5 Cinematic Ways To Manipulate Audio

Say you’ve got access to a bunch of typical, everyday sound effects. Maybe there’s some foley, some ambiences, etc.

But for your edit, you need your sounds to have that extra something. You need sound design, but you need it to be unique.

In this blog article, we’re going to share 5 cinematic ways to manipulate audio sound waves in your DAW with basic stock plugins, perfect for beginners and experts alike.

#1 – Speed It Up

audio editing

Especially useful for creating glitches and transitions, you can take almost any sound, speed it up, and it will take on a whole new personality.

Even just time-stretching the speed of random sections of your camera’s scratch audio can yield some otherworldly results and completely change the timbre of the original sound.

Sounds like footsteps, prop noises, and even human voices can become a cinematic goldmine if you spend some time manipulating the speed and oscillation.

#2 – Slow It Down


Often used as an effect on human voices, this technique can be a bit cliche and overused.

But slowing down audio can create some cool sounds as well. Especially when coupled with a bit of reverb, most sound effects will take on a more dreamlike, subtle quality when playback is slowed down.

Whether it’s used in a flashback or as part of a dream sequence, slowing down your sounds is a great skill to have.

#3 – Reverse

reverse sound audio

One of the easiest and most popular techniques in this list is to simply reverse a sound.

Most standalone sound effects can instantly become a “whoosh” when reversed, making the quietest part of the amplitude happen first, and building up the decibel level.

This is extremely useful for transitions and for accentuating certain on-screen actions.

Reversing an otherwise normal sound effect should be one of the first tools you reach for during your sound design process.

#4 – Use A Shelf

shelf filter audio

A shelf filter, which is a type of EQ, basically just cuts off either the high or low frequencies at a specified point.

Usually, a low shelf is what you want, which will only allow the low frequencies of a sound to be heard.

Similar to slowing audio down, this can be a powerful effect for dreamlike scenes or any other visuals that need powerful, cinematic sounds.

And if you set your shelf frequency low enough, you can create some really cool sub-type sounds that can emulate the LFO of a synth (or other software musical instrument).

#5 – Change The Pitch

pitch shift audio

Lastly, changing the pitch of a sound can dramatically alter how it’s perceived. Generally, you can make sound effects sound much larger by shifting them to a lower pitch.

Similarly to speeding up your audio, pitching things up can also make for some unique transitions and glitches.

audio headphones

There are endless ways to manipulate audio, using common effects that are available in most types of editing software. These should give you a great starting point as you explore new ways to create cinematic sound design in your edit.

Kevin Graham is the Creative Director at Filmpac.

FILMPAC Filmpac is a premium stock footage + music membership library.