Mixing Kid
Mixing engineer Chris Gibbs on The Kid Laroi’s ‘F*ck Love’.
Issue 70

First-Ever Sound of the Year Awards

The New BBC Radiophonic Workshop & The Museum Of Sound present the inaugural Sound of the Year Awards 2020


February 4, 2021

It may sound like a meme, but the Sound of the Year Awards are no joke. Part conservation, part nsotalgic fun, see below for the skinny on #SOTY2020…

The deadline for submissions for the inaugural Sound of the Year Awards 2020 is 28th February. The newly launched celebration of everyday sound (not music) in all its forms is presented by The Museum Of Sound in partnership with The New BBC Radiophonic Workshop and others. It is a UK-based awards ceremony this year but submissions are encouraged from around the world. Anyone over the age of 16 can enter.

The awards aim to highlight the rapidly-growing international community of sound professionals and enthusiasts. During lockdown there has been a chance to hear the world differently, cities in particular have been transformed as they’ve emptied. Sound, listening and a healthy sonic environment are becoming recognised as a vital part of our daily lives. Where there are many awards shows for everything associated with moving images, we think the time is right to acknowledge and support those working hard to build and share their knowledge and recordings of moving audio in this new age of sound.

Speaking to Mark Mardell on Radio 4 “The World This Weekend” Matthew Herbert, Creative Director of The New Radiophonic Workshop, says

“Sound is exciting, but also it feels relatively new or an emerging field of interest. In the last 10-15 years, it’s moved from something niche to maybe something a bit more mainstream. So not just in music and art, but in science, for example, listening to disease, listening to cells replicate or environmental health. There’s a relatively new mark called Quiet Mark, which recognizes how loud or quiet domestic machines like washing machines are in your house and even things like politics and political decision making. It’s not just sound as a novelty, but it’s touching on all sorts of aspects of our life. It is time that it had its moment in the sun.”

Cheryl Tipp, one of the judges and the Curator of Wildlife and Environmental Sounds at The British Library agreed, adding her perspective on whether we’ve become more sound sensitive during the pandemic:

“There wasn’t much traffic or planes. I do think we were listening more, and I certainly think we were definitely paying more attention to nature. Things like birdsong became such a source of comfort and solace. Everything else was so unpredictable and stressful. No one knew what was happening. But you did know that certainly during the first lockdown, you would wake up in the spring and they would be the dawn chorus. I think people really held onto that and got great comfort from that.”

Matthew Herbert also spoke with Shaun Keaveny from 6 Music earlier this week about The Sound of the Year Awards, the BBC’s Soundscapes for Wellbeing project and the Radiophonic Travel Agency.

Listen to the clip of Matthew Herbert and Cheryl Tipp on Radio 4 ‘The World This Weekend’ 27th  December 2020

The submissions for this year’s awards are open to the public until 28th February 2021.


  • Cheryl Tipp – Curator of Wildlife & Environmental Sounds, The British Library
  • Alannah Chance – Award Winning Radio and Podcast Producer, Reduced Listening
  • Trevor Cox –  Professor of Acoustic Engineering, University of Salford
  • Tony Gayle –  Sound Designer, The Audio Cartel
  • Chris Watson – BAFTA-winning natural history sound recordist
  • Rana Eid – Sound Designer, db Studios
  • Bernie Krause – Musician and Soundscape Ecologist, Wild Sanctuary
  • Matthew Herbert – Chair of judges and Creative Director, The New BBC Radiophonic


Sound of the Year
A sound that has been the most extraordinary, revealing, pleasurable or surprising in the past 12 months. It could be a publicly occurring sound, or something nobody has heard before

Worst Sound
A sound that should never have been made or that should have been designed better

Best Naturally Occurring Sound
A sound that occurs without human input and was captured in the last 12 months

Best Artificial Sound
A sound created or manipulated to sound like something it isn’t

Disappearing Sound
A sound that is unlikely to be heard in the future, but that is worth saving

Best Sound in a TV show, Film or Game
An excellent individual sound created or recorded for a TV show, film or game that was released in the last 12 months

Best Field Sound Recordist
Someone who has shown excellence in capturing interesting sounds outside of a recording studio this year

Best Studio Sound Recordist
Someone who has shown excellence in capturing or creating interesting sounds in a recording studio this year

Sound Innovator
An individual, team or company who have done particularly interesting work this year with sound

Best Sound Tool
A bit of technology or tool that has made capturing sound particularly enjoyable and was released this year

Best Listener
An award to recognise someone, something or somewhere who does excellent listening.


All sounds must have been heard, recorded or created between 1st December 2019 and 1st December 2020.
You can enter as many sounds as you like in as many categories.
You can nominate yourself, your team or someone else in the applicable categories.
You should always credit the sound recordist where known.
We’re not as interested in musical instruments or voices.
A recording is not mandatory but the judges need to be able to experience it somehow.
Anyone over the age of 16, living anywhere in the world can enter.
All submissions must be in by 18.00 hrs on the 28th February 2021.


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Mixing Kid
Mixing engineer Chris Gibbs on The Kid Laroi’s ‘F*ck Love’.
Issue 70