Immersive Sounds - Compendium by lazygecko
Skyrim » Audio, sound and music
Added: 05/06/2014 - 12:08AM
Updated: 30/04/2015 - 12:55AM

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Last updated at 0:55, 30 Apr 2015 Uploaded at 0:08, 5 Jun 2014

Immersive Sounds - Compendium is an all-in-one package of all my previously released modules in the series. Together they drastically alter the sound and atmosphere of Skyrim. It is the culmination of almost a year of work since I first started fiddling with Skyrim's sound in June 2013.
IS is more than a mere sound replacer. It is just as much of a sound expansion, altering and adding to the systems behind Skyrim's sound playback to create a richer and more varied experience. Lots of work and care has gone into the project to make sure it is as compatible and hassle-free for the user as possible, while at the same time remaining ambitious in scope. IS also offers a very large amount of customization options for a sound overhaul, so if you don't happen to like that type of sword drawing sound, or that bow sound, or that healing spell sound, etc, then chances are there's an alternative that suits your tastes better.
If you already downloaded some of the old Immersive Sounds releases, keep in mind that all of them have been extensively updated and bundled into this mod!

Requires both Dawnguard and Dragonborn.

WEAPON EQUIP - All sounds for drawing and unsheathing melee weapons have been overhauled. The default choice retains the sharp stylized fantasy ideal, but you can also choose to install smoother more realistic sounding variants.

WEAPON IMPACTS - All weapon impacts have been overhauled and also expanded upon so there are more unique impact types for each weapon and the kinds of surfaces they hit. The generic, pre-loaded impact sound has also been removed so that the correct impact sound will always play. By default the impact sounds are louder and squishier (for flesh impacts) than in vanilla, but there are plenty of options to choose here. There's an alternative that isn't quite as intense, and there are also different timing options for both types.

WEAPON SWINGS - All of them overhauled. In particular one-handed axes and maces now use their own swing sounds instead of sharing the same type. By default they are stylized in a fantasy style where there's a distinct metallic elements on top of the swoosh noise, but once again you are offered a more modest option here without the metallic sounds.

SHIELDS & BLOCKING - All shield blocks and bashes have been overhauled (in addition to blade parrying), but it doesn't end there. The blocking sounds have been expanded upon so that both light and heavy shields now react differently to the size of the weapon being blocked. So blocking a dagger will now no longer make the same sound as if you were blocking a giant warhammer.

RANGED WEAPONS - Bow and crossbow sounds have been overhauled, in addition to the impact sounds for arrows and bolts. For bows you can choose between 5 different types: the default which has a distinct arrow whistle noise when firing, an alternative which has diminished arrow whistling, or a third one with no audible arrow whistle at all. The last two were explicitly made to sound realistic, while the third one is a sort of compromise between stylized and real.
In addition you can choose between two types of arrow impact sounds on NPCs.

This is one of the most dramatic and instantly noticeable changes. Skyrim's vanilla footstep playback suffers severely from relying on a pre-loaded, generic dirt sound no matter what type of terrain you're moving on, or what type of armor you're moving in. This is taken care of so that you will always hear the correct terrain and armor type. In addition the amount of terrain types covered has been expanded to include metal and sand surfaces should you ever come across them.

In addition to player footsteps, NPC footsteps have also been overhauled. NPCs use their own unique set of footstep sounds, since both types are always heard from the perspective of the player the NPC ones should sound different with much less of a proximity effect (and it was also important to make them not so distracting).
I think situations where you're running around with follower NPCs and hearing the exact same footsteps behind you is just too jarring and confusing so that's why I consider this extra important. Just like the player ones, the NPC footstep playback system has been expanded so that NPCs wearing heavy or light armor will always have the appropriate armor sounds when moving around, and cover more terrain types instead of just pulling from a shared generic pool of sounds.

