Want to learn sound design and synthesis but not sure where to start?
There’s a wealth of resources out there on the web. Some of them are excellent, some not so much.
We’ve compiled a list of the top ten free & premium resources for learning sound design:
Let’s dive in!
Syntorial is the coolest thing since sliced waveforms.
What is it?
A fully functional and interactive learning experience. The program features a series of tutorial videos and interactive challenges, i.e., you actually design sounds inside the Syntorial program. Check out this video for further explanation:
Pretty cool, right?
Syntorial can be tried out for free with no time limit. The only drawback of the demo is that it only contains 22 out of the 199 lessons available. The full version costs $129.99, but if you’re looking for a fireproof learning method to kick start your journey in sound design, I’d say it’s well worth it.
2. How to Make a Noise
How to Make a Noise: a Comprehensive Guide to Synthesizer Programming is a book I read when I started off producing which helped immensely.
It’s widely popular, and also free! The book covers a few different areas of synthesis, including:
- Subtractive synthesis
- FM synthesis
- Additive synthesis
- Sample-based synthesis
3. Synth Secrets
If you like learning in a more theoretical and scientific way, then this large collection of Sound on Sound articles may interest you.
Though I recommend it for beginners, it’s also incredibly helpful for those who want to get a little more comfortable with basic concepts.
The series (contained in 63 articles) covers everything from waveforms to snare drum synthesis.
4. Breakthrough Sound Design
Breakthrough Sound Design is our comprehensive 7-module online course for learning sound design and synthesis.
Whether you’re completely new to sound design and synthesis, or you know the basics but keep struggling to close the gap between what’s in your head and what ends up in your DAW, then this is the course for you.
- The foundations of sound design
- Effects & processing
- Integrating sound design with the rest of your workflow
- Advanced techniques and tactics
5. Seamless YouTube Channel (Intermediate/Advanced)
I’m sure most of you have come across him before. If you haven’t, then you’re in for a treat!
Not only does Seamless upload videos on the regular, he also uploads a range of different videos for beginners and advanced producers alike!
I highly recommend spending a few months going through the back-end of his videos. You won’t regret it.
6. “How to Make This Sound” Reddit Threads (Intermediate)
You’ll all know by now that I’m a Redditor, and spend a lot of time on the r/edmproduction sub.
Every week (I think?) a “How to Make This Sound” thread is posted, where people post examples of sounds that they want to learn to create. This is a fun way to learn, but it might be a little too ‘vague’ for beginners, as the advice offered is very general and most people assume that you know sound design basics.
7. Sound Design Stack Exchange (Advanced)
This message board is more aimed at commercial sound designers, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t helpful!
I lurk this forum a lot, mainly due to the fact that a lot of the people using this site design sounds for a living (and I don’t).
I recommend bookmarking this one and visiting it regularly.
8. ADSR Sounds (Everyone)
ADSR Sounds is a massive (excuse the pun) collection of sound design courses for various synths. They also have a wide range of presets.
The courses are paid courses, but ADSR also contains a number of child sites for different synths:
Great for those who want to learn more synth specific techniques!
9. Creating Sound (Intermediate/Advanced)
This website isn’t aimed at the electronic music producer, but still has a lot of helpful content (over 16 pages!)
If you’re interested in other fields of sound design, such as game and film audio – then you’ll absolutely love this site.
10. Designing Sound (Advanced)
This also isn’t aimed at electronic music production. Designing Sound was created in 2009, has several writers, and over 100 pages of content!
You might want to spend a few hours on this site. Not all of it will be applicable, but there are definitely some gems in here.
Well… that’s a fair bit of learning material, right?
There’s one thing that I didn’t include, because it’s not on the net, it comes from you. What is it? Practice.
There isn’t a tutorial that can teach you to practice, it’s something you’ve got to do yourself. Put in the hours, and you’ll be rewarded.
Hopefully some of these resources help you.