Last updated at 22:38, 16 Feb 2014 Uploaded at 21:39, 6 Oct 2013
Audio Overhaul for Skyrim
Voted mod of the month in October 2013
AOS is an extensive sound overhaul aiming to make the soundscape more immersive, clear, responsive, impactful and ultimately fun, while always aiming for maximum compatibility, performance and coherency with the main game.
Audio has been tweaked and often redesigned from scratch in thousands of instances of content and implementation, to achieve one coherent vision for the soundscape that does not rely on third party content or code.
The overall style and tone moves away from a "gamey" soundscape and instead uses more real life audio behavior as a guideline.
Another goal was to really make sure that this mod does not give it self away as a mod. Through subtlety and coherence, new and old content should meld together seamlessly, even if that means that the majority of changes will not be consciously noticed.
No content has been stolen from other games. New content is unique to this project and there is nothing that was just copied straight out of a sound library.
Hey, I just want to give a heads up and some infofrmation on what is going on with the mod.
The reason there hasn't been an update in a while is simply because I wasn't home very much or had sufficient free time. Also, I hope you understand that working with game audio for a living and then continuing with this project in my free time can be exhausting at times, despite how much I like doing it.
However, I managed to get back into the flow for the past weeks and I am estimating version 2.0, which is by far the most extensive update since 1.0, sometime in march.
I currently remixed or remade most base ambiences, interior and exterior and added over 100 ambient sounds. With the help of some tools and sources which I don't have at home I also made new firebolt, fireball, lightning bolt and lightning chain casting sounds. I believe the later two will be especially appreciated.
I am always checking out messages and also watching Gophers let's play videos in order to make improvements and fixes across the board.
Why don't I make small updates as I used to? Because it adds a lot of work to those making compatibility patches and makes everything a bit messy and harder to track. Id rather release one version to rule them all with everything in the best possible stage.
Ambience and weapon sounds will be the bulk of version 2.0. I originally planned to do animal footsteps too but it is a farily seperate field and I would rather release the update sooner than holding out for that one aspect. It can still be done later on, together with whatever fixes will be required as a result of the large update, for which your feedback will be required as before. Hopefully, there wont be any new issues, but let's not be too naive ;)
Also, with the update I will instantly release a new compatibility patch for CoT and clean up this main page. Old "News" will be put into a txt file for download and the news section reset for less wall of text.
Stay tuned and thanks for the support!
Possible CTD fix now available in files section under Optional Files.
Some people were getting a crash to desktop issue when approaching Riverwood from Helgen. itsfutile has tracked down the possible problem. This addon should hopefully fix it, if not, let me know. The change will be included in the next main AOS release but for now you can either use TES5Edit and copy over the change from this esp to your main AOS.esp or just load the AOS_CTD_Fix.esp after any other AOS related esp in the loadorder. esp esp ESP!
Optional addon for reduced reverb/echo now available in files section.
Some people, especially with surround setups can have unintenionally high reverb volume, but I also know that some people would simply prefer that aspect of the mod to be toned down. This optional addon can help both. Load this after any and all AOS related .esp files. Don't override anything, don't let NMM think this is a new version of AOS.
Version 1.51 now available in Files Section. For ease of use it's the full version and does not require anything else.
-Changed many sound priority settings for improved stability. This should fix CTD issues in very combat heavy situations some people have been experiencing. (big thanks to mitchalek for showing me the light)
-Made sure all NPC footsteps are controlled by the NPC Footstep volume slider in the audio menu as expected
-Improvements to how blacksmith and pickaxe hammering, wolf howl and elk scream sounds behave over distance
The stability change is quite important, so I saw it necessary to upload another version of AOS before the next big version which might take some time. Also, now the final version (for now anyways) requires only one download. Hopefully nothing else big comes up.
Version 1.5 Update now available in Files Section. Requires version 1.4 installed beforehand! Just override AOS.esp but DON'T say yes to "upgrade" when NMM asks you because that will deinstall 1.4 and all the new sounds that come with the mod. Only override.