It's not just the player and humanoid NPC races that have recieved attention. Many animal and creature footsteps have also been reworked. I did not plan to touch this originally since we already have Better Animal Footsteps for that, but upon further inspection I unfortunately noticed that those sound files are extremly unoptimized and are much larger than they need to be. Several of them are as large as almost 1mb each, when in reality they could be as low as 20-30kb (sometimes even less) without losing quality. Added together these files take up a lot of unnecessary memory while playing. Since it's an old mod with no activity for years, at this point it seems unlikely that the mod author will return and adress this problem, so I took it upon myself to create new sounds with the same goals in mind that are much more memory-efficient.

And finally, skeleton footsteps recieved a bit of special treatment compared to other creatures. They now have unique footsteps for dirt, stone, wood and snow instead of just 1 universal set. I thought this would be worth it for necromancer type characters having a skeleton follower running around, so they don't have to listen to the same 4 footsteps repeated over and over.

Please remember that there are volume sliders for both player and NPC footsteps before commenting on the volume levels!

Magic/Spell sounds have been dramatically reworked to help emphasize the differences between each school of magic, as I felt the original sounds were too homogenized (and in many cases they literally just share the same generic sounds across magic schools). I'm going to split up the descriptions between each school and try to explain my ideas and motivations for the changes:

DESTRUCTION - Destruction is split up between the 3 different elements, so we'll go over those respectively.
Fire spells in vanilla have a lot of sharp crackling in them, as if it was firewood being burnt in a brazier or something. Since you are conjuring up flames from the ether, this didn't sound quite right to me. So fire spells now have a much smoother, windy quality to them.
Shock spells I believe suffered much from very cliché-sounding electric buzzing. This is a problem in many, many games since they all seem to pull from the same old tired stock sounds. I have tried to downplay this aspect in many of the shock spells and instead emphasize rumbling thunder.
Frost spells were IMO the least problematic of the three and didn't need as much work. A lot of people have complained about icicle/icy spear being a bit harsh on the ears, so that has been replaced with something that is hopefully more pleasant sounding.

CONJURATION - In addition to the main conjuration sounds being reworked, this school also suffered from simply using the fire sounds for charging and casting so they have been replaced with new unique sounds. The overall theme for conjuration sounds is to be more rythmic than the others, and have a sort of dark and menacing aspect to them, since you're dealing with powerful Daedric forces here.

ILLUSION - Likewise there were a lot of generic fire sounds being used here, so Illusion has been given a unique makeover just like conjuration. I wanted it to sound more otherwordly and mysterious, with a lot of dissonant droning to it. The exceptions here are the fury and fear-based spells, which have a more aggressive quality to them.

ALTERATION - This is sort of like Illusion in that I wanted it to sound kind of otherworldly, but with less of a dissonant characteristic. And since Alteration is more about the manipulation of physical things, rather than the mind like Illusion, I have also tried to reflect this in some of the spells. Oakflesh, Stoneflesh, Ironflesh now all use different casting sounds true to their names.

RESTORATION - I wanted Restoration to differ itself by somehow sounding more benevolent than the other schools. By default IS gives Restoration spells a sort of ethereal, harmonic vibe. I know from experience with users though that people can be quite picky over how their Restoration sounds like. So for this school there are multiple choices of sounds you can choose from in the installer. One is from an earlier version of my mod, which is reminiscent of classic RPG healing, the other is sort of inspired by the Templar healing sounds in TESO, or you could simply choose to opt out of any custom sounds and use the vanilla ones.

VAMPIRIC - Shock sounds have been removed from Vampiric Drain effects and replaced with new unique sounds more suited to creatures that go bump in the night.

SHOUTS - Many of Skyrim's shout spell sounds (not the voices) with the same intention as the magic portion: to provide more variety and emphasize the differences between the shouts, instead of being mostly just thunder sounds with a hint of some other element.

