Introduction to Game Audio:

Intro 101


Everything heard inside a video game falls into the realm of game audio, which is made by composers, sound designers, voice artists and audio producers. It all started with coin-op arcade machines and led to the console generation. Now we have the mobile game industry eclipsing the Xbox, Playstation and Nintendo platforms combined. Even with the rise of Eports and a new Atari Box console on the way, Android and iOS games are being developed at breakneck speeds. They all need sound effects and music. Although there are free programs out there for producing music and sound, most game audio professionals use Pro Tools, Logic Pro, Cubase and Reaper. Audio programming skills are also in demand as well as knowledge of middleware engines wWise and FMOD. This is in addition to the traditional DAW skills in music production and audio engineering. A successful game audio career requires networking, technical skills and quality gear. There is an overwhelming amount of audio gear today but if you are new to this and on a budget, the following items are unbeatable. The cost-to-value ratio is why they they get so much praise. If you buy from the links below, we get a small commission. This helps to support the Game Audio 101 website and keep it in orbit.


Studio Monitors

Aside from a computer, a professional must have great audio equipment. A cheap speaker like the Beats Pill is helpful for final testing of your audio but pro studio monitors are a must for working in this competitive industry. In the most simple terms, you want to hear exactly what you are doing and get the full sonic picture. The iLoud Micro Monitors have received heavy praise from some of the best in the industry. Nothing comes close to these in the ultra-compact studio monitor market at this price. Their portable size and neutral character make them perfect for audio artists, musicians and engineers. These work brilliantly in small rooms with a compact size and accuracy that translates incredibly well to the real-world.



Studio headphones are a similar story. A pair of cheap headphones or earbuds are fine for testing your audio work but pro headphones give a much more accurate sonic picture. Audio should be heard with the highest possible accuracy and little to no added coloration. After plowing through the most celebrated headphones, the Oppo PM-3 Headphones have emerged as the top choice. They were first hailed by Sonarworks to be "by far the most neutral" beating out far more expensive models. These use cutting edge planar magnetic technology found in the worlds most expensive mastering headphones. If you already have a pair of headphones though, check this mixing on headphones page to see if yours can be calibrated to be more neutral.


Audio Interface

An audio interface is another important purchase and one that every studio in the world has to make. It's what you'll plug those speakers and headphones into. This device converts the computer audio signal from digital to analog at a high level of fidelity. You can also plug a microphone into it and record vocals, instruments and even your cat. The best entry level audio interface is currently the Focusrite Scarlett Solo which connects to your computer via USB and has a single, natural sounding mic preamp with sample rates up to 192kHz / 24 bit. An audio interafce is the core component of a game audio studio.



A quality condenser microphone is a staple of any studio, capturing vocals, instruments and sounds in the most natural way possible. High end mics can be expensive and cheap ones can sound harsh. The ultimate budget condenser mic is the MXL V67G which sounds amazing right out of the box with a natural sound. There is a subtle presence boost on the top end and it has beaten several other mics through shootouts on the web. It can also be upgraded with a V67G Mod, resulting in audio quality on par with classic high end models costing $15,000.


Field Recorder

A field recorder is the secret weapon of sound designers and audio artists who want to capture sounds out in the world. The portability makes it easy to bring everywhere and collect interesting sounds. The Zoom H4N PRO Digital Multitrack Recorder needs no introduction as it has become a popular tool for #gameaudio people. Zoom has continually improved the audio quality over the years on these, making it a perfect handheld field recorder. The H4N comes with a detachable stereo X/Y microphone and utilizes a system of interchangeable input capsules that allow you to choose the best mic for every situation.