- fixed a bug with arrow on shield impacts not playing
- fixed an issue where Bethesda used walking footsteps on sneaking NPCs and sometimes even sprinting or running, instead of the actual sneaking footstep sounds. (I was mildly shocked when looking at the impact data, after becoming aware of this problem by a video from Gopher)
Now NPCs use sneaking footsteps when sneaking...duh
- Mixing and attenuation tweaks for: some water sounds, dwemer contraptions, distant impacts such as blacksmith hammers and pickaxes, distant wolves and deers, dragon wing flaps and more
- fixed a tavern (can't remember the name :P) using an inappropriate acoustic space, meaning more appropriate reverb.
Unless glitches or something being weird come up, this might be the last version before 2.0 which will feature a host of new sounds including interior (dungeon) ambiences and weapons.
Version 1.4 now available in Files Section
-New Dragon wing flap sounds, different for taking off from the ground and when in air. (the animations play too many wing flap sounds in some cases, don't blame it on me, this has always been the case)
-All waterfalls overhauled, new sounds, tweaks to distance falloff and crossfade between elements, interior small and medium waterfalls no longer share the same content as their exterior counterparts
-Remixed Tundra base layer with more grass movement
-Slightly reduced a few dialogue output reverb sends
-Slightly lengthened interior wood large reverb tail
-Several balancing/mixing tweaks to arrow impacts, wind gusts, sustained destruction magic and other stuff.
-Changed first person output to something in between version 1.1 and 1.2 which results in a better mix and loudness for many first person sounds but unfortunately makes 3rd person player footsteps quieter again. It's still better than in vanilla Skyrim, but not as seamless as in AOS 1.2. It's a compromise for the greater good.
-Should have no more conflicts with Unofficial Skyrim Patch
Some of the compatibility patches from the seperate mod page will not work until they have been updated! Especially the "combined" versions which override the "AOS.esp" are incorrect for 1.4.
Either accept the small conflicts that might occur without the patches (nothing big really) or wait for an update of the compatibility patches.
(16.10.2013) AOS Compatibility Patches available on new mod page. Thanks to michaelrw for putting in the effort in making these. I am currently too swamped to really get to anything and don't even have enough time to check out all the compatibility patches which I received from other helpful users. Hopefully the linked mod page will clear up many questions and requests.
Hello there, I was informed that I accidentally uploaded AOS with sounds from Heart of the Beast by NsJones. I simply forgot about having it's sound files in the sound folder when I uploaded it.
I shall upload a new version of AOS as soon as possible without any additional content. Hopefully I can make up for the unintentional theft by promoting Heart of the Beast which is basically the reason I saw no need to touch werewolf sounds in the first place.
Sorry about the mixup. Purely my mistake. Until I get home to upload a clean version, no AOS versions will be available for download.
EDIT: Version 1.3 is up for grabs again, no unintentional files included.
Version 1.3 now available in Files Section
-added new NPC Footsteps slider in Audio Options menu, this is especially interesting for those with an army of followers behind them
-Reworked arrow impacts: Hacked around hardcoded limitations to give all different kinds of arrow impacts a consistent distance volume falloff and remade/adjusted impacts except against flesh, including new unique wood impacts (vanilla reused the same as for dirt)
-Reduced first person reverb send. Player grunts, shooting bows, weapon swings etc. will not cause that many reflections anymore
-Slightly reduced amplitude of most windgusts on average and increased volume randomization for them
-Reduced Creature water footstep amplitudes
-Fixed wrong acoustic space (reverb) that was used in the Four Shields tavern at the Dragon Bridge.
-Some other mixing adjustments here and there
-Slightly increased DungeonMedium reverb amplitude, Haters Gonna Hate
I accidently uploaded 1.3 for with RealisticWaterTwo sounds in the sound folder. I took it down right away when I noticed the size difference, sorry about that. It is fine now.
Compatibility after 1.3:
-All existing compatibility patches still work, except of course for the "combined" versions in the "Compatibility Package". Don't override this AOS.esp with a patched AOS.esp, it would revert to version 1.2.
