How to do Room Tone Sound Design

Want to know how to create your own indoor ambiences and room tones? Check out the tutorial below! We combine synthesis, samples and granulation to create the ambience for an operating theatre scene.

Room tone sound design is one of the least exciting things we have to create as sound designers, but it is certainly necessary for adding realism and depth to our scenes. In this tutorial, Alessandro Mastroianni explains how you can sound design rich and detailed indoor ambience and room tones using Concept 2, using a surgical operating theatre as a setting.

Create Fantastic Room Tones Using Concept 2.

Today, I want to show you how you can very easily create room tones using Concept 2. To demonstrate this, we are going to design the room tone for a simple hospital scene. I’m imagining fan noise, air conditioning unit and beeping machinery of heart monitoring systems. I’ve used three instances of concept in this design and I’m going to walk you through each one of them.

The first sound that I designed for the scene was a heart monitoring machine which is a soft, quiet beeping sound. To do this in Concept, simply set Concept to oscillator mode (OSC) rather than granular (GRN), then set the blend to use only one waveform by setting it to 0.0, and choose the sine wave (~).

Pro Tip: The envelope shape will make the most difference to the sound from this point – a slightly softened attack parameter around 0.3ms will remove any clickiness from the sine tone without it fading in. Adjust the decay and release to suit longer or shorter beeps.

You can tweak the filter cut-off to remove any additional high frequencies, and I have added a subtle amount of Reverb to add space and realism. Concept 2’s built-in convolution reverb covers all bases from big cathedral spaces to the smallest room ambience.


Concept 2


Once I designed the beep sound for the heart monitoring device, I wanted a basic ambience, so I used one of the presets that Concept 2 ships with. There is some more experimental ones but the mid-room background seemed to do the trick for me.

And then I used the granular engine with a sound I had recorded. I recorded a dehumidifier which makes a beep when you turn it on and switch it off. I imported it and tweaked the spray, density, flux and drift knobs so that it randomly triggers the sample at different points and sometimes hits the beep, to add more depth and suggest other machines within the theatre. Try importing your sounds into the granular engine and see what you come up with!

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