Desert Island Sound Design Tools


If you had had to limit yourself to just 3 tools on your next project, what would they be?

We've all heard the age old icebreaker, "if you were trapped on a deserted island, what would you need to survive?"

Well, let's pretend that this desert island has electricity, a desk, and you have a project due tomorrow. What hardware, software, plugins or sound libraries can you not live without?

We asked four audio post professionals about their must-have sound design tools for film and television projects. Read below to find out their favorites!


Chris Diebold

Sound designer and sound effects editor based in Los Angeles.
Credits: Godzilla vs. Kong, A Quiet Place Part II
Follow Chris: | IMDb

1. Recording Rig: Neumann RSM-191 & SoundDevices MixPre-6

If I could only pick three tools to use on a project, the first would be my recorder/microphone. It may be old school, but having the ability to record gives you endless opportunities to achieve whatever it is you need for any sound. I use a Neumann RSM-191 and SoundDevices MixPre-6.


The other two things I would choose is a multi band compressor like the FabFilter Pro-MB and an IR reverb like Altiverb. Between those 3 tools, you can achieve a lot in sound editorial and design.

2. FabFilter Pro-MB


3. AudioEase Altiverb



Natalia Saavedra BrychcyNatalia Saavedra Brychcy

Freelance sound designer and sound effects editor based in Los Angeles.
Credits: Amphibia, Marvelous and the Black Hole
Follow Natalia: IMDb | Twitter


1. Avid Pro Tools

I’m not sure if this is too obvious, but I would choose to have Pro Tools as my technology choice for this. I need a DAW where I can work with picture and design sounds in.


2. The Odyssey Collection from Pro Sound Effects

To choose a library was a very hard thing to decide since there are so many great options and also so many specialty libraries. But I think if I only had to choose one for a project I would go with The Odyssey Collection. It has such a wide array of different elements (ambiences, walla, cars, foley, animals/creatures, etc), so this would give me so many more options to choose from. And not only that - the quality of the sounds are so rich and full that you can create a very cinematic feel to any project you’re working on.

3. Waves Doppler Plugin

As for a plug-in, I think I would say Doppler plug-in. I work on mostly fast pace shows that require a lot of fast movement, so usually I always have this open on deck when editing.


Brad Engleking

Sound Director at TBD Post in Austin, Texas.
Credits: A Hidden Life, Seis Manos
Follow Brad: IMDb |


1.Excalibur by Exponential Audio/iZotope

Assuming that I had Pro Tools Ultimate and all the associated plugins, I think that my first add would be Altiverb. But since Chris beat me to the punch on that one, I’ll go with Excalibur from iZotope/Exponential audio. Excalibur is not the easiest plugin to use or learn, but it can do just about anything from verb to delay to pitch shifting and every shade in between. The presets are pretty decent and are a good way to begin to learn the plugin when you’re getting started. It’s a steal for what iZotope is selling it for right now.


2. Library Database

Some type of library database. Whatever flavor you choose (I’ve used them all and they are all great) being able to quickly search your library is vital to the creative process.


Pictured: SoundQ by Pro Sound Effects

3. The Odyssey Collection from Pro Sound Effects

If I had to choose, a library would be my last desert island choice. There really is no substitute for a good general library. A good library makes you look good and make your tracks sound good. Even as the base for an elaborate design, a good, clean, well-recorded library is a must have. I’m pretty partial to The Odyssey Collection: Essentials (check out my review below) from PSE.


Matt Yocum

Freelance sound designer and sound effects editor based in Los Angeles.
Credits: The Cloverfield Paradox, Pet Sematary
Follow Matt: | IMDb

1. Enrage plugin from Boom Library

If the absolute necessities were already covered such as computer, desk, speakers, pro tools, etc. and I had to break it down between 3 additional items to work with, I'd divide it up into a few plugins and a library. First, I'd probably go with Boom's new EnRage plugin. The reason for this choice is because its a modular design tool which basically combines many plugins into one package - modulation, distortion, delay, pitch bending, etc. This isn't to say its my go-to plugin for everything as I love using a variety of tools for my work but for the desert island scenario it would be a great sort of Swiss army knife to have.

Boom EnRage

2. Pitch 'n Time plugin from Serato

My second choice would probably have to be Pitch 'n Time. The reason I'd go with this plugin is because there is so much design that you can do just with just this type of plugin. There are other equivalents out there that do the same thing but I find this plugin from Serato to be worth its steep price because its algorithms sound the best to my ears and the user interface is extremely easy to navigate quickly as well.

Serato Pitch n Time

3. CORE 2 Pro Plus from Pro Sound Effects

My last choice would revolve around the actual material I would have at my disposal. I'll cheat a little bit for this choice and select the CORE 2 Pro Plus bundle from Pro Sound Effects. I say it's cheating a bit because in reality this is many libraries compiled into a single collection, but I'm looking at it as one of my three possible purchases! In any event, this bundle would be a great desert island library to have because of the breadth of scope and quality here. Between the King Collection libraries from Richard King, the Odyssey Collection libraries from Mark Mangini & Richard L. Anderson, and many more general and specialty libraries that are here, I'd really be hard pressed to find anything "missing" for my day to day cutting.

High-Flying Action, Grounded in Reality: Behind the Sound of Devotion

Inside the Library of Award-Winning Sound Artist Richard King

Behind the Recording of Sonomar Collection: Handwriting