Edwin Dizer


Using your Sound Budget

How much for Sound?

Typically, games would spend 5-10% of their budget on sound.

TV tends to budget about 5-10% for drama, and slightly less for non-scripted entertainment

As for films, it tends to fall in the 5-10% ballpark again, though documentaries often don’t need as much sound design.

Of course, we think sound is really important, so we would say spend whatever you can afford and aim to get the best sounds possible!

How to distribute your Sound Budget

This depends on the effect you want your media to have.

Are the emotions that you want to create really important? Do you want a certain moment to be really memorable? The soundtrack can help you here.

Is it plot and character driven? Spend a little extra on voice acting and your plot will come to life.

Does the media need to be visceral and attention grabbing, or is it generally quite ‘quiet’? Does the physics of what is happening on screen need to feel as real and impactful as possible, or do you want to do clever things with distorting how things should sound? A sound designer can really help things feel realistic.

Recording Live Musicians

Sometimes you will have enough budget to consider hiring live musicians to play the soundtrack.

Though a computer can be pretty convincing, live musicians will still deliver a human touch to soundtracks that just can’t quite be done on computers. 

Compare these: 



One option that is often ignored is to record just one or two instruments that are the main focus of the piece of music with the other background instruments being played by a computer. For example, you could record a flute player playing the main tune in the clip above. This is cheaper and can work really well, but works best if the music has a clear melody (tune).

Stock Sound Effects or Original Sound Effects?

Have you ever noticed the same clink of glasses cropping up in two different games, or the same death cry showing up in lots of different films?

It’s subtle, but this can distract you from your immersion.

This can happen when using stock sound libraries, and your media will come across more unique and characterful if unique sounds are created especially for it.

Of course, this costs more!

Read our ‘Get the best out of’ series

If you come to a composer, sound designer or voice actor with an exact idea of what you want and tell us that clearly, we can deliver your product in much less time.

That means we can give you a cheaper quote, because quotes are generally worked out by how long we think a specific project will take!

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