When you think about podcasting, the image that pops into your head may be fairly simple. Two people chilling in a studio, having influential conversations on the topics they are most passionate about. Sure, that’s the core of podcasting, the sharing of ideas in a structured, fun and easy-to-absorb format. But, there is this whole universe going on behind the scenes that audiences could appreciate a lot more: sound design.
But wait… do ALL podcasts involve sound design?
The short answer is… no. Even when all podcasts require audio editing, processing, mixing, etc., sound design is more of a craft, used to better illustrate ideas, warp the ways we deliver a specific message, move emotions, and so much more. Storytelling driven podcasts are great examples of the usage of sound design, as narrations often need a little extra something to enhance how we share ideas. Ambiences, voice effects, specific sounds (such as explosions, portals, sci-fi guns, etc.), and the way these sounds are incorporated into the narrative, all of these elements are what can really bring a great story to life through the power of sound design.
Sounds cool, but how can podcasters incorporate this craft into their own projects?
I believe that everyone can learn new skills if they are curious and passionate enough to put some work into it, so I definitely encourage you to start your Sound Designer / Hero’s Journey if it is something you really want to do. So let me break down what you’ll be needing:
1. A library
A good Sound Effects (SFX) library is essential for any sound designer, as it is the foundation of our craft. Even though there are sound designers that record and edit their own files (I encourage this practice too), in a library you’ll find thousands of SFX that are ready for you to incorporate into your projects. And before anyone panics, there are plenty of libraries out there, for all budgets. Let me recommend some for you, I got you!
For free sounds, you can always rely on FreeSound.org, a compilation of recordings and files that audio enthusiasts willingly share on this platform. All you need is to set up an account and you’re ready to roll!
To amp things up, I’d recommend Zapsplat, which contains a lot of hidden jewels, free SFX, and you can even access their premium library for a small fee. Personally, I’ve used this library for a couple of years and I can say it is worth paying for their membership.
In case you count with the resources, I’ll go ahead and recommend Soundsnap, that’s the one we use here at nodalab, and it is worth every penny. Soundsnap’s search engine is great and their library is so rich you’ll find pretty much anything here!
2. World Building & Criterion
Sound design is much more than just importing SFX into your project, as you have to really sit down and listen to the message you’ll. Always place sounds in order to support ideas and favor the narrative, think of assembling a really special dish, where every element has a purpose. Ambiences to better illustrate a scenery, a distant explosion, or dramatic transition to emphasize an idea, adding reverb, delays, and different equalization to specific words… The possibilities are endless! When you become a sound designer, you can twist, build, warp and manipulate this sonic universe.
3. Creativity & Love
Setting the technical stuff aside, I believe sound design is an extremely emotional and creative process. As sound designers, our ultimate goal is to really bring a story to life, this involves a lot of creativity and heart, so my advice would be to not hold yourself back and allow yourself and your creativity to flow. Dare to experiment and give your project a unique sonic identity.
Where can I find a good reference?
Allow me to flex a little here, as the original shows we produce at nodalab are great examples for you to dive into the marvelous universe of sound design. No project is identical to another, and each show has different needs when it comes to sound. Some may need some voice SFX and you can call it a wrap, while other projects may need close attention to detail and a bunch of sonic elements. Again, it all comes down to the needs of your show and how you want to tell the story.
At nodalab, we really believe in the impact of great stories, and we’ve created shows that allow all of the parts involved (that is, from writers, to narrators, all the way to audio engineers) to push their creativity a little further, which has lead our team to raise the bar when it comes to storytelling in the podcasting industry. I’d like to invite you to check out our shows, so you can have a clearer picture of what your podcast could end up sounding like.
One of my recent favorites is La Historia Jamás Contada’s latest episode, which was especially fun for me to work on, as I could get a little more creative due to the nature of the topic… witches! Give it a listen, it is so worth it!
If this sound design talk has gotten you excited, don’t hesitate to contact our team if you have questions, we’ll be more than happy to chat with you! Learn how to do a podcast with nodalab.