Last updated at 9:27, 17 May 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.
Audio Overhaul for Skyrim 2.1 is now available for download!
The mod now comes in an easy to use installer, thanks to keithinhanoi. It contains the updated compatibility patches and smartly combines plugins where possible to lower the number of .esp files in the loadorder.
-New 1 handed blade impact sounds that are not inappropriate like the 2.0 ones.
-Several changes to propagation range and amplitude of fires, dungeon waterfalls and continuous ambient magic sounds, generally making these things less audible over distance and through walls and thus less distracting in a tightly packed environment.
-Small cleanups in the esp.
-Various amplitude tweaks to some ambient sounds
-New compatibility patches for Requiem and Traps Make Noise - More Dangerous Traps as part of the installer
-A USKP compatibility patch is not required anymore.
Known Bug: The Waterfalls and Rapids slider appears twice in the Audio menu and the second one is the real one. I don't know why this happens and it's annoying but it doesn't affect the game in any other way other than looking stupid in the audio menu, which you shouldn't really mess with on a regular basis anyways. Also, you don't get this bug if you start a fresh game.
EDIT: I had to reupload the package. The info said it was version 2.0 instead of 2.1 and there was a wrong master in the pure weather patch before. Also, I will likely upload a version of the installer with all sounds packed in a BSA sometimes soon.
New 1 handed sword impact sounds are available for download under optional files. These are the sounds that will be in AOS 2.1. There are some technical difficulties at the moment with getting 2.1 working, which will now have an installer (finally!), but I didn't want to keep these sounds from those who currently use 2.0, because I can't stand the 1h blade impacts from 2.0 and had to make new ones. Don't know what I was thinking, probably too influenced by Diablo 3 at the time.
-updated DLC patch, now it should be perfect
-new combined AOS Dawnguard and Dragonborn and USKP Compatibility Patch now available, with this the individual DGDB and USKP patches are not required anymore
More compatibility patches:
-Updated Guard Dialogue Overhaul patch
-Fire and Ice Overhaul patch
-RCRN AE patch
Furthermore, keithinhanoi made a compatibility patch for Pure Weather, which is available on the Pure Weather mod page.
Thanks to everyone who has been contributing to the compatibility patches!
I reuploaded the DLC compatibility patch, since the one from 2 days ago had something missing. Whoops :)
Compatibility patch for USKP available in files section.
I also added patches I recieved from Shurah:
-Wet and Cold
-Enhanced Blood Textures
-Realistic Water Two
-Natural Lighting and Atmospherics for ENB (vanilla and + Dawnguard version)
I also added patches I recieved from EssArrBee:
-Guard Dialog Overhaul
-Weapons and Armor Fixes
Thanks for the support!
Added an updated compatibility patch for the Dawnguard and Dragonborn DLCs.
Audio Overhaul for Skyrim 2.0 is now available for download!
-Remixed, remastered or redone all base ambiences for exterior and interior locations
-added roughly 300 new ambient sounds to exterior and interior locations including walla, various animals, debris and rockfall, unspecified activity etc.
-made new sounds for light snowing and heavy snowing (blizzard)
-mixing tweaks across the board to smoothe things out like too loud waterfalls in markarth
-added waterfalls fader to skyrim audio menu
-house interiors now have rain and moaning wind sounds when it rains or snows outside
Note: Don't expect to be bombarded with new ambient animal sounds as you enter the game. The new sounds are supposed to be subtle and a seamless part of the soundscape. Everything added was chosen for specific purposes such as providing more distant ambient sounds since that range was not covered at all before and also emphasize the dimensions of the space they are in. The difference between regions and night and day has been emphasized. The difference of interior locations have been emphasized. Many ambient sounds added to interiors suggest unspecified movement, which could be just some wood creaking or a stone falling, or it could be movement of something living. The point is to make it unsure if a dungeon, mine or fort etc. is populated and keep the player in the dark and on edge about possible threats.
The mix now much more emphasizes the difference between airy and lively outdoors and quiet and closed in indoors.
Ambience in general is much more prominent in this version, hopefully making you taste the air as you go hiking in Skyrim.
Now AOS is incompatible with all of SoS including dungeons. I can only say again that both mods are not meant to be played together. Use one or the other to do each justice. Stuffing hundreds of incoherently mixed ambience files together from two mods is not going make the ambience better, just messy and unbelievable.
