What Is Sound Design?

Many people have heard the term, but what is sound design exactly? How does sound design work, what is it used for, and how is it applied? These are a few of the many questions that may arise when explaining or describing sound design.

Do you remember the last great movie you watched? What about the last song you were listening to or the last commercial you heard? In each of those cases, those sounds were created using sound design.

While sound design is an involved and complex topic, knowing the basics will help us better understand sound design and how it works. Here is a quick look at the basics of sound design.

The Elements of Sound Design

Here are the basic elements of sound design and the basics of how it works.


The recording of sound is instrumental for a sound designer. There are typically two types of sound recordings, studio and field. Studio recordings are any sound generated using equipment in the studio, while field recordings are sounds recorded onsite or on location.

Audio Mixing

The art of audio mixing is just that, an art. It involves sound designers using sound effects, microphones, and all sounds included in a production to create the feel, audio impact, and score. These productions can be live theatre, recordings, movies, soundtracks, and any production that involves sound.


This aspect of sound design deals with individual sound bites or a collection of sounds. A sampling is when a sound designer uses a recorded sound, like a rattling chain, and programs that sound or those sound bites into a MIDI sequence. That allows sound designers to access these effects with a click of the keyboard.


When you hear terms like equalization, reverb, distortion, vibrato, and compression, among others, you are talking about modification effects. This practice is the work of a sound designer using effects to manipulate original sounds or recordings.

Sound editing

This part of the sound structure process is arguably the most critical. Sound editing is the process of editing the final audio and involves splicing, sampling, mixing, and other techniques to create the piece.


In terms of sound design, the underscore typically refers to original music, or music added from another source approved for use. In movies, television, and commercials, separate composers are often brought in to create original scores that the sound designer will incorporate into the production.

Music and sound are instrumental in every type of production today. Getting the sound right and finding the right sounds and effects is the sound designer’s job. At House of Music Productions, in Atlanta, we are in the business of making music for every type of production and need.

Are you looking for help with your score or would you like to learn more about sound design? Contact us at the House of Music Productions and let our talented team help you find the sounds to make your next project sing.