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How Star Wars Created The Legendary Lightsaber Sound Effect

For the most part, the lightsabers fans have gotten to know over the years aren’t too different in the sound department. Sure, some might sound a bit different when they activate or deactivate, but for the most part, they don’t deviate too much from one another. However, that’s not to say that some haven’t taken Ben Burtt’s original lightsaber hum in a new direction. Take the crackling, unrefined blade Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) uses throughout the “Star Wars” sequel trilogy, for instance. For good reason, it drifts away from Burtt’s more elegant and ethereal sound.

“It looks like it was put together by an amateur. It sputters when it turns on, so the sound we wanted to have that unfinished kind of sputtery electric quality,” said “Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens” supervising sound editor Matthew Wood in a 2016 interview with Business Insider. He and his team understood Ren to be a bit of a wildcard who’s rather unpolished, so the sound design of his saber matches. In that same vein, Wood also ensured Ren’s saber emits a menacing sound, which carries over to the chainsaw and flamethrower-inspired voice changer in his helmet as well.

Yes, lightsabers, their hilts, and their wielders all look cool and make for impressive images on the big screen, but without the fitting and inventive sound design behind them, they wouldn’t be nearly as revered as they are.

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