Creating a Unique "Sound" for Device

Hi Everyone,

I was curious if anyone on the boards had experience with selecting unique (brand-inspired) sounds for devices. At this point the team is looking at a memorable sound/chirp/tune; for powering the device on/off and cycling through functions. For context, it’s a “bulletproof” commercial product with a very niche user-base.

Years ago, I’ve literally just recorded competitor product’s tunes in Best Buy and shared with the vendor to emulate. I’m curious if a more sophisticated process / resource exists?



If you want to do it right, you’ll need Hans Zimmer and an anechoic chamber.

It seems to be a pretty specialized process. I found this video of a guy building techy sounds using Ableton (or similar software).

I always loved the XBox 360 startup sound. Almost as good as the SEEEGAAAAA on Genesis games.

Sound designers are real people, draw up a scope of work and find a consultant who can help you. A surprising amount of work can go into sound design to find something that feels both original (you’d be surprised how many basic chirps and dings already sound like something in your memory) and fitting to the product.

You also need to help be the middle man with your engineering teams to make sure the sound designer actually produces something that sounds “correct” on the hardware you’re building. A set of studio monitors probably won’t sound the same as the $1.99 speaker driven by a microprocessor and tweaking the audio to sound correct on the hardware is also part of the design challenge. When I did this activity we had to design “Beeps” for a bar code scanner and it was a surprising amount of work to coordinate.

Great advice, thanks for the reply. It’s such a memorable experience (and really sets that initial product mood) that having a professional who specializes in that area will really drive further engagement with the product. It’ll be interesting to see their process on converting the brand / product attributes to a sound that embodies what it should sound like when it’s turned on / off, etc.

You need to engage a sound Engineer. If not a musician capable of creating sounds digitally.
This volvo concept car has some nice sounds to indicate autonomous car intentions.The 360c: 360° Safety - YouTube

I’ve worked on this for several brands. I pulled in a sound designer and a music producer. Not too hard to find them around to do a little freelance. The project itself is a lot like any other design project. Define your brand characteristics, define the performance parameters of the product (what can the processor and output device reproduce, if it is just a little pizio there will be serious limits for example), benchmark competitors, pull together some inspirational examples and then start concepting.

Thanks Yo! Great feedback + process breakdown. I started searching in my local area and found some potential leads. Looking forward to starting the creative exploration of how the sound will communicate the brand attributes.

The most interesting part of doing a sound design project from a UX perspective was involving stakeholders to provide feedback. Something I found is that anyone who didn’t like a sound would create an awful but memorable name that would immediately exclude that from any future discussion. I to this day still remember “Cyber-fart” and “Mario Coin” - though Mario coin made the cut.