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Distorting Sounds with Audio Effect Patches

Use audio effect patches to distort the sound of audio clips you’ve added to an effect, or the sound detected by the device's microphone.

Each audio effect patch has values that can be changed, to control the distortion of the sound that’s connected to it.

The best way to create your own sound effect is to experiment with these values, until you’re happy with the result. To help you get started, in this guide we’ll show you how edit the values in each audio effect patch to create a range of distortion effects.

Learn about:

Audio effect patches are only available in the Spark AR Studio Beta - our new cross-platfrom version of Spark AR Studio. You can download it here.

Before you start

In this guide we’ll use audio effect patches to distort the sound detected by the phone’s microphone.

To create a patch representing the microphone, drag the Microphone from the Scene Panel, into the Patch Editor. A purple patch will be created:



You could distort the sound of an audio clip you’ve added to your project instead. To do this, drag the audio clip from the Assets Panel into the Patch Editor to create an orange asset patch.

You’ll also need to add a Speaker to your scene:

  1. Click Add Object.
  2. Select Speaker from the list.

Then, create a patch to represent the Audio property of the speaker:

  1. Select the speaker in the Scene Panel.
  2. Click the arrow next to Audio in the Inspector.

A yellow patch will be created:

Creating audio effect patches

To add any audio effect patch to your project:

  1. Right-click in the Patch Editor to open the menu.
  2. Go to Audio.
  3. Select an audio effect patch from the menu.

Adding low-fidelity distortion to an audio source

You can use an audio effect patch called Bit Crusher to add a low-fidelity distortion effect to an audio source.

For this tutorial, we’ll make this crackly sound.

To recreate this audio effect:

  1. Select a Bit Crusher patch from the menu in the Patch Editor.
  2. Connect the output of the Microphone patch to the Audio input in the Bit Crusher patch.
  3. Connect the output of the Bit Crusher to the input of the patch representing the speaker in your scene.


Editing the values

The Bit Crusher patch has 4 values that can be edited. To create the crackly sound, change:

  • Mix to 100. Mix is used to blend the sound that comes out of the bit crusher effect with the clean, unaffected sound. Setting Mix to 100% will create the most aggressive lo-fi sound.
  • Sample Rate to 5000. Sample Rate is a set frequency range. Restricting the range to 5,000 means the higher frequencies from the original microphone signal won’t be heard. This gives a warmer, but also a more distorted sound.
  • Bits to 8. Changing the Bits value gives the effect a crunchy and distorted sound. Along with setting the Sample Rate, adjusting Bits makes the sound more noisy.
  • Bypass to OFF. Bypass turns the distortion effect on or off. When the box is unchecked, the distortion effect is turned on. When the checkbox is checked, the audio will be unaffected by the distortion.

Creating a gritty or fuzzy sound effect

The Distortion patch can add a gritty sound effect to your audio source.

In this example, we’ll edit the values in the patch to make a slightly fuzzy sound.

Start by creating and connecting the patches:

  1. Select a Distortion patch from the menu in the Patch Editor.
  2. Connect the output of the Microphone patch to the Audio input in the Distortion patch.
  3. Connect the output of the Distortion to the input of the patch representing the speaker in your scene.


Editing the values

You can edit 4 values in the Distortion patch:

To add a fuzzy sound, change:

  • Drive to 20. This adds the fuzzy distortion sound.
  • Gain to -8. Gain is measured in decibels - it’s essentially the volume level for the sound as it comes out of the distortion effect. It's best to set this somewhere between -12 and +6. Going higher that +6 will likely be too loud.
  • Mix to 100. Mix is used to blend the sound that comes out of the distortion effect with the clean, unaffected sound. Setting this value to 100% will make the audio sound fully distorted and fuzzy.
  • Bypass to OFF. Bypass turns the distortion effect on or off. When the box is unchecked, the distortion effect is turned on. When the checkbox is checked, the audio will be unaffected by the distortion.

Creating an oscillating sound

You can use the Modulator patch to create an oscillating sound effect with varying pitches. Modulation is often used as an experimental audio effect, and is found in many synthesizers.

The edits we'll make to the Modulator patch will create a weird, alien sound.

Start by creating and connecting the patches:

  1. Select a Modulator patch from the menu in the Patch Editor.
  2. Connect the output of the Microphone patch to the Audio input in the Modulator patch.
  3. Connect the output of the Modulator to the input of the patch representing the speaker in your scene.


Editing the values

You can edit 3 values in the Modulator patch - you can find out more about what each editing each of these values can do in this guide.

Try changing:

  • Frequency to 100. Adjusting the Frequency creates interesting layers and overtones that make the audio going into the modulator come out sounding strange - kind of like an alien.
  • Mix to 100. Mix is used to blend the sound that comes out of the distortion effect with the clean, unaffected sound. Setting this value to 100% only sends out the audio that the modulator affecting.
  • Bypass to OFF. Bypass turns the distortion effect on or off. When the box is unchecked, the distortion effect is turned on. When the checkbox is checked, the audio will be unaffected by the distortion.

