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Critical Listening For Effective Sound Design

CAD - Critical Audio Dissection. This is the term I coined and what I commonly refer to when I am analyzing i.e. listening to sources sounds during the sound design process. This dawned upon me the other day when I was taking a walk with my wife and a passenger jet flew overhead while taking off from the local airport. I noticed the complexity of the jet engine sound.

The sound caught my ear because the average person would have simply heard the "sound" of a jet engine. However, what I heard was several sounds or binaries which made up the "sound"..component of the jet passing over head.

Why is it important to apply CAD when you are analyzing and creating sounds? Because rarely do "sounds" consist of a single audio component (binary). Much like music, there are many things going on to make up a "sound".

Lets take my example of the jet engine. What I heard was the grrrr - mechanical sound of the engine motor, the whine of the turbines, the roar of the jet exhaust and Doppler effect of all three. Interestingly, these sounds are all independent binaries to create a whole sound with each binary changing based on variable external effects i.e. air temperature, speed, position, altitude, etc.

My point is this. When developing sounds for creative use, a sound is more complex than a simple binary...on/off. When you are listening, analyzing a sound or thinking about how to create a sound it helps to approach your analysis - design from a CAD stand point. What singular audio elements are you going to use to create your composite sound or the final sound.

Sound Design is more than recording a binary audio element. Its about synergistic creative design, component make up, and blending and mixing binary elements to create a complex component.


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