Recently, while working on a project, I had need of a creepy bit of music. I didn’t have an orchestra at my disposal, and I’m not a composer, so I used what I had: a couple of acoustic and electric guitars, a little bit of creativity and Soundbooth. With that, I came up with my final sound:
creepy effected.mp3 – The final sound
Soundbooth is an audio editing and creation program that is available through the Adobe/IU licensing agreement. It is part of the Production Premium suite. It can record, edit, and add effects to sound files.
Starting out, I decided since I was very out of practice with guitar, I’d just record a simple three note phrase. I practiced with some different arrangements and ended up with what I thought was a suitably creepy beginning. To make sure I had a good amount to work with, I played it three times into the microphone. Here is the sound that resulted:
creepy.mp3 – Feel free to download and follow along in your own copy of Soundbooth CS4.
This is the screen once the sound was recorded. In the upper left, we have the Files panel, which shows my previous attempts, and just below that is the Effects panel, where we’ll be spending most of our time.
I recorded my sound directly into Soundbooth with the record button at the bottom of the screen. Once there, click record again and start talking, or playing. Click stop when finished.
Finding the Sound
Once I had the base sound in place, creating the final effect was mostly a process of trial and error until I found the sound I was looking for. Here are the effects I used to create the final sound effect.
To begin, I added an Analog Delay effect from the Effects menu (Effects->Analog Delay). Analog delay gives us a nice echo effect.
In the Effects Panel(see to the right), we can see that Analog Delay has appeared:
Effect Panel Features
- The green button next to the effect is an On/Off switch. One very cool aspect is that these effects are applied in real time. So as an effect is playing, you can turn an effect on and off to see the difference.
- To delete an effect from the sound, Click the effect, and hit “Delete” or “Backspace” on the keyboard.
- Another great thing about Effects is that they remain in preview mode until we either save the file, or click the “Apply to File” button at the bottom of the Effects panel.
- You can apply an Effect to a particular portion of a sound by pressing and dragging part of the sound, and then clicking the “Apply to Selection” button in the Effects panel, once the Effect is ready.
Working with the Effects Presets
Listening to the default, it doesn’t sound very impressive. However, one of the cool things about Soundbooth is all the ways we can modify our effects.
To change the settings of the effect, you can click the “Default” drop down menu, and experiment with different options. For this project, I went with Drainpipe – Aggressive. We can hear a fuller sound immediately.
The next thing I added was a Chorus/Flanger Effect (Effects->Chorus/Flanger). This effect adds some interesting vibrations to your sound files. I selected A Flanger Darkly – Aggressive as my preset.
Finally I added a Convolution Reverb effect(Effects->Convolution Reverb). This effect can be very subtle or very intense, but it adds some simple reverberation to your sound, giving it some repeating elements. To really crank things up, I gave it a setting of Dreamscape – Aggressive. Verge of Control gives a similar if slightly different effect. Once I got here, I knew I had the sound I wanted. It was suitably creepy, and had a feel of something distant and threatening.
Here’s what my Effects panel(in the image to the right) looked like when I was finished:
No changes are final until you either save the file, or click the “Apply to File” button in the Effects panel. You also won’t see any changes in the visible sound wave until clicking this button either. Soundbooth saves (from the menu File->Save) as a .wav by default, but you can also save in popular formats like .mp3 and .aif.
Soundbooth is a program clearly designed for experimenting, so pop it open, and start trying out some sound editing of your own.
If you’re interested in more information about the basics of sound editing, including recording, editing the timeline, and adding extra sounds to an existing sound, check out IT Training & Education’s Podcasting: The Basics workshop.