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Designing with Sound

Book Description

Sound can profoundly impact how people interact with your product. Well-designed sounds can be exceptionally effective in conveying subtle distinctions, emotion, urgency, and information without adding visual clutter. In this practical guide, Amber Case and Aaron Day explain why sound design is critical to the success of products, environments, and experiences.

Just as visual designers have a set of benchmarks and a design language to guide their work, this book provides a toolkit for the auditory experience, improving collaboration for a wide variety of stakeholders, from product developers to composers, user experience designers to architects. You’ll learn a complete process for designing, prototyping, and testing sound.

In two parts, this guide includes:

  • Past, present, and upcoming advances in sound design
  • Principles for designing quieter products
  • Guidelines for intelligently adding and removing sound in interactions
  • When to use voice interfaces, how to consider personalities, and how to build a knowledge map of queries
  • Working with brands to create unique and effective audio logos that will speak to your customers
  • Adding information using sonification and generative audio

Table of Contents

  1. Preface
    1. Why Sound Design Is Critical to Successful Products
      1. Why Does Sound Matter?
    2. The Subjective Nature of Sound
    3. Learning How to Listen
    4. How This Book Is Organized
      1. Part 1: Principles and Patterns of Sound Design
      2. Part 2: The Sound Design Process
    5. Vocabulary
      1. Qualities of Sound
      2. Listening to Sound
      3. Components of Sound
      4. Frequency Range
      5. Coloration of Sound
      6. Technical Attributes of Sound
    6. O’Reilly Safari
    7. How to Contact Us
    8. Acknowledgments
  2. I. Principles and Patterns of Sound Design
  3. 1. Opportunities in Sound Design
    1. Sound Design and Taste Modulation
    2. Wireless Power Through Sound Waves
    3. Additive Sound Design
    4. Subtractive Sound Design
    5. Sonification
      1. Sonification and Income Data on the New York Subway Line
      2. sonification and Agriculture
      3. Sonification and Stock Trading
    6. Sound Design and Calm Technology
    7. Soundscapes
    8. Generative Audio
    9. Localized Sound
    10. Sound as Therapy
    11. Conclusion
  4. 2. Subtractive Sound Design for Products
    1. What Makes a Sound Annoying?
    2. Frequency and Sound
    3. Measurements of Loudness
    4. General Principles for Quiet Products
      1. Create Good Fit Between Components
      2. Minimize Unoccupied Space
      3. Add Sound-Absorbing Materials
      4. Add Surface Treatments
      5. Add Containers to Components or Around Products
      6. Add Helmholtz Cavities
      7. Isolate Vibration of Moving Parts so the Vibration is not Transmitted
      8. Reduce Turbulence of Air and Fluid Movement
    5. Conclusion
  5. 3. Adding Sound to Interactions
    1. A Brief History of Sound Design
      1. Sound and Products
    2. Types of Notifications
    3. When to Add Audio Notifications
    4. Guidelines for Adding Sounds to Interactions
      1. Take Cues from the Natural World
      2. Consider Notification Length
      3. Determine Notification Context
      4. Consider Volume
      5. Design Sound for How It Will Interact with Objects
      6. Consider the Frequency of the Sound
      7. Play with Harmonic and Inharmonic Sound Combinations
      8. Work with Vibrato
      9. Work with Tremolo
      10. Consider Harmonizing with the Cavity Resonance of the Product
      11. Design Within the Limitations of the Hardware
      12. Don’t Get Stuck on “High Fidelity”
      13. Coordinate Haptic, Auditory, and Visual Components
      14. Offer Multiple Soundscapes
      15. Consider Generative Audio and Sonification
    5. Conclusion
  6. 4. Removing Sound from Interactions
    1. Unwanted Sounds
      1. Solving Alarm Fatigue in Hospitals
      2. Ambient Sound in Animal Environments and Habitats
    2. Guidelines for Removing Sound from Interactions
      1. Enable Users to Turn off the Sound or Change the Notification Style
      2. Eliminate Redundant Notifications when Possible
      3. Pair Sounds with Haptics
      4. Ensure Sounds Fit Within the Context
      5. Check That the Frequency Matches the Context
      6. Reduce Noise from Mechanical Sources
