90 Second Sound Design - Vending Machine to Sci-Fi Ambience

90 Second Sound Design - Vending Machine to Sci-Fi Ambience

Pitch Shifting is (still) Your Best Friend

We’re at no shortage of tools, plugins or processing methods in this day and age. It seems like their’s a new one every month. Usually this is the first thing I try out when I record something new, pitch it down and see what it sounds like.

Sometimes that’s all you need to do to get a sound that’s just right for your project. I’m not ashamed to admit it either. At times it may feel like cheating if you didn’t sit and play around with it for hours, doing endless processing chains to completely transform it. I know I can’t be alone here.

Recording a Source

I record everything that makes a hum or buzz that I come across. This stuff is pure gold when it comes to making strange designed ambiences, spaceships or other types of machinery. I usually grab 3 perspectives two close mic positions from different angles and one from a bit further away. Sometimes I grab a fourth, where I actually take the mic and move around the source (close) as I record. Capturing a natural doppler effect can really help you make some sweet stuff later on.


So I relied pretty heavily on just pitching this one. But I had an idea in my mind of some big derelict craft floating through interstellar space. How’d that sound? I needed to do a few things to get there.

Mainly, emphasizing the low frequencies with Subsynth. I added a bit of parallel distortion to give it a bit more texture and finally, black hole reverb to make this thing sound huge and resonant.