was designed from scratch by recording highly unconventional metal sources with a cello bow and processing them (see one example in video). Great care was taken during the recording and editing process to ensure maximum flexibility of these sounds.  The recording was done at 24/192kHz using the Sennheiser MKH 2050 mic which captures frequencies up to 50kHz.  All processing and design was then performed at 192kHz.

    Bonus – Forge Sound Design Tool Sample Map

    If you own the Forge Sound Design Toolkit this library also comes with a specially curated sample map.  The sample map can be loaded into the sampler for randomization and the creation of more complex sounds.

     

    50 %
    OFF
    Ends 1566943200
    Add to cart
  • Whooshes liftFX Play Track 275+ sounds included $89 $71.20

    AWE YOUR AUDIENCE WITH RISERS, BUILD-UPS, DROPS AND MORE.
    Risers, build-ups, drops, breaks, downlifters, swells, sweeps, falls – it has never been so easy to hype your audience. Forget samples, just turn the knob or let liftFX even do that for you, automatically, in beat sync at the length you need it to be.

    KEY FEATURES:

    • Playable in real-time with instant auditive and visual feedback
    • Any length, tempo, pitch range and root note possible
    • Tempo sync or time (s) duration
    • Control key parameters independently or automatically (+ reversed)
    • Automation and modwheel (cc1) support for each parameter
    • 275 nifty presets included
    • Optional time lock and control lock to try different presets with current setting
    • High cut and low cut filters, reverb and delay
    • Lightweight plug-in, as it relies on synthesis
    USE CASES:

    • Build captivating uplifters, downlifters, drops, rhythmic, percussive builds and more effects out of the box
    • Any electronic genre such as EDM, Trap, Dubstep, Pop, Hip Hop, Drum’n’Bass, House, Techno, and more
    • Cinematic and experimental sound design
    • Beef up your synthesizers with tonal layers or harmonic overtones to achieve a fat, rich sound
    • liftFX requires a free iLok account (click to learn more)
    20 %
    OFF
    Ends 1567116000
    Add to cart

Need specific sound effects? Try a search below:
 

What’s your approach for coming up with library ideas?

I tend to find themes for libraries while freely experimenting, I’m always playing around and recording the results, just for fun and to see what happens, checking things out. Anything goes. There’s a lot of randomness and chance in my work, which I find incredibly inspiring. It’s these experiments and encounters which really inspire me to then shape the results into more tailored collections.

 

In terms of gear or tools, what’s been the one upgrade you’ve made that’s the biggest difference?

I’ve recently got Serum on a rent-to-buy deal, which is a bit of a luxury for me as it’s the first commercial VST synth I have bought. It’s all I use now for synthesized sound design, I find it really intuitive and almost anything you do with it sounds great. As much as I love noise, glitches and granular processing, I’m excited to get started creating some new libraries using Serum as a main sound source.

 

When it comes to indie SFX, what’s been the most valuable lesson you’ve learned?

I’ve learned not to be dissuaded by a lack of expensive gear and to simply go with getting the most out of what is readily available

I’ve learned not to be dissuaded by a lack of expensive gear and to simply go with getting the most out of what is readily available. It’s easy to think that without a Sound Devices rig or a Native Instrument’s Komplete setup your chances of being successful or being taken seriously in the sound design industry may be limited. However, this needn’t be the case!

 

Any essential tips for people starting out in indie SFX?

Embrace your limitations, as this is where you may find you are at your most creative and unique.
 

A big thanks to Stuart Keenan for sharing the story behind his sound design approach! Do you have any tips for affordable ways of creating sound effects? If so, please share them in the comments

 

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  • Bring the monsters to life! Bestial roars, screams and murmurs of 6 bizarre creatures. From brutal, deep growls to sharp, ear-pearcing screeches.

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    Add to cart
  • User Interface (UI) Advanced UI Play Track 928 sounds included, 21 mins total $59 $49

    Looking for UI sound effects? The Advanced UI collection gets you a wide range of interface sound effects – from natural, organic and minimal pops, beeps and chirps to 8-Bit, hybrid and highly processed, electronic and digital SFX that will complete almost any project where UI/UX sounds are required. + Includes embedded Soundminer meta data.

    Designed for use in animations, video games, mobile apps, motion graphics, film, software development and industrial design projects, Advanced UI is a perfect fit for getting user interface sounds just right.