-AOS 1.3 fixed the 2 small conflicts it had with Unofficil Skyrim Patch but now has another (only one in total) minor conflict. I can not see any problem in-game though. I will try to keep future versions conflict free with USKP without any additional patches.
A note on Feedback:
In the past days I have received a lot of great feedback which helped me iron out some issues and find a better balance here and there. However, sometimes I can tell when feedback is based on either playing for 10 minutes or just on a video. Yes, certain things are going to sound very different to what you are used to from hundreds of hours of Skyrim. To objectively judge a new sound or feature it needs to be experienced in context for atleast a few hours to let go of habits and preconceptions. So in that sense...
Very helpful feedback: "...Also, there's something off with the sounds in Four Shields Tavern in Dragon Bridge, I compared it to some other Inns and they all seemed OK, speaking with the bartender makes it obvious."
Not so helpful feedback: Youtube Link
Just sayan ;)
Compatibility Package for Dawnguard,Dragonborn, Deadly Spell Impatcs, EmpoweredMagic and Unofficial Skyrim Patch available in Files section (not NMM download) Big thanks to michaelrw for making these! Please read the provided readmes carefully.
Compatibility patches for Dawnguard and Dragonborn, from the same Package, now available in Files Section (works with NMM)
Unofficial Skyrim Patch should have no conflicts with the upcoming AOS version 1.3. In version 1.2 there are only two very minor conflicts that don't break the game.
Compatibility patch for RealisticWaterTwo 1.101 now available in Files section.
In order to keep the AOS remix of existing water sounds intact and add the new sounds of RWT the load order should look like this:
AOS_RWT compatibility patch.esp
Version 1.2 now available in Files Section
-The excessive reverb as could be heard in Broduals video should be a thing of the past.
Reduced Dialog reverb send a little bit more, reduced WoodInteriorLarge reverb amplitude, created new reverb setting that will be used in stone rooms like taverns and Jarl houses. Before, WoodInteriorLarge was used in MediumStone rooms.
-Tweaked Exterior reverb some more (essentially lowering it a bit)
-Reduced Heavy Armor footsteps loudness and low frequencies.
-3rd person player footsteps are not quiet anymore compared to 1st person, thanks to ffe3214 who pointed a fix out to me which he has done in his own mod Stereo-Sounds Volume Fix as well. (not compatible with AOS)
-Forest branch cracks have been made a lot more subtle.
-Made a few ambiences more airy, less pressing and cold, especially the town base layer.
-Further amplitude and randomization tweaks to several ambience sounds and weapon swings.
Make sure to deinstall any previous version of AOS before installing this one. I have seen two reports of people claiming the mix is completely off with many sounds being extremely quiet. I can not reproduce the problem locally (everything seems fine), especially since 1.2 did not make any changes in that regard. If you are not sure how the mod should sound, refer to the videos. The Magic Combat video uses mostly version 1.2.
Footprints is compatible with AOS, despite what I claimed earlier. It turns out jonwd7 has set his mod up beautifully modular so that there are no conflicts.
Version 1.1 of AOS now available in Files section.
-Cleaned obsolete records from esp. using Tes5Edit.
-Slightly reduced reverb send of Dialog for more clarity
-Slightly reduced reverb amplitude in large and medium wooden interior spaces.
-Slightly reduced exterior reverb
-Several small amplitude tweaks for various ambiences, and bow shots.
Compatibility patch for Climates of Tamriel now available in Files section.
Note that this makes AOS work with the weathers and lighting of CoT. It is not a compatibility patch for the Audio add-on of CoT.
When in doubt, reinstall both mods fresh through NMM and "wait" 24 hours ingame. If it doesn't work, message me.
Important: Please make sure to not override the AOS.esp with the compatibility patch when using NMM. You still need the original AOS.esp first.
General Gameplay Footage
Skyrim Mod Sanctuary.
Comparison between some Combat Magic sounds.
Comparison between some exterior ambiences.
A first video showing various things. Thanks very much to Brodual. By the amount of reverb in the tavern I think it's safe to say that is version 1.0 ;) Keep in mind that the crazy reverb has been addressed in 1.1 and will be further tweaked in version 1.2.