-Made new impact sounds for all weapon classes (1 hand and 2 hand for blades, axes, maces)
-new and some heavily tweaked draw, sheathe, block and bash sounds for all weapon classes
-Daggers now have their own unique sounds for draw, sheathe and impacts, vanilla Skyrim just reused sword sounds
Note: The design behind the new impacts is to differentiate weapon classes much more than in vanilla. Blades cut, axes hack and maces bash. It should be much more obvious to tell what weapon type a NPC uses by just hearing the weapon sounds.
They are also designed to sound closer, more present and snappy.
While the changes to daggers were applied to all of Skyrims daggers, including unique ones, modded daggers will likely still use sword sounds, unless they use vanilla daggers as templates. Daggers were not setup by Bethesda to use unique sounds, so there is no way fro me to change things globally.
-new sounds for firing firebolt, fireball, lightning bolt, lightning chain
-tweaked attenuation of exterior explosion reflections
-remixed sneaking sounds
-sneaking with heavy armor now uses unique sounds
-Many mixing tweaks across the board, including reverb
-Fixed vanilla sound bugs such as missing impact sounds on shield from weapons like maces or troll claws, or longhammer using sword sounds etc.
-cleaned esp. from dirty or unnecessary edits
-cleaned sound folder from leftover .sfk files
-CTD fix integrated
-Compatibility Patch between AOS 2.0 and CoT 3.1 available in download section
-new reduced reverb .esp available in download section for those who need it
It has been brought to my attention that different audio hardware can have different results on the mix of Skyrim. Many reports have I have seen are the result of Skyrim not playing the soundscape in the same way as it was mixed by me. There is not much I can do about it, other than providing the best, balanced mix for my setup, tested with studio speakers and mixing headphones.
Make sure that your computer uses the correct audio settings for your speaker setup. Surround? Headphones? Stereo speakers?
Sorry, for the long wait. I was very busy and I refrained from uploading incremental updates because that would just exponentially increase to workload for those doing compatibility patches like michaelrw.
Apart from maintaining the mod, making fixes and improvements based on feedback I plan to look more into footsteps, including for animals in the future.
Big thanks for those who have supported this project with compatibility patches and roaming the comments to help other users since I can't always find the time.
Oh, and I decided to clean the news section and instead put the previous progress into a downloadable txt file for those who want it.
Brodual Coverage Version 2.1
The following videos are based on AOS 1.0 - 1.5. I did not have time to make a presentation for 2.0 yet.
General Gameplay Footage (version 1.5)
Skyrim Mod Sanctuary. (version 1.5)
Comparison between some Combat Magic sounds. (version 1.5)
Comparison between some exterior ambiences. (version 1.0)
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)
- Redesigning of some non-player magic/explosions (like Dragon fireballs).
- Lots of traps have been made snappier and louder in order to hopefully scare you more.
- Igiting oil is much more intense for example
- 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".
- roughly 400 new ambient sounds throughout Skyrim, in interiors and exteriors
- 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.
- Intense blizzards
- Interior rain
- Made sure the game uses the right content intended for different situations instead of falling back to generic samples.
- Redisigned weapon impacts for better destinction between weapon types and more presense in the mix, also redesigned draw, sheath, bash and block sounds
- Daggers now have unique content, no longer reuse sword assets
- Redesigned bows firing and arrow impact sounds. These are made from real medieval bow recordings.
- Arrows now have projectile sounds.
Performance and Bugs
- 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.
- Many vanilla Skyrim sound bugs have be fixed either directly or as sideeffect of the other changes.
PLEASE READ THE LAST FAQ ENTRY ABOUT COMPATIBILITY, CAPS INTENDED!
-A variety of compatibility patches which were made for version 1.5 is available here: AOS Compatibility Patches
For those patches that are not hosted on this page here, the old ones from the separate compatibility page are still valid and needed no update.
- This mod is intended to be easy to use and requires the least possible hassle to install. 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 most other sound related 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. There it is not about what is right or wrong, but mixing styles is not good.
SMPC sound fixes are heavily conflicting with AOS! It is unnecessary to use with AOS since AOS changes the same things, but SMPC sound fixes does so with the vanilla game as a base. When allowed to override AOS, SMPC sound fixes will significantly alter the mix and remove or break features, possibly even cause instability.
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.
- Animal footsteps and more efficient memory usage on humanoid footsteps
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%
Waterfalls and Rapids 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 and even merge everything into a single compatibility plugin for that specific loadorder.
I would always recommend the patch for Climates of Tamriel (if the mod is used) or other weather mods 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)