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Explore the full, unique collection here

Latest sound effects libraries:
 
  • Vehicles Skate on Board Play Track 112 sounds included, 22 mins total $49.99

    Skate on Board is an SFX library with the purpose of bringing alive the hidden sounds of skateboarding. This library has 65 stereo recordings with the best sound quality of actions such as jumps, pass by, and grinds over different surfaces like concrete banquets, and rail tubes. Furthermore, this library contains 47 mono audios of P.O.V perspectives which were reordered with different microphones attached to the skateboard to capture the full maneuvers and details of skateboarding.

  • The west is still wild.  A collection of clean and loopable natural ambient atmosphere elements – each 3 minutes long. This collection represents my best content and works great in multitrack layers.

    The core of this collection are natural sounds captured in the wilds of Oregon, USA – Western North America. The wildlife in the forests, streams, lakes, coast, and deserts of Oregon are a good substitute for most US and Canadian states west of the Rocky Mountains, including Washington, California, Nevada, Idaho, Montana, New Mexico, Utah, Arizona, Colorado, British Colombia, Alberta, Alaska, and Wyoming.

    These recordings are from a pristine environment that avoid any human caused sounds.

    22 %
    OFF
    Ends 1566943200
  • Animals & Creatures Broken Robot Play Track 87 sounds included $12.99 $6.99

    This library is a small “utility” collection of sounds great for use as Robot/Machines but also great for UI and Weapon design elements.  Servos, various metal objects and analog synths were recorded as source material to create this library.  The library includes raw servo recordings and meticulously performed or designed robotic/machine-like sounds.

    Bonus – Forge Sound Design Tool Sample Map

    If you own the Forge Sound Design Toolkit this library also comes with a specially curated sample map.  The sample map can be loaded into the sampler for randomization and the creation of more complex sounds.

    46 %
    OFF
    Ends 1566943200
  • Electricity Electric Arcs and Energy Play Track 266 sounds included $39.99 $19.99

    Electric Arcs and Energy is essentially two separate collections of sounds.  The first, Electrical Arcs are more raw.  These arc sounds can be manipulated and mangled to be used as design elements in your project.  They are highly flexible and can easily be pitch-shifted -48 semitones or more.  They remain remarkably useful and clean giving each sound multiple “dimensions”.

    The Electrical Energy collection is a series of more specified design elements that I created – Impacts and Powerups.  Meant to be used in Weapon or UI design they should be flexible enough to be used as stand-alone effects or layers in more complex sounds.

    Recording and Editing

    This library was designed from scratch by recording highly unconventional metal sources with a cello bow and processing them (see one example in video). Great care was taken during the recording and editing process to ensure maximum flexibility of these sounds.  The recording was done at 24/192kHz using the Sennheiser MKH 2050 mic which captures frequencies up to 50kHz.  All processing and design was then performed at 192kHz.

    Bonus – Forge Sound Design Tool Sample Map

    If you own the Forge Sound Design Toolkit this library also comes with a specially curated sample map.  The sample map can be loaded into the sampler for randomization and the creation of more complex sounds.

     

    50 %
    OFF
    Ends 1566943200
  • Whooshes liftFX Play Track 275+ sounds included $89 $71.20

    AWE YOUR AUDIENCE WITH RISERS, BUILD-UPS, DROPS AND MORE.
    Risers, build-ups, drops, breaks, downlifters, swells, sweeps, falls – it has never been so easy to hype your audience. Forget samples, just turn the knob or let liftFX even do that for you, automatically, in beat sync at the length you need it to be.

    KEY FEATURES:

    • Playable in real-time with instant auditive and visual feedback
    • Any length, tempo, pitch range and root note possible
    • Tempo sync or time (s) duration
    • Control key parameters independently or automatically (+ reversed)
    • Automation and modwheel (cc1) support for each parameter
    • 275 nifty presets included
    • Optional time lock and control lock to try different presets with current setting
    • High cut and low cut filters, reverb and delay
    • Lightweight plug-in, as it relies on synthesis
    USE CASES:

    • Build captivating uplifters, downlifters, drops, rhythmic, percussive builds and more effects out of the box
    • Any electronic genre such as EDM, Trap, Dubstep, Pop, Hip Hop, Drum’n’Bass, House, Techno, and more
    • Cinematic and experimental sound design
    • Beef up your synthesizers with tonal layers or harmonic overtones to achieve a fat, rich sound
    • liftFX requires a free iLok account (click to learn more)
    20 %
    OFF
    Ends 1567116000
 
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