How Sound Selection Can Make or Break a Project

November 21, 2023

Sound selection is a term that can mean various things depending on who you ask. For some, it can be what kind of music is included in a project. For others, it could be every element of audio and its defining qualities from a project’s start to its end. The way individuals approach audio in a project may differ, but in any situation, there are easy ways for content creators to be able to select the right elements and stabilize audio so that production is consistent with quality products across the board.

Choosing the Right Sounds for a Project

Audio, much like video content, is there for us to help tell a story. Approaching sound selection can be a daunting task if you’re new to it. Luckily, we don’t have any issues following a proven process. 

There are three key questions that help steer content creators in the right direction when producing social media videos, longform digital content, podcast episodes and more:

The Mood You Want to Create

This is probably the most crucial component to consider when working with audio. Part of the creative process is that we ask questions such as, “How do you want the listener to feel? Are you creating more dramatic content, or is it more lighthearted and fun?” This determines how many elements professionals implement into their projects, as well as what kind of music they want to include, if any.

Sound Selection to Match Your Scene

Recreating a scene where you know you will have to fill in sound effects, creators always consider the realism of the project. If it’s a dramatic recreation of an event, we lean more towards less realistic elements to emphasize the story. On the other hand, recreating a sequence in a video project may require us to get as close to reality as possible as we craft the sound selection. This especially applies when we have limited time to draw the listener’s attention, like in short-form content. Learn more about short-form content in our blog.

The Purpose of Each Sound

At all costs, content creators avoid throwing elements into the project that don’t serve the story in any way. Each and every audio element is there to propel the story or message forward, so if it sounds like too much, then it’s safe to say the same effect will be had on the purpose of our content. Go in with the ‘Goldilocks mindset - the quantity should be just right!

Podcast producers having a conversation

Searching for High-Quality Sound Effects and Music

Now that we’ve got our direction, we then find the actual elements that we’re going to use. Where to begin? There are other factors a qualified content creator will ensure get done…

Licensed vs. Royalty-Free Music

Typically, we will want to stick with royalty-free music. Licensed music can be expensive, and is only really needed for large projects, or completely original content that unique music is needed for. In any other case, royalty-free music is just fine. There are many sites that we frequent with libraries full of any genre of music required, including Soundstripe and Epidemic Sound.

The same rules apply for finding effects, with many of these sites that house music libraries having an effects database as well. Like many content creators, we can also take the foley approach. Find out more about foley here.


For each clip we download, we always make sure we have the rights to use it, commercially or non-commercially. Having a subscription to a legitimate library of music provides copyright info and use cases for each piece of audio, so making sure that we have the rights to use it for whatever we may be creating is crucial. We then download these permissions so that we always have proof that we were permitted to use those specific clips.

Consistency in Mixing and Sound Selection

Once our project has been arranged, it’s time to consider consistency and mixing. We ensure that all of the content has similar output levels, character, and personality in order to amplify ourselves or our brand.

Keeping Levels Consistent

Monitor how loud the end content is: we want sound selection to hover around -16dBFS and dialogue should be at a consistent level across all projects. Mixing boils down to trusting our ears and keeping things as simple as possible. Many post-production software - like Adobe - offer hands-free mixing solutions for those who are new to audio editing. Content creators are familiar with many, and we often use more than one in the process.

Sounds Need Room to Breathe

As stated before, we don’t want audio clutter that steers the listener away from our content. Ensuring that we give space to each element will benefit not only the listener but also the way that our message is conveyed through our project.

Production and sound selection can be an intimidating, time-consuming task for those who aren’t sure of the process. Leave it to professionals to help keep your listener’s attention and effectively share your story. Contact Solinity Marketing today to amplify how your content is displayed to your audience.

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