Improved Sounds and Music for Skyrim by Rogdonlp

Improved Sounds and Music for Skyrim

by Rogdonlp

     Skyrim has a lot of sounds.  These sounds include human created sounds such as voices, singing, and screams.  Animals make sounds like footsteps, squealing, and heavy breathing (foxes).  And nature contributes sounds such as rushing water, the dull thud of a mace crushing a skull, and thunder.  If you pay attention to sounds while you play you will note two things:  1. some of the sounds do not sound very realistic and 2. not everything that should have a sound actually has a sound.  Fortunately, there are a lot of audio mods in Skyrim that can improve existing sounds and/or add new sounds to your game.

The following mods were taken from the STEP v2.10.0 guide for modding Skyrim  STEP:2.10.0 Skyrim Modding Guide  These mods can add more realistic sounds to your game.  These sound particular mods are quite popular and are listed in other (Non STEP) Skyrim mod guides.  I have also used these mods in my own games and have found them beneficial to creating a more realistic environment.

Audio Overhaul of Skyrim 2  Mod 43773  – “AOS is an extensive sound overhaul aiming to make the soundscape more immersive, clear, responsive, impactful and ultimately fun, while always aiming for maximum compatibility, performance and coherency with the main game. Ambience, weapons, magic, movement, reverb system, sound propagation, creatures and the whole mix are key areas of change.”  This is a quote from the mod description.  AOS is probably the most highly recommended audio overhaul mod for Skyrim.  If you have not tried it, you need to.

Better Animal Footsteps  Mod 24805  – “Tired of being startled by loud footsteps behind you, only to turn around to a little bunny? Ever thought that the hooves of a massive elk should make significantly more noise than the soft paws of a tiny fox? Ever wondered why the spiders sound like they're tapdancing?”  This quote from the mod description says it all.  This mod corrects these types of sound discrepancies.  

Better Horse Pain Sounds  Mod 12608  – The name explains it all.  If you ride horses and your mounts get injured from time to time this mod will make the horse’s pain sound more realistic.

Better Weapon Swing Sounds  Mod 17903  – “Never liked the Skyrim weapon swing sounds? They're not "powerful" enough? Annoyed by sheet metal sound?  Here is the solution.”  Obviously, whether Bethesda sound is better than the sounds of this mod is a subjective decision that only you can make.  There is an optional file that changes the sound of the Mace of Molag Bal to the 2H (two handed) sound.  I use the Mace of Molag Bal late in the game when my smithing skill is quite high.  At that point the Mace is only slightly weaker than an enchanted daedric mace but it does traps souls which compensates for less damage.  I find the change to 2H sound differentiates the Mace from other maces which makes it sound more like a mace given to you by a god. 

Dragons Shout with Voice  Mod 35286  – “When the Dovahkiin shouts it does so by speaking words, but when a dragon shouts the only thing it does is a roar.  This mod modifies the dragon’s shouts voice files to make them actually have a voice, I've used voices that were already in the game and merged them with the actual voices (roars) that sound when a dragon shouts.”  This mod certainly adds realism to the game.  For additional realism install the optional file that “Makes dragon shouts sound from their location instead as if they were next to you.”

Heart of the Beast – Werewolf Sound and Texture  Mod 13779  – This mod makes werewolves sound like the savage beasts that they are.  If you don’t play a werewolf in your game and you don’t run into they too often while playing you may want to skip this mod.

IHSS – Improved Horse Step Sounds  Mod 31039  – “This mod improves the hoof-step sounds of the horses by adding "sound sets" for different surfaces.” If you and your followers have mounts you should consider adding this mod for the added realism.

Immersive Sounds Compendium  Mod 54387  – “First off, you should know that this mod is much more than merely just replacing existing sound files in the game with different ones. Rather, the aim of ISC is to greatly expand the functionality and scope of the audio in Skyrim. The vanilla sound design is in pretty dire straits, and my educated guess for this is that it was largely hamstrung by being primarily developed for aging console hardware, and thus sacrificed ambition for sound to instead prioritize those resources for other things like better visuals. 
To remedy this, literally thousands of new individual sounds have been created for the game. A great deal of effort has gone into expanding the audio for elements that I consider part of the core gameplay experience. No longer will you hear the same generic thud when an NPC or creature dies and falls to the ground. No longer will creatures like wolves, draugr, etc cycle between a small repetitive pool of 4 or so universal footstep sounds no matter what surface they traverse. Moving around now always reflects the type of armor you are wearing. Picking up items will much more consistently provide appropriate audio feedback for what kind of item you are looting. A swing from a greatsword being parried by a 1-handed axe now reflects the elements of both weapons clashing and not just a nondescript generic parry sound. Powerful high level shock spells now send thundering reflections across the vast outdoor distances, while remaining more confined if cast indoors. 
The goal is to have all of these small disparate elements add up and provide a more varied, dynamic and reactive audio experience. Ultimately this is also a significant boon to how the entire gameplay feels as there is simply more appropriate feedback for the actions in the world. I am pretty confident when I say that this is probably the biggest individual audio mod on the Nexus in terms of the scope of what it’s doing.”
 If you have not installed this mod and had it in your load order for 20 -30 hours of game play, you will not understand the impact this mod has on realism in the game.

Immersive Skyrim Thunder  Mod 1702  – This is an old mod which was lasted updated in 2012.  However, it still works and provides realistic thunder sounds.  Most people will not need this mod because the thunder sounds in their game are provided by their weather mod or by Minty’s Lightning during Thunder Storms mod which is required by some of the popular weather mods.  I usually play a heavily modded game (340+ esp files merged down to 250+).  Weather mods take up a lot of computer resources so I don’t use the all-encompassing weather mods.  I just use Wonders of Weather and this mod.  Less burden of the computer, fewer crashes.

Improved Combat Sounds  Mod 5289  – “Enhances all combat sounds - blows feel heavier, meatier and more satisfying. Bash and block sounds are also enhanced to improve the overall fighting experience!”  This mod also includes unarmed combat sounds.  In the optional files section, you will find a patch for Enhanced Blood Textures as well as bow and arrow sounds that include the thud of the arrow impact.  If you load this mod before the Ultra-Realistic Bow Shoot mod in your game you will hear the impact thuds from this mod and the bow shoot sounds from the Ultra-realistic mod.

Lower Sounding Thieves Guild Door  Mod 1826  – “Basically lowers the volume of the Thieve's Guild Tomb/Door thing.  Added a very minimal bit of time stretch and EQ. Basically this means that it will sound better. Time stretch makes higher sounding gear noises have more depth to them. You probably won't even be able to tell, I just added it so it would be improved a little.”  If you are playing as a thief and are going in and out of the door regularly you might want to try this mod.  Some players think it is a god send and others don’t notice any difference.

Lucidity Sound FX  Mod 73838  – “Re-mixed/mastered 100% (4681 samples) of the original Skyrim sound FX. Providing a smoother and plainer sound experience. No hum, no crackle, less masking, high definition low-end, no excessive high-end .. and much more! Overall far more appealing to the ear .. you'll hear things you've never heard before.”  This is another mod you have to try.  Leave in your load order for 20-30 hours of game play and then remove it.  Restart your game and hear the difference.

Smooth Blade Draw and Sheathe  mod 1117  “Discreet sfx for sneaking immersion. Sound replacement for blades (Draw and Sheath), Sound mutes (Fail and critical) and dynamic audio volume while sneaking (draw/sheath/swing lowered, screams muted for attack and power attack).”  If you kill people by stealth, you need this mod.

Thundering Shouts  mod 3799  – “This mod changes the shout audio (both male and female) in the following ways:  all shouts have the pitch lowered by 10%, with a few exceptions for orcs and female argonians and level 2 and level 3 shouts have echo, and most of them have thunder in the background (somewhat like the draugr shouts).  I tried to make the effect subtle enough that it's not obtrusive, but pronounced enough that it's noticeable.”  If you like shouting or have a shout-centric play style you should also take a look at  Thunderchild  .

Ultra-Realistic Bow Shoot Sound  Mod 27208  - If you use a bow often, such as when playing as a hunter or rogue, you might want to try this mod to see if you think the sound is more realistic. 

Ultra-Realistic Crossbow Shoot Sounds  Mod 31274  - If you use a crossbow when playing Dawnguard or if you roleplay as a dwemer you should definitely try the crossbow shoot mod.

Additional Considerations
The sound file of a mod that is loaded after other sound files will overwrite any sounds that the mod has in common with the mods that came before it.  Therefore, the above mods must be loaded in the proper order so that the preferred sound files are not overwritten by less preferred sound files.  Go to this link STEP:2.10.0 Skyrim Modding Guide . At the top of the guide look in the right column and go down to 2.L  Sound and click it.  This will take you to the sound section of the guide which will show you the proper load order and it also has instructions for downloading the mods.



SSE High Quality Music  SE Mod 4968  - This mod is a Skyrim Special Edition mod.  However, it only contains music files.  Skyrim LE and SE music files are identical.  Thus, this mod will work perfectly in either LE or SE.  What this mod does is to replace all of the Skyrim music files.  The music files that come with the game are saved in the XWN format which is a lossy format and the files are saved at 48kbps.  The music files of this mod are XWN files that are saved at 192kbps.  Four times the bit rate means four times the information for the computer to use in converting the digital information into analog information.  Sound quality is definitely improved.  If you want to know how the 192kbps files were created read the description on the mod page.

Music Mods Merged  Mod 68256  – After playing Skyrim for hundreds or thousands of hours, the music starts to get a little boring.  What is needed is to add new music to Skyrim.  There are quite a few mods that either add additional music to Skyrim or replace the original music in whole or in part.  Some music mods give you the choice of either adding the sounds to the original Skyrim music or replacing the original Skyrim music. The length of the music in these mods runs from less than 10 minutes of music to more than 16 hours of music.  Each music mod has an esp file.  If you are getting close to Skyrim’s 255 esp limit, you won’t be able to add many music mods to your game.  What Music Mods Merged does is it allows you to load ten different music mods containing over 36 hours of music using only one esp file.  You have the choice of either adding the 36 hours as additional music or replacing the game’s music.  You cannot load ten music mods of your choice. Only the following ten mods can be merged: 
Celtic Music in Skyrim 53689
Creepy Dungeon Music 47205
Fantasy Soundtrack Project 46518
Immersive Music 66612
Improved Combat Music 66016
JDR Soundtrack Compilation 39012
Magic College Music 36381
Musical Lore 56083
Symphonies of Skyrim 34234
Oblivion and Morrowind soundtracks
Due to copyright laws, you can only add the Morrowind and Oblivion soundtracks to Skyrim if you actually own the games.  The Music Mods Merged description explains how to extract and convert these soundtrack files (which are mp3 files) for use in Skyrim.  It is actually a fairly simple process.  Morrowind has only 18 files that need to be extracted and converted while Oblivion has 28.

I have had this mod installed as additional music for over two thousand of hours of gameplay.  I enjoy all of the music except for Creepy Dungeons.  To me it is not lore friendly.  However, you may love it while my favorite music, Celtic Music in Skyrim, you may hate.  Fortunately, if you do not like the music from a mod you can just delete the mod from your load order and it is gone with no repercussions.


Bard Instrumentals Only – Sing Upon Request   Mod  58555  “Changes a single line of the vanilla bard script so they will only play instrumentals, unless a song with vocals is specifically requested. Does not edit weddings, quests, AI packages, or anything else. Minor annoyance I had to fix and thought others may enjoy.  … No, ESPs, just a single .PEX file.”  After hearing Ragnar the Red for the ten thousandth time do you want to kill all the bards?  If so, this mod is for you.

Have Fun



  1. Thanks for the post! One of these days I will have to sit down and seriously work out the sound in my classic Skyrim. I just finished working on it for SSE but that mod list is a lot less crowded. Did you happen to see the uncompressed voice files for SSE?

    Also this one is one of my favorites. Sometimes you have to go argue with the bard to shut up though.

    1. AnonymousJune 06, 2018

      Hello syl,

      I am glad you liked the article. Yes, I did see (and installed) SSE High Quality Voices. It makes a noticeable improvement to my ears.

      I tried True Medieval Tavern Music a few years back, but for me, hearing the music brought me back to reality rather than further immersing me in the game. If you enjoy it, keep it in your load order. Enjoyment of the game is what we are striving for.

      These are the sound mods that I am currently using in SSE:
      Alpha Werewolf Sounds 13779
      Audio Overhaul Skyrim 12466
      Celtic Music in Skyrim 2980 add-on, not replacer
      Immersive Sounds Compendium 523
      Lucidity Sound FX 1841
      Sound hammering sounds 5592
      SSE High Quality Music 4968
      SSE High Quality Voices 17035
      Thunderchild 1460
      Ultra-Realistic Bow Shot Sound LE 27208
      Ultra-Realistic Crossbow Shot Sound LE 31274



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