Emulating StarWars X-Wing Recv Communications Effect


I'm curious the best method to mock the effect used in the voice communications of the X-Wing and other ships that were garbled when received,

There is some kind of modulation going on if I'm not mistaken.

I would like to know how they produced it back in the 70's, and how it can be replicated via software effects today...

is a reference to the fight scenes that feature this effect.


Posted 2018-03-29T05:02:09.983

Reputation: 111



Try some ring modulation plugs, that may get you partway there. How they achieved it for the original film, you'd have to petition Ben Burtt to devulge that information!

Jay Jennings

Posted 2018-03-29T05:02:09.983

Reputation: 15 432

Yes, ring modulation is what I was thinking, I've tried long ago in my studio far far away, but didn't quite master that feel. – mrSidX – 2018-03-29T08:47:06.577


I'm sure there are a lot of techniques to achieve this effect, but in a low-fidelity voice communication system the sound waves reduce both in width (sample rate) and hight (bit depth).

Reducing the bit depth to 8 bit sounds a lot like the effect in the movie. You can do this with a bitchrusher effect. Bitcrusher explained on Wikipedia:

A typical bitcrusher uses two methods to reduce audio fidelity: sample rate reduction and resolution reduction.

Here are two examples of two different bitcrusher plug-ins on YouTube: ToneBooster's Time Machine & Illformed's dBlue Crusher. Some DAW's come with a bitchrusher effect, or you could use a seperate project, render the audio to 8 bit and import it in the project where you want to useit.


Posted 2018-03-29T05:02:09.983

Reputation: 121

Yes, Bit Crusher effect sounds like its also mixed in with variations of noise distortion, maybe fast frequency square waving a mix of the voice? all changing slightly for variation. I thought I heard Lucas use the same effect his first movie THX1138... But I think different sound designers... I'll have look for a clip. – mrSidX – 2018-04-01T15:19:49.043


It's been a long time since i went through it, but you could try looking through Ben's book: The sounds of Star Wars:


Chris Phillips Leeds Met

Posted 2018-03-29T05:02:09.983

Reputation: 365

Excellent Start, and I will need to get that book for my collection, as it fits 2 purposes, Sound Design and Starwars geek stuff! – mrSidX – 2018-03-31T14:56:04.260

Correct, its a great resource and very informative on how Ben thinks outside the box as well as applying his physics background to find the right representing sounds. Wonderful book and great for star wars geeky trivia. – Chris Phillips Leeds Met – 2018-03-31T15:05:37.367


Yes ring modulation but, having made several experiments in this vein, I don't believe it's purely that. I think the original carrier wave may have been mixed in with the dialog along with ring modulation. Either that or multiple passes of ring modulation because the sound cues I'm hearing don't sound like straight-up dialog run through a digital ring modulator.

Maybe the analog one they used had settings that we don't have?


Posted 2018-03-29T05:02:09.983

Reputation: 101