Skyrim is a loot game. You are constantly picking up items wherever you go. You feel compelled to keep doing it, even if you know you probably don't need that low level stamina potion that much. So why then are you mostly just listening to a generic, featureless leather foley sound when picking things up, unlike other RPGs or Action RPGs (including previous TES entries) that always give you satisfying contextual feedback for what you're picking up?
This mod fixes this by making sure you'll always hear an appropriate sound for many items in the game, like potions, gems and jewelry, lockpicks, etc.

Immersive Sounds offers you many alternative sounds to install for instances that I know from past experience has been polarizing. For weapons you can choose smoother, more realistic sounding weapon sheathing/unsheathing for those who don't want the traditional stylized fantasy sounds. For archery there are also 2 different variants from the default attack sounds, one with a less pronounced arrow whistle and one with no audible arrow whistle. For weapon impacts you can also choose faster impact timing on the sounds, more akin to the timing chosen in Skyrim Audio Overhaul.

For spells there are as many as 4 different restoration styles to choose from. Apart from the default restoration sounds I have made, you can also choose a more old school RPG styled option, or something inspired by the Templar sounds in The Elder Scrolls Online, or simply choose to have them just like in vanilla. For conjuration summoning you can also choose something closer to the sorcerer's daedric summoning sounds in The Elder Scrolls Online.

In addition, there are also separate extra choices available that unique and not replacements for parts of the core package. The largest one is a dungeon ambiance package which overhauls some of the looped and itermittent ambient sounds found in Nordic, Dwemer and Imperial dungeons. I did not include this in the main package since other than that this mod makes no edits to Skyrim's ambient sounds and thus thought it better suited as an optional pack.
Other choices include muting the sneak attack sound notification, and finally a replacement for the skillup musical cue which sounds very close to the same one from Oblivion. I thought it would just be a fun little thing to include for nostalgia.

Several of these types of sounds have been redone. I thought in several cases they sounded kind of weak and especially in the case of treasure chests didn't quite evoke the excitement I wanted from opening a chest full of shiny loot.

Compendium is the updated complete all-in-one package of my previously released modules in the Immersive Sounds series. If there is one significant aspect of the mod that you don't like for whatever reason and would prefer to skip, then a modular setup of the separated .esps is probably a better solution for you. The links are as follows:

Aural Assortment

Potential compatibility issues is something that's constantly been on my mind when working on the features of this mod. For the vast majority of sounds there ought to be no noteworthy issues since only Sound Descriptors are altered. But there are cases where my ambitons required me to make edits to other aspects of the game, like telling certain spells to use different sounds by editing their Magic Effect entries. That's one of the main things that will conflict, so I have included several patches for some of the most popular mods that are relevant to this, like SkyRe and Requiem.
Immersive Sounds makes no edits to things like cells, regions or ambient outdoor weather. So any mods that cover these things like Sounds of Skyrim or Audio Overhaul will have no problem with these things.

One thing to note about other sound mods is that Immersive Sounds mainly operates through redirecting the sounds it changes to new unique folder structures (the ones with a _is suffix). So if you install another sound mod that works by overwriting vanilla sound files, then that mod won't work unless it also has an .esp which also overrides the relevant Sound Descriptor. So if it's something like a new crossbow sound that doesn't have an .esp, it will do nothing. With just a bit of manual work though you can copy those sound files over to the equivalent IS folder, then replace them using the same names as the IS sound files.
Why does IS not just overwrite vanilla files as usual then, you might ask? It's a fair question. The main reason was to make my workflow easier and more manageable. I use subfolder structures that make more sense to me (for example every 1-handed blade sound is found in the blade1hand directory, as opposed to spread out over drawsheathe, swing, impact and block folders like in vanilla). Many times I also have more sounds in a round robin than in vanilla, and I used a batch tool to split them up into _001, _002 etc suffixes (my batch program insisted on this naming convention) from a single file as opposed to 01, 02 like in vanilla.

Q: I already have Audio Overhaul for Skyrim. Why should I bother with this?/Will this even work with AOS?