      7. Consider Active Noise Cancellation Technology
      8. Reduce the Volume of the Alert
      9. Remove or Reduce Speech
    3. Conclusion
  7. 5. Sound and Brand
    1. Types of Trademarks
      1. Rhythm-Based Trademarks
      2. Tone-Color Based Trademarks
      3. Melody-Based Trademarks
      4. Chord- or Harmonic-Progression–Based Trademarks
      5. Spoken-Word–Based Trademarks
      6. Multi-Faceted Audio Trademarks
    2. General Advice for Sound Trademarks
      1. Make It Future-Proof
      2. Make it Interesting
      3. Make it Short
      4. Make it Polite
      5. Consider the Sensitivity of Human Ears
      6. Map Out the Competitive Brandscape
    3. Conclusion
  8. 6. Designing Voice Interfaces
    1. Vocal Persona
      1. Use timing
    2. Conclusion
  9. II. The Sound Design Process
  10. 7. Interviewing
    1. Interviewing Stakeholders
    2. Determining the Scope of Work
    3. Interview Questions
      1. Stakeholder Questions
      2. Technology Limitations and Specifications
      3. Materials
      4. Interaction Times and Triggers
      5. Context
      6. Brand Questions
      7. Competitive Landscape
    4. Conclusion
  11. 8. Design
    1. Elements of Sound
      1. Sine Waves
      2. Transients
      3. Computer-Generated Waveforms
      4. Square Waves
      5. Sawtooth Wave
      6. Rectangular Waves
      7. Pulse Waves
      8. Triangle Waves
    2. Design to Include the Widest Spectrum of Humanity
      1. Visual to Audio
      2. Audio to Visual
      3. Visual and audio to Haptic
      4. Multimodal and Switching Between Senses
      5. Different is Normal
    3. Creating a Design Document
      1. Build an Audio Map
      2. Create a Deliverable Table
      3. Develop Design Elements
    4. Interaction Checklist
      1. Purpose
      2. Trigger
      3. Information
      4. Location
      5. Missed Notification
      6. Context
      7. Inclusivity
      8. Contextual Testing
    5. Conclusion
  12. 9. Prototyping
    1. Stock Sounds and Sound Libraries
      1. Advantages
      2. Disadvantages
      3. Types of Sound Libraries and Copyright Licensing
    2. Prototype Delivery Formats
      1. Interactive Palettes
      2. Video with Sound Overlay
      3. Video with Paper Prototypes
      4. Animation
      5. Binaural Recording
      6. Real-World Prototypes
    3. Conclusion
  13. 10. Hardware Testing
    1. How Speakers Work
    2. Quality Speakers
    3. Low-Quality Speakers
    4. Sound Channels and Playback Types
    5. Testing the Target Hardware
    6. Testing for Distortion
      1. What Causes Distortion?
      2. Distortion and Transients
    7. Use the Missing Fundamental
    8. Final Tuning
      1. Test or Modify the Sound Source
      2. Change the Interaction Logic
      3. Test the Playout Software and Work with DSP
      4. Set Limits on Volume
      5. Test or Improve the Hardware
      6. Change or Modify the Hardware Container
      7. Ensure Sounds are Associated with Interactions
      8. Perform Stress Testing
      9. Test Multiple Sounds at Once
      10. Test Synchronization
    9. Conclusion
  14. 11. User Testing
    1. Researching the Domain
    2. Testing for Inclusivity
    3. Contextual User Testing
      1. Testing in a purse or backpack
      2. Testing at various distances
      3. Testing on public transportation
      4. Testing on a flight
      5. Testing in international environments and contexts
      6. Test for Social Context
    4. Segmentation and Applied Ethnography
    5. Formats for User Testing
      1. Online or In-Person Surveys
      2. One-on-One Sessions
      3. Focus Groups
    6. Research Your Personas
      1. Review the Final Checklist
    7. Presenting Your Findings to Stakeholders
    8. Conclusion
  15. A. Recommended Reading
    1. Jonathan Shariat and Cynthia Savard Saucier, Tragic Design: The Impact of Bad Product Design and How to Fix It (O’Reilly)
    2. Cathy Pearl, Designing Voice User Interfaces: Principles of Conversational Experiences (O’Reilly)
    3. Camille Moussette, Simple Haptics: Sketching Perspectives for the Design of Haptic Interactions (Umea Institute of Design)
    4. Perry R. Cook, ed., Music, Cognition, and Computerized Sound: An Introduction to Psychoacoustics (MIT Press)
    5. Andy Farnell, Designing Sound (MIT Press)
    6. F. Alton Everest, Master Handbook of Acoustics (McGraw Hill)
    7. Reinier Plomp, The Intelligent Ear: On the Nature of Sound and Perception (Lawrence Erlbaum Associates)
  16. Index