Skyrim Mods Review 9: Hunter Archer Armor, Audio Overhaul, Epona for Skyrim, Infinity Blade Redux
Complete overhaul of distance attenuation for almost all audio in game
- A case by case treatment that includes minimum distance, attentuation curve and maximum distance settings.
For example the audible range for weapon impacts has been increased by roughly 200%. The range for an NPC biting an apple is still close to what it used to be.
- Overall the chance that you hear what you see and expect has been increased significantly.
- The game is about 10-15% louder (as much as the engine allows)
- Adjusted amplitudes for optimal balance between gameplay relevance and immersion.
- More dynamic and airy mix (the difference between quiet and loud is more prominent)
- Tweaked specifically to work with attenuation distance overhaul.
- Changed frequency content of many sounds for a more balanced and dynamic sound spectrum. More high range detail, less cluttered low-mid, low and sub range frequencies.
A constantly saturated bass for every sound in the game only takes away from the impact of sounds that actually need and profit from low frequencies, such as explosions and heavy impacts.
Now a fireball explosion is actually much heavier than a room tone.
Reverb overhaul(Reverb is the reflections of sound from surfaces in the environment, this is arguably one of the most significant changes)
- Much more present than in vanilla Skyrim. Different environments now have a much more present, realistic and varied space response.
- Not just increased volume of reverb but remodeled reverbs for all different environment types for optimal balance between reverb sound quality and the core of each environments atmosphere.
- Tweaked thoroughly in conjunction with the attenuation distance overhaul.
In vanilla Skyrim every sound would have generic standard settings of reverb send, no matter it's attenuation distance. This would lead to small range sounds like an object dropping on the ground cause more environment reflections than a massive explosion, which is the opposite of what is natural.
- There are outdoor reflections now. Being outside does not stop sound from reflecting from surfaces, it's just very different to a cave for example.
The effect is very subtle due to the vastly different outdoor environments possible in Skyrim.
- Explosions (runes, fireballs, dragonfireballs) now have special outdoor reflection tails as you would expect from a loud sound.
Foley/Footsteps(the most work intensive part of this project, you have no idea how tedious this was, SHARE MY PAIN!)
- Almost complete overhaul of all humanoid, and some creature's footsteps. I created more than 1000 and a few hundred new sounds just for this.
- Worn armor types (cloth, light, heavy) are now coherent and always present for different surface types and movement speeds. Vanilla Skyrim took many compromises in that regard and mostly only let you hear your armor while sprinting with limited variations. Walking, running, sprinting, stairs in combination with 3 different armor types and in combination with all different surface types....yeah it's a lot.
- The way armor movement is combined with footsteps is very inefficient in Skyrim to be honest and it bothered me a lot, but I kept following the structure as much as needed in order to insure compatibility with all armor mods.
- Heavy armor sounds heavier than the other types.
- Reduced repetition by increasing the number of samples and designing all new sounds and modifying old ones to be clear of "give away" elements such as specific tones and rhythms, while trying to leave as much of the character of the sounds intact as possible.
Magic(this was one of the most fun parts of the project SHARE MY JOY!)
- New sound design from scratch and modifications mostly for destruction and conjuration magic...mostly
- More clarity between casting, projectile and impact sounds. For example before you could not hear the impact of your own Firebolt because the casting sound completely drowned it out due to its length, frequency content and the low range/volume of the impact sound.
- More aggressive, snappy, punchy impacts and explosion design that comes through in the mix better and makes throwing projectiles at enemies more satisfying and responsive.
- More realism. Realism in Magic wooot? Yes, by emphasizing the elements that are being wielded and making the sounds more concise and snappier rather than typical, whooshey game sound design.
- Better connection to the visuals such as the timing on icicles getting stuck and exploding after a while or fireball impact sounds that follow the expansion and collapse of the fire.
- More variation and specific sounds for different spells. Before the exact same sound was used for almost all shock related spells, now unique spells have unique sounds.
- Sustained destruction sounds are now more intense when dual cast by adding additional layers.
