Fleksy sound design in the making

Fleksy has always been known as a highly customizable and unique keyboard. Part of what makes us so unique is the layout of the keyboard, look of it, as well as our gestures. But up until now, the one characteristic that was lacking this unique factor was our sound design!

You might wonder? Sound…in a keyboard? Most of you might not realize because of our phones being constantly set in vibrate / silent mode but over 35% of our users have sounds activated, which makes it a very important part of a virtual keyboard. The reason for it comes from its original form: the physical keyboard makes a sound, and sometimes a lot of it

For this exact reason, we took the decision to revamp our sounds and make our typing experience livelier and more dynamic with our new sound library!

To better understand the work and the reflection that went behind our sound re-design as well as the importance that sound has for Fleksy and for the world we live in general, we interviewed Bernd Siebenhofer, our Sound Designer.

If you listen closely, you’ll find sound design in every piece of music and musicality in every piece of sound design — even if it’s just noise.

SD: So Bernd, let’s get to know you a bit better, what got you into sound design and what’s your mission at Fleksy?

Bernd: I grew up in a very musical family which had a profound impact on me since I was a little kid. The effect that music and sounds could have was fascinating to me. Soon, I began to actively seek out new music on my own and started to play an instrument. After several years of pursuing music as a hobby, I decided to turn my passion into a profession and started studying music production and sound design in Salzburg, Austria. My mission at Fleksy is to put what I’ve learned into action and help give the app a sonic identity.

Bernd Siebenhofer — Fleksy Sound Designer

What is the fine line between creating music and designing sounds?

The two are very much intertwined. The way you play an instrument will shape the resulting sound. Thus, an experienced musician will make use of various techniques to get the exact sounds they want.

If you listen closely, you’ll find sound design in every piece of music and musicality in every piece of sound design — even if it’s just noise.

How do you get inspiration for creating sounds? Does your environment influence it?

The most obvious answer would be through consuming media of various forms, but — as with every creative endeavor — inspiration can come from all different kinds of things. I like to take long walks in nature which oftentimes sparks new ideas. Since everything around you can be inspiring, my environment always shapes my creative work in one way or another.

Recording sounds is a key component of sound design

Do you actually use your environment to record sounds?

Absolutely, yes — you’ll have a hard time finding a sound designer who doesn’t. It’s common practice in sound design to record just about any interesting sound you come across which, in the audio world, is referred to as “field recording”. You never know when you’ll need a certain sound so it’s best to prepare by building up a library of your own recordings.

“Creating a distinct “swoosh” sound for the swiping gestures was our main focus.”

What was your process for creating the new system sounds for Fleksy?

I intended to create sounds that were both functional as well as aesthetically pleasing. Also, they had to fit the brand, of course. I started by experimenting with different waveforms, which are the basic building blocks for sound designers. It was important to create something that would cut through environmental noises whilst not being too harsh and aggressive. Once I had the basic sound, I created variations (e.g. for the spacebar or modifier keys) basing their intervals on a musical chord. Creating a distinct “swoosh” sound for the swiping gestures was also the main focus. It had to convey a sense of speed and “feel right” when triggered.

Bernd's synthesizer

How would you describe the new Fleksy system sounds and do they differ from the previous ones?

Whilst not being bad, the old sounds were a bit static. The new ones render the typing experience more lively and dynamic. There’s also a greater sense of coherence within the sound pack.

What’s your vision for future sound packs for Fleksy?

Fleksy is revered for its customizability. In the future, every user should have the ability to pick a sound pack that they think fits their personality and typing preferences to make Fleksy feel even more “their own”.

Experimenting with waveforms

Thanks, Bernd, two lighter questions to finish this interview.

What is your favorite sound ever designed?

That’s quite hard to say, but one sound that stands out to me is the start-up sound of the first PlayStation. It triggers this feeling of nostalgia and brings me back to being a kid. Also, it’s impressive how futuristic it sounds even today, 25 years after the release of the console.

What is the worst sound that you ever heard?

We once had an egg cooker at home that would make the most horrendous buzzing sound when the eggs were done. It still haunts my dreams.

👉🏻 To hear our latest typing sounds, you can download Fleksy here: https://fleksy.io/XEQS1C8bB2

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