A: Immersive Sounds has already been developed and tested with Audio Overhaul active in the load order. So long as you load it after AOS in the load order it will be just fine. It is also worth noting that IS goes deeper and makes more extensive changes to several aspects of Skyrim's sound which AOS does not. IS does not make edits to things like reverb parameters and output models like AOS does. I did not feel it was neccessary to reinvent the wheel in that regard when someone else already did a good job with it. IS works very well as a complement to AOS, just as it works fine independently.

Q: Will Sounds of Skyrim work with Immersive Sounds?

A: As far as I know there should be zero conflicts between them. SoS relies a lot on region/cell edits, and that is outside the scope of what this mod does.

Q: Sound X is way too loud/quiet! Can you fix it?

A: Sound X in this case could be anything, but one of the most common complaints is footsteps. Unfortunately this can be a pretty complicated problem to which there is no universal solution. Skyrim's audio playback behaves pretty different depending on what sound card and what sound drivers you are using. To call it unoptimized would be an understatement. Also, if you have fiddled with the .ini settings to raise the volume multipliers beyond the maximum amount the ingame sliders allow (this solution is sometimes used by people with a computer setup where Skyrim's audio is super quiet even when maxed ingame), the volume scaling on the sliders will behave in a weird manner. Personally I have to set the footsteps slider to near zero to have them on a sensible volume level compared to the other sliders, but when I was trying Skyrim on a different sound card I didn't need to do that.

Q: Why can't I always hear my footsteps in third person view?

A: Are you using custom animation mods? Chances are some of them don't have sound triggers assigned to them, so that can only be fixed by editing the animations.

Q: Why am I still hearing light armor footsteps when wearing certain heavy armors?

A: For vanilla armors, use the Unofficial Skyrim Patch to fix this weird oversight. For mod armors, that's really up to the respective mod authors to fix so I recommend you report it to them.

Q: Will the magic sounds be compatible with new spell mods such as Apocalypse Magic, Midas Magic, etc?

A: As long as the new spells pull from the vanilla sound descriptors (which the vast majority do) then they will likewise have the new sounds. I have also ensured through compatibility patches that many new spells added by SkyRe and Requiem have had the new school-appropriate sounds assigned to them instead of sharing generic fire sounds.

Q: I know what X really sounds like and yours isn't realistic at all!

A: This isn't really a question, but I get these remarks often enough so nevermind that... Yes, thank you for pointing out the obvious. You are a very perceptive and clever human being. Congratulations!

Realism is not an inherent goal of the mod. If something does end up more realistic (unless it's an optional choice where it's the specific goal), it's more of a nice coincidence. Kinda like chords occuring in counterpoint-based music. My vision for the sound of Skyrim by default is to fit in with the fictional fantasy atmosphere. Everything is idealized and thus unrealistic in some manner, like convenient dramatic lighting in the scenery, or the way people talk by always delivering their lines perfectly without fumbling words, etc etc... I don't see why sound ought to be an exception in that regard. The term "realistic" is also not something I like throwing around so casually. For instance for archery sounds to really qualify as realistic by my standards, there would need to be different sounds played depending on how much you pull the string, and there'd need to be different sets of bow sounds accounting for the material used for all the different bows in the game. The former is not possible as far as I know, and the latter could actually be accomplished but it'd be a ton of work and also a compatibility nightmare since the actual bow weapon records would need to be edited, which are often tinkered with by other mods.

Of course there's nothing wrong with prefering more realistic sounds over stylized ones. That's why I provide many options in the installer. But the manner in which many people phrase these remarks it seems to me they are less genuinely interested in realism and are moreso just looking for a reason to sound condescending and smarter than they really are, which gets on my nerves after a while.

Audio Overhaul for Skyrim - Great mod for overhauling some of the fundamentals my own mod does not touch like sound propagation, reverb and outdoor weather. Place this before Immersive Sounds in the load order, install the patch and they'll smoothly together.

Unofficial Skyrim Patch - Everyone should have this really. Not using the USKP is one of the most common reasons people report incorrect footsteps being played.