- Hitting a surface/object with sustained destruction spells is now much more audible
- Projectile sounds. Now you can hear magic projectiles flying by your face no matter the distance it had to travel.
- Conjuration now follows a theme, opening breaches to oblivion, dealing with demons (Maaaatt Daaaaamon) and such.
- Reanimation has a sound now.
- Some other new sounds like iron skin and casting conjuration, which before sound like a metal impact, that I found inappropriate have been changed.
- Some modified shouts for more distinction and power between different levels of the sort.
- Impact sound for hitting a target with Unrelenting Force. (feels more responsive)
- Redisigning of some non-player magic/explosions (like Dragon fireballs).
- Lots of traps have been made snappier in order to hopefully scare you more.
- Igiting oil is way more intense.
- New sound design and many modifications for various creature types
- It reaches from small modifications to complete redesign (like frostbite spiders).
- Special attention to things that are big and epic. Dragons biting, landing, flying by, tail whips, stampeding Mammoths, groaning Centurions etc.
-Dogs don't sound like asthmatic goblins anymore! (Why has no one noticed this yet? :()
- Completely redesigned exterior base ambiences to give a greater sense of air, wind, foliage, life. Subtle and non-intrusive. More along the lines of "Dear Esther".
- Different regions have different characteristics.
Forests are about birds, breaking branches and soft rushing wind through the foliage.
The tundra is about open grass fields with insects and wind hitting your ears.
The reach is bare and windy, with eagles in the distance.
Snow fields and mountains are cold and have little life with biting gusts and snow carried away by the wind.
The marsh swamp is eerily dead with just some insects and frogs.
- More focus on animated objects in the environment such as fires, waterfalls or windmills. I want the world of Skyrim to be more alive with these spots that can grab your attention and are panned in the 3d environment. You hear what you see and can use your ears to find things which you might otherwise miss, more than before.
- Adjusted content and timing of randomized ambient sounds (like birds, insects) in most exterior and interior regions. Lowered or even removed some sounds that were out of place or annoying, added others to emphasize the character of the environment. Remixed heavily.
Many really good vanilla Skyrim sounds were hardly noticeable before, some others stuck out too much.
- New and adjusted interior ambiences that are generally much quieter. More emphasis on things that are actually happening in the word and that you can see and react to.
- Optimized many looping sounds by removing "give away" elements, similar to the new foley, masking the fact that these sounds are often just very short loops.
- Made sure the game uses the right content intended for different situations instead of falling back to generic samples.
- Modified weapon impacts to have precise sync. Before all weapon impacts were always late due to obsolete lead-ins. This made combat feel loose and unresponsive.
- Redesigned bows firing and arrow impact sounds. These are made from real medieval bow recordings.
- Arrows now have projectile sounds.
- Performance was a concern from the start. While increasing attenuation distance across the board will increase the number of sounds loaded and played I made a big effort reducing memory usage where I can.
The most extreme example would be fireballs. The memory usage of all fireball related sounds is now at 1/3 of what it was before even though there are now unique casting, projectile and exterior reflection sounds, which before did not exist.
- For most people there should be no performance issues.
-A variety of compatibility patches, for example for DLC is available here: AOS Compatibility Patches
- This mod is intended to be easy to use and requires the least possible hassle to install. It is compatible with the official expansions and all major mods that I know and use myself. No script extenders and special game versions are required. I tried to keep most things as simple and clean as possible.
-Footprints, Wet and Cold, Deadly Dragons, WATER, Unofficial Skyrim Patch, Guard Dialog Overhaul, Monster Mod, mods that add new spells are all completely fine with AOS and I use them myself in fact.
-Climates of Tamriel is now compatible with AOS via a new compatibility patch which you find under optional files in the files section. That does not necessarily include all addons for it but might work fine in most cases though.
The Climates of Tamriel Sound addon is not compatible with AOS. The game won't break but the load order decides which mod takes priority in the regions in which both mods overlap.
- As you could imagine this mod is not compatible with many other sound mods.
I need to stress that just installing a mod with other weapon sounds or a mod that adds new ambience sounds will also have other consequences as in removing other features from AOS due to the way things are connected and implemented in the engine.
