How to get better at layering as a sound designer?

improve your sound design with proper layering

If you want to learn more about layering, this short article is for you. Layering can be the difference between your audio sounding professional or amateur for the listeners. So what's the secret behind good layering? There are several parameters, but obviously, it's about picking the right amount of samples in different frequency ranges to combine and also picking samples that have a musical quality to them, both as a group and to the overall piece you're working on. If you have a background in making music, you'll instantly get this. All samples you record, edit & manipulate must be in key together and with the overall piece. Harmony is crucial for good layering and sound design.

Creating harmony is important when layering. The right amount of samples and making sure the key is right on tonal sounds.

How much layering is needed?

It depends on the sound's nature, but a general tip that can be good to bare with you is to layer much and then strip the sound down if you feel that the density has increased too much. In most cases, density is better than thin-sounding audio in sound design. Many beginner sound designers tend not to go the extra mile; as a result, their SFX may sound thin and harsh.

Density is often wanted over thin sounds.

Use your judgement

Design with purpose. We're not saying you can't create sounds that only have a few layers. It can often be good to keep it simple, and you may not need to add several layers. Make sure the sound effect reaches its full potential by exploring the sonic possibilities before settling. The main goal is often clarity!

The final tip

use HQ samples! 192kHz should be standard when working with the material—minimum 96kHz. Go create some new sounds!