Audeze speaks to award winning Bulgarian sound artist Rostislav Trifonov

February 17, 2024

Rostislav Trifonov is a Bulgarian award-winning sound artist and music composer with a portfolio spanning various mediums. He has worked on the audio of a number of acclaimed games, with credits including Minecraft Dungeons, Minecraft, God of War Ragnarök, The Callisto Protocol, No Rest for the Wicked, Mortal Shell and Ark: Survival Evolved. His sound design is used in some of the biggest movie trailer campaigns, with official placements such as Soul, Bullet Train, Halloween Ends, Disney+, Men, Finch and many others. Additionally, Rostislav has composed music for Microsoft Studios Music and Roland. Some other companies he has worked with include SoundMorph, Aker Solutions, Xvision AS.

Rostislav Trifonov wearing Audeze LCD-X headphones

"The LCD-X provides a great deal of clarity and helps me accurately hear each element of the mix occupying its own space" - Rostislav Trifonov
Here's our chat with Rostislav:
Can you pick out any highlights from your work that you're particularly proud of?

One highlight is being able to work on the sound of the most sold game in the world – Minecraft. I was part of the audio team at Mojang where I worked on the sound design and composed music for Minecraft Dungeons released by Microsoft Studios Music. Some of my most recent work includes contributing to the Foley sound of God of War Ragnarök, as well as sound design and Foley for The Callisto Protocol alongside Formosa Group. Also, I’m the owner and audio director of the SFX libraries brand RT Sonics. Our focus is creating high-end cinematic and music sound design libraries. I’m especially proud of our latest and most popular release ‘Signature Strings’. I’m very happy to see our products used and endorsed by some of the biggest professionals and companies in the industry! Most recently we had some great reviews by Sound On Sound and Alex Pfeffer, just to name a few.

How would you define your main role on most of the projects you work on these days?

I’m a sound artist and music composer. I specialise in cinematic and music sound design, interactive and linear audio, electronic music production, analog and digital synthesis, as well as audio lead and management.

How did you get started in sound design and music? What kind of music did you listen to while growing up and how has that progressed?

I’ve been playing the piano since I was 6 years old and around the age of 11 I first started experimenting with electronic music. Since then I’ve been obsessed with sound, while also having a huge interest in games and movies since a kid. Naturally my hobbies combined and I pursued my passions to create audio for some awesome projects! I had a wide range of musical influences growing up – anything ranging from The Beatles, Black Sabbath, John Carpenter, to Noisia, Wu-Tang Clan and Dimmu Borgir.

Can you name any factors that influenced the course of your musical life? Heroes, role models, moments, interactions, etc?

I have a variety of inspirations. One of my biggest influences is The Matrix. When it comes to games definitely Diablo 2 and The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind are the most inspiring ones for me. Regarding music, I’ve been especially influenced by ambient, also bass music, such as dubstep, drum and bass. As well as movies and games soundtracks of course - especially a fan of John Carpenter’s work. From the non-music world, I’ve been very inspired by H.P. Lovecraft, also visual artists like Alex Grey, HR Giger, Van Gogh. I experience sound and music very visually, sort of a synesthesia. So I like combining different elements and painting a picture of sound, while experimenting with textures, tone and color, as well as storytelling in my work.

Can you briefly describe a moment of frustration from your past work, and what you may have done to overcome the obstacles? Would you approach it differently now?

An important realisation for me was that working way too hard or too much on something isn’t always the most productive approach. I’d like to point out the importance of taking a break and looking at things from a different perspective (and with fresh ears). Changing the listening or working environment also helps keeping a fresh perspective.

Is there any gear you find yourself turning to most when working on a project? What are some of your favorite tools/instruments recently?

I truly love exploring and getting creative with both cutting-edge and vintage audio gear. Ultimately, I find that it’s all in the hands of the artist and their unique point of view but discovering and utilizing new gear definitely helps my creative process and staying inspired. One new piece of gear I’ve been using quite a lot recently is the Haken Continuum – it enables me to transcend the boundaries between music and sound design. I feel like I am able to touch the sound and instantly manipulate it in interesting ways. My usual workflow includes manipulating and blending recorded sounds with different synths and effects, usually with a mix of both digital and analog. I sometimes go on long ‘sound expeditions’ with my gear looking for unique and interesting moments. Nowadays I use a lot the Sound Devices 788T and Sennheiser MKH8040 and MKH8050 mics for recording. I often find myself experimenting and resampling the sounds, perhaps running them through old tape recorders or through some esoteric effects. I try to perform and play as much as I can while creating, so I have all sorts of controllers and samplers hooked up. These days when working I try to avoid staring at the screen, using the mouse and keyboard way too much. Some of my go-to analog synths that I’ve been using for some years include the Roland SH-101 and the Sequential Prophet 6.

Do you have any words of wisdom for people who might aspire toward a similar path for their own careers?
I believe it’s important to follow your passion and try to build your own unique style and sound, rather than trying to copy others. 
Working hard seems to be one of the most mentioned traits for success but taking a break once in a while and looking at the bigger picture is also important I would say.
How long have you been working with headphones, and how do you typically use them in your workflow?

I’ve been working with headphones since more than 10 years now and I like utilizing them for very precise detailed and critical listening. Also, I enjoy the mobility they provide - I travel often so having great and reliable headphones definitely is a must. I usually switch and compare between headphones and monitors (currently Genelec), always best to compare on different setups. But recently I’ve been reaching more and more for the LCD-X headphones for creative work and mixing because of the great amount of close-up detail they provide.

Do you have any additional comments or stories you want to share?

There is no best way to create - the most important thing at the end of the day is that it sounds good, not what plugin you used or how it was achieved. When it comes to sound design I find myself experimenting and not following ‘the rules’ a lot of times.

How have your Audeze headphones affected your work? Can you tell us what you've been working on with them recently?
When I tried Audeze headphones for the first time, I was blown away by the sound quality and premium feeling they have. I haven’t heard better sounding or more reliable headphones yet! Since then I’ve been using them as my go-to headphones on most of my audio work.
The LCD-X provides a great deal of clarity and helps me accurately hear each element of the mix occupying its own space. I’ve been working on a wide range of game audio and cinema trailer projects using the LCD-X for a few years now, as well as on my upcoming music releases and sound effects libraries. 
I’ve also been using the LCD-5 since several months and I find them very transparent, comfortable and inspiring to work with. They are also very lightweight and look great. I find that switching between these two models provides the best results for me in terms of reliability, detail and inspiration.

Audeze LCD-5 Headphones on Ros's desk