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Let´s get started
Hi, I haven´t made many tutorials, but I think I got some things I can teach, also for the tutorial contests before it ends.
Here I will explain the basics of sound properties for quality and functionality and exporting.
Programs that will be used
I use 3 main programs to edit my sounds, audacity, sound forge 9 and windows xp sound recorder, even though the sound recorder is a very basic program, it has it´s uses, and sometimes it can open wave files that audacity and even sound forge can´t due to certain format properties.
Sound attributes for quality and functionality
A sound has the following main properties within the inner format
- Codec format
- Sample rate
- Bit depth
- Sample channels
-Let´s begin with the codec format, it is the way the sound is encoded, I would try to explain more here but all I know from my experience, is that in pcs, you always want the audio file to have PCM format (pulse-code modulation) as it is the most functional overall and is uncompressed, otherwise it might not play ingame, or even be opened in certain sound editing programs, in any case there is also a format called float which works well too
-The sample rate is the playback speed, and is very important when it comes to performance/quality, but it also depends on the effect you want to achieve for certain sounds, there are 3 predefined rates in all sound editors that are used the most: 11.025, 22.050 and 44.100 KHz.
The first one is normally used to lighten the audio, distortion (radios, weird noises, etc), distant effects or weak sound supports such as those from some very old games, in half life 1, most of the sounds have this rate.
22.050 is the middle between quality and perfomance, it will keep a good ammount of the sound quality while making it less heavy, is also good for sorta bassy sounds and distances because it doesn´t cause background tones, which is actually a problem of the next one.
44.100 is the standard max quality for sound rates in a lot of games, in fact, just by lifting the rate of a sound from 22.050 to 44 with windows sound recorder specifically, it makes the sound sharper and better sounding in most cases, specially for metallic and crisp sounds, like reloads, although here is when the problem with the bg noise I mentioned earlies comes, in some cases you will start hearing a slight tone in the background, also audio like voices might not end up too good, in this case restore it to 22.050 or don´t change it at all.
Other rates like 48.000 or 32.000 are also used but only in a very few games, and will normally not work in most of the rest, just to let you know source doesn´t support 32 KHz.
Changing the rate from 32.000 to any other in sound recorder will distort the sound terribly in like 80% of the cases, for this one, use audacity or sound forge as it will preserve the sound intact most of the time, the highest rates will also distort the sound due to excesive speed and might not play at all ingame.
-Bit depth is like the resolution of a sound, most sounds have 16 bits, it will keep the sound intact, 24 and 32 can allow some deeper effects with quality, but increase the weight, the lowest which is 8 bits, will decrease the weight of the audio big time and in goldsource engine it allows pitch shifting ingame, but on one hand it will always generate background grain noise, on the other hand it can be good for distorted effects, like radio chatters.
-Finally the channels, normally is better to keep the sounds as mono samples as they will weight a lot less, making them stereo is useless, unless, you add up a distance fading effect to a channel, bass, something to increase the depth of the audio you hear, add some sort of semitone, or directional variations.
Thereby don´t make every single sound stereo, it will double the weight; unless it has a special function, for this sake.
Sound forge can render sounds with more than 10 channels! although I´ve never needed so much. Don´t use sound recorder to change from stereo to mono, it can end up super loud as both channels will get mixed as 1.
For exporting in formats distinct from wave, you can use sound forge or audacity, sound recorder is just for waves, the format choice will be available right under the name edit bar; rendering in sound forge will preserve the most quality and ensure better encoding if the final format is ogg, mp3 or any other, also allowing to add or preserve loop cues.
Audacity allows you to tag your sounds with things like the author´s name, is also better for just mixing sounds together and doing quick edits, but might get a bit of quality loss when rendering in compressed formats like ogg or mp3, it also deletes loop cues which are necessary in source and goldsource to make a sound loop ingame.
One last note, in case you find a sound that doesn´t play ingame but seems to have everything in order within the format attributes, don´t suffer for it, you can easily use any sound that works well as base, mute it and place the faulty sound over it, it will work afterwards.
So there, this might help beginners and people new to sound designing with some basic info and techniques about quality. Hope you find it useful
For recording sound, I'd recommend Aimp Audio Recorder. It records in .wav, .mp3, .ogg and few more. Can change bitrate for most formats(ABR, VBR etc.) I use it and never had any problems with it except pausing is bugged.
Good tutorial tho, didn't knew much about sound properties until now.
- this is a good starter and the 1st one i saw here. though im a noob of making one my own i wish this will inspire me.
- some weeks ago i accidentally plug the speaker cord of my pc unproperly that it created a unique sound[its realistic ambient]that i wanted to record it. but ...i know i need tuts like this one and delve into it. (: boom prakatak boom boom!