A mod that changes weapon sounds most likely also overrides the instances of the sounds that determine attenuation distance, amplitude and reverb settings that don't match with AOS at all. A mod that adds ambience sounds will override region settings and also remove everything that was added and tweaked by AOS in those regions.
I have tried a few sound mods (like "Improved Combat Sounds" and "Sounds of Skyrim") and apart from problems like implementation being overridden there are also big differences in style and tone, and philosophies about mixing, subtlety, sync and cohesion. This is not about what is right or wrong, but mixing styles is not good.
SoS Dungeons appear to be compatible with AOS for now. Load SoS Dungeons after AOS if you want.
The mod will focus more on interior ambiences in version 2. After that, the two modules will have conflicts. Just a heads up...
Similar problems occur with the Sound Propagation mod which tackles the attuenuation distances like AOS does, but AOS also tweaks reverb sends for each output setting in conjunction with the new reverb settings, and sounds have been mixed using certain settings. Overriding AOS with the Sound Propagation mod would basically make the reverb go completely out of hand and the mix would be very off.
What I am trying to say is that it is often not very obvious which things are connected and overridden when installing another sound mod and it will most likely undo one of the biggest goals of AOS, to provide a coherent soundscape that does not sound modded. Apart from that the other mod will most likely not play as its author intended either.
As a rule of thumb, if another sound mod includes an esp. file it will most likely result in unforeseen compatibility issues and ruin what either mod author intended.
In other news...
I started this project in late June 2012. The idea for the mod started even before Skyrim was released.
It took over a year, because I am also working in the tripple A game industry which as many should know is extremely demanding.
This, however, allowed me to actually constantly tweak and redesign things, with the new things I learn in my job every day, always listening with a fresh perception. It is a blessing in one way and a curse all the same, since I could never be convinced to release the mod. There is always more you can do, but I am throwing it out there now, knowing that it does not have any glaring holes or massive glitches.
-There is a bug in Skyrim where for some reason there is no exterior reverb when you start the game in an exterior location. Only after you fast travel, or go indoors and outdoors again will it activate. It is not a game breaker whatsoever since it fixes it self while playing the game normally and the change is subtle to begin with.
- There are more things I would like to do with combat sounds and ambiences in the future when I find time. If there are massive bugs which I have missed I will try to fix those too ofcourse.
Extract content of AOS.rar into Skyrim folder (default path C:Program Files (x86)SteamSteamAppscommonSkyrim).
If asked to override, click yes but better backup your "sound" folder somewhere.
In the Skyrim Start Menu choose "Data Files" and check AOS.esp
Play the game!
Recommended Installation: Use Nexus Mod Manager (NMM)
Recommended Sound settings in the game
-Everything was tweaked to work best with the following settings:
Master at 100%
Effects at 100%
Footsteps at 100%
NPC Footsteps at 100%
Voice at 100%
Music at 50%
Q: Does this mod change music? Are my music mods compatible?
A: Generally there should not be a problem. There could only be a problem if the music mod edits region data, which should not be the case most of the time.
There is but one change AOS does to music actually. It turns exploration music off in the Marsh Swamp area (near Morthal). I stand by that choice because it gives that area a much creepier character in my opinion. It is an important part of that areas atmosphere.
Q: I only want x and y but not z. Will there be a modular release?
A: This is harder to accomplish than you might expect. It is not a simple matter of adding and removing sound files. Each file has been mixed into the soundscape using a multitude of settings that come with the esp. If for example I would try to seperate the bow sounds I would have to change the behavior and content of the projectile sounds, revert to the old bow sound and revert to the old amplitude, pitch and etc. settings, revert to the old output settings, which need to be cloned just for that. But then it would have the wrong reverb send...In the end the sound would simply sound broken when put into the same world. Many sounds would require their own special treatment in order to be like vanilla. It would take a very long time to do and I won't promise that I will ever do it.
However, if you prefer the old version of a sound, your best bet is to go into the sound folder, find the sound you don't like and delete it. Except for things that are completely new, the game should then revert to the vanilla file but at least give it the same behavior as all other sounds.