Changing the pitch of an audio source

Use the Pitch Shifter patch to change the pitch of an audio source, making it deeper or higher. This can be used to create cartoon-style voice effects.

We’ll edit the values in the Pitch Shifter patch to make a high-pitched sound - like a chipmunk.

Start by creating and connecting the patches:

  • Select a Pitch Shifter patch from the menu in the Patch Editor.
  • Connect the output of the Microphone patch to the Audio input in the Pitch Shifter patch.
  • Connect the output of the Pitch Shifter to the input of the patch representing the speaker in your scene.


Editing the values

The Pitch Shifter patch has 2 values that can be edited.

For a high-pitched sound effect, try changing:

  • Change Semi to 4. This value refers to 'semitones', which change the pitch of the sound. Setting Semi to a negative number makes the pitch lower, while a positive numbers make the pitch higher. Setting Semi to 4 is somewhere in the middle, creating a sound a bit like a cartoon chipmunk.
  • Bypass to OFF. Bypass turns the distortion effect on or off. When the box is unchecked, the distortion effect is turned on. When the checkbox is checked, the audio will be unaffected by the distortion.

Adding a sense of space or depth

To add a sense of space or depth to a sound, you can use the Reverb patch. Adding this patch to your project can make an audio source sound like it’s in being played in anything from a tiny box, to a large concert hall.

We’re going to edit the values in the Reverb patch to make an echoey sound.

Start by creating and connecting the patches:

  1. Select a Reverb patch from the menu in the Patch Editor.
  2. Connect the output of the Microphone patch to the Audio input in the Reverb patch.
  3. Connect the output of the Reverb to the input of the patch representing the speaker in your scene.


Editing the values

You can edit 9 different values in the Reverb patch. For an echoey, reverberating sound, change:

  • Mix to 40. Mix blends the sound that come out of the reverb effect with the clean, unaffected sound. Setting Mix to 40% will allow most of the unaffected sound to come through, and mix in some of the sound that is sent through the reverb.
  • Early Reflections Gain to 50. This is a percentage value. A higher value will make the early reflections much louder, and blend in with the longer reverb reflection to makes the reverb effect smoother.
  • Diffusion Gain to 70. Diffusion. Setting this higher creates a bigger, longer reverb and plays directly with the Room Size and Reflectivity values.
  • Room Size to 50. This estimates the size of the room where the sound is reverberating, in meters. Setting it to 50 will simulate sound in a space like a large concert hall.
  • Reflectivity to 70. A higher value here means simulates sound bouncing off walls more, and for longer. A smaller number will result in quieter and shorter sound.
  • Reflectivity High to 80. This refers to the volume of high frequencies set in the Reflectivity value. At 0, the sound would be dull and muffled. A higher setting would make the sound more bright.
  • Reflectivity Low to 90. This refers to the volume of low frequencies set in the Reflectivity value. Set at 0 the sound will lose all of its warmth and sound brittle and bright. A higher setting creates very warm and cluttered sound.
  • Num Early Reflections to 16. This refers to the number of early reflections that occur, or the number of times you'll hear the sound play back in the first few seconds.
  • Bypass to OFF. Bypass turns the distortion effect on or off. When the box is unchecked, the distortion effect is turned on. When the checkbox is checked, the audio will be unaffected by the distortion.

Using the Parametric Equalizer patch

The Parametric Equalizer patch can shape audio, by boosting or cutting areas of frequency.

We’re going to look at what happens when you edit the different values in the Parametric Equalizer.

We’re going to look at what happens when you edit the different values in the Parametric Equalizer.

Start by creating and connecting the patches:

  1. Select a Parametric Equalizer patch from the menu in the Patch Editor.
  2. Connect the output of the Microphone patch to the Audio input in the Parametric Equalizer patch.
  3. Connect the output of the Parametric Equalizer to the input of the patch representing the speaker in your scene.


The Parametric Equalizer patch has 9 values that can be edited. Let’s look at each section of the Equalizer here. Try changing:

  • Low Type to Low Shelf. This will boost or reduce the gain from a set frequency, and below.
  • Low Frequency to 150. Below this frequency will be boosted or reduced depending on the gain. Above this frequency there will be a smooth slope that is adjusted by the Quality parameter.
  • Low Quality to 0.5. This controls the angle of the slope from the Low frequency, all the way to the lowest point of the EQ. Setting this value to less thank 0.5 will set the slope to an aggressive angle. The slope will be smoother when set higher. Avoid setting this value below 0.1 or above 0.9.
  • Low Gain - This is how much you can boost or cut/reduce the volume of the low shelf section. Adjust this between -6 and +6 to see how this affects the sound.
  • Mid Type to Peak. A peak type is similar to the look of a triangle, where the frequency is directly in the middle with slopping on either side.
  • Mid Frequency to 1000. When using the Peak type, this frequency is the center of the peak.
  • Mid Quality to 0.5. This controlS the angle of the slope from the set mid frequency at the peak, to a higher and lower frequency on either side. Adjusting this causes the peak to be either wider or more focused. Lower than 0.5 will set the slop to an aggressive angle when set lower. It'll be smoother when set higher to a higher value. Avoid values below 0.1 or above 0.9.
  • Mid Gain - This is how much you can boost or cut/reduce the volume of the mid type peak section. Adjust this between -6 and +6 to see how this affects the sound.
  • High Type to High Shelf - to boost or cut/reduce the gain from a set frequency and above.
  • High Frequency to 8000. This is the frequency chose where the high shelf will start. Any frequency above this will be boosted or cut/reduced depending on the gain. Below this frequency there will be a smooth slope that is adjusted by the Quality parameter.
  • High Quality to 0.5. This parameter will control the angle of the slope from the set high frequency all the way up to the higherst point of the EQ. This slope can be set to an aggressive angle when this value is lower than 0.5, and a smoother angle when set higher. Don't set this below 0.1 or above 0.9.
  • High Gain - This is how much you can boost or reduce the volume of the high shelf section. Adjust this between -6 and +6 to see how this affects the sound.

Here's another example you could try setting:

  • Mid Type and High Type to Bypass. This will turn off those 2 sections, leaving only the Low section active.
  • Low Type to High Pass. This will remove sound below the set frequency, letting only the high frequencies pass through.
  • Low Frequency to 2000. This will remove all low frequencies below 2000Hz, which will make the audio very bright, and take out the warmth and the bass. This will sound similar to a megaphone.

Using the Low Pass in the High Type section gives the same result, but will cut out the higher frequencies above the set frequency - instead of the low frequencies. Try Setting Low Type and Mid Type to Bypass, setting High Type to Low Pass, and setting the High Frequency to 500Hz.

Adding a delay

The Audio Delay patch will create a decaying echo sound.

Start by creating and connecting the patches:

  • Select a Delay patch from the menu in the Patch Editor.
  • Connect the output of the Microphone patch to the Audio input in the Delay patch.
  • Connect the output of the Delay to the input of the patch representing the speaker in your scene.


You can edit 12 values in this patch. To add a delay to the sound detected by the microphone, change:

  • Active 1 to ON. The Active values are on/off switches for each delay time. You can have up to 4 delay times turned on at once.
  • Time 1 to 300. The time parameter controls the amount of time in milliseconds between each delay repeat. 300ms is a medium amount of time for repeats, and a good starting point to hear what the delay is doing.
  • Active 2, Active 3 and Active 4 to OFF, by checking the boxes.
  • Time 2, Time 3 to Time 4 to 0. Since the delay time is turned off with the Active 2, 3 and 4 checkboxes, these values will not be used in this example.
  • Feedback to 20. This controls how many times the delayed audio will repeat before it fades away to silence. 20% gives a low amount of repeats. A higher will cause the sound to be more chaotic and bigger.
  • Wet to 50. This controls the % of the delay signal sent to the speaker - so it's essentially the volume mix control for the affected delay sound. Setting this to 50% only sends half the volume amount to the speaker. As a result, the delay sound will compliment the unaffected audio.
  • Dry to 100. This controls the amount of clean, unaffected audio sent to the speaker. 100% will send the dry audio through to the speaker object.
  • Bypass to OFF. Bypass turns the distortion effect on or off. When the box is unchecked, the distortion effect is turned on. When the checkbox is checked, the audio will be unaffected by the distortion.

Changing the delay time

Next try changing the Time 1 value to different milliseconds. This will changes the amount of time between the initial sound, and the repeated sound that follows. If you set the delay time to 100, there will be 100ms of time between the first sound and the repeated sound after that. A very short delay time, for example between 50 and 80 will have a slap-back style sound with very quick repeats.

Try setting the feedback to 50. This will make the delay repeats last longer, and take longer to fade away in volume.

Creating rhythmic patterns

Now you’re familiar with using one Delay section, try turning on Active 2, 3, and 4. Adjusting the Time parameter for each. Setting the Time parameters differently for each delay section will create unique rhythmic patterns.

It’s also worth playing with different Feedback settings, to create long, ambient delay tails.

Removing background noise

To remove the background noise from audio source, you can use the Denoiser patch.

Start by creating and connecting the patches:

  1. Select a Denoiser patch from the menu in the Patch Editor.
  2. Connect the output of the Microphone patch to the Audio input in the Denoiser patch.
  3. Connect the output of the Denoiser to the input of the patch representing the speaker in your scene.


Editing the values

  • Change the Amount to 40. This will filter out background noise. The higher the setting, the more noise is filtered out. Having a very high setting will aggressively remove noise, and could remove too much sound.
  • Bypass to OFF. The bypass is what turns the DSP effect on or off. When off, the audio will sound the same as if the DSP was not there.

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