Playback Volume

Playback Volume

The original audio file

Ideally, in most cases, the sound effect file you’re working with will be exported properly when it reaches your hands. It should also be normalized, which in turn means the audio file should not require additional amplification any further than in its current state – otherwise distortion and other issues can occur. With that said, playing your audio file back at maximum volume would be the equivalent of playing it at its normal (raw) amplitude.

Below Normal

Most sounds that are played back should be way below their normal amplitude. In most cases, the majority of your audio files should never playback at 50% of their amplitude. Sound is there to compliment your game, most sounds should be subtle and functional.


Headroom is your available safety zone of where you can safely play audio before it starts clipping. Clipping occurs when the overall amplitude of your mix exceeds the bounds of your system’s available headroom. In turn this will cause distorted clipped audio artifacts that are undesired. While working in this safety zone, you need to keep in mind how many sound effects could possibly play at once. Audio engines such as WWise and FMod are excellent at being able to input, compress, and manage priorities of sounds so you stay within your available headroom and never clip your audio output. Most developers will set maximum limits on each file’s playback as well as the total amount of audio files that can be played back at once. Coming up with good priority systems for playing back your audio will allow for a much better sonic experience.

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