Better make sure that a sound files exists with that exact same name in the exact same folder structure before deleting it.
Q: Will there be a compatibility patch for Sounds of Skyrim (SoS)?
A: There won't be from me for two reasons. One is that compatibility is tricky enough with making sure that the CoT weathers work with the compatibility patch. Adding SoS, another mod that edits region data into the mix and required it's own compatibility patch for CoT, will make things very complicated for me and the user. I didn't want this mod to be difficult to get working.
The other reason is that AOS and SoS don't match from a design perspective and are overlapping. It would result in a noise war and bloated memory if both mods are to be combined. Ambience for a game that is supposed to be playable is not just about quantity, it's about getting the right mix between elements and it would simply sound better and run better to have one or the other mod.
They are two different mods that work on overlapping things. Just like you have to choose between your favorite lighting mods for interiors you will have to choose here as well.
Yes there are great things in SoS that I also planned to have in AOS in one way or the other. But scavenging another mod for parts feels wrong and insulting towards Cliffworms work. I will expand and tweak carefully where I see fit, without stealing anyones content.
Surely not the answer some people were looking for ;)
Q:Footsteps are too loud for my taste. Is this even a question?
A: There is a volume slider for Footsteps in the Audio options in Skyrim. Version 1.3 and up allows you to adjust NPC footsteps separately.
A: The mod is not dependant on anything and is self contained. Compatibility issues usually happen in "regions", which in the case of CoT is fixed with the compatibility patch. As a simple rule you decide what you want through load order priority. But be aware that many things are connected in a way that having one mod override one part in AOS might lead to other consequences that will likely kill the carefully tweaked mix (not break the game though).
In order to not break anything I personally place AOS and then the compatibility patch for CoT very late in the loadorder. Placing anything with conflicts, after AOS should be done under the users best judgement, taking into account that some features might not work or sound weird.
Q: Can I remove the new bow sounds without breaking the game?
A: Yes, navigate to Skyrim/Data/Sound/fx/wpn/bow/fire and delete the 3 files there. Skyrim will revert to the old sounds. You can also replace them with those from another mod if you wish.
Q: You claim realism, but what's up with the bow sounds and the lightning spells?
A: Reality can be surprising. The bow sounds are real mediaval bows, so are the flying arrows and impacts. The lightning spells are made from real electricity sounds. Why do they sound a bit like lazers? Because electricity is often used to make lazers! Electricity can make some crazy cool sounds.
The new lightning is shorter and snappier and lets you actually hear the impact. For me, it is not just about the firing sound being as huge as possible, it's about how it fits in with the gameplay and how clear and reactive it is. So in comparison the firing sound might be the most obvious change compared to vanilla, but there are many other things combined that are supposed to work for a more pleasant, reactive and immersive gaming experience.
Q: Why does this mod need so many compatibility patches? Can't it be easier to install?
A: The mod does not NEED all those compatibility patches. It is easy to install, considering what it does and how much data needs to be touched for it's features. Sound is connected to many things and I did make a conscious effort to not edit data unless I really have to.
How many patches do I use my self? Just one and I actually use other mods which have conflicts with AOS (and each other).
Many mods in existence have conflicts with one another without there being compatibility patches to sort those out. A conflict does not automatically mean that the game will break, in most cases the mod with the higher priority in the load order will override one with a lower priority if they both tweak the same data.
The fact that people have spend so much time and effort to sort out a variety of conflicts for tons of mods should be an advantage and not discouraging. Most compatibility patches sort out very small conflicts, sometimes just a single entry, which allows us to make sure that those who want absolute perfection at the cost of additional effort can get that.
I would always recommend the patch for Climates of Tamriel (if the mod is used) because otherwise a significant amount of features will be lost. Most other conflicts are much smaller in nature and might not even be noticed by the average player.
Special thanks to Bethesda for allowing everyone to modify their vast games and promoting an active and creative community.
Also special thanks for the support from:
Nelly and Jinn (you know who